Hawaiian Day Festival (Redwood City)

On Sunday, September 12, 2010, I wanted to get out of the house. I found a nearby low-key festival. My plan was to get tasty festival food for lunch and sit outside reading while listening to music. Although I went to the festival, my activities did not turn out as I'd planned.

The festival I selected was Redwood City's Hawaiian Day, a small family-oriented event that Redwood City runs every month during the summer, each event with a different theme. I'd been to past versions of this festival Indian Day (2009) and Immigrants Day (2008)) and generally enjoyed them, in part because they're centered in Redwood City's remarkably pretty historic courthouse square.

As I expected, the festival was a family-focused, with lots of performances and activities for kids including some Hawaiian games.

Unlike what I expected (and was promised by the web page), there was no Hawaiian food. The only food at the festival was a hot dog truck!

As unlike my expectations, no one was performing at the big stage when I arrived.

I wandered around the festival, deciding what to do, and found the local museum, the San Mateo County History Museum, was performing a short play, The Strange Case of Constance Flood. Dramatizing a true story, it portrays a lawsuit where an alleged daughter, long out of contact with her alleged parents, comes forward to claim her share of the inheritance, while the surviving spouse claims the daughter lived with the family for a time as a charity case and wasn't actually a daughter. The judge was clearly not objective. Though an interesting true story, the script was poor and the tale could've been told much faster. On the plus side, adding extra color to the performance was the fact that the show took place in the courthouse where the trial happened eighty years before.

When I left the play, now hungrier, there still wasn't anyone performing on the main stage.

Lucky for my stomach, there are many restaurants in downtown Redwood City. Following yelp reviews, I tried a nearby Mexican place for lunch, and it was surprisingly decent. My sopes and salad were light, novel presentations. The small salad even included soursop (a.k.a. guanabana), a fruit I don't think I'd ever eaten before.

When I walked by the festival again after lunch, there finally was music on the main stage. I'm surprised it started so late in the festival--the festival was scheduled to end in 1.5 hours. I sat and read but left after not long because it turned out the music wasn't my thing.

Mountain View Festival, Lock Museum

On September 11, 2010, I had grand plans to do stuff in the city but Di Yin and I ended up being lazy and went to a local festival, the Mountain View Art & Wine Festival.

This wasn't a worse option than the events in the city, just a more convenient one. I've been to a similar Mountain View festival once before and was impressed by its size and quality. As before, the festival ran the whole length of Castro Street and had numerous stands selling all varieties of arts and crafts. Also, I guess the city uses the festival as an excuse to do gardening--Castro Street's median was packed with beautiful flowers.

There was a lot of good stuff at the festival. I found many booths with high quality photography, especially of nature and of San Francisco, and many booths with good quality glass stuff. I found a few particular booths I thought were remarkable:

  • mounted exotic butterflies. They were so vivid, I didn't believe they were real until I was told so. Naturally, they're expensive: a poster-size display costs over two thousand dollars.
  • bonsai. This booth made me sad in memory of the one I killed.
  • small bronze sculptures (of people in action) that tell stories, tales that are expanded by paragraph-long descriptions by the artist.
  • the fancy pasta I found before.
The festival had the usual festival food: kebabs, fried stuff, Chinese rice bowls, corn on the cob. Also, in addition to the usual wine and beer selection, a local brewery was pouring pints. I had a sausage from a local sausage purveyor. Though most things I've had from this specialty shop have been good, this one was overcooked.

We left without seeing the whole festival because it was sunny and hot and we were low on energy.

On the way out, we visited the small Lock Museum. We were given a tour by the proprietor. The guy likes his mechanical things, and his enthusiasm for the locks as well as old cash registers with neat mechanical construction and also old adding machines was evident and definitely made the museum more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

Of everything in the museum, I liked the look and size of the massive safes the most. With twelve-inch-thick steel, these safes were used mostly in banks and hotels. Some were on timers so they could be only opened with a key at the right time. Sometimes the inside door of the safe was decorated. (These were on safes that were always open during bank hours.)

The museum also has old combo locks, post office locks, and even ancient locks from other countries, plus old key-copying machines. Interestingly, the proprietor showed us a 1903 high security New York bank key, which looked remarkably similar to a modern car key. I guess security comes to banks first, then becomes cheaper and easier to manufacture and shows up in other places. Incidentally, in other car news, he showed us old car tire locks (from before the days of ignition locking).

Berry Picking, Greek Festival, and more

On Sunday, September 5, 2010, Di Yin and I drove to the coast to go berry picking.

On the way, we stopped by Pigeon Point lighthouse (technically Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park) on the coast. Though I'd driven along highway one past it a couple of times, I'd never previously stopped. It turns out it's worth a stop for its wide-angle panoramic view of the crashing waves on the coastline. Next to the lighthouse is a small hostel, notable because the back patios of the rooms open onto the view. Sorry I didn't take pictures on this outing.

We couldn't go in the lighthouse, which is over a hundred years old and mostly closed for maintenance, but we did get to wander through the attached small interpretive center. The center describes the history of the lighthouse and the ships that navigated the coast. I liked the machine that shows how the foghorn sound changed over the decades. The noise, if I recall correctly, that the lighthouse made in the 1920s and 1930s sounded to me like a cow in distress. Also at the center I learned that the lighthouse is the tallest on the west coast (though frankly I don't think of it as particularly tall).

After the lighthouse, we drove the few miles to the farm. We picked at Swanton Berry Farm at Swanton Coastways Ranch. We found ripe blackberries hard to find; I guess it was not quite the season. The strawberries were definitely easier. Also, I was a bit embarrassed to learn that strawberries and blackberries are not the same type of plant as I'd always assumed: strawberry bushes are low to the ground whereas blackberry plants grow as tall as a person. Incidentally, on the way to the blackberry orchard, we passed a section of baby kiwis in trees. Neat! I'd never seen a kiwi tree before.

While in this section of highway one we'd planned to go hiking at Año Nuevo (Ano Nuevo) State Reserve, mainly to see its famous elephant seal habitat. However, it turned out we were too late--that part of the park was already closed for the day--so instead we hiked a different part of the park. We walked on an elevated wooden walkway to beach, then walked up and down the beach, dodging some strange seaweed with ends that looked like fruit.

On the way home, we decided to stop for dinner at the Belmont Greek Festival. I've been to this festival three times before (2007, 2006, 2005) so know it pretty well. It was the same as always. The gyros we had were great (as I expected). The calamari was decent and certainly freshly fried. The calamari consisted of both tentacles and squid bodies; I thought the tentacles' breading was slightly overcooked. We also had a Greek salad: decent as usual; I appreciated that it omitted the feta cheese.

As for desserts, there was the usual varied spread. The galactoboureko (phyllo dough filled with custard, like good quality tiramisu custard) was good. We brought home an indokarido, a spongy cake (semolina supposedly) soaked in honey and covered with coconut flakes. I liked the honey but there was too much coconut for me. The baklava which we also brought home was quite good, with a nice balance between phyllo dough and nuts.