by Carol Lewis
May and June offer wonderful things to do in and around Mountain View with family, friends, guests. Right now it’s the start of wildflower season in the area. Russian Ridge and other open space preserves offer wonderful vistas of fauna and flora. Roaring Camp offers two great trips: an hour-long train ride through a Santa Cruz redwood forest where you can see an abundance of wildflowers, and a longer one, a trip to the Santa Cruz boardwalk and back. Both offer great scenery and a neat experience on a real steam train. Roaring Camp is located adjacent to Henry Cowell State Park, the home of a spectacular grove of huge redwoods. You can also walk along the stream in the park or in the shallow waters of the stream. There are places to swim or sit on the wide stream banks and enjoy a picnic. Children delight in wading in the foot deep waters or throwing pebbles in the clear, cool steam waters. There is also a great Italian Restaurant, The Oak Tree Ristorante, a few blocks from the entrance to the park with wonderful outdoor seating.
April through May is a great time to go to Monterey or Half Moon Bay to see whales. Monterey is probably a unique location as there is a huge marine canyon with depths suitable for the largest whales and sharks, and there is also an abundance of other marine life. Recently we went whale watching with the Monterey Bay Whale Watch Company that has trained marine biologists on its staff. It took about an hour mand a half to get to there from Mountain View. Trips are daily at 9:00 AM and at 2:00 PM in the late spring and summer. The trips last about 4 ½ hours and cost about $50 for adults and $25 for children. They do take toddlers. We went April 16 and were treated to a rare sighting of 10 orcas that had killed a large animal. As a result, the whales were pretty much in place for over 12 hours feasting on the carcass. The killer whales were very generous and allowed other killer whales in the vicinity to share their kill. After their hearty meal, we saw the whales breach, dive, and act playfully, especially the younger ones. We followed as they then travelled at amazing speeds to new destinations taking turns dragging the carcass along. The marine biologists explained that whales travel great distances for food and to mate. They will not mate within their group or with others in their vicinity. Amazingly on the same boat trip we saw 7 humpback whales and over 200 Risso dolphins, two sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, albatrosses, cormorants, huge flocks of red phalaropes, and an endless variety of other sea birds. I looked on the web site and discovered that even on a dull trip there are sightings of grey whales, a variety of seal types, dolphins, etc. My granddaughter loved seeing the jellyfish floating in the water. The open ocean has a rough beauty of its own. It’s a fabulous boat ride.
The area around the harbor is a fun day trip in itself. The piers have great seafood restaurants as well as interesting stores and activities. There is a children’s park, Dennis the Menace Park, nearby that is a favorite of my grandchildren, and you can stop at the many local fruit and vegetable stands and farms famous for their artichokes (in season) and other crops. All in all this was a priceless experience, one so close to home yet such a welcome change from the daily routine.