After spending a long Saturday in the big city, I decided that Sunday needed to involve some fresh air and a bit of a walk.
I couldn’t be bothered getting in the car to go anywhere, and I already explored some of the nearest wildlife refuge whilst running, so the only alternative was Ardenwood Historic Farm, which is just the other side of the busy junction nearest the hotel.
After taking my life in my hands to negotiate the slightly-incomprehensible American pedestrian crossing system, I was on a nice quiet road through open fields of cabbages for the walk in to the farm. Apart from Mission Hills being very obvious in the background, I could have been in the English countryside.
I saw this little guy hopping around one of the trees. He wouldn’t quite keep still enough, close enough, for long enough to get a decent photo, but at least it was good enough to identify him later as one of the subspecies of Western Scrub Jay (not a Blue Jay, as I originally thought).
I also saw this slightly bigger bird, much further away. Some kind of buzzard, but I think buzzards in California tend to be Turkey Vultures, and this one looks like he’s got a feathered head… points awarded to the first person with an accurate identification.
One member of the local wildlife was much more photogenic, and seemed to be happy enough to pose while I got some decent pictures. I’m fairly sure he’s a Fox Squirrel, but I’m happy to be corrected if someone know better.
The farm was originally owned by a “forty-niner” who didn’t find gold in the hills, but made money from agriculture instead. It was passed down the family until being handed over to the City of Fremont in the 1970s, and is now operated as a working example of a turn-of-the-century farm.
The main farmhouse, which started life as something quite small, but had three different extensions added.
The farm has a collection of old tractors, the better examples being kept as a proper exhibit, the others being left to look unloved under a cover outside, where I found this Caterpillar with what I think is a Prairie Dog who’d made his home underneath. Cat… dog… see what I did there?
There are several animals on the farm, including chickens, goats, sheep… and cows. Of course, I had to have a photo of at least one cow, or I’d never be forgiven… (If you don’t understand why, don’t worry about it: it’s a family thing.)
This building is known as the Tankhouse. The top is a water tank, filled by a wind-powered well, and the two floors below it were used as a house.
The farm has a working railway, which you can ride on in some open carriages, giving a great view of the area of eucalyptus trees where tens of thousands of monarch butterflies come to spend the winter.
After all this walking around, and a run round the nature reserve, then a swim in the hotel pool and an all-too-brief lounge in the spa, I’d managed to work up a bit of an appetite… a good job too, as we decided on the Texas Roadhouse for dinner. You might not believe it, but we really tried not to order too much. The photos here only show the main course (yes, that’s steak and ribs on my plate, and a rather large beer next to it) and the dessert (Big Ol’ Brownie, and that’s pretty accurate). They don’t show the bottomless bucket of shell-on peanuts that are left on the table, the unlimited supply of bread, the combo starter that we shared, the rather large bowl of salad that was included… just when I thought I’d got rid of my “rice baby” bump after China, I think what I’ve got now can only be described as a “too-much-food bump”. I think I’ve put on a stone since I got here. December may need to involve a diet.