Part Two Shoreline Park Mountain View - lake, wetlands, paths, flora and fauna
Part 1 of this series covered a historical site in Shoreline Park Mountain View which my husband and I visited on a warm April morning this year. Last week after another bought of rains and cold in the Bay Area we had a little warmer weather in the mid to high 60s and so we returned so I could complete my tour of Shoreline Park Mountain View for you. Below are a couple Google maps that show the general San Francisco Bay Area Peninsula section and where Shoreline Park Mountain View lies.
(click to enlarge) San Francisco Bay Peninsula Area Shoreline Park Mountain View
When we came back last week to Shoreline Park Mountain View we took a longer path closer to the marshlands and bay where I also took a picture of the bay. It was warm enough we started removing clothing. Bikers and walkers passed us happily. I think everyone was so glad to have some warmer weather and sun. When we crossed through on a path away from the marshes and into the grass covered area the lake came into view. I stopped to take a couple lake pictures.
(click to enlarge) Bay view from marsh path Shoreline Lake Cormorants on a small dock
As we approach the hub by the boat rentals we noticed there were a lot more people hiking the numerous trails, riding around the lake in their paddle boats and sitting at the Lakeside Cafe than our first visit in April. We were delighted by the Canadian Geese running after their goslings as we approached. The little guys were running all over the grass next to the colorful boats for rent. They were soaking wet and digging their heads into the grass. The geese settled down when they saw no one there was going to harm them.
(click to enlarge) Canadian Geese and their Goslings
We spent quite a bit of time watching and photographing the geese and their young then we walked over by the Lakeside Cafe where we sat on the grass and watched the paddle boats on the water, the people eating in the cafe and generally got woozy from the sun and negative ions. This is the way to relax!
(click to enlarge) Cafe Cafe portico through to canoes Paddle boats for rent Paddle boat on lake
Our leisure time was coming to an end and we had a long walk back in the sun which was heating up, so we left our grassy perch and headed back out to the marsh trail. It did take us quite a while to get down the trail because there was so many interesting plants I had to photograph. Here are just a few. In the first row I call these plants the "green aliens" - please excuse my artistic license as I don't know what they are. The second row are all made up names by me as well. First, a luscious little plant with red-like berries on it; then what looks like a Thistle to me; the third one I call a "Red Weed;" and finally a "Hay Weed."
All in all a satisfying and relaxing way to start the day. I finally said no to anymore pics and we finished the trail and reached our car, driving home thinking that we have found our new favorite close place to hang out this spring and summer. I definitely want to try the canoes and paddle boats...
Part One - Rengstorff House - The Victorian Beauty
Rengstorff House "The Victorian Beauty"
San Francisco Bay is filled with wonderful areas to visit. In the lower part of the bay up against Foster City, Redwood Shores, San Carlos, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View and San Jose, CA it is dotted with golf courses, sloughs, beach parks, an open space preserve, the Palo Alto airport, a nature study area and finally, what I am going to concentrate on - the Shoreline at Mountain View Park. Specifically, in the first part of this series, on a historic building within the park called Rengstorff House.
A few weeks ago my husband and I were reminiscing over our morning espresso about when we used to walk and ride our bikes often at the Shoreline park. It isn't as if it is that far away - about 9 miles - it just went off our radar for years. We decided to drive over there that April morning and take a walk. We are getting our bikes back out after the winter and riding again, so when the muscles are back in shape we'll ride over and take a picnic lunch. You probably think that California should be warm and sunny by now, and so did we, but after a short warm spell in April, we had cold weather and rains again right up to earlier last week and temperatures have still been in the middle to high 60s during the day.
Parking just several blocks east of Hwy 101 by San Antonio Road on Terminal Blvd we commenced our walk to the park and as we headed down the cement path and turned to go around the Northeast side of Shoreline Lake, ten year old memories started to bubble up that we chatted briefly about as we enjoyed the view in the warm spring sun. Finally reaching the Southeast side of the lake there is the Lakeside Cafe and across the parking lot from that is the Rengstorff House.
A Brief History
Henry Rengstorff grew up in Germany in the early 19th Century. Hearing stories of the California gold Rush, he left home at 21, sailing around Cape Horn and arriving in San Francisco in 1850. But he was too late to join the gold rush and he took a job on a Bay Steamer that traveled between San Francisco and Alviso (San Jose).
He eventually left shipping to work as a farm laborer in the Santa Clara Valley (oh how that valley must have looked back then!) and saved up enough to purchase squatter's rights to
290 acres of land in San Jose. He later bought another 290 acres, and eventually his total
land holdings grew to 2,000 acres. In 1864 he bought 164 acres on the bay east of what is
now Shoreline Business Park and there he built "The Victorian Beauty." Built of virgin Redwood and Douglas Fir trees, it is the oldest know building in Mountain View. It was owned by generations of Rengstorff family and relatives until it was sold in 1959.
The Spirit of the Times
"The Spirit of the Times" historical notes I read on a sign at the front of Rengstorff House provided background on Henry's life - family, home and industry. Back then his land was bustling with wagons loaded with goods headed for "Rengstorff Landing." It was one of four landings built to ship hay, grain and produce from the Santa Clara Valley's rich, fertile farmlands to markets in San Francisco. These landings were at the end of an "embarcadero" that connected to a deep slough where ships could easily reach the bay. There was also passenger travel on the bay in the winter when the "El Camino Real" was so muddy that coach travel was uncomfortable.
As we circled the property I tried to imagine what it must have been like back in Henry's days. A young man with his wife (who he met here but who was also from Germany) and their 7 children, carving out a memorable life and making such an impact on his community. The historical notes talked of the Rengstorff's hosting weddings, parties, community gatherings and events for Henry's burgeoning transport business. For me, intermingled with that romantic visual of a house alive with activity, were his children riding their ponies and playing games in the surrounding marshlands, that were nothing like they are today, I'm sure.
The house was built in 1867 and was an example of the Bay Area's "late Victorian Italianate" architecture. It was one of the most significant houses in Mountain View. The lace curtains in all the windows made me want to peek inside at the 19th century life. Although a little of my fantasy was shattered when I saw the un-curtained window to the kitchen equipped with a modern stove and microwave oven. This made me decide to live in the dreams in my head instead of coming back to take the docent tour of the inside of the house. Adjacent to the kitchen area, we sat on the low stone wall in the back and gazed at the yard and the flower covered portico over a back entrance feeling soothed by time travel back it's beginnings.
(click to enlarge) Portico Lace curtained window House view overlooking gardens
We then strolled around the side of the house where there was a water tank high up on a structure and a restored windmill next to it. Following a path alongside the garden on the side opposite of the portico you will eventually end up at a white picket fence that winds next to the garden and out towards the lake. Ronald sat patiently, almost meditatively on a bench in the garden while I clicked picture after picture of the house and grounds.
(click to enlarge) Water Tank Windmill Charming Gardens Path winding to fence
At the time of his death at 77 Henry was one of the wealthiest and most respected people in this then young community. His memory lives on when you gaze upon the restored Rengstorff House that fell in to disrepair in the 1950's, but was eventually restored and was noted in the resister of Historical Places in 1978. Docents in period costume provide tours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays.
Ten year old memories or one hundred and fifty - the Rengstorff House and surrounding park are a pleasant and peaceful way to spend a couple hours or a whole day.
I'll be back in Part Two of this series with a tour of the lake and marshlands.