From up on Mt. Hamilton, you can see a lot. Hard to see in my photo, I know. However, the left of the photo above shows San Jose and at right of middle shows San Francisco amongst much more. Its easier to see in person and so I highly recommend visiting. Drive safely and slowly as the road to the top is winding, includes many rocks and dirt patches, and is a favorite for impressive bicyclists to conquer.
South San Jose is in the right of this photo above and Monterey is in the center in the distance.
And when you are ready to go inside the Lick Observatory from atop Mt. Hamilton, you can see this gigantic telescope from 1888, among other modern telescopes at the observatory.
Here is Uvas Reservoir now, during our drought. The water is usually much higher.
Still, that is better than it was five months ago before we had even modest rain amounts. Here is the same spot in October below.
Below is another part of Uvas reservoir now, during our drought.
You have to go a ways down to get to the water. Still, that is better than it was in October as seen below.
It is amazing how many gallons of water that difference represents at just one of many reservoirs we have. I look forward to comparing these photos to future wet and dry years. Interestingly, when it is wet, or wetter, dry, or drier, there always seems to be people out here finding some form of recreation. I didn’t capture it in photos but there are at least 20 people around me as I took these photos on both dates fishing, walking, relaxing, and taking photos.
The first parish in California was a small church built of adobe in San Jose. Over time, it was rebuilt after earthquakes and fires and eventually became the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph in downtown San Jose.
The story goes that at some point, Spain, which had taken control of the Ohlone land that is now San Jose, shipped over a church door to be used by the San Jose parish in some capacity. The door had come from a 12th century medieval church in Europe.
When it was decided to build a second church location in San Jose, it was constructed in 1872, called St. Patrick parish, and used that medieval door that Spain had sent over for the entrance. That church also eventually suffered from various earthquakes and fires so that it is now a newer building and called Our Lady of La Vang Parish in downtown San Jose.
The 1906 earthquake, however, destroyed the original church building, among many other buildings in the area. That’s when a San Jose resident named Paul Mason took the old door from the rubble and debris of the St. Patrick church.
Paul Mason had married the oldest daughter of his business partner, Charles Lefranc. Lefranc had created the first winery in California using French grapes instead of the Spanish grapes that the missionaries had brought over and spread as they colonized California. That first French style grape winery is now a park in San Jose, California. Back to 1906… The big earthquake had also damaged the wine cellar that Paul Mason had at his winery in the hills of Saratoga overlooking San Jose. When the new wine cellar building opened back up in 1907, it had some nice old doors from the 12th century.
Lefranc and Mason went on to become well known winemakers who helped to develop the California wine business. While the San Jose winery that Lefranc had started is now a park in a residential neighborhood, the winery that Mason opened in the hills of Saratoga stands today and is known as the Mountain Winery. It is a beautiful place where concerts and weddings and special events are held. When you look at the stage, with the old stone wine cellar building on it as a backdrop, and you see that door that famous musicians use to walk out on to the stage, you are looking at a very old door. It is a door that once hung at the St. Patrick church, and traveled by ship, and had hung in Europe, having been touched by unknown numbers of people in churches and on stage and in life, since it was made in the 1100’s. That is a pretty neat door.
I was very excited to touch it. If you end up at the Mountain Winery, I highly recommend noticing the old door on the stage and thinking about its history for a bit.
This photo was taken from “inside” the Uvas Reservoir just before last week’s rain. many things are interesting about this and about the time spent standing “in” there, thinking. One neat thing about this was this tree stump. The dam was built in 1957 and this tree has presumably been submerged ever since. Or, at least, most of the time ever since. Maybe it was exposed in other droughts? Certainly it was submerged every time I had happened to ever visit the reservoir here in the Santa Clara County Park. Either way, this tree was once a tree along Uvas Creek before there was a reservoir about it. This tree has been sitting under water for most of 64 years, brushing up against fish and snails and water molecules for decades.
Do you see that large exposed rock? Once upon a time, nearly 23 million years ago, that was a lava flow. A whole lot of hot lava came flowing out of volcanos that happened to be situated on a fault, a crack in the Earth’s crust, where the west side of the fault moved north slowly but surely in fits and starts punctuated by earthquakes in California. Today, this now solid rock is in northern California, less than 90 miles by car south of San Jose. The volcanoes themselves, mountains made of softer rock, have eroded away leaving these giant hardened and ancient lava flows to stand out and be explored and appreciated. What about the rest of the volcano flows that happened to land on the east side of that fault millions of years ago? Well, those hardened flows are in southern California, 195 miles away near Los Angeles.
Yes, that giant rock pictured, and there is a WHOLE lot more not pictured – the lava flow area was huge from several volcanos, has traveled north 195 miles since it formed from cooling lava, along with much of coastal California. I told my children that in a few million years more, it will only take a couple of minutes to drive to Pinnacles National Park from San Jose.