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News

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk

E. coli found in Los Altos water indicated breach, but only low risk


Courtesy of Microbe World
Colorized low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria

When E. coli and other bacteria were discovered in some Los Altos water last week, officials from the local water supplier, California Water...

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Schools

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth

BCS hosts Stretch to Kindergarten program for underserved youth


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The six-week, tuition-free Stretch to Kindergarten program, hosted at Bullis Charter School, serves children who have not attended preschool. A teacher leads children in singing about the parts of a butterfly, above.

Local un...

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Community

Google car painting project calls on artists

Google car painting project calls on artists


Google self-driving car

Already known as an innovator in the tech field, Google Inc. is now moving in on the art world.

The Mountain View-based company July 11 launched the “Paint the Town” contest, a “moving art experiment” that invites Califo...

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Sports

Pedaling with a purpose

Pedaling with a purpose


courtesy of
Rishi Bommannan Rishi Bommannan cycled from Bates College in Maine to his home in Los Altos Hills, taking several selfies along the way. He also raised nearly $13,000 for the Livestrong Foundation, which supports cancer patients.

When R...

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Comment

The truth about coyotes: Other Voices

The Town Crier’s recent article on coyotes venturing down from the foothills in search of sustenance referenced the organization Project Coyote (“Recent coyote attacks keep residents on edge,” July 1). Do not waste your time contac...

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Special Sections

Grant Park senior program made permanent

Grant Park senior program made permanent


Photos by Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Local residents participate in an exercise class at the Grant Park Senior Center, above. Betsy Reeves, below left with Gail Enenstein, lobbied for senior programming in south Los Altos.

It all began when Betsy Reev...

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Business

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered

New State Street rug retailer has downtown Los Altos covered


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Los Altos Rug Gallery owner Fahim Karimi stocks his State Street store with a wall-to-wall array of floor coverings.

A new downtown business owner plans to roll out the red carpet – along with rugs of every other color –...

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Books

Book Signings

• Fritz and Nomi Trapnell have scheduled a book-signing party 4-6 p.m. Aug. 1 at their home, 648 University Ave., Los Altos.

Fritz and his daughter, Dana Tibbitts, co-authored “Harnessing the Sky: Frederick ‘Trap’ Trapnell, ...

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People

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

GRACE WILSON FRANKS

Resident of Los Altos

Grace Wilson Franks, our beloved mother and grandmother, left us peacefully on July 16, 2015 just a few weeks short of her 92nd birthday. She was born to Ross and Florence (Cruzan) Wilson in rural Tulare, California on Septem...

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Travel

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories

Gearing up: Make travel more civilized with accessories


Eren Göknar/Special to the Town Crier
San Francisco-based humangear Inc. sells totes, tubes and tubs for traveling.

In travel, as in romance, it’s the little things that count.

Beyond the glossy brochures lie the travel discomforts too mun...

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Stepping Out

Going out with a 'Bang'

Going out with a 'Bang'


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” stars, clockwise from top left, Alexander Sanchez, Sophia Sturiale, Deborah Rosengaus and Danny Martin.

Los Altos Stage Company and Los Altos Youth Theatre’s joint production of t...

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Spiritual Life

Build a 'light' house and get out of that dark place

Most of us have a place inside our hearts and minds that occasionally causes us trouble. For some, it is sadness, depression or despair. For others, it may be fear, anger, resentment or myriad other emotional “dark places” that at times seem to hij...

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Magazine

Inside Mountain View

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event

Residents gather at NASA Ames for Pluto Flyby event


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
NASA Ames’ Pluto Flyover event kindles the imaginations of young attendees.

Sue Moore watched the July 20, 1969, moon landing beside patients and staff members of the San Francisco hospital where she worked as a nurse...

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Two vastly different family haulers


Photo By: courtesy of Subaru
Photo Courtesy Of Subaru All-wheel drive comes standard on the 2014 Subaru Forester, which also features high ground clearance and ample cargo space that make it an ideal vehicle to take camping.

 

In Los Altos we see plenty of family vehicles on the streets, from SUVs to station wagons to minivans. Most were purchased to transport family members to and from school, sports practices and weekend trips, as well running errands that include shopping for bulk items that take up a lot of space.

We recently drove two vehicles – the Nissan Quest, redesigned in 2013, and the all-new 2014 Subaru Forester – that would be excellent for active families but are vastly different from one another in design and function.

The Quest is designed primarily for the family that spends most of its time in local urban settings, with trips taken primarily on freeways. For example, it’s perfect for getting six soccer players to practice and taking the family on road trips to places like Hearst Castle and Disneyland. The surprising advantage of this van is that the seats fold down to form a flat floor like that of a large SUV, so that a load of gardening equipment or a kit to build a playhouse can easily be fitted into the back.

By contrast, the Forester is all about the outdoors. Standard all-wheel drive, high ground clearance and good cargo space make it perfect for a trip to a campsite in the high country with a side trip down dirt roads to the ghost town of Bodie on the far side of the Sierra Nevada. The surprise here is that this crossover SUV has good highway power and returns excellent fuel economy.

There’s no mistaking the Quest for any other car in the school pickup line. This is one big van, only a few inches shorter in length, height and width than a full-size SUV like its big brother, the Nissan Armada. In addition – to address that guy-thing about minivans – the styling is swoopy and aggressive inside and out, with its appearance more inspired by a sports car than a school bus.

Notable features of the Quest include a super-comfortable interior, though Nissan has elected to provide only separate captains’ chairs in the second row, rather than bench seating, which means no more than seven passengers. Trim and accessories are luxurious, with entertainment options available to make a daylong expedition just another day on the couch in front of the DVD player and game console.

Despite its length and weight – which make the vehicle a bit of a handful on curving highways – the Quest has a terrific turning radius. This makes parking-garage maneuvering no problem, especially with the 360-degree camera. The car is also wide, but the powered sliding side doors – that great minivan feature – make it easy to load and unload in any standard parking place.

On the road, the solid suspension, continuously variable transmission (CVT), and 260 horsepower engine make highway travel a dream. The major downside is that with more than 4,000 pounds of curb weight, highway mileage is no better than 25 mpg, and overall fuel efficiency is only 21 mpg.

With all that luxury and power, the vehicle is priced accordingly. Our 3.5 LE model with navigation, DVD players in front and back, Bluetooth and 360 degree cameras, stickered at $43,675.

The Subaru Forester is a contrast to the Quest in almost every respect, but the family that prefers spending time outdoors in a kayak or on skis instead of in a theme park or on a soccer field will think it’s just about perfect. Anything up to moderate off-road adventuring – unpaved and muddy trails, crawling up and down hill to a remote campsite and traversing snow-covered roads without stopping to put on chains – are the types of terrain and travel for which the Forester was designed.

Since the Forester is all about practicality and function, consideration will probably start with price and fuel efficiency: our 2.5i touring, second highest in the Forester model lineup, was priced at $33,220 and included all the basics of GPS, satellite radio, smart-phone integration and heated front seats. However, in contrast to the Quest, there’s nothing fancy in this interior. This car is definitely not pretending to be anything it’s not.

But surprisingly, our test also had the recently introduced Subaru EyeSight option package at a very reasonable $2,400. EyeSight provides a level of safety technology just now being introduced in Mercedes and BMW top-of-the-line vehicles. With front-facing cameras mounted on either side of the rear-view mirror, this system uses the same principles as human eyesight to measure distances to objects in front of the car and estimate their speed and direction.

Using this sensor capability in conjunction with its computers and brake system, the vehicle can maintain safe speeds and distances from other vehicles in highway traffic, and slow and even stop at low speeds to avoid colliding with cars ahead that stop unexpectedly. It can also warn the driver of vehicles coming into the blind spots, that the car is drifting out of its lane, that vehicles ahead are slowing down or that the road has started to curve and requires steering correction.

Basic highway handling and power is more than adequate, with the turbocharged flat-four cylinder Subaru engine putting out 250 horsepower, not much less than the Quest. But with only 3,600 pounds to move around, the benefit is fuel efficiency of 24 city, 32 highway and 27 combined mpg.

No need to worry about the kids taking the car for a joyride. The built-in safety systems designed to keep the car stable at high speeds and safe on curves and in traffic make it virtually impossible to drive the Forester like a hot rod.

The bottom line is that both of these vehicles should make their respective families happy. Practical outdoor campers will enjoy the Forester, while traveling sports team families will look forward to away games in the Quest.

Longtime Los Altos residents Gary and Genie Anderson are co-owners of Enthusiast Publications LLC, which edits several car club magazines and contributes articles and columns to automotive magazines and online services.

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