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News

First St. closure set for Saturday

First Street in downtown Los Altos will be closed Saturday (Nov. 22) between West Edith Avenue and Shasta Street for street paving. The closure is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In the event of poor weather, the work will be rescheduled for a later ...

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Schools

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms

Scientists bring experiments into MV classrooms


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
During a Science is Learning geology lesson, Theuerkauf Elementary School students learn about igneous rocks by observing how sugar changes form when heated.

Hundreds of local elementary students perform experiments w...

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Community

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'

Local actors star in PYT's 'Oklahoma!'


Courtesy of Peninsula Youth Theatre
PYT’s “Oklahoma!” features, from left, David Peters of Mountain View, Jenna Levere of Los Altos and Kai Wessel of Mountain View.

Time is running out to catch Peninsula Youth Theatre’s production of “Oklahoma!”...

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Sports

Eagles advance

Eagles advance


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High’s Carmen Annevelink, left, and Kristen Liu put up a block against Mountain View. Annevelink totaled 20 kills.

Mountain View High’s out-of-the-gate energy could last for only so long against rival and he...

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Comment

Coping with addictions: Haugh About That?

Preparing to deal with my lifelong addiction, I stood in front of the mirror ready to confess the shame I’d been hiding. The first step to healing, I reminded myself, is to admit something is wrong.

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Special Sections

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One

NASA, Google agreement preserves Hangar One


Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Hangar One, pictured here last January, will be restored under an agreement between Google and NASA.

NASA and Google Inc. forged an agreement last week that allows Google to lease a portion of NASA’s historic Moffett Fede...

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Business

State Street science center closing Nov. 30

State Street science center closing Nov. 30


Ellie Van Houtte/
Helix at 316 State St. is closing after the completion of a one-year grant from Passerelle Investment Co. The science center became a popular destination because of its various exhibits. Town Crier

A popular downtown destination...

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Books

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree

Children's author signs books at Linden Tree


Author Tiffany Papageorge is scheduled to sign copies of new her book 11 a.m. Dec. 6 at Linden Tree Books, 265 State St., Los Altos.

Papageorge’s “My Yellow Balloon” (Minoan Moon, 2014) is a Mom’s Choice “Gold” winner. In the book, the Los Gat...

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People

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

JAMES WINDELL SMITH

January 11, 1939 – November 6, 2014
Resident of Mountain View

James Windell Smith, a 40 year resident of Los Altos, passed away from complications after a post-surgery stroke November 6th, 2014 in Los Gatos, California.

Born on January 11, 1939 on...

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Travel

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine

Olive Sonoma: There's more to the quaint town than wine


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
While many day-trippers may think that Sonoma is all about the grapes, the region boasts other delights. Try a biplane ride over the patchwork landscape.

Sonoma, a scenic two-hour drive from Los Altos, boa...

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Stepping Out

LA Stage Company opens 'Fairway'

The Los Altos Stage Company production of Ken Ludwig’s new comedy “The Fox on the Fairway” is slated to run Thursday through Dec. 14 at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

A tribute to the English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, “Fox” is a romp that p...

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Spiritual Life

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am

Author of Jewish historical novel slated at Congregation Beth Am


The Beth Am Women have scheduled “A Conversation with Author Maggie Anton” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road, Los Altos Hills.

Anton, winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, will discu...

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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Wonderful Watsonville: Day trip highlights agricultural roots


Eren Göknar/ Special to the Town Crier
A mural painted on the side of a Watsonville building pays homage to the area’s agricultural legacy and promotes its bounty of crops.

It may not have the cachet of some other Northern California hot spots, but a day trip to Watsonville brings you closer to nature and to Steinbeck country.

When you live in the suburbs, it’s easy to take California’s bountiful agricultural regions and rural communities for granted. It’s only when traveling to, say, Michigan in December that you’ll miss a good head of lettuce like the kind we get year round.

Taking the winding Hecker Pass Road/State Route 152 through the redwoods, we witnessed dramatic views of the fields below. Sugar beets and grains used to be the major regional crops, but by the 1920s, strawberries and lettuce took over.

In the 1930s, field workers arrived from Oklahoma, and John Steinbeck chronicled their mistreatment in his books, including “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Cannery Row” and the lesser-known “In Dubious Battle,” set in his native Salinas and on the Monterey Peninsula.

Agricultural legacy

Despite sunny skies, the weather was brisk when we arrived at our first stop in Watsonville, the Codiga Center and Museum at 2601 E. Lake Ave. (aghistoryproject.org), run by the Agricultural History Project.

Set in a quaint two-story barn, volunteers staff the museum from noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Exhibits document the history of the region, including the once-flourishing apple industry and the legacy of the vaqueros.

“Most members of the Agricultural History Project come from farming families,” said volunteer Gloria Van Dierendonck.

In addition to running the museum, the Agricultural History Project collects and restores tools and equipment.

The museum’s Porter Implement Shed includes hand tools like a wood rasp and Cooper’s axe, augers and something called a “fro.” Rickety plows and a one-row potato planter round out the display.

An outdoor garage for restored tractors would probably interest young and old. A model 1937 John Deere tractor and a 1933 Ford truck give an idea of how far machines have evolved.

As part of its educational mission, the group sponsors events the second Saturday of each month. In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Feb. 8 event will combine chocolate and roses. Member John Borena will offer pruning tips, and a local chocolatier promises to hand out delicious morsels.

For tour reservations, call (831) 724-5898 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Immediately adjacent to the museum sits the Rodgers House (santacruzeventcenter.org), once owned by Steinbeck’s sister, Esther Rodgers. She donated it to Santa Cruz County, and it’s been restored to its original 1870s Victorian state. Historical archives include stories of the Pajaro Valley.

El Mercado Popular (elmercadopopular.com), the local farmers’ market, is scheduled year round 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays at Pajaro Valley High School, 500 Harkins Slough Road, and Sundays at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, 2601 E. Lake Ave.

Birding on the sloughs

Hidden from the road, the Watsonville Wetlands (watsonvillewetlandswatch.org) remain one of the last freshwater marshlands in the state. The sloughs make an ideal spot for birdwatching.

Following directions on the Wetlands Watch website, we found Ramsey Park, 30 Harkins Slough Road, and the Nature Center, which serves as a jumping-off point for several trails. Free guided nature walks are offered on Sundays.

According to city officials, the marshlands provide crucial downtime for birds migrating on the “globally important Pacific Flyway.” More than 200 species of shorebirds, raptors and songbirds gravitate to the wetlands.

Children might enjoy looking at the Nature Center’s interactive exhibits, which explain the importance of the wetlands. An estimated 26 endangered species make their home in the wetlands, currently undergoing restoration.

We had no trouble spotting egrets, mallards and swallows as soon as we started our walk. The trails meander through private and public lands on 800 acres, so it’s easy to get lost. Download the trail map at cityofwatsonville.org.

The city boasts 6 miles of paved walking and cycling trails, with 29 accessible trail entrances. Another trailhead, for the Watsonville Slough Trail, sits hidden behind the Body Zone fitness center, 1810 Main St., in a strip mall. Check the map.

Farm-fresh fruits

Crystal Bay Farm at 40 Zils Road (crystalbayfarm.com) sponsors an unmanned, roadside farm stand operated via the honor system.

The farm grows organically certified berries, pumpkins, herbs and other crops. Crystal Bay offers customers the chance to pick their own strawberries ($3 a pound) and raspberries ($8 a pound) from mid-April through October.

Gizdich Ranch at 55 Peckham Road (gizdich-ranch.com) invites visitors to pick all the pay-by-the-pound strawberries they can eat.

Downtown highlights

Once you work up an appetite, head downtown. Visitors will notice the historical apple-crate murals on the sides of buildings. Exact copies of crate labels from the 1900s, they are exclusive to Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley. Download a walking tour brochure from the city’s website.

Watsonville houses plenty of historical homes with interesting architecture built circa the late 1800s and early 1900s. William Weeks, a celebrated architect of the Victorian era, designed most. He also produced the plans for the Gothic Revival-style St. Patrick’s Church at 721 Main St., with an ornate slate-roof steeple that dramatically enhances the building.

Other must-sees include the Resetar Residential Hotel at 15 W. Lake Ave., which Weeks designed in 1927 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style.

The Pajaro Valley Historical Association, headquartered in the Bockius-Orr house at 332 E. Beach St. (pajarovalleyhistory.org), is quite active in town. Godfrey M. Bockius, a Pennsylvania merchant, settled here and commissioned Alex Chalmers to design a Victorian addition in 1870. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

End of the day

Jalisco Restaurant at 618 Main St. (jaliscorestaurant.com), in an enormous space with full bar, serves great steak and chicken fajitas with rice and beans for $14.95. A full Mariachi band plays on Friday nights.

For dessert, try the Tamale Factory at 611 Main St. for sweet tamales.

Surrounded by strawberry fields, sand dunes and pine trees, Sunset State Beach at 201 Sunset Beach Road may be hard to spot, but it’s worth finding for its dramatic coastal views. Watching a spectacular sunset on the Pacific Ocean is a great way to end the day.

For more information, visit cityofwatsonville.org.

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