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Monday 2 July 2012

Tilden Park

Nestled at the top of the Berkeley Hills is a wonderful Regional Park called Tilden Park. Tilden Park is so much more than just a nature reserve, offering a host of activities for Bay Area families.

Amongst the 2,079 acres of nature Tilden Park is home to many popular family attractions including Little Farm, a vintage carousel, Anza Lake, Botanic Gardens, a golf course and a steam train.

We have visited Tilden Park on three occasions so far, each time focusing on a particular location: Little Farm, the carousel and Anza Lake. Here's a look at each one...

Little Farm

Our first trip to Tilden Park was to the Little Farm to check out the animals.
We packed a bag of celery and lettuce to feed our new farm friends and set off on a chilly early Spring morning.


Ava and Lola were delighted to see cows, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and rabbits up close - although not too close when it came to the big hungry animals! Ava was keen to feed the animals although every time a hungry creature came up to her out stretched hand she dropped the celery or lettuce she had been holding. Eventually she worked up the courage to hold on to the food until it was taken away by a furry friend but it took quite a while. Those long cow tongues can be quite scary - and we all know that goats are evil!

Who knew that cows love celery?

Holy cow - look at that tongue!

Ava feeds a goat

Lola wasn't keen to feed the larger animals instead preferring to watch from a safe distance. I guess when you're Lola's size a cow must seem like a woolly mammoth!

Lola was a little frightened of the cows
Hello cow

For the most part Lola was just happy to walk around and watch the other children with the animals. She was however, pretty taken with the chickens and ducks and was eager to try and feed them. Her feathery friends however were not so interested in the tiny pieces of lettuce that Lola poked through the fence, preferring instead to peck at seed on the ground.

All manner of fowl

Lola offers a tiny morsel to the uninterested chickens
Farmer Lola
Farmers Kim and Lola

In a sign that Spring was upon us we were treated to the sight of many young lambs at the Little Farm. A pair of lambs had actually been born not more than 24 hours before our visit. These tiny lambs were kept in a small enclosed area with their mother however we were able to poke our heads in for a quick peek. Slightly older lambs were allowed out of their pens delighting the children (and grown ups) as they frolicked about.

Little lambs out with their mother

Baa Baa Black Sheep...

Children are able to take part in milking the cows at the Little Farm however we did not seem to be there at the right time for this. Maybe next time.

Looking over Little Farm from the top paddocks

The girls loved visiting Little Farm and we'll definitely be going back for more farmyard fun.

The Carousel

We visited the carousel at Tilden Park to attend the birthday party of one of Ava's preschool friends. It's a lovely place for a birthday party with picnic grounds, sprawling lawn areas and, of course, a carousel.

The vintage carousel features horses, frogs, roosters, tigers and giraffes all painted with beautiful detail. Of course, all the girls wanted to ride the horses, and the horses only!

Waiting to ride

I've got a ticket!

Lola rides the carousel

Ava rides the carousel

Mr Rooster

Mr Frog

Ava loved the carousel so much she has decided that she would like to have her next birthday party there as well. We'll have to keep it in mind although I'm sure she'll have many more places to add to her list between now and February!

The carousel is housed in an enclosed rotunda making it perfect for all seasons

Driving back through Tilden Park we noticed that the entire view over the East Bay and San Francisco was shrouded by cloud. I still can't get over the cloud and fog in the Bay Area. It will be sunny with blue skies in one area but completely cloudy/foggy and grey in another only a short drive away. It had been a beautiful sunny day up in the hills but as we ventured back down towards our home it became grey and miserable.
Here's a look at the cloud over the bay. On a cloud free day we should be able to see Berkeley, the bay and San Francisco. Maybe even the Golden Gate Bridge. Not this day!

Cloudy view

Ava and I with the cloudy view - she just had to hold that stick in the photo for some reason!

Anza Lake

Our visit to Anza Lake was also for a birthday celebration, this time for one of Kim's work mates.
Anza Lake is a small fenced off swimming area complete with life guards, a sandy beach, kiosk, change rooms and a lawn area perfect for picnics and frisbee throwing.

A small entry fee is charged ($3.50 for adults, $2.50 for kids) which is something that we just don't come across in Australia.

While it was a nice day Kim and I just didn't feel that it was warm enough for us to go swimming. Of course, our water loving children could care less about the weather and were ready to dive in as soon as we arrived. Both girls splashed about in the slightly chilly water for about half an hour. This left me pretty drenched and with a sore back from hunching over to help Lola "swim"! The swimming area of the lake is marked with ropes and is divided into two or three sections of varying depths. Ava was keen to swim in the deeper sections however we were reminded by the life guard that all children under the age of six must be within arm's length of a parent at all times. Kind of tricky when Kim and I were fully dressed!

As with our last visit to Tilden Park the fog/cloud set in later in the day. What had been a fairly warm and sunny day turned into a quite cool and cloudy day rather quickly. A few swimmers still remained after the fog set in, but even Ava decided that it was too cold to get back in the water - and that NEVER happens!

Fog settling in over Anza Lake

Fog settling in over Anza Lake

Even the lifeguard rugged up once the fog set in

Ava plays frisbee

Our first two visits to Tilden Park had been by car. This visit however we decided to go by public transport and caught the bus.  We had no problems getting to Anza Lake, however on the way back we were a little confused by the bus route (it only appears to go in one direction) and missed our bus home.  This resulted in a 30 minute wait in the now quite chilly air while giant mosquitos tried to eat us!
At least we know for next time that the bus only goes in one direction!

Check out the size of that mosquito!

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