Sunday, September 17, 2017

Bay Area Pet Fair

     The Bay Area has a lot to offer pets and pet owners, from numerous beautiful dog parks to swimming beaches to outdoor dining at countless restaurants. And every year, there's even a fair for pet families...The Bay Area Pet Fair, California's largest adoption event. According to their website, the pet fair boasts over 70 visiting rescues and shelters, around 1,500 pet adoptions, and about 50,000 visitors.
     The pet fair takes place at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, and admission and parking are free. Although temperatures in Pleasanton are usually pretty high during September, the fair had a few Big Fogg stations for cool-down, buckets of water literally everywhere, and most booths and adoption areas were indoors or under a large canopy. Driving is really the only practical way to visit, especially if you hope to go home with a new family member, and plenty of volunteers are on-hand to get the many visitors parked quickly and hassle-free.
     For visitors not looking to adopt, there are numerous pet food and pet product booths, almost all of which hand out free samples. You can get a tote almost right away to hold it all, but taking a bag is also a good idea. In between collecting samples and learning about different pet products, you can watch dogs going for distance at Splash Dogs, meet a variety of rescue pups and K-9 officers, get a snow cone or some other goody from the food vendors, and meet all the pet guests. Those looking to adopt can additionally get a Wag Bag upon adoption.
     My sister and I were interested in grain-free products, and we weren't disappointed. Most booths had a grain-free line. We also found hemp treats, dental chews, coupons for all kinds of pet products, and a variety of soft and hard foods. We were especially impressed by the Weruva brand. Although the samples were free, there were also booths where one could buy pet-themed floor mats, coffee cups, pillows, bags, and more. We even talked to an animal rescue group about adopting rescued chickens and other animals.
     If you or your pooch get easily overwhelmed by crowds, this pet fair can be a challenge. Each building we entered was deafening with pet chatter, but there was a quiet grassy area with plenty of benches to get away from the chaos for a while. And the Splash Dogs area and Big Fogg stations provided nice open areas to re-ground.
     Overall, the pet fair is ideal for new pet parents looking for the best food options, experienced pet parents looking for more advanced food, training, and supplement options, and for prospective pet parents looking to expand their family. If you like a carnival atmosphere, love animals, enjoy meeting other pet owners, and/or want your pets to have some socializing time outside of the dog park, The Bay Area Pet Fair is definitely a Bay-Area-Miss-Me-Not.

Parking filling up quick before 10 am


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tilden Regional Park

     Running along the Berkeley Hills, Tilden Regional Park is a Bay Area gem that spans parts of Berkeley, Oakland, and unincorporated Contra Costa County. The park offers visitors not only an escape from the city but any and every summer activity they could hope for. So many activities, in fact, that you can't do them all in a day or even two days.
     Our visit started at Little Farm, located on the west end of the park not far from Jewel Lake. Free parking is available a short walk from the farm, or you can take AC Transit #67 from Berkeley BART on the weekends. Little Farm is open every day of the year, 8:30 to 4, and is free. You can bring celery and lettuce to feed to the Shorthorn cows, French Alpine goats, Black Welsh mountain sheep, pig, and ducks and chickens (who prefer lettuce). You can also visit but not feed Dutch rabbits. Turkeys roam the farm as well, though we didn't see any this time. We took one bag of celery, which was soon gone, and the animals' attention quickly turned to new arrivals, hands full of fresh produce.
     After Little Farm, we decided to take advantage of Tilden Nature Area's 10+ miles of hiking trails. We chose the Jewel Lake Nature Trail to Jewel Lake, traveling much of the way on a magical boardwalk. Trees and brush enclosed us, forming a green roof over our heads. When we arrived at the lake, a tree that had fallen into the water was covered with turtles sunning themselves. As we were walking away from the turtles, my sister noticed a crawfish in the brush at the side of the trail. This remains the coolest creature I've seen in the wild in California. If you enjoy hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding, there are nearly 40 miles of trails in Tilden Park proper. Nimitz Way is wheelchair accessible and paved.
     Our next stop was the Botanic Garden, open year round, 8:30 to 5:30 during the summer. The garden is 10 acres and is divided into 10 geographic regions, and the paths wind down into Wildcat Canyon. It felt like wandering into a secret world, and as the gate disappeared from site, my sister and I joked that we might possibly get lost, which didn't bother either of us much. According to the East Bay Park's website, the garden "contains the world's most complete collection of California native plants," including a large collection of manzanitas. We walked along a creek, and as my sister crossed a bridge, I noticed a tiny creature zip under her. It stopped on the side of one of the bridge's boards, and I noticed it was a lizard. We blinked at each other as I leaned close for a better look. As we made our way through the garden, we could hear other creatures zipping off among the plants, and I assume they were more gorgeous lizards.
     We called it a day after the Botanic Garden, but there is so much more to explore. At Lake Anza, you can swim for a small fee, and there are lifeguards on duty during the summer. There's also a carousel (small fee), steam trains (small fee), camping, horse camping, picnicking areas with barbecues, and even a golf course.
     Tilden Regional Park is hands down one of the most enjoyable, affordable places in the Bay Area. Perfect for families, for individuals wanting to get away from the crowd, for birdwatchers, plant enthusiasts, animal lovers, photographers...there's something for everyone. This park is definitely at the top of my Bay Area Miss-Me-Nots.




Jewel Lake Natural Trail

The Crawfish