Nancy has bought a few items from Glassbaby and was interested in getting one as a gift for someone. Previously we have been to their stores in the Bay Area but this time we went to they works in Berkeley. They have a storefront but it is primarily a glass blowing facility. As we walked in, I was drawn to the groups of people that were busy creating their works of glass art. Nancy was browsing the shelves of glass so I went back to the car to grab the camera.
There were two groups of people at work. Further back in the shop were the staff who were busy creating the core product of the company. They were heating and having the glass pretty efficiently. One of the nice things about Glassbaby’s products is that they are all hand made and consequently, no two are exactly alike.
At the other end of the shop were some people that were doing their own thing. I don’t know whether they were just using the facilities or whether they run training programs. Some of theme seemed to be under instruction. You quickly see which people are skilled at working the glass and which ones are just getting to grips with how tricky it can be. The heat coming from the furnaces could be felt even where I was and the people who were working definitely seemed to be experiencing the heat. However, they seemed to be having a good time creating.
Head southeast from San Jose and the terrain heads sharply up. Mount Hamilton sits ahead of you and, if you want to take the 18 mile trip up the mountain, you will arrive at the Lick Observatory. Operated by the University of California, there are many different telescopes in use. Visitors are welcome to see two of the telescopes.
At one time, the top of the mountain was home to quite a community including a school for the children of the staff. However, as the observations are now able to be made and controlled remotely, there is no need for the science teams to live up on the mountain. They make trips up for initial testing of instruments when they can stay in dormitories. However, once things are up and running, they can head back down the mountain. Consequently, the residents are now the maintenance and engineering staff. This means there is a far smaller number of people up on the summit most of the time.
The view from the summit is very cool. We had a bit of haze in the air which limited things a little but the view down to San Jose and off to the Bay is impressive. It would have been nice to have been up there a day or so before when the skies were very clear. However, they also get some snow up there so it might have been a trickier drive up.
An enclave away from the main botanic garden is the Redwood Amphitheater. When we arrived, a wedding was underway in this area but, by the time we had finished walking around the main garden, it was open again so we checked it out. While the redwoods in there are still young by sequoia standards, they are certainly not small. The amphitheater itself is rather nice and it does look like a good spot for a wedding. While we were there, a couple was checking it out. Our assumption was that one person was from the botanic garden explaining to them what could be done, one was their wedding planner and the couple was taking all of this in. At least she seemed to be taking it all in. I got the feeling he was along for the ride on this one but probably wasn’t quite as “in” to it as she was. Good luck fella!
We took a trip to the University of California Botanic Gardens at Berkeley to see what the collection included. I will share a bit more about the place in due course but one early stop was in a glasshouse that had a collection of carnivorous plants. They had the obvious Venus fly traps but they had far more of the pitcher plants. Some were in cases but there were a few out in the open and close to your head. I think these things are fascinating plants and they look rather cool. Maybe you won’t agree but here are some for you to judge.
The UC Botanic Garden in Berkeley was beginning to show the signs of fall when we visited. Located in the hills above Berkeley, the climate is probably quite different to other areas nearby. In a previous trip to the area, the clouds were rolling across the hillside making it cold and damp when it was warm and sunny a short distance away. I imagine this impacts what thrives on the hills. Some of the plants were clearly suited to arid conditions. However, there were signs of the trees turning red and brown as fall set in so obviously they have quite a variety of plants as would befit such a garden.
I don’t know much about plants and so cannot name what we saw. Instead, I shall share a few of the views through the gardens which looked particularly nice given the lower angle of the sun as the time of day and year.