USA Day 2 – Palo Alto

Wednesday 21 December 2022

This trip, as we didn’t want stay in a hotel over Christmas, we’re trying something new; housesitting. We have to be at the house (a 5 minute drive away) at 7.15 am. We get up and check out of our hotel, which serves complimentary breakfast from 7 am. Keen to get our money’s worth, we endeavour to eat breakfast in 10 minutes. We almost manage to scoff down bagels like they’re going out of fashion (which they’re definitely not in America). Then hastily depart – the old man wraps half a bagel in a napkin before heading for the hire car.

Almost immediately, the windows steam up and we can’t work out how to demist them. The old man decides to use the bagel napkin to wipe the condensation off. We arrive almost on time with a windscreen smeared with cream cheese.

The main focus of our house sit is a dog called Mariah. Once we have been shown round and the homeowners have departed, daughter no 2 arrives and we set off to combine walking the dog with a visit to downtown Palo Alto and Stanford University.


Palo Alto

We walk through downtown Palo Alto, lined with shops and a large variety of bars and restaurants.

Downtown Palo Alto

Stanford University

From here it’s on to Stanford’s enormous squirrel laden campus. Mariah loves squirrels.

Stanford Campus

Rodin Sculpture Garden

There is plenty of public art scattered around campus, particularly by Rodin. In fact, Stanford holds one of the world’s largest collections of Rodin sculptures. Mariah is particularly taken with ‘The Gates of Hell’.

Rodin’s Gates of Hell

Hoover Tower

The 87 metre high Hoover Tower is a campus landmark. Not only across campus even. As you fly into San Francisco, you descend over the bay then perform a U turn above the tower before coming in to land at SFO. The tower, named after Herbert Hoover, former US president and Stanford graduate (not related to William Henry Hoover who invented the vacuum cleaner) allegedly offers superb views across the campus. It’s my third trip to Stanford and I still haven’t managed to make it up that damn tower. The first time it was closed due to covid, the second it had opened for affiliates only. I tried begging but to no avail. Now, it’s closed for the holidays. Oh well (books another trip to California). Reservations to climb the elusive tower can be made here; Hoover Tower.

Hoover Tower

The Main Quad

The Romanesque Quad holds Stanford’s 12 original classrooms from its opening in 1891. From here, the campus spreads for literally miles. Some interesting facts I gleaned from the university’s website; the campus consists of 8,180 acres of land containing 630 buildings, 140 shops, 150 companies, 2,360 housing units and 43,000 trees. That’s a lot of walking! And a lot of squirrels!

Stanford Quad

Stanford Memorial Church

Stanford University (Leland Stanford Junior University to be precise) was established by Leland Stanford Senior and his wife Jane as a memorial to their only child died of typhoid aged 15. Jane Stanford designed the church as a memorial to her husband after his death in 1903. The church is noted for its beautiful mosaic-tiled frontage and 19 stained-glass windows. Again, in three visits, we’ve not yet been able to go inside. But the exterior is certainly very impressive.

Stanford Memorial Church

We return to the house via Trader Joes to stock up on supplies. We have walked almost 10 miles. The dog is exhausted and immediately falls asleep in the fireplace.

Hoover Tower

In the afternoon, a quick trip to Walmart, an integral part of any visit to America. As I am about to become a grandma, I can’t resist buying my granddaughter her first Stanford merch.

Stanford babygrows

The combination of yesterday’s travel, today’s walk and the 8 hour time difference mean I’m shattered. I’m not sure I even have the energy to write my blog. As daughter no 2’s boyfriend works in AI, she suggest getting a chatbot to do it for me. This is the result;

“Well, it’s not every day that one gets to visit the esteemed Stanford University campus, but that’s exactly what I found myself doing yesterday. I must admit, I felt quite out of place amongst all the youthful, studious types (I’m a middle-aged British woman, after all!) but I was determined to make the most of it.

Before heading to the campus, I decided to take my trusty dog, Mariah, for a walk. Now Mariah is a bit of a handful at times, but she’s a good girl at heart and she absolutely loves her walks. We strolled through the scenic Stanford grounds, taking in the sights and sounds of student life. It was quite lovely, really.

After our walk, we headed over to Walmart (yes, we even have those in jolly old England!) to do a bit of shopping. I must say, it was quite a different experience from the Tesco’s I’m used to back home. The aisles seemed to go on forever and the choices were positively dizzying! But I managed to navigate my way through the store and even found a few bargains to boot.

All in all, it was a delightful day. Stanford is a truly beautiful campus and Mariah and I had a grand old time exploring it. And who knew that Walmart could be so much fun? I’ll have to make a trip there again sometime.”

Now that I have a bot writing my blog, I can relax and focus on drinking wine. Cheers!


One response to “USA Day 2 – Palo Alto”

  1. […] Parkrun tourists often come to Byxbee parkrun on a visit to San Francisco and return straight afterwards. However, Palo Alto is a nice town to spend a little longer. You can visit Stanford University campus with its historic tower, public art and galleries. Or head further down Silicon Valley to the headquarters of Google and Apple. To find out what we got up to in Palo Alto click here. […]


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