Rose Hill Cemetery, Bobs Pumpkin Farm, SF Ghost Tours


Freak Out

Boo! Halloween is almost here; so go ahead, embrace your inner kid, and get out for some good old-fashioned scary fun.

Rose Hill Cemetery Black Diamond Mines

Tombstones & Tarantulas

Forget black cats; a randy tarantula crossing your path can really get your heart racing. Rose Hill Cemetery in Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve is a spooky mix of spirits, spiders and tombstones. The 6,286-acre East Bay park was once covered by five coal-mining towns that thrived for a half century beginning in the 1860s. Lying among the departed in Rose Hill is Sarah Norton, a beloved midwife who died when she was thrown from a buggy on her way to nearby Clayton. Legend has it that Norton's spirit still appears as the "white witch," staking claims on both boneyard sepulchers and park visitors alike. In addition to Sarah's apparition, anthropologically inclined visitors can spot headstones dating back as far as 1865 (pick up a pamphlet with the names of the deceased at the cemetery entrance). Also keep your eyes peeled for large, fuzzy spiders. Though tarantulas are normally nocturnal, this is the time of year when males spend their days prowling for female companions. With ghostly tombstones, an old white witch, and horny arachnids, Rose Hill is one freaky treat.

Pick up a brochure about Rose Hill Cemetery from the visitor center. The cemetery is a .5-mile walk (one-way) on the Nortonville Trail from the upper parking lot in Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. To explore the park further, continue another 1.5 miles on the Nortonville and Coal Canyon Trail to "Jim's Place," a tiny underground dwelling with a square skylight and stovepipe hole.

Topic 1 photo courtesy of jasregadoo

Bobs Pumpkin Farm Half Moon Bay

The Pumpkin Man

Pumpkin farms and Half Moon Bay are like garlic fields and Gilroy: they just go well together. And while there are more than half a dozen farms to choose from, Bob's Pumpkin Farm is one of the originals. Bob Marsh started growing and selling pumpkins here with his father fifty-five years ago (almost two decades before pumpkin festivals became in vogue), and still offers a straightforward, home-grown experience. Grab a wheelbarrow for carting around your pumpkins (or friends, if no one's looking) and wander the seemingly endless rows of pumpers in all sizes and shapes, from toddler to sumo and oblong to oblique. While you wander, take some time to enjoy the seaside setting. Make a day of it by enjoying some post-pumpkin-picking downtime at one of the many nearby beaches (we recommend Cowell Ranch Beach). Half Moon Bay panoramas, a friendly atmosphere, and a sizeable pumpkin for around $5? That's boo-tiful!

NOTE: The famous Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival takes place this weekend. It's fun but frenetic; if you're not into crowds and long lines of traffic, consider visiting Bob's some other time this month.

Bob's Farm Fresh Vegetables and Pumpkin Farm is located five miles south of Half Moon Bay on the east side of Highway 1.

San Francisco Ghost Hunt

A Tale of Two Tours

Ghost Hunt: It's 7 p.m. on a cool October evening in Pacific Heights, and standing in the shadows of the Queen Anne Hotel is Jim Fassbinder, a darkly outfitted man clasping a gas lantern. Since 1998, Fassbinder has been leading tours of San Francisco's spookiest spots for visitors and locals alike. Follow him and you'll visit sites of alleged paranormal activities, creepy places from San Francisco's bloodiest histories, and the mansions of infamous city residents. Fassbinder couples a dry sense of humor with painstaking historical research, and even if you're not interested in spying ghosts, you'll love his knowledge, wit, and attention to detail. A few hours with Fassbinder is a frighteningly good time.

Nightly tours leave from the Queen Anne Hotel lobby (1590 Sutter Street) at 7 p.m., rain or shine. Plan for a three-hour tour and be sure to dress warmly. The cost is $20 for adults, $10 for children under 16 (cash only). No reservations are required, but the tour sometimes changes, so be sure to consult the website here or call before arriving.

Vampire Tour: For a chilling tongue-in-cheek evening, pop in your favorite fangs and meet Mina Harker (a.k.a. Kitty Burns), a candelabrum-toting vampiress who guides vampire tours through the gothic side of Nob Hill. Mina will regale you with an interesting miscellany of Bay Area histories and fictitious narratives. You'll hear a trove of stories, including how Mark Twain wrote about the vampire infiltration of Grace Cathedral, and—in nearly the same breath—how the cathedral's door arrived in San Francisco by way of Florence. Mina will recount how wily vampires founded and continue to run our city's major corporations, too. The vampiress has achieved local celebrity, so don't be spooked if area residents give a friendly shout out as you're passing by. The treat at the end of this trick is a stop atop the Mark Hopkins Hotel—where you can savor the spectacular views of the city while sticking your fangs into one of their 100 types of martinis.

Tours start at 8 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night, convening near Huntington Park on the corner of California and Taylor streets. Dress warmly, and note that the very convenient parking at the Grace Hill Cathedral is expensive. The cost is $20 and coming in costume is encouraged! For more information click here.

Topic 3 photo courtesy of pinilla

The North Face:

You and Your Megamouth: Hiking the Bay Area goodlands in autumn can be a feast for the eyes. The fall-tinted foliage and crisp air on the trails of Mount Tam, Point Reyes, and the East Bay will keep you gawking and walking for hours. While you're out there, stay hydrated and comfortable with the The North Face Megamouth Hydration Pack. This all-in-one pack is the perfect companion for an afternoon on the gold-colored trails in the East Bay hills. Its 100 oz Nalgene reservoir and quick-connect hose let you sip and swallow easily, so you don't have to stop moving to take the big gulp. The pack's got extra room to store snacks, extra layers, and other essential supplies (keys, sunscreen, moleskin). Plus there's reflective material for added safety when the lights go down in the headlands. The Megamouth Hydration Pack. It's a smart purchase to swallow.

REMINDER: Present this e-mail for a free water bottle and enter to win $200 at these participating The North Face stores by October 14, 2007 (that's this Sunday!):

The North Face San Francisco, 180 Post St., San Francisco; 415-433-3223.
The North Face Palo Alto, 217 Alma St., Palo Alto; 650-327-1563.

The North Face at Valley Fair Shopping Center, 2855 Stevens Creek Blvd.,
Santa Clara; 408-553-0190.

Other Activities You Might Enjoy