Life in Palo Alto can be fast-paced, and it can be difficult to find open space, wildlife or nature. But, take a drive up to the Palo Alto Hills, and you can find all of that and then some.
Palo Alto Hills is located above Interstate 280 and consists of long, windy roads that lead up to its 78 households. The neighborhood is quiet and diverse with long trails perfect for biking, jogging or hiking.
"We're a family of runners so what really drew us to the neighborhood was the privacy and easy access to the trails," said Jay Weber, who moved to the Hills with his wife and two daughters in August 2009.
The nature and open space is what has prompted many other residents to move their families to the neighborhood.
"I love that it's so much like the East Coast," said Marion Recine, who moved from upstate New York 39 years ago. "All the hills and oak trees remind me so much of being back home."
With the neighborhood being so secluded, it is a peaceful place for residents to get away from their hectic work life. Nonetheless, some feel that it's too isolated. With the nearest grocery store being almost five miles away, residents need to learn to adjust to traveling long distances to get places.
Despite the quiet and seclusion, there is a sense of community: An annual Christmastime get-together is organized by the Palo Alto Hills Neighborhood Association (PAHNA) to bring the neighbors closer together.
Mark Nadim, PAHNA president, has lived in the Hills for 24 years and does all that he can to make sure the community stays connected. The neighborhood events he plans are held at the Palo Alto Hills Golf and Country Club, the focal point of the neighborhood.
That's also where the neighborhood is supposed to go in case of an emergency.
"They're our refuge," Nadim said. "They've made it clear that if anything happens, they're here for us."
With all the hills, plants and open space, it's no surprise that this small community is home to a myriad of animals ranging from bobcats to jackrabbits. Although the wildlife is a selling point for many, it has caused problems for residents who have pets or enjoy gardening.
Sophia Kim, a mother of three who moved to the neighborhood in 1998, must constantly keep an eye on her small dog to prevent him from being snatched up by a coyote. She has also witnessed rodents and rattlesnakes on her property on multiple occasions.
Recine, along with many other neighbors with gardens, has been forced to put a gate around her property to protect plants from being eaten. Despite the disturbance the critters can cause, neighbors like Kim have come to acknowledge the beauty of it all.
"The snakes and other animals really bothered me at first," she said, "but over time, I've started to appreciate the wildlife around us."
Regardless of the frustrations living near so much wildlife can cause, the neighborhood's peaceful community keeps people happy.
"I wanted a place for my children where there would be land and they could learn how to work in the yard," Recine said. "It's beautiful up here. I absolutely love it."
FIRE STATION: No. 8, Foothills Park, 3300 Page Mill Road (during summer); No. 5, 600 Arastradero Road
LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middlefield Road
LOCATION: off Page Mill Road: Alexis Drive, Country Club Court, Bandera Drive and Laurel Glen Drive
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Mark Nadim, president, 650-949-5672; firstname.lastname@example.org,
PARK: Foothills Park, 3300 Page Mill Road
POST OFFICE: Main Post Office, 2085 E Bayshore Road
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Nixon Elementary School, Terman Middle School, Gunn High School
SHOPPING: El Camino Real, Downtown Los Altos, California Avenue