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Palo Alto High School Flea Market & Dinosaurs

On a typical second Saturday morning of the month, we stroll along the Embarcadero bike path. When we hear a train horn blasting in the distance, Sam excitedly calls for us to stop to watch. We can feel the breeze left by the train speeding by us behind the wire fence on the tracks parallel to the path. One or two people on the commuter train normally spot us and wave. Sam squeals “it’s the Cal-a-train!”, then waves to say good-bye. “Bye-bye, train.” Once we reach Town & Country Village, we cross the street next to Palo Alto High School for the flea market.

We did the same this Saturday, but were met with an empty parking lot. Oops, I should have checked the schedule. We picked up Trader Joe’s groceries and walked back home. I looked online to see if it is a seasonal thing. The only schedule I could find is on Palo Alto High School’s website here. It appears to be ongoing, but is not always the second Saturday. For example, this month it is held on the third Saturday. The date change is most likely because of the nearby Stanford Football game last weekend.

When I think of a typical flea market, I normally think of vendor after vendor selling new cheap trinkets made who-knows-where. However, this is a real flea market. There are a couple of vendors selling these items, but the large majority are not. You can imagine most of these items sitting in one’s garage or storage unit for a long time and some of the sellers ask for ridiculous prices. Not all of them though and some we visit every time. Mostly the “dinosaur lady” and “duplo/train lady” as we call them. We also bought a wooden pull toy a few months ago with three ducks in a row, which Sam still takes for walks around the apartment every morning and evening. Sometimes, it really are the simple toys that get the most play.

Sam recognizes the locations of the tables. Last month, the “dinosaur lady” took a break from selling to do some buying. Sam pointed at the empty parking spaces asking for his dinosaur. While we were explaining she wasn’t there that day and there would be no dinosaur, we saw her walking by us. We are frequent customers and she recognized us immediately. Sam asked again for his dinosaur and she delivered. She was carrying a bag of dinosaurs around with her, just in case she saw anyone like us wanting one. Another $3 dinosaur later, Sam has another toy for his collection.

These toys – the dinosaurs, duplos, and wooden pull toy – are the toys Sam plays with the majority of the time. Recently, he has gone beyond just yelling “rawr!” and creating imaginary scenarios. The dinosaurs are very good at sharing, saying “please” and “thank you”, and they cook a lot of salads with his play dishes and paper food cut out from a newspaper. They also occasionally enjoy chocolate which was meant for me…

Elaborate scenes among the dinosaurs, collaborative duplo structures, creative wooden train set building, and long walks in circles with the ducks make me very happy we started going to the flea market.

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