the day in the oakland area

[Written after being home for a week.]

On the way out of Shelter Cove, I stopped at the general store, just to see it. It is tiny. And it is the only store in town. 

After that, back on the long and winding road, ending at Highway 101. From there, I drove south to San Pablo, in the East Bay, outside of Oakland and Richmond. This portion of Highway 101 doesn't have spectacular views, but it was still scenic and relaxing. 

I had booked a little Airbnb a few blocks from where another nephew J, his partner C, and my grand-nephew (now five months old) live. (The nephews and nieces and partners I visited are my brother's adult children; my sister's adult children live in New York State and New Jersey.)

I had approximately the same amount of time in San Pablo as I did in Shelter Cove: dinner and the evening, a full day, then leave the following morning. J, like me, is an intrepid urban explorer and tour guide, and he showed me several really interesting spots in the Richmond-Oakland area. Previously I had been to Oakland for baseball, but hadn't seen anything else, so this was a real treat. Here are some highlights.

Point Molate is one of many "points" in the East Bay, little peninsulas that each have their own character. That character is often very pricey real estate and upscale shopping. Point Molate, however, is completely undeveloped. 

The area has been the subject of a decades-long, ongoing land dispute. (A series of articles on Point Molate's "unique and colorful history" begins here.) While the land is being fought over, it's been left wild. There are miles of hiking and bike trails, with some interesting landmarks: abandoned, boarded-up barracks, and Winehaven Castle, a fortress-like brick complex that was once the largest winery in the country. The empty buildings give the area a haunted, dystopian look. (In this aerial view, the barracks are on the right, the fortress on the left.)

At the very tip of the peninsula is San Pablo Harbor, a tiny, funky outpost of counterculture. Floathouses and sculptures constructed for Burning Man share the space with a flock of goats and a "pirate" barbeque joint. On the weekends there is live music. The website makes it seem more developed and commercial than it looks -- but also has great video views, if you're interested.

These are some not-very-good cell phone pics of San Pablo Harbor. As I've mentioned, I purposely didn't take our camera on this trip, but I did occasionally miss it!

The pirate himself, at the smoker

Later in the day, this time with C, we walked around Lake Merritt, a human-constructed lagoon in downtown Oakland. From the LakeMerritt.org website:

Lake Merritt in Oakland, California is one of the most unique urban spaces in the United States. Its three mile shoreline in the center of an exceptionally diverse city is a special place where nature and nurture migrate and mingle daily. This tidal lagoon is home to the United States' oldest designated wildlife refuge dating from 1870. 

If you love cities and public space, this is an amazing place. On our three-mile walk around the water, we passed a huge drumming circle with all manner of percussion; a long row of vendors selling Caribbean food, crafts, and mushrooms; boat rentals; gardens; lots of birds (herons, egrets, pelicans, several different kinds of ducks); a nature centre, and lots more. It was super interesting. (Also super sunny, and for the second time on this trip, I wasn't wearing sunscreen. After my sunburn in Shelter Cove, I meant to buy some... but did not.)

Earlier in the day, J and I also stopped at the site of a former factory that has been brilliantly converted: the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant, now a National Park Service site. It's used for performances, craft fairs, and all kinds of cultural events. While we were there, it was the finish line for a community 5K.

The giant building is adjacent to Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front, where the Rosie the Riveter concept and image were born! We were too early to tour this, but it is absolutely on my list for the next time I'm in the Bay Area. 

We also had a great breakfast in Berkeley, and Ethiopian food, a mainstay of Oakland, for dinner. This was in a neighbourhood that J and C used to live in, now clearly a hipster haven.

The biggest highlight of San Pablo -- Asher, my grand-nephew -- was with us the whole time, world's happiest and most chill baby. In keeping with my work on being more comfortable sharing photos of myself, here you go.

I've also added more pics to the post about Shelter Cove.


Amy said...

Those sculpture photos are wonderful, but my favorite is of you with the baby! Did you not bring the camera because you didn't have room to pack it? Or did you just think you wouldn't want to take photos? The camera phone did an awesome job.

laura k said...

I didn't bring the camera partly because it means carrying a separate bag -- a camera bag with lenses -- so it's one more thing to have to keep track of.

But mostly I didn't because when I have it, I am really into taking photos, capturing everything possible, and much less present in the moment. I knew I'd be spending time with people that I rarely see, and I wanted to be there, and not in photography mode.

You always ask the best questions that let me record details I left out of the post. :)

Amy said...

I totally get both reasons. I don't miss carrying around a camera and rely entirely on my phone. Given how I used a camera, the phone is at least as good for my photos if not better. And I find that I am not taking as many photos as I once did because I am trying to focus on where I am and the people I am with more consciously. We took our grandkids to the Audubon Society to make a donation from money they raised, and their interaction with the staff was precious. So when I told their mother, she wanted to know if I took pictures or videos. It had never occurred to me. And I am glad that it hadn't. It's an experience I won't forget with or without a photo.

laura k said...

That's great, Amy. I didn't expect anyone to relate to this. :)

This is part of my overall "digital minimalism" strategy -- wanting to live more deeply, and feel less scattered. Choosing quality over quanity.

In my case, the camera takes much better photos, and I would have come home with tons more pics, But it was a better experience without it.

With God's Help said...

I love seeing you pictured!

laura k said...

Thank you WGH!