I am lucky to live where I do. Oakland has endless spots where I can simply take a turn and be transported from pavement to dirt. The sound of birds chirping may be accompanied by the drone of a leaf blower but as my feet carry me further into the hills their song becomes a cappella. The namesake giants of Redwood Regional and winding trails of Joaquin Miller are second homes; a curve or bend in a trail is as familiar as a corner of my hallway. The wildland parks and trails of the Oakland Hills are sought after spots for many to escape urban daily life. However, there are times when I feel like my escape does not deliver the solitude I need. Trails such as Stream and Sequoia-Bayview can become nature’s version of a highway. Three weeks ago, in a quest for quiet on a particularly difficult day, I turned to the lesser traveled Leona Canyon Regional Open Space Preserve to be alone with my thoughts.
It’s Monday and there is a question at the forefront of my mind. What do I do now? To stand among 60,000+ people and then scroll through my screen later that day to see that we were just one mass among so many others in cities throughout the world is empowering. I think I likely have company in the question I just posed. I am one person; one woman. How do I use my energy and sense of empowerment to do good; to incite change? I know that so many of us feel ignited to make a difference after the high that comes with being part of such a powerful day, yet how we take the next step forward is individual. It might be cautious for some, and a strong leap for others.
As 2016 comes to a close, life has thrown curve balls that took away the time and energy I typically dedicate to this little corner of the internet on Oakland Momma; it has left me feeling disappointed. I hate to overuse the phrase life balance; I know it is the perpetual goal we all seek as we watch the term fly across pages and screens. As you may know, sometimes I find solace in the definition of a word; in this case I turned to how balance is defined as a verb. To keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall. I feel like I fall everyday; many times. So is balance best looked at over a long period of time? Such as a whole year? Perhaps so in my case. Balancing marriage, parenting, family, household, and blogging in 2016 led to times when one of those fell on a daily basis. On some days I felt as though I was picking up the pieces of each and every one of them. On others I felt as though I was safely balanced in the middle, nary a scratch on me. I hold on to the memories of those days. One of those days was captured by an old friend along the paths of Lake Temescal as we gathered to take a family photo for the upcoming holidays. It was a day that I think of often because the look captured between my two children warms my heart; it takes away the wobble and steadies my balance.
This has been a hard week; in truth, its been a hard year. While there is the obvious cause which streams across our screens and feeds, there are also the private ones. A friend once reminded me how to just be alive is hard, to live each day from sunrise to sundown takes energy and emotion. Along that journey each day we take actions to decide, help, work, listen, soothe, in the name of both ourselves and of others. It is no wonder we battle stress, exhaustion, and anxiety. To do so when faced with adversity that feels like a brick wall overwhelms us.
I turned 40 this week. It’s a funny number; a milestone that can come with mixed feelings. I think back to when I turned 30, how I didn’t really feel odd about entering a new decade. Yet when I turned 31, I was unsettled; in my mind it meant I was officially “in my 30’s”. So silly how we look at these things. Just for fun I decided to look up the definition of age. While the definition of the noun wasn’t that thought provoking, it was the verb definition that caused me to pause; “to grow old or older, especially visibly and obviously so”. Hmm. It’s something I have become more aware of every time my daughter wants to take a selfie with me on my phone; the lines and creases that seem so much more apparent. Just as time adds lines and creases to our skin, it adds dimension to life that may or may not be so obvious, as the definition states. Experience comes with time, some good and some bad. It is our experiences that form us, they take us by the hand and lead us along a path into each new year, ever the wiser; or so we hope.
When I thought about how I wanted to experience my entrance to age 40, I knew early on what I wanted to do. I wanted to be alone. As a wife and a mom of two small children, what I often miss is long stretches of time by myself. I’ve been told it’s a trait that runs through the women in my family; we value solitude. Months ago I began sharing my dream for my 40th birthday; I wanted to wake up by myself, spend an entire day by myself, and then go to bed…by myself. Reactions were mixed; some understood and some didn’t. I decided that my husband and I needed some time away as well, so he joined me for one night, and I then spent two on my own. The Slow Coast region along Highway 1 seemed to be the perfect spot to combine the beauty of nature with peace, quiet, and a bit of self-indulgence. So as I have thought about how to keep these memories in a place where I can peek back I thought forty pictures from my time away shared with you, and with me anytime that I need to draw inspiration, seemed appropriate. Enjoy :o)
I have set a high bar for how I spend 50, I look forward to giving it some thought :o)
Below are some links on my favorite spots along this corridor of Highway 1. I highly recommend you take some time to enjoy this beautiful and particularly mellow part of our coastline.
For more information about the Slow Coast and some of its highlights, visit here.
The lighthouse pictured is Pigeon Point Lighthouse, and they have a hostel there you can stay at!
The forest and waterfalls you see in many images are from an AMAZING hike that stretches from Highway 1 into the Rancho del Oso section of Big Basin Redwoods State Park. It is the Skyline to Sea to Berry Creek Falls hike mentioned in this link. I highly recommend going past Berry Creek Falls by about 3/4 of a mile to the additional set of falls tucked above, it is worth it!
I indulged in an 80-minute massage at Costanoa, a wonderful resort located on Highway 1 between Pescadero and Davenport. They have an array of accommodations, spa and a restaurant. I didn’t stay there but I have had several friends recommend their tent cabins for the ultimate glamping experience. The outdoor hot tub was perfect on an overcast afternoon, timed right between a 15-mile hike and the massage sampler :o)
Pie Ranch is a must for fresh produce, eggs, and of course PIE! It’s an amazing place with an incredible mission.
I picked a bouquet of dahlias for myself at the Pescadero Flowery, a spot located right in downtown Pescadero, such a wonderful and fun experience. I think their pick-your-own season is close to being over, but keep this in mind for a visit next year.
Swanton Berry Farm is where we picked strawberries earlier in the summer, their farm stand is a great stop along the Slow Coast. The hot strawberry apple cider on a cold morning was perfect!
I stayed at an Airbnb that was located closer to the town of Davenport, called Dragonfly Flats; a cabin located on the owners property. It was a lovely spot, but quite off the beaten path. It was about a 15-minute drive to get back out to Highway 1. The gas stove and clawfoot tub were pretty nice though!
A few other highlights not pictured:
Wine Tasting at Sante Arcangeli Family Wines in downtown Pescadero, they have surprisingly lovely Chardonnays and wonderful Pinot Noir. I enjoyed chatting with the owner and picked up a couple of bottles.
Artichoke Bread from Arcangeli Grocery Company is a MUST. Pair it with some goat cheese with Harley Goat Farm.
Whale City Bakery in Davenport – GO! A must for breakfast…
Highway 1 Brewing Company – my husband and I had lunch here right before he left, a mellow place right on the highway with decent food and good beer. They have outdoor seating as well.
Need a good book? Ann Patchett’s new book Commonwealth is a wonderful read.
All photos by Adrienne Schell, do not use without permission.
To use the word “vacation” when traveling with small children is a bit of a stretch. As a good friend once shared, the word “trip” is a better adjective to describe a getaway with little ones in tow. Long gone are the days of a suitcase full of books, hours of solitude in the sun, leisurely dinners, endless cocktails with no concern for what may follow in the morning; another day of laziness awaits. As I type the words I even sigh and daydream of a time that once was. A certain mindset is needed when you enter into a trip with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old; deep breaths are involved. Parenting challenges can become all the more challenging when you alter their routines. While exciting adventures and beautiful spots may await, sometimes young kids could care less. Last week, to celebrate my daughter’s second birthday, my family and I spent seven days in a rustic cabin on the hillside above Fallen Leaf Lake, just west of Lake Tahoe’s southern shores. I coined the phrase “ten minute moment” a couple of days in, as I shared with my husband my approach to finding relaxation and joy in days that still required the patience I often struggle with at home. I was determined to grab as many of them as I could. It’s advice that I think can hold true to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
I often forget how close Oakland is to the coast. Not just to any coast, to the amazing Northern California coast; to Highway One, teal colored water, rugged cliffs, and quaint coastal towns. I was determined to partake in berry picking season this year. I lived in Portland, Oregon for several years and used to always head to the farms just outside the city limits to pick red, purple and blue colored berries when the season hit. When I reviewed lists of recommended spots to pick berries in the Greater Bay Area, I knew the coast was going to be preferred over inland spots. What resulted was a family day trip to Pescadero last Saturday. An early departure meant no traffic. Blue skies equaled that teal-colored water. A list of recommended stops yielded delicious indulgence. Eighteen pounds of bright red organic strawberries meant I had work to do when we got home.
It seems I am taking a bit of an unplanned hiatus this week. Its hard for me; my schedule didn’t allow for me to get posts lined up in time and my kids chose to be homebodies earlier in the week, despite my attempts at coaxing them out on Oakland adventures that I could share here with you. So I am going to take a bit of time to read a book, enjoy the gorgeous weather, and welcome the impromptu break.
I do have a couple of articles that have gone online this week that I invite you to read, and share if you are so inclined. I have lots planned for the coming few weeks with trips to Oaktown Spice Shop, Schilling Gardens, Flax Art & Design, and much more. Stay Tuned!
In the meantime….
My piece about the mosaic trash cans in Oakland was published this morning on www.bolditalic.com, you can find it here.
I also had a list of kid-friendly beer & wine spots throughout the East Bay go up on www.berkeleyside.com, click here to read more.
I will see you next week!
Photo Credit: Adrienne Schell