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.
Yesterday was the day to honor what we are grateful and thankful for. Today is a day when you may be thankful for elastic waistbands. As I have spent the past few weeks trying to make sense of the changes our country has voted for I have never felt more grateful for the wonderful bubble we live in here in the Bay Area. On the East Bay hills within that bubble are beautiful forests that offer respite and fresh air; space to breath. The smell of a cool, damp forest floor in late fall is glorious. The added benefit of a few calories burned is perfect to calm the guilt of those two pieces of pie; the one last night and the one you will enjoy this evening. So pack a turkey and cranberry sandwich, drive up the hill to the Skyline Gate of Redwood Regional Park and enjoy time alone, or with family and friends. Tis the season to appreciate how lucky we are to call Oakland home.
It’s appropriate that the first time I heard of a monster next to Lake Merritt it was in a children’s book. Not to be confused with the living version that supposedly lurks beneath the lake’s surface; the monster I am referring to was once green, is an undulating structure of dips and curves, and was once a playtime favorite for local children lakeside. Situated on the beach just below the Lake Merritt bandstand in Lakeside Park, the sculpture has been in place for over sixty years; a treasure created by a local jewelry designer who wanted city kids to feel the same joy felt when climbing an old tree. Wear and tear has worn the monster down to a state unfit for the youth of 2016, but I say we bring it back to its former glory.
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.
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.
There are two causes to celebrate on this Friday morning. Just about one year ago on October 19th, 2015, I wrote my first post as Oakland Momma. I introduced myself, and shared my early morning trip into the fog of Mountain View Cemetery. Since then, my blog has grown, changed, taught both myself and others, and it has shown me that of all things I can write about, what I love most is to share stories about Oakland. The second cause to celebrate; in three days I turn forty. While for some it may be a number that has come and gone, and for others it seems to be in the distant future, for me it is the present. While it seems like a big number, a number I sometimes see looking back at me in the mirror, I am eager to take a giant step forward into the next decade and can’t help but wonder what it will bring. Time truly does goes by fast. On the one hand, daily life can be exhausting and days can creep by; yet on the other, when it comes time to put the Christmas tree up again each year I am blown away by its speed.
As I thought about the appropriate way to celebrate these two milestones the decision came easily; a necklace. It’s the necklace that graces the top of this page in lovely artwork created for me by a friend; the necklace that curls around the jewel of our city. Just as forty years of life and 367 days of blogging have brought ups and down, the necklace of lights has also been put up, to then come down, to only be put up once again. It not only graces our shores, but it has traveled across the Pacific to grace the streets of a Chinese village that once sat without light. It’s a story of a city fighting for a piece of its history to shine once again, and I am happy to share it here.
I have had birds on the brain recently. Just last week I was woken in the middle of the night by an owl right outside my window. It’s methodic and deep hoot was so loud I sat up in my drowsy state and wondered if it was in the house. This late-night wakening coupled with my son’s recent fascination with his North American Birds Encyclopedia has caused fowl to be on my mind. If you are like me, you may not give birds a second glance, or thought. I hear them, see them, dodge their droppings, and shoo them away when they come looking for my kid’s crumbs. Since I have been more curious about them in recent days, I have started to pay a bit more attention to them; their warbles and songs, their colors and beaks. I have known for quite some time that Lake Merritt is home to a bird sanctuary of sorts. In fact, its shores are home to the first wildlife refuge in the United States. This past weekend my family and I made two trips lakeside. The first was to enjoy an evening along the shore to burn off the energy that came from some very blue ice cream. The other was to attend the 1st Oakland Nature Festival, a wonderful event hosted by the Rotary Nature Center where I was inspired to learn more about our feathered friends.
When I have time to myself, one of the things I often prioritize is exercise. Over the past year and a half I have tried to incorporate it into my life in efforts to lead a healthier lifestyle. I think I walk a fine line between priority and obsession. Sometimes the desire to burn calories competes with the need to slow down my mind and take care of the most important muscle in my body. This inner battle caused Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve to move down the list of places to visit in recent months; the 1.7 mile loop known as Huckleberry Path didn’t seem challenging enough. The word “path” almost seems to denote leisure, as opposed to “trail” which feels more conducive to a stint of cardio. It took a bit of convincing but I eventually told myself that time in nature IS part of the healthy lifestyle I have worked to adopt. It doesn’t need to be a 5-mile hike; deep breaths of fresh air, fun with my camera, and a leisurely walk down into the forest and back up again were the perfect respite at end of the week.