I drive the stretch of MacArthur Boulevard between the Laurel and Dimond Districts of Oakland quite a bit. When I take the curve by Coolidge Avenue I often glance at the small shopping center that is home to a local favorite, Loard’s Ice Cream. A sign has always caught my eye towards the back of the parking lot that says “Free Oakland UP.” I have often wondered what it represented. When I learned that an interesting concept was at play behind the doors of this unique thrift shop I added it to my list of places to pop in.
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.
2017 has begun. The beginning of a new year is often full of conflicting emotion. The post-holiday letdown meets the anticipation of a fresh start. For some, myself included, the year may have milestones that mean a clock is ticking and time feels quick as it slips by. It’s a year that brings a new administration that leaves many unsure of what the future may hold for our country. How to navigate into a new year is something I grapple with. Some years I put thought into it; during others, January 1st is just another day. The transition into this year has felt awkward and bumpy. Unsettling weather, sickness, children shifting through change and growth, and all sorts of other twists and turns to navigate have thrown me a bit off balance as I pin my new calendar on the wall. Ironic when you consider my last post of 2016 reflected on the struggle to find it. I think we all know that the slate really isn’t wiped clean when the clock strikes midnight; the baggage we carried doesn’t mysteriously disappear. Yet perhaps we can re-think the way we carry it.
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.