Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pedaling around Oakland

We wrapped up our bay area trip with a stay in Oakland's Dimond District at the lovely, sunny place of our dear friends Jeremy and Gena. Isn't this back yard an enticing spot for a sunbath?

J and G have put a lot of time and effort into little details of their garden, including this sweet trellis decorated with chainrings:


Our gracious hosts hooked us up with some beautiful and functional loaner bikes (one of my definite favorite parts about staying with these lovely people!). I rode Gena's beautiful Harding, a relatively rare bike hailing from Ireland.  (Note the unique head badge with the bird and the "cork Ireland" phrase!).


Set up with flat bars and platform pedals, with a double chainring in front, this bike was a great commuter and just really fun to ride. Chad rode a beautiful purple Bianchi with brand new red tires- also a lovely bike!

We spent the morning exploring the colorful details of the Dimond/ Fruitvale area.  The bird in this Oakland mural caught my eye, as did the exquisite hummingbird mosaic embedded in the cement along MacArthur Blvd in the Dimond.

We fuled up with coffee and pastries from a delicious and unpretentious coffee shop called Hive, the place to bee.  Inside, the space clearly was designed to encourage casual neighborhood interactions- comfortable chairs and spacious tables, a large play area with plenty of toys for little ones, and a robust community board with postings about seed swaps, support groups, yoga classes and children's playgroups.

We left the Dimond district and headed west along the well-marked bike route, no destination in mind.  We soon found ourselves at Lake Merritt, one of Oakland's most beautiful spots (and also the first officially designated wildlife refuge in the entire country, designated so in 1870).  

From Lake Merritt, we pedaled south to Jack London Square, so named because Jack London's actual hut from Alaska was relocated here in the 1960's.  I have always enjoyed the irony of the hut's new location under palm trees- quite a contract to the frigid conditions of its former life in the Yukon.  I suppose the hut has earned the right to retire to sunshine California given the difficulty of its previous life.

We wandered around the farmers' market, snacked on some fruit, and stumbled across a craft festival, which we of course had to check out.  It was a very worthwhile stop- the show was packed with talented crafters and designers with a diverse offering of crafty products.  Some of my splurges included a Bikeland poster print from Hero Design Studio (pictured on the right), a tea towel gift for Gena and Jeremy from the same people, a lovely owl print sweatshirt, a raspberry print towel for my mama, and the perfect yellow skirt (all pictured below).

Having spent the last of my vacation money, we spent a few minutes looking out at Oakland's port before pedaling back to Jeremy and Gena's.  All told, it was a beautiful, sunny lovely day and the perfect end to our California trip. 

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