Sunday, September 29, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Parks: Middle Shoreline Park in West Oakland

This is the first monthly review of a park from a dayjob-working, biker-hiker's perspective. Even though I work less than 30 hours a week, I usually just want to lie on the floor of my lovely room and read or listen to the radio. Every so often, though, I miss the serenity and reality I find in natural surroundings. But in an urban environment, how can we find the time and equipment to ground ourselves?

After work today I pushed my bike off the ferry and turned west instead of east homeward.

Middle Harbor Shoreline Park is a little-used but well-designed and -kept gem in West Oakland. It wraps around a small harbor next to the towering cranes that inspired George Lucas's Imperial Walkers. (I'm obsessed with container ships, but that's for another post.) According to one of the information kiosks it's actually part of a 60,000-acre wetland restoration project that is all over the SF Bay. Wetlands are not only nurseries of the oceans but they lessen the impact of tidal surges on the shore.

There's a watchtower I had eyed every time we passed on the ferry, but I was surprised to find it is wheelchair-accessible with an elevator and ramp from the nearest parking. I even got these shots of the Exploratorium (I think?) and both bridges from the free scope.



Biking: From 3rd St and Adeline, it's surprisingly long. Of course one has to share the lanes with tractor trailers. I started at about 4:50pm and it wasn't crowded but busy. I was able to stay either in the generous, marked shoulder or, where the shoulder ended, in a lane to myself. Trucks and cars passed me a few times. The park is not marked until far down the main road, but if you stay on it you will start to see signs. Watch out for one angled train track crossing.

Walking: It's definitely too far to walk comfortably. It was fun to walk around the park once I was there, to enjoy the views of the Port, vegetation, and the Bay. There are no dogs and almost no people. Good for bird watching. There are always cormorants, Brown Pelicans, Western Gulls, and sparrows.

I also passed a well-cared-for lawn area near the first parking lot. There were palms. Something for everyone?

Is there a park nearby you've wanted to check out? I'll take your suggestions in the comments.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Improv-a-day is going strong

Habits are interesting. I find as long as I give myself leeway to refuse to sit on the piano bench, a daily recording is easy enough.

There was a day I didn't like what I played enough to share it; another when I read coworker emails tearfully, reeling from the impact of a sudden mass layoff. Through Soundcloud I found others' improvised recordings, none as chaotic as mine. C'mon, post your free doodles.



After the 31st post, I don't know yet where I'll take this project. I'm starting to want to notate bits of what I find. Maybe I'll assemble an instructional book to play Muse. Post requests in the comments or comment on your favorite track.