A Few Days in the Bay!

OaklandWhen Hillary mentioned an upcoming trip to Oakland a few months ago, my eyes lit up and I immediately started exclaiming about all of the wonders of my erstwhile city. And then I just invited myself along. Luckily, Hillary is the world’s most gracious person, and she accepted my invitation. Of myself. Even more luckily, her sweet twin girls came along with us. They are brilliant and hilarious, and they are the most amazing four-year-old road warriors I’ve ever met. We drove up on Friday and partied down until we got back late Sunday night. We had the sweetest and most fun time, but there’s still lots of Oakland left for future trips! Without further ado, our adventures!

OaklandEven rest stops are fun with two small companions, who were, for the duration of this trip, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Who was Darth Vader, you ask? Moi.

OaklandThis one was especially fun. I don’t know the purpose of those green glasses. But I like them.

OaklandOur arrival at the hotel in Emeryville was a celebrated affair. We walked straight across the parking lot to a bear-themed diner, which was well-loved by all. They had huckleberry ice cream!

OaklandIn the morning we headed out for sustenance. We stopped by Eric’s old apartment, where he proposed to me, on the way.

OaklandWe went to Pizzaiolo for breakfast and got these delicious doughnuts. Breakfast at Pizzaiolo, a marvelous artisanal pizza place, is kind of a precious secret. It was a secret to me for such a long time. Being in that big softly-lit space, the wooden floors all creaking and the chefs firing the oven and prepping for the dinner rush, just feels so calming and magical. There’s no other word for it. We came here for breakfast the day after we got engaged. It’s so special to me. Steve used to work here too, back in the olden days, and I can’t come here without thinking about him behind the counter, making salads and smiling at us. This was one of our last dinners in Oakland before we moved away.

OaklandIn the back garden they were having a record exchange. Oh, Oakland. I miss you.

OaklandI realized very early on Saturday morning that Oakland is as much a place as it is a season: perpetual fall. Well, perpetual fall with heavy rain, and maybe two days of summer per year. There’s something about those overcast skies and crunchy leaves that makes the air feel electric with possibility, buzzing with opportunities. It jolted right into me, the sweetest mix of pleasure and pain.

OaklandOur next stop was…The Depot! Quite possibly my favorite place on earth. I overshot by it a little bit, and then was filled with terror when I couldn’t find it. Horror of horrors! But, whew, it is still there, spreading its magnificence to all who enter.

OaklandMy mom thinks that I have special shopping karma that allows me to always find what I am looking for, but this time I think I may have even outdone myself. I have never before seen scrapbooking supplies at the Depot. There were crates full of them. I have never before seen entire boxed sets of art supplies. I got a brand new box of watercolors in tubes. An almost complete set of really nice colored pencils. Beautiful inks in a variety of colors, and spray inks in a rainbow of metallics. Whoa. It was amazing.

OaklandFurther good karma: one of the ladies who works there, who I, of course, recognized, speaks with a notably southern accent. I finally asked this time where she was from. Do you know what she said? MEMPHIS. I know, I couldn’t believe it either! So we had the loveliest conversation. Now the Depot is held even higher in my esteem, and I didn’t even know that was possible!

OaklandI always find some kind of gem like this: Il’f and Petrov’s 12 Chairs. Awesome.

OaklandAll this shopping worked up quite an appetite in us, so we headed over to Elmwood for burritos at Gordo. We ate them in the park, and the girls sang a chorus, “Oh, how we love beans and rice! Beans and chips!” Me too, little friends, me too.

OaklandOur next stop was, of course, legendary Ici. They actually have a velvet rope along the sidewalk for the often gargantuan line. We got there just in time to walk right in, though.

OaklandHillary had darjeeling-sour cherry, and I went rogue with maple candied oatmeal. Mmmmm. The girls had chocolate and loved every bite.

OaklandSufficiently sugared, we met up with my dear friend Katy and headed to the toy store, where much fun was had by all. Katy said she didn’t think this light was doing her any favors, but I think she is lovely in any light. And I am right. Clearly.

OaklandAfter our big day, it was time to head back to the hotel for some R&R. We picked up dinner and ate at the hotel, while watching a movie. The girls, however, informed us that they had to do some paperwork. It was pretty much the cutest paperwork I’ve ever seen.

OaklandOn Sunday morning the skies were gorgeously clear, and we could see the port and the bridges and the city. Oh city, how I missed you.

OaklandHillary was off to get her tattoo (which looks totally rad, by the way), so the girls and I had a par-tay. I asked them while we were traipsing about town, “Are you ready to parrrr-tay?” And every time I heard the two most adorable yeahs ever. We took a dip in the hot tub, watched some Clifford (and, amazingly enough, a good little bit of a documentary about the making of a documentary about birds. It had lots of cute chicks in the beginning, but eventually one of the girls said, “This is getting boring. Too much talking.” Indeed! Still, I am impressed by their tolerance for and appreciation of a meta-documentary at such a tender age). So! We were off to the pumpkin patch!

OaklandWith a gigantic slide in the shape of a sinking Titanic!

OaklandAnd a petting zoo! It was fantastic.

OaklandAfter a quick spin through the mall and some story time, Hillary was back, and we headed to Bakesale Betty. Which I forgot was closed on Sundays. Noooooo! Friend chicken, we will be back for you. (Incidentally, I sent Hillary the most ridiculously over-detailed and ambitious list of ideas for stuff to do in the East Bay…if any of you are headed that way anytime soon, let me know and I will send it to you). We got a sandwich at Genova Deli (mmm) and headed back to the Depot for one last triumphant stroll through wonderland. And then we were back on the road, soon greeted by this sight. The sweetest. It was the most fun weekend. Can’t wait for the next one!

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