Expedition 10: Dunsmuir House and Nearby

Expedition 10: Dunsmuir House and nearby. Friends have asked how I find my expedition locations. Many ways; reading, radio, conversation, stuff I see from my car and browsing the map are the main ones. Often I pick one spot and then look on the map for stuff nearby, which I did for this one. 

I went to the Dunsmuir House for the mansion tour. Spent half an hour trying different entrances (which are not close together). The gate I finally entered had a paper sign tacked to a sawhorse saying that the grounds were open. Inside was a long-shuttered ticket booth and 3 golf carts. No sign of another human, much less a tour. The website phone number goes to a City of Oakland number where you can select your extension; not helpful. 

I got into the spirit of exploring this seemingly abandoned place. Most of the outbuildings are in poor condition but the house looks terrific. There’s no signage whatsoever, but I found a trash bin that seemed completely filled with empty champagne bottles, so something happens here! Update: I later discovered that The Gatsby Summer Afternoon event took place here 3 days before. A peek inside the house showed Christmas decorations still hanging. Beautiful grounds with lots of tall trees. This little pavilion used to overlook a pond. 

Next was Knowland Park, which is behind the Oakland Zoo. Many people don’t know about this huge park, probably because the City of Oakland didn’t list it till about ten years ago. Back then there was a big controversy over the zoo expanding upward into this public park land. The park has a great view, but it was more dramatic before the new zoo structures blocked the center of it (which I omitted from my photo). Activists commented on the irony of creating a California zoo habitat by destroying a real life one.

Okay, that’s my rant. The California Trail exhibit is there now. You can walk up to the zoo fence and see into the bear enclosure but I saw no bears today. If I were a bear, I’d have been sleeping in the shade on this hot afternoon. There are no amenities at all in the park, but a neighbor set up this cute little seating area. 

I did not enjoy The Sulphur Creek Nature Center. It’s in Hayward and does wildlife rehab and is a sanctuary. The bird enclosures are all covered with dense mesh to keep out avian flu. It’s so dark you can hardly see the birds. I felt sorry for them being cooped up. 

Worst was the coyote who trotted through and then behind its enclosure, circling around again and again.  It seemed stir crazy. Is it being rehabbed to be set free or will it stay there?  I had a fantasy of cutting a hole to let it out. If I were a coyote, I’d rather take my chances in the wild. I am going to be careful with going to places like this in the future; too depressing. Certainly too depressing to take pictures.

I recovered by finding a bonus location that I happened to see on the map while looking for a lunch spot, Hayward Japanese Gardens, tucked behind a senior center and nestled between two creeks. Even though it’s small, it had three pavilions, one over the small pond with a waterfall, and a teahouse. There were several spots where large stones and gravel and plants created a scene. It’s the first garden designed with Japanese design principles in California. I was happy to see a wild animal there (Great Blue Heron, I think)!

My final stop was the cemetery (ha ha!). Lone Tree Cemetery has an interesting back story. It’s on the plaque but TL;DR: an eloping couple went to visit the famous lone tree 200 years ago and were killed by her angry father who followed them there and left the bodies behind. 

It doesn’t say how long after that the cemetery was established, but the famous tree is still there! It definitely looks old; the plaque says it’s from 1700! There’s a Vietnam War memorial, presumably honoring local soldiers. Great variety of tombstones and nationalities, like this Ethiopian section.

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