Expedition 3: Hills, stairs and the Kaiser Roof Garden

July 26, 2023. More hills! I found a route online that included 7 sets of steps. I encountered two more (including Oscar’s Alley) so 9 total (two of them go through 2 blocks). The route slyly didn’t say which went up and which went down; it was about even. 

I made a few stops before getting to the stairs. First, the giraffe murals under 580 at Oakland Avenue. They’ve been there since 1983 and I’ve noticed them from my car. They’re tricky to get close to among the freeway entrances and exits. I think they’ve been restored; they look very good for their age. 

Next I stopped at the Morcom Rose Garden. The roses are past their peak for the year but the water lilies are pretty. This is a lovely spot but my other photos didn’t do it justice. Onto the stairs. Most were nicely landscaped and one looked quite neglected. It was so overgrown I wondered if anybody walks on it at all.

This is a hilly area so the stairs were punctuated by walking up and down steep streets. I got pretty tired when the sun was the hottest and wondered at myself for not bringing an apple, which I usually do (I did have water). Half a block later, I found an apple tree in a curb strip and a lovely looking apple on the sidewalk below it. I brushed it off and sat down to eat it. Delicious and refreshing! 

The final stairs were at the end of Oak Grove Park. Back when I lived in this neighborhood I never knew this park existed! No signs. It runs for several blocks tucked in between housing lots and then ends in stairs down to Mandana. There are trash cans at either end but otherwise no amenities except for a bench. I liked the forest feeling of it. 

I took a break for a late lunch on Lakeshore and then hopped a bus to the Kaiser Roof Garden at Lake Merritt. I did come here fairly often when I lived nearby. Now as then I marveled at seeing only three other people there. It’s only open weekday business hours. I guess people don’t know about it because I rarely see people here. 

It’s a delightful spot with a mid century modern feel, like the Kaiser building. I think the fake swans are there to keep geese away and it works, despite goose-filled Lake Merritt being a block away. I lay on the grass for awhile enjoying the slightly surreal view of sweeping lawns, mature trees and skyscrapers against the blue sky. The garden really feels like an oasis. I stayed a while, reading “The Wind in The Willows” that I found in a Little Library earlier in the day and imagined myself leisurely boating down a river in the summertime. 

The last leg was to head back to San Pablo Avenue and catch a bus home. I passed through downtown Oakland and Koreatown, where I stopped to buy a drink in an irresistibly cute bottle and admired a strange package of cookies.

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