I needed to get out on the bike on this beautiful spring afternoon. I’ve also wanted to visit a little park I saw on the map the other day so I combined this need and want into a single event. I set out at around 3:00PM on my trusty two-wheeler. (I note that the little speedometer says I’ve put on nearly 100 miles since I moved the bike back to Oakland. It was without a working battery for a couple of weeks when we first got here so I think the actual miles ridden are higher than the speedometer reports, but I will mark the occasion of this trip as my first Oakland century of the new millenium.)
Union Point Park is a little oasis in the industrial landscape that fronts the Oakland Estuary. It seems to be a relatively new park with play-structures that appear to be five years old or younger. There’s an adjacent area with a new parking lot and a building that looks like it may be some sort of interpretive center. Currently the new area is fenced off for what looks like the last stage of construction and landscaping. The existing part of the park includes a fairly large grassy area for frisbee and other throwing sports. A big group of young people were there this afternoon playing catch with softballs and it looked like they intended to play a casual game. The play structures included a spiral walkway up a large mound. The landscaping looked unkempt — it was overrun with weedy plants, but there were hints of a purple bougainvillea trying to fight their way through the weeds.
I had come down to the park via the Lakeshore side of Lake Merritt. There was a lively gathering of salsa dancers practicing on the plaza at the El Embarcadero end of the lake, and a couple of chess tables set up outside the front door of the Lakeview Library. (The weather was absolutely perfect.) I rode down Second Avenue and then around the Laney College campus, crossing under 880 at 5th Avenue. The park is about a mile and a half southeast of where I crossed under the freeway. Riding along Embarcadero I passed the old (currently vacant) location of the Victoria Station Restaurant. (Sometime I may tell the story of Jon’s evening spent painting the ovens at the restaurant with his friend and school chum, Peter.) It was a fairly pleasant ride, but on the way home I decided to pedal through Jack London Square. I rode past the Oakland Amtrak Station, past Heinold’s First and Last Chance saloon, past Bocanova, then up Jackson Street to the Lake and around to Grand Avenue.
All in all it was a nice ride. About 8 miles and very flat. Perfect for a quiet Saturday afternoon.