Local Color

A few days ago I found myself in downtown Oakland. I haven’t been in downtown Oakland since the pandemic had us sheltering in place. I was surprised at all the murals on the sides of buildings. It took me a minute to realize that the murals were all on boarded up store fronts. Where there were once glass store fronts there were now murals.

Many of the store fronts in Oakland were boarded up during the unrest in the spring of 2020. Walking up and down a few blocks of Franklin Street seemed like being in an outdoor museum, with a lesson on current events mixed with the creativity and the will of people to adapt.

Here are six images I captured in the few minutes I had to walk a few blocks. You can view additional images here.

Middle Harbor

On December 18, we decided to launch from Encinal Boat Ramp in Alameda and paddle to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland.

We launched at 10:30 on a flood current, which meant we would be paddling against the current going towards Oakland, but with a small tidal change, the current would be minimal. In the afternoon we’d be riding the current back. I plotted the course using the BASK.org trip planner, measuring about 4.3 miles to our intended lunch location. I printed a copy of the map which I studied, looking for a landmark that would mark our turning point to paddle into the beach. Then I stuck the map in my dry box, which I keep in a hatch.

I opted to paddle my Dagger Stratos rather than my wooden Coho. Why? Because I hadn’t paddled it for awhile.

All was fine, paddling on calm waters. As we approached the port, I kept an eye out for the jetty I had noted as our turning point. We arrived at the end of the pier at the port and poked around the end thinking we’d find the park. What? No beach? I fiddled with my GPS unit trying to pull up the map on the tiny screen. Then it became clear that I had picked the wrong landmark for our turn into the park. Note to self: Carry a waterproof chart on the deck .

We backtracked and found the beach. A fine sand beach lined with palm trees. It seemed out of place with container ships to the north and south. It was 12:45 when we landed for lunch and we had worked up an appetite after six miles of paddling. We made a note that this might be a fun place to take the grandkids. There is a viewing platform you can climb to watch the tall cranes moving cargo, a nice beach at least on a high tide, and a dolphin sculpture to play on.

After lunch we were back on the water retracing our route, but sticking closer to the shore. We saw a few harbor seals and thousands of birds including cormorants and brown pelicans. We were back at our launch site at 2:45 having logged 11 miles. I was reminded why I like my wooden Coho. On a long paddle on calm water, it moves with less effort than the Stratos. Want to see more photos? Click here.

Finding Photos in Your Own Backyard

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I was out photographing a project for a client yesterday, and awestruck by this mural, painted on the side of a warehouse. I’m intrigued by murals, and it seems Oakland has a good share of murals and other public art. I’m continually reminded that I don’t have to go very far to look for photos. Mind you, my bucket list has plenty of places I’d like to visit, and sometimes I pine for the opportunity to travel and spend time in the natural environment that I love, but yesterday I left this photo shoot smiling, and happy to have discovered a an artistic treasure close to home.