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July 2nd 2006 - Biking Around Alameda

Several years ago I participated in a bicycling puzzling scavenger hunt in Alameda and had a great time. Besides good puzzles, I got to see much of Alameda and thought it was a pretty nice place. (Biking scavenger hunts are great because one can see a lot more in the same amount of time and yet not use more energy than walking.) Hence, on this Sunday, when examining a bay area cycling map, I chose to go to Alameda.

Alameda is a town that occupies a small island (several square miles) just off the coast of Oakland, separated from the mainland by a small river or what might better be called a tendril of the bay.

Rather than bike all the way to Alameda, I biked to Ashby BART station. Being Sunday, there was a flea market in the parking lot. Definitely nothing like all the festivals and fairs I've attended. While waiting for the next train, I wandered around and played the "guess which people are fencing stolen goods" game.

I disembarked at the Fruitvale BART station and found myself at a combined residential-, office, retail- park (and so convenient to public transit). Obviously built with similar motives as Santana Row but less up-scale (since this is a poorer neighborhood). They were having a farmer's market. It was tiny, of the same size as North Berkeley's Thursday farmer's market, so it didn't take long to look around.

From there, I started biking to Alameda. But I went the wrong way leaving the BART station. I realized this at some point, then decided it wasn't worth turning around because there was another bridge to Alameda in this direction. And indeed, I saw the sign for the bridge, along with another one saying it was closed and directing people to follow the detour signs. And so I did.

At some point I must've lost the detour signs. I got to sketchier parts of Oakland and by the time I reached the Oakland Coliseum, I decided to turn around. Incidentally, the Oakland Coliseum has the largest flea market in the bay area every Sunday. I decided to pass.

On the way back to try to find Alameda after this five mile detour, I actually stopped and looked at my map. (What a revolutionary idea!) With it, I had no trouble finding the bridge I originally wanted.

My plan for Alameda was to bike three-quarters of the periphery, through shoreline parks, marinas, and old military bases, and leave the interior parks and main drags for another day.

Alameda feels suburban in the sense of having many houses, trees, backyards, parks, bike lanes, but urban in the sense that everything is tightly packed, both residential neighborhoods and retail locations, and cars feel unnecessary. I imagine it's full of people raising families; it feels like it'd be a good place for it.

The pictures below fairly well document the variety of sights I saw, with two exceptions. One, I stumbled upon a huge antique fair/auction in a massive parking lot on the old military base. Funky stuff, mostly of type one sees in the historic towns in central California. Two, I didn't bother taking pictures of the beach (along which I rode for a while) and near which I stopped for a while and read.

Around 6pm I biked back to the Fruitvale bike station. Being lazy and not looking at my map, I inadvertently found myself at a different bridge than the one I entered. It turned out to be the bridge that was supposedly closed and had that detour sign that caused my extraneous excursion.

Crossing this bridge, I took a few minutes to further explore the area around the Fruitvale BART station and discovered International Boulevard. It'd heard much about it as a central place for immigrants and opportunities for authentic food but never actually looked up where it was. It reminds me of the Mission district in San Francisco except more spread out (suburban: many more drivers than walkers) and (consequentially?) much safer. (For instance, it didn't appear to have the drug problem the Mission has.) Maybe I'll return, especially as I now know how close it is to a BART station.

And thus concluded my five-hour very lackadaisical twenty-five mile bike ride around Alameda.


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Click on images below to enlarge:
A funky statue in a business park.  Meant to hatch fledgling companies? ;)
A duck in front of a nice stream with fountains.
In an Alameda marina, a neat statue of a person swimming through waves.
Some geese.
A funky statue in a business park. Meant to hatch fledgling companies? ;)
A duck in front of a nice stream with fountains.
In an Alameda marina, a neat statue of a person swimming through waves.
Some geese.
Through the masts in one of Alameda's marinas, downtown Oakland.
I thought this park had very artistically placed stones.
Wow, that's a lot of shipping containers!  This pier and in fact all the
shipping facilities on the north-east side of Alameda aren't in active use
any longer.
A logo from a bygone era on the side of a building in Alameda's (mostly?)
decommissioned military base.
Through the masts in one of Alameda's marinas, downtown Oakland.
I thought this park had very artistically placed stones.
Wow, that's a lot of shipping containers! This pier and in fact all the shipping facilities on the north-east side of Alameda aren't in active use any longer.
A logo from a bygone era on the side of a building in Alameda's (mostly?) decommissioned military base.
A view of all the docked ships.  From this distance, it looks like two
massive ships.
Many ships.  (None are in active use but are maintained in case they are needed.)

The USS Hornet Museum is (on) the leftmost ship.
Wouldn't you love to live in one of these houses?
(View the full size image to truly appreciate them.)
Kite launching area for the huge kites used in kitesurfing.
A view of all the docked ships. From this distance, it looks like two massive ships.
Many ships. (None are in active use but are maintained in case they are needed.)
The USS Hornet Museum is (on) the leftmost ship.
Wouldn't you love to live in one of these houses?
(View the full size image to truly appreciate them.)
Kite launching area for the huge kites used in kitesurfing.