Days 3 and 4 in California: Good Food, Fun Places, and a Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Katie makes us a divine breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, and Boudin sourdough toast. We take it easy this morning since we all had a pretty big day yesterday. I’m savoring the taste of real food and the sensation of not having to move in the morning for the rest of the time that I’m here. Soon, it will be a trail schedule again!

When we do eventually leave the apartment, we head south to the New Parkway Theater in Oakland. It is the coolest place. They have an extensive and somewhat out-of-the-ordinary menu, and although I wasn’t planning on eating lunch here, Azzi and I split the parmesan chicken sandwich, and I order a root beer float. There are no normal chairs in the theater, only comfy couches, each flanked by two tables for said food and treats. They also rent out the space for community events here, and there is trivia night each week. There’s also a sliding scale movie night where people can pay what they are able. It’s a really unique spot.

The outside of the New Parkway

The movie we see is Belle, an anime film about a sort of metaverse-like world. It’s… fine. I have a lot of questions, but it is entertaining. I’m also very impressed with myself for not falling asleep (those couches are seriously comfy).

We walk by Lake Merritt and take a brief nap on the grass after that, then it’s BART again to Fruitvale station. There’s a restaurant here, Wahpepah’s Kitchen, that I’ve been dying to try since I read an article about it in the NYT. It is owned by a woman who is a member of the Kickapoo tribe in Oklahoma and a chef, and the entire menu consists of foods that are indigenous to the (so-called) Americas.

I order the bison meatballs, Azzi has rabbit tacos, and Katie gets the Three Sisters bowl, which, in addition to corn, beans, and squash, has all kinds of goodies like quinoa and hibiscus. We also split an order of blue cornbread. Everything tastes so good and leaves us feeling a satisfying, healthy kind of full.

We also decide to try their desserts, because why not. There is warm berry pudding, which our server describes a little more accurately as “berry soup,” and a crepe made with acorn flour. Personally, I enjoy the berry pudding a bit more than the crepe, but both are unique and delicious. I’m glad I had a chance to try it out!

We return to Walnut Creek after that. We stop at a local craft beer store and pick up some interesting brews. Back at the apartment, we dye eggs for Easter while we video chat with two of our mutual friends from college. I still don’t really believe that it’s been seven years since we graduated. It feels like we were all still just hanging out in my apartment in Atlanta. Time is weird.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Easter! Although I really miss being home for Holy Week and Easter Sunday this year, I had a pretty unique celebration in the Bay.

Katie (right) and me at Grace Cathedral for Easter

I wake up fairly early and eat my thousandth piece of Boudin sourdough and drink some tea. Then Katie and I take BART to Embarcadero station, then hop on a cable car. We’re going to church! I’ve never gone to Easter service in hiking clothes or via cable car before, but here we are. We exit the cable car right by Grace Cathedral, our destination. I’m shocked by how many people are there. We have to show our vaccine cards to get in, and then we find a seat.

I’ve been to this cathedral before, one of the times I was in San Francisco with my mom years ago. It’s the first place I saw a Chartres labyrinth. It kind of spawned an obsession. It’s a huge church, with massive gray pillars and a full choir section behind the altar. It’s absolutely packed, and most people are wearing their Easter best. It’s a beautiful service with choral hymns, incense, and a lovely sermon that involves, somehow, a story about a whale rescue. After the service Katie and I discover another labyrinth outside, which we walk.

It’s cool how a labyrinth mirrors life. There were times when, while walking, Katie and I would come close to each other, and other times when we would be on the far end of the circle walking opposite directions. It’s cool how you can be friends with someone without seeing them for a long time. We are all walking our own paths, following the trail, but there are magical moments when we come into close contact with people who mean a lot to us.

After church we make a stop at the Cable Car museum and absolutely marvel at the facts that (1) engineers exist, and (2) the cable car system is basically still running the same way all these years later.

Cable Car Museum

Lunch is Boudin on Pier 39. I’ve been waiting for this. I order the standard clam chowder in a bread bowl. Obviously, I consume the whole thing. Katie and Azzi have been marveling at my ability to consume carbohydrates, I think, an ability that will only increase in the coming weeks.

Yummm.

After lunch I take Katie to see the sea lions. I can’t believe she’s lived in the Bay for five years and has never seen the Pier 39 sea lions! We stand and watch them play and bask and make their funny sounds until it’s too cold to stand there anymore.

We take the streetcar back to Embarcadero, where we catch different busses. Katie goes home. I go to Berkeley to attend the Sunday Night Service, a unique community within All Souls Episcopal Parish that was started by the same people who started the Noon Service in Cincinnati, which I started attending in February. The Grace service this morning was beautiful, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the kind of presence this little meeting has. I feel very at home.

The conversation is very in-depth, and afterwards, I stand around drinking beer at the altar and chatting with some of the congregants. There are differences between this and the Noon Service, but they are minor. It’s like I never left Cincinnati.

I forget, among all this conversation, that BART is going to take a very long time on this Sunday evening. So it’s close to 10 by the time I make it back to Walnut Creek. It’s my last night in the Bay. I do laundry and pack up, and then Katie, Azzi, and I watch an episode of Bob’s Burgers.

It’s been so good to catch up with my friends. I’m excited for the trail, but I love the Bay a little more every time I go, and it’s hard to leave it. I’m grateful for people who share the journey, even if the journeys don’t always overlap. I’m grateful for Easter and life and adventure.

Speaking of adventure, it’s time for another one.

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