Oakland, California | The good, The Rad + The Different

You know those weekends when you have grand and glorious things planed? The only solution I’ve found to salvage the day is to be flexible! We had planned the night before, somewhere around midnight, to spend the day exploring the beautiful Muir Woods, just 20 minutes north of San Fransisco, and even dropping by SF with all our extra time. Oh we were so optimistic!

We were out the door with gas in our little fiesta a little after 11am, and with an unused Olive Garden giftcard calling our name, we stopped for soup, salad + breadsticks a little after Sacramento where we regrouped.

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That picture cracks me. I’m pretty sure that’s her “guys, what happened to all the breadsticks??” face.

Landon had chatted with Bedrock Sandals and set up a time to meet up with them to check out their office in Oakland around 5pm.

With a free meal, nice tip, and leftovers forgotten at the restaurant, we hopped back on the road towards the Bay. Not feeling any pressure to do something new, Landon suggested we head down to the Oakland Temple to spend time at the visitor’s center and around the temple. We hadn’t been down since last summer, and oh it was beautiful, like always.

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We spent some time inside viewing the art, sharing her 2 new rocks with all the missionaries, and taking in the beautiful view of the bay.

I asked the senior sister at the front desk for suggestions of what to do in Oakland, explaining that we had only ever come to the temple then left. She explained that she was from Tennessee, and only really knew the temple grounds. She pulled out a fat white overwhelming binder and offered to let me look through it for things to do.

Not wanting to be there all afternoon, I declined, and we headed down the hill, towards downtown Oakland. IMG_5691

Within two minutes of driving away from the temple we were in neighborhoods like I’d never seen before. Bars over most windows and doors of homes and stores. Serious deterrent fences surrounded the front of homes and front porches. Instead of Starbucks on every corner, there were WIC stores, aid for children and mothers in need. Yellow stoplights meant nothing. A serious cleanup crew was needed; a decaying trailer on the side of the road was recognizable at this point.

There were more people walking around than a college campus during finals weeks! I tried to get a read on everyone; some girls for example looked more comfortable walking around than others. Everyone else seemed to keep to themselves. As we drove around and talked, I tried to wrap my head around it all. The residential and downtown Oakland neighborhoods were very different than anything I’d ever experienced. I still don’t really know what to make of it. I started to brainstorm different policies in government, or ideals, and how we can raise up neighborhoods like these and Richmond. But then I wondered if I was assuming too much. Just because it was different, does that mean they’re not happy? On the drive home I imagined different conversations I wish we could’ve had with people on the streets, getting a feel for what their life is like, and if they were happy.

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Before we knew it though, it was time to meet up with Bedrock Sandals. Picture us, pulling up in our red fiesta, down into an industrial alley and walking into a large opening called “American Steel.” From the outsides it looks like the sketchiest dump I’d ever seen. As we walked further into the large warehouse, a guy two stories up waved us forward. We had arrived to Bay 9, Bedrock Sandals HQ.

The hour we spent there did more for my soul than anything had in awhile. There we were in this large warehouse, where we learned each bay is rented out — to artists, companies, whoever wants the space. The guys made their space rad, and they were passionate about what they were doing. With 26K followers on Instagram, they’re not the smallest fish around. But there was something so pure about the way they were chasing their dreams + making things happen.

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We left with a pair of sandals on Landon’s feet and with lots to talk about on the way home. Some days it takes us 4 extra hours to get out the door than we’d planned, but yesterday, it worked out perfectly. I can’t say that I’d be comfortable living in Oakland anytime soon, but you know that temple is one of my favorites, and it felt good for my soul to see people making things work, no matter the circumstance.

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