February 1 – 7
We drove back to Oakland on Saturday the 1st knowing that Jessica had already gone to the hospital to begin an induced delivery. After arriving we dropped our luggage off at their apartment and made our way over to the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, a large complex south of UC Berkeley and nestled against the Claremont Hills.
We were in for a long wait as it was anticipated that not much would occur until the next day so, after spending most of the evening with Jessica and Kris, we returned to the apartment for a quiet night. Back at the hospital the next morning we hung out with the kids as Jessica entered the beginning stages of labor. It being Super Bowl Sunday, Joanna and checked online to see if there was a place we could land for the game and after driving to check out a couple, fortune smiled on us as we found street parking a couple of storefronts down from In the Wood, a joint so cozy that we’d be regulars if we lived nearby.
We found a couple of seats at the bar with a good view of the game and settled in for an afternoon of uncertainty, that being when might we become grandparents and just who was going to win the game? We had torn loyalties as to the game, with sister Bev and family the number one KC Chiefs fans in the world and yet a long-standing fondness for the SF Forty-Niners, particularly during the years when pro football had abandoned Los Angeles.
Joanna started with a Mimosa and I would pace myself with choices from a thoughtful selection of craft beers. Part way through the game knowing we could be in for a long evening, we ordered a wood fired Margherita Pizza that was very, very good, with fresh tomatoes and basil and bits of garlic coming through on each bite.
As many now know, the Chiefs came from ten points down at the end of the third quarter, scoring twenty-one unanswered points to post a remarkable victory, one that broke the hearts of Niner fans and brought tears of joy to the folks in Kansas and Missouri. Joanna had returned to the hospital before the end of the game, as a greater excitement awaited her there. The game finished, I drove back, parked the car and the two of us settled in for what would be a few hours of waiting.
Finally, a nurse came around the corner of the seating area and let us know we could now visit with Jessica, Kris and Gemma. We both let out silent sighs of relief as if we’d been holding our breath all day. One always assumes that the delivery will go smoothly, that baby and Momma will both be healthy and yet lurking in the background is always that little bit of doubt. And now, our fears released, we walked into the room to greet the newest addition to our family and no words can adequately describe what a great feeling that is.
We’d spend the next couple of days visiting the hospital until parents and baby got to go home; in the meantime we shifted lodging from their place to the Civic Center Lodge Oakland, within easy walking distance of the apartment. Not the fanciest of places, but it is clean and well-kept and at roughly $80 a night, a true bargain in region where $150 a night is a typical price to pay for lodging.
Besides spending time with the new family, we got a couple of bike rides in, the best being a meet up with Molly, who we’d met on the Adventure Cycling Arizona Sunsets bike tour last fall, (https://3jmann.com/2019/11/24/southern-arizona-sunsets-bike-tour-part-two/ and https://3jmann.com/2019/11/29/southern-arizona-sunsets-bike-tour-part-three/) near her home in Petaluma. A group of about ten of us set out for a cold but comfortable ride in the rural area that surrounds the town, full of dairy farms and other agricultural pursuits.
The first half of the ride included a number of short but steep climbs which having worked through, led us to a second half of fun downhills and easy rolling farm terrain. Not far from the finish we stopped at the Valley Ford Creamery just outside of the small town of the same name for coffee and a snack, enjoying as always the company of fellow cyclists talking about what we usually discuss, that is a wide range of topics but most often some route we really enjoy.
Back at the car and finished with the ride, we bade Molly and her group farewell and vowed to join them again the next time the opportunity presented itself, now a broken promise with Covid-19 darkening our lives. We loaded up the bikes and made our way into Petaluma for a stop at another of our favorite spots for a beer, Lagunitas Brewing. There we met Mary and Norm, who we don’t get to see nearly as often as we would like to enjoy a beer or two and some food for our hungry bodies.
And that would wrap up our visit north, a week or so that brought great joy for our family. How could we know then that all of our lives would be upended in about a month as the enormity of the Covid-19 crisis would get driven home. In early March we would journey to North Carolina for a long stay, only to cut the trip short and fly home early on a half empty plane.
No need to tell all of you how we’ve lived our lives since then. Travel evaporates and we all figure out how to stay occupied at home. I stretch out posting the blog to once every seven days just to draw out what little content I have to post and this one reaches the end of what was in the bank. But the good news is by early August life loosens a bit and we hit the road for ten days to journey to Northern California. So, stay tuned for those posts and in the meantime stay safe.
In the Wood: http://inthewood.biz/
Civic Center Lodge: https://www.civiccenterlodgeoaklandca.com/en-us
Valley Ford Creamery: http://www.valleyfordcheese.com/our-story