Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Alameda, Ala-cheetah

So my kids love to rhyme.  And the name just kinda stuck.  Oh, well.

We have been in Alameda for two weeks now.  And yesterday was the first day that I had time to just sit for an hour and read a book.  But, we are completely moved in, unpacked, organized, and even have room in the garage for one vehicle.

Which is a good thing, because vehicle number two gets picked up from the shipping company tomorrow.  Hooray for the smaller car, because the larger one gets even worse gas mileage here than it did in Homer.  The entire island of Alameda has a 25mph speed limit, with lots of stop signs and traffic lights.  Not really great for a 4wd SUV...but the furthest we have to travel is 5 miles, so it balances out.

So, the question we have been getting the most, especially from family who are hoping that we love it here more than Alaska so that we don't move so far away again, is how we are liking it so far.  In short, it's an easy place to live.  We have everything we could need right on the island (and have learned that we will not be driving the multiple I-something-80 freeways to get to malls, Target, etc. more than we have to, which will certainly save money).  We live on a little peninsula connected to the main island of Alameda, called Bay Farm Island.  It's the same peninsula as the Oakland airport--yes, we are in the direct flightpath of Southwest Airlines, but it's not bad.  The kids even refer to our area as the "quiet" part of Alameda.

The tree-lined streets all lead to the San Francisco Bay Trail system, which is basically a paved bike path along the bay.  We are two blocks away, and can ride/walk/run a 6-mile loop without leaving the neighborhood.  Alameda is the most bike-friendly place we have ever lived.  We have had to trade in our views of eagles and mountains for egrets and city skyline, but Mike even rode his bike to work today.  Very convenient.  The elementary school is also two blocks away, and we can walk to at least four different playgrounds in 10 minutes or less.

This is also the most culturally diverse area that we have ever lived, which is quite a difference coming from a place like Homer.  We have neighbors of all ethnicities, and restaurants around town to match.  On Saturdays, we have learned to head down to the main shopping center on the island for Off The Grid, an organized collection of 10 food trucks that rotate each week.  Last week we had lumpia and pancit from a Filipino truck, and the week before it was Vietnamese noodles.  The kids, especially Ava, are doing a great job with trying pretty much anything.  We have yet to find a good local coffee shop, though. Certainly missing my K-Bay Caffe, as I knew I would.  I am already down to my last pound of beans and need to figure out how to get more.

We signed the kids up in advance for several activities to help them make new friends.  They have been enjoying weekly soccer lessons, and we started swim lessons this week and an awesome operation called Aquatech.  Today is lesson #2, and they are excited to go back.  We joined a local yacht club thanks to a very generous military rate, and have used the pool there a few times.  The kids went to a movie night there last Friday, which was conveniently scheduled at the same time as a rum tasting for the adults.  We met several club members and chatted with them about what type of sail boat we should get to do a little racing in the bay.  We were also convinced to sign up for their Monday Night Football program, in which members take turns cooking for everyone in the theme of the teams that are playing on your assigned week.  They gave us the Miami-Tampa Bay game as soon as they found out that we are from Florida.  I think we will be cooking up a November Cuban feast.

So, all in all, we are liking it just fine so far!  We love being able to keep the back door open all day, and the dog loves going in and out as he pleases.  We are sad to hear that we are missing out on the nicest Homer summer in a decade, though, and have found that it is actually cooler here than there right now.  It's going to take us quite while to become completely familiar with the town, as there are just so many local businesses, parks, and things to do.  But we are working on it...and trying to remind ourselves to take time to just relax and enjoy the sunshine sometimes, too.

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