Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Books, food and airplanes in Alameda

In early July I flew on Southwest Airlines from Nashville, Tennessee to Oakland, California.  I sat next to a window and could admire the scenery below.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

We stopped in Las Vegas, Nevada, for about one hour.  My husband and I visited Las Vegas in late 1960s I believe, but not since.  There were gambling places then but nothing like the current extravagant casinos.  Below are some vintage postcards.

I was surprised to see so many slot machines in the airport, but I think they are everywhere in Las Vegas.

Since I could not go into town and visit the casinos I bought two postcards.  I was amused by Las Vegas calling itself "The City of Light" and their own Eiffel Tower - a half size replica from the original monument in Paris.

Next, we landed at the Oakland International Airport which is about 10 miles from Alameda Island where I was to stay for two weeks with two of my grandchildren.  (You can read about my stay there in my last post.)  As a pure coincidence my eldest daughter, Celine, was having business meetings in the area.  She was able to visit her nephews and me on the week-end.  On Friday night we went to eat at a downtown restaurant on Park Street called "Papa Mama Lithuanian Restaurant."  Since we had never sampled Lithuanian cuisine we were happy to try a variety of dishes.  Celine started with Fried Lithuanian Rye Bread and then ate a pretty colored Borscht (Šaltibarsčiai .)  Her fiance Michael had the Stuffed Chicken Roll (Vištienos Suktinukas) and the boys had the Flour Dumplings (Koldunai) made with traditional handmade dough stuffed with 4 different fillings: beef and pork meat, chicken, potato and cheese, and potato and mushroom.  I had the Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Balandeliai.)  We also drank the special Lithuanian Amber Tea (Gintaro Arbata) with small amber pieces in it - different and nice.

As I mentioned in my last post it was difficult to follow the Tour de France on television as the program came too early in the morning.  Luckily, on Park Street, I found a shop that had the last copy of a Tour de France magazine.

On the same street - which is the main business street in Alameda, I found a large independent bookstore called Books, Inc.  While driving around I found another bookstore, Wilmot's Books, selling second-hand books (my favorite.)  I did purchase several books there, mostly mysteries, but some non-fiction, and a French book (some of the books shown below.)  I talked with the owner of the shop for a while.  He gave me some interesting historic information on the island.

On the following day, Saturday, we drove over the Bay Bridge to San Francisco and I'll have a future post on our afternoon there.  We came back to Alameda for dinner.  The choice of restaurants is very large in Alameda for such a small island.  I had a restaurant guide and as you can see in the collage below, on the purple page, the longest list of restaurants is for Asian eateries.  Many Chinese and other Asian people have lived on Alameda Island for over a century.  Caroline Leighton (book pictured above) who traveled to the West in the 1860s and 70s lived on Alameda Island for a while and mentioned in her memoirs that her neighbors were Chinese.  Actually the population of Alameda now is about 35% Asian (but when I went grocery shopping it seemed more like 75%.)

We went to dinner at China House, a restaurant off Park Street, located on the second floor.  It looked to me like Chinese restaurants I used to patronize when living in San Francisco in the 1960s.  China House was established in 1968 and the decor is vintage, classic 1960 American-Chinese style.  The same family has owned the restaurant all these years and we were told the decor, pieces and ceiling covering were hand painted in Taipei, Taiwan.  We ordered several dishes, family style, and when we were finished my grandson (8 years old) who is learning Chinese, told our server, in Chinese, how delicious the meal had been.  She was quite surprised and told us his Chinese was very clear and good.

For dessert, we just walked a block down Park Street to Tucker's Super Creamed Ice Cream.  There was a long line of local people waiting from the street all the way to the counter.  Tucker's has been in business on Alameda Island since 1941.  They offer shakes, floats, sundaes and 34 different flavors of ice cream.  The building is long and old, with an open front to the street and a back patio.  I sat in the back while my daughter bought the ice cream.  In front of me was a large wall painting that made me feel like I was in Italy rather than California.

On Sunday morning while daughter was getting ready for the airport we gazed at the lagoon.  Her studio was an "upgraded" accommodation with lagoon view. We had some bread leftover and the birds were not shy to come close to us to fight for it.

The great egret did not even look in our direction, though.

Daughter called from the airport to report that she had driven by a small aviation museum and suggested that the boys might enjoy visiting it.  So we drove there to investigate.  There were just two mothers and children outside the museum and they soon left.  The airplanes in front of the museum are the only ones the kids can climb into.

The museum is small but there is a good assortment of vintage airplanes with clear information on their type.  There are airplanes in the hangar and also outdoors.  The white airplane below with a red nose, and the inscription "Magnificent Obsession II" and No. N751JR on its tail is a 3/4 scale replica of the fames "Red Tail" Mustang - Jurca MJ.77.  These airplanes were flown as bomber escort over Europe in WWII by the illustrious "Tuskegee Airmen" the African-American military pilots.

Grandson is reading the info panel in front of the MiG-15 fighter.  This Russian airplane was designed in the late 1940s by Mikoyan and Guryevich (MiG) with advanced German aviation technology.  It was one of the most famous aircraft of that period with strong and dependable performance (first flight in December 1947.)  As a sideline, my father's first cousin, who was an Armenian like my dad, was a friend of Artem Mikoyan (the aircraft designer) and his family and visited them several times in Russia.  The Mikoyans are Russian Armenians.  (Click on collage to enlarge to read.)

A couple of interior rooms are dedicated to Aviation history and African-Americans in aviation, men and women such as the Tuskegee Airmen and Elizabeth "Bessie" Coleman (1892-1926,) first African-American female pilot.  There is also a room dedicated to women in aviation.  Below on the right-hand side is Amelia Earhart and on the left hand-side is a picture of Baroness Raymonde de Laroche, born in Paris in 1882.  She was the first woman, in the world, to obtain a pilot's license - on March 10, 1910.  She died in 1919, aged 37, during a training flight, piloted by someone else (she is buried in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.)

Another room contains many uniforms, such as a Luftwaffe German pilot leather flight jacket.  A video runs in another room and there are more rooms with exhibits.  Frankly, to read and look at everything would take more than a day as there is so much aviation history there.

Outdoor the boys enjoyed looking at many vintage and retired military aircraft - aircraft from the Vietnam War era to the 1990s.  There is even an ex-BOAC Short Solent Mark III flying boat.  It was once owned by Howard Hughes and was substituted for a Boeing China Clipper in the Indiana Jones' movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.  The  Oakland Aviation Museum is a small museum, a bit rustic, but the right size for two small boys to enjoy on a sunny day.  As for me, even though I worked for 26 years with airplanes I still like to look at them.

Leaving through the small gift shop I bought a couple of little toy planes for the boys ... and some old postcards for me.  The bottom postcard on the left is on Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the bottom postcard on the right is the US Army Air Force pounding German supply lines over Italy with planes like the B-26 Marauder.

Then it was time for the boys to climb back into the two airplanes outside and play-act as ace pilots while I sat on a comfortable bench and watched them.

My mind wandered - so many different airplanes ... large, small, beautiful, frightening ...?  Could your mind turn an interesting airplane like this one

into any of these?


Nadezda said...

Hi Vagabonde!
I didn't know that USSR worked with China to produce MIG15. Interesting thing! I liked the dishes you showed us and in Lithuanian restaurant I found the meal that we call 'pelmeny' - you called them Dumplings. Usually 'pelmeny' has the same fillings as you write.
It was a surprise to learn that you worked in aviation 26 years, wow!

David said...

Vagabonde, I like your lead in photo re: your flight to Oakland. (A Curtiss P-40 Warhawk decorated as one of the Flying Tigers from early WW II in SE Asia) Your previous post on your visit to Alameda had already convinced me that I needed to put it on my list of places to visit. We can't get good Chinese food here...or much Asian either...and that would be one of my trip goals! (Great looking food on the table!)

The Papa Mama Lithuanian Restaurant looked great too. Recently we found Hungarian cuisine during a visit to the south side of Detroit and we've had Moldovan cuisine in Maryland...but I've never even seen a Lithuanian restaurant before.

The Oakland Aviation Museum is right up my alley! I'd be taking lots of photos that's for sure. I've never even seen a Short Solent Mark III Flying Boat...or for that matter, other than a big former military Gruman Flying Boat, any other large passenger carrying seaplanes.

Thanks for another interesting post with great photos! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Jono said...

You hit three of my favorite things, food, reading, and aviation. If I lived in a place with a large variety of restaurants I would likely be fat, happy, and financially ruined.

Elephant's Child said...

Books, birds and food. Bliss.
Planes I can admire from a distance, but I really don't like flying.
Another informative and beautiful post. Thank you.

Frances said...

Vagabonde, how fortunate those grandsons are to have had you visiting them. I am sure that they are going to remember the Aviation Museum forever...lots of memories created that afternoon, and a wonderful link to you own professional experiences, too.

I also appreciated learning more about Alameda. How wonderful to find such varied restaurants...and the used book shop, too.

What a very fine Vagabonde you are! xo

Amanda said...

You had a really nice and educating stay with your grandchildren!
Las Vegas is terrific! The restaurants are amazing, the shows fabulous and the hotels magnificent. I really think you would enjoy spending few days there. Of course there might be some nostalgia for the old Vegas but all in all, it is fun.
I finished reading "the code talkers". I am always hunting for interesting books. I am not sure of the next one but like you, when I see a bookstore, I have to stop and buy at least 2 books.
I am so glad you enjoyed your stay, with more discoveries to come.

Glenda Beall said...

Lovely post. The photos are wonderful. I felt I was along on your trip.

The Broad said...

Every post you write amazes me! Almeda Island looks and sounds absolutely fascinating. The book stores look wonderful and then you put the icing on the cake with the air museum. Excellent stuff!,

Denise Covey said...

Hi Vagabonde! I read every word, pored over every picture and learned so much as I always do with your posts. I didn't know Baroness Raymonde de Laroche was the first woman pilot. So sad that she died so young, but at least she was doing something she loved.

Australia is still at the point of fighting over whether to allow casinos into our cities. Of course there are some already, but Brisbane where I live only has a small casino as the population believes casinos are the work of the devil. But our state government has just okayed a second casino which is going to become a huge waterfront development. My point? I'm far from being able to comprehend Las machines at the airport? Really?

Thanks for a colourful, informative post! I was so pleased to hear from you again recently.

Denise :-)

claude said...

Coucou Vagabonde !
Encore une magnifique publication. Je ne sais si ce sont les avions ou la nourriture mais ton post me donne la pêche ce matin.
Avent de prendre un gros avion en 85 pour aller voir pour la première fois mon amie Julia j'ai fait

OldLady Of The Hills said...

You made my mouth water with the picture of the Borscht---my Grandmother was from Lithuania and that's the kind of Borscht she made! YUM!!!!
That little Museum was fabulous! For a tiny Museum they sure had a lot of interesting planes. One of my sisters and my brother both learned to fly small planes in the late 1940's--early 50's It was great fun going flying with my brother. You always have such a good time wherever you go, my dear....And it's always great fun and very interesting to read about your experiences.

By the way: You asked about those large white plates I used at my Birthday dinner----they are Italian and I have had them for 50 years! I LOVED the way they looked and found them a great way to serve a Buffet where people can sit anywhere and it is almost like a tray on their laps....!

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a fabulous place to visit. My husband is a private pilot and we've had our own planes. We never miss air plane museums. The Tuskegee fighters are really interesting too. I wasn't aware of Bessie Coleman. She sounds like quite a gal.

Linda said...

This is such a fascinating and exciting post, and I love all your photos! The planes are amazing and this has been a very enjoyable tour. Thank you so much for sharing it!

Shammickite said...

As I am the mother of 2 boys, I have visited many air museums and airfields, so I was very interested in your visit to the Oakland Aviation Museum, and I especially like your versions of the last photo!
I visited Las Vegas about 14 years ago, I`d love to go back one day, it`s like visiting another planet! I gambled about $30, so the big casinos didn`t make much of a profit from me.

Tessa~ Here there be musing said...

Thank you for your comment, about my son's operation and happy outcome.

Love that first pic of that illustration of the WWI plane!

And what an interesting air museum, to be able to take boys to.


BJM said...

Greetings from Glasgow! You certainly get around!


DeniseinVA said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and looking at all the great photos. Thank you so much and thank you also for visiting me too. Wishing you a great weekend, Denise :)

Magic Love Crow said...

Great post my friend! Very interesting! Tucker's ice cream looks so good!

Mae Travels said...

Your voyage sounds both laid-back and adventurous at the same time. New places, new restaurants, new museums and good times with family. A rare combination. I love your food photos, nature photos, and vintage post cards.

livininlb said...

The borscht was beet and so delicious. And yes, there are slot machines everywhere in Vegas, even gas stations.

Al said...

That's quite the trip - you saw lots of great stuff!

Paris Rendez-vous and Beyond said...

You're living your dream dear Vagabonde.

Thank you so much for sharing your fabulous adventures!



Shell Sherree said...

Such a variety of adventures you had, Vagabonde !! I especially enjoyed the snippets about female aviators ~ and I love the motto at Tuckers! That's the same kind of thought process I follow when I see a very fine looking item of the pastry persuasion. Have a lovely weekend !

Reader Wil said...

Yesterday I came home from my holidays in Australia. There are a lot of friends here who give me the feeling that I belong here, and that they were glad to see me again. I have a lot of mails to answer, including your beautiful post about aviation, Thank you.
Have a great weekend.

Pixel Peeper said...

Loved all your pictures...even those of the slot machines at the airport in Las Vegas. Though I've been there only once (in 1989), I have fond memories of Vegas, since my husband and I got married there. That's one gamble that really paid off! ;-)

Your food pictures make me hungry...and I just love independent book stores. I like to visit book sales that libraries have, and every once in a while I get lucky and come across a German book.

Carola Bartz said...

Fried Lithuanian rye bread sounds interesting - I would love to try that (I love rye bread). All the dishes look tempting. Well, perhaps we simply have to drive down to Alameda one day and visit that restaurant!

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

It seems you had busy, but insteresting holidays!

joared said...

Vegas does not lack slots at the airport I, too, have noticed -- many more than I recall from years ago.

So much info of interest in your post. The Oakland Aviation Museum is an attractive site for a visit. Nice that children can have a hands on type experience at any museum. The evolution of flight in my lifetime is remarkable.

Our first date my husband took me night flying over a metropolitan area. We continued to fly privately for a few years after we wed and was most enjoyable.

Arti said...

As always, your post is well-researched, highly informative and very interesting. Glad to hear your grandson is learning Chinese and is not afraid to practice it. I just saw this on YouTube yesterday, thought you and your grandson would find it inspiring. It's in the news 2 days ago over a million views now: Jon Bon Jovi sings a popular Chinese love song 月亮代表我的心 English translation: "The Moon Represents My Heart". Here's the link to the YouTube video (maybe your grandson has seen it already?)

Sharon said...

What great images, I have to admit to a bit of fascination with old travel posters and postcards. Las Vegas does seem to be a really unreal place, my husband has said that is one place in America he would like to visit, not for the gambling but just for the outrageous imagination of it all. The museum looks great, my daughter's boyfriend would have absolutely loved it. I say boyfriend, but I kind of think of him as a member of the family, he is engineer who wants to become a professional pilot. Actually my husband would probably love it to, do boys ever really grow up?

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Wonderful visit with the grandsons! Loved how you started the ost with pictures from your own flight and ended with the flight museum. Lovely place to dream as you review history ...and fun learning experience for th boys. The meals all look good. Love trying new ethnic cuisine.

joyce said...

you packed a lot into a few days! I'm exhausted reading about it. How did you edit those photos of that plane at the bottom though, I have never seen that effect and love it.

sandy said...

The Journeys of the West Coast book looks like a good one! Would love to find one and read it.

I always enjoy your photos and narrative. I also (use to) visit the Bay area to watch grandkids (Mill Valley - Marin County)...about twice a year. I'm so sad they have moved now because I love the area.

All the planes were interesting to look at - I like the one on top of the face painted on the plane, so funny.

Terra said...

You found so many fun attractions. I live in California and these places are new to me.

Jeanie said...

Lithuanian sounds awfully interesting -- in fact, the whole time does! Though I might have given he air museum a pass with so many other things to do. The bookstore, on the other hand -- well, I would have been there a long while. Lucky you with the official Tour guide! What a find! And that ice cream!

As for Las Vegas, from where I sit you aren't missing much. I put that in the category of "everyone should go once. And that's probably enough!"

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