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Florada Fun, "South of the Border"

There was more great walking weather last Wednesday for our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group when we met at the Exedra at our usual time.

Another strong summer time showing of thirty nine walkers and five K-9 best friends was on hand at the Exedra to enjoy it.

Each year we try to walk every safe walking Piedmont street, and when we go to the streets that border Oakland there is the opportunity to see some great Oakland streets too. A Piedmont street very few people ever go to is my Florada Avenue on the southern border of Piedmont. At the end of Florada, just beyond the Oakland/Piedmont city line, is an impressive cactus garden in the front yard of an Oakland home. Going to see it could be part of a "South of the Border" exploration of some Oakland streets beyond Florada.

We went down Highland Avenue to Wildwood Avenue and then to Wildwood Gardens. We recalled that this was the entrance to Frank C. Havens' "Wildwood" estate in the early 1900s. We appreciated the redwood tree just beyond the old pillars that once marked the entrance to Wildwood. The tree seems to have been fed for decades by underground water that has fed its

huge growth. On Wildwood Gardens we noted a home built on stilts above the ravine below, another home with a long swing in its front yard, and a sizable tree house in the backyard of a home. A bench seems to have been added for the kids since our last visit.

When we came to the end of Wildwood Gardens we walked the also hardly ever visited Wistaria Way loop. We emerged on to Woodland Way. At its end we were at a street that to the left is Lafayette Avenue and to the right is La Salle Avenue. There is no clear explanation why. It's one of the street naming mysteries in Piedmont and Oakland.

We came to my little traveled Florada Avenue, and went down it past our home. We didn't have refreshments ready for the group so we pressed on down the street to the Oakland boarder, where for some other reason the street becomes Portal Avenue.

On Portal we soon came to and appreciated the beautiful cactus garden in a front yard. Some walkers remembered talking with the homeowner on a past walk a few years before. The garden is now full, complete, and lovely. We took the attached group photo in front of it.

Down the street was a large, colorful, pink bougainvillea that was also enjoyed. However, chain sawed stumps along the hillside indicated some past tree falling issues. A little further on, we came to a white, plaster, life size statue of a naked woman in front of a home. Matt G said he once met a woman who lives there, and he thinks she was the model.

We came to Ashmount Avenue and went up it. The street provided an uphill climb, but we showed our mettle and made our way up it. We were impressed by the lovely, large, unique homes, many of which were built during the 1920s when Piedmont also experienced a building boom.

Some walkers remembered that in the past we had been able to visit and shop a farmers market that was operated by a young entrepreneur out of the garage of his parents' Ashmount home. However, he has closed up his shop, moved on, and there was no produce for us to take home. However, we did enjoy a home across the street. This was a home designed by Bernard Maybeck, a UC Berkeley architecture professor and Julia Morgan's teacher in the late nineteenth century. Maybeck also designed the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

With all the walking, site seeing, and talking, the morning was getting on; and it was time to go up to Mandana Avenue, which also experiences a magical name change to become Crocker Avenue at the Piedmont border. We took a direct route back to the Community Hall parking lot. It had been about a three mile walk with interesting homes, stories, and street name mysteries.


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