But Pokemon GO is also making me look at my neighborhood in new ways.
I walked two miles this morning, visited 16 Pokestops, faced defeat in two gyms and caught eight Pokemon.
I also saw a hummingbird, heard a red-tailed hawk, searched for fingerling trout, enjoyed several murals, checked the titles in a Little Free Library and found a church I had forgotten existed.
I felt nostalgic about Pokestop landmarks that have already changed: the little fire truck in Dimond Park that has been replaced with a brand-new tot lot, the hand-painted stars that used to decorate the fence around the old Blockbuster store, now demolished to its concrete pad. Even my favorite Chinese restaurant, closed for many months, is honored with a stop labeled “Ocean Temple.” Old-timers have a definite leg up in finding these spots.
This transitory nature of the world can sometimes cause humorous results. The in-game map shows dancing green sparks in the middle of a field in Dimond Park, but that field is now a restored section of Sausal Creek. It seems unlikely you’ll catch them all without getting your feet wet.
Nothing forces you to keep your face in your phone while hunting Pokemon. If you are familiar with the area, it’s easy to check what the Pokestop landmarks are before you set out and put your device back in your pocket till you get there. Don’t worry, it will vibrate when you pass a Pokemon.
Start this Pokewalk at Fruitvale Avenue and Lyman Road, at the brick steps that mark the entrance to Dimond Park. From this point, you should be able to see five gyms and 20 stops. You can plot your own route, but if you want to follow the one I’ve mapped for you, head into the park and downhill toward your left, past the redwood groves. You’ll follow the paved path along Sausal Creek past the Scout Hut, then take a detour to the Recreation Center.
Coming back past Lyons Pool, cross Sausal Creek to Cañon Avenue, a lovely, shaded street winding between neat bungalows. Look for trout in the calm spot to the left of the bridge.
Turn left onto MacArthur and head downhill, turning right onto Dimond Avenue to take a detour past Paws and Claws. Use Bienati Alley to get back to Fruitvale Avenue and the heart of the Dimond shopping district: Farmer Joe’s Market, La Farine, several cafes and markets.
Take Fruitvale back to MacArthur, turn right and right again onto Lincoln, which runs past a swirling blue mosaic and one of Oakland’s old fire houses. Go left and uphill on Champion at the firehouse, passing the Dimond Gateway Mural.
You can cut your walk to two miles by continuing uphill on Lincoln, rejoining my route at Sequoia School. Or go right and walk along MacArthur to Bret Harte Middle School, enjoying several mosaic murals on your way.
Head uphill on Coolidge Avenue, left on Madeline, left on Laguna and right on Scenic, through another neighborhood of modest but well-maintained bungalows. You’ll know you’re near Sequoia School when you pass the playground and another colorful mosaic mural.
Go uphill a block to Wilbur Avenue, then sharply downhill on Wilbur to Whittle Avenue, already described in this blog. Whittle will return you safely to Dimond Park.