We had walked the trail around Lake Chabot last month and watched people set up picnic spots at the many open tables dotting the entrance. I had mentioned how cool it would be to have a get together out here when the weather was nice, and this weekend was going to be the perfect occasion.
Initially the picnic was going to have a handful of people and a very small spread of food. Since there were grills at all the sites, I had the brilliant idea that our group could try vegan hot dogs with some fixings. The plan was to have a handful of people and spend about thirty minutes shopping getting the simple spread together.
That initial simplicity quickly started spinning out of control. First was the food. My partner and mom immediately pointed out a critical flaw in my vegan hot dog plan. Nobody but me likes them. To be fair, even I don’t completely like them. I just had this romantic idea of grilling something over charcoal. It was an image of what I thought the perfect cookout aesthetic would be.
They started suggesting other food items to augment the vegan dogs and provide more choice to folks coming. Since her parents were coming, they could whip up a pasta salad.
My partner planned to make her world famous brownies for dessert. My mom was going to make her world famous secretly store-bought garlic bread. I folded and committed to bringing chips and salsa.
The small invite list also quickly doubled in size as we realized this would be a great chance to invite some friends we all hadn’t seen in months. We ended up having to create an excel sheet to keep track of all the folks who would be coming and who would be in charge of inviting them.
We made our way to Costco to grab a bunch of drinks and a few bulk snacks. We then went to a bunch of grocery stores to pick up all the groceries needed to make all the food. I even toured most of the grocery stores in Pleasanton to find the elusive vegan dogs. I finally found them hidden in a corner at the neighborhood Walmart.
Leading up to the event most of the invitees proclaimed that they were also going to bring some food of their own. Although we stressed that we would handle all the food, it didn’t matter. Our food supply quickly doubled over the span of a few days.
On the day of the event my partner and I left home early in the morning to stake out a prime set of tables. We got to the park around nine and started cleaning up the tables, grills, and laying out the initial spread. It was cloudy and chilly this past Sunday morning but it turned into a beautiful fall day.
I got to hang out with close friends and family that I had grown up with. All the stress leading up to the actual event melted away. There was ample food and drinks for everybody. The conversation was flowing and it felt like everybody was having a good time. We even packed to-go bags so all our guests could enjoy the leftovers for one more meal.
This was a completely new way for us to take advantage of the beautiful open and public space we have surrounding us in the Bay. That day I felt lucky to live here, and even luckier to have the community that I do.