Some call it Oakland's Oom-pah alley. It's a German retreat above Butters Canyon -- complete with a beer garden, kitchen and dance hall. Run by Oakland Nature Friends, this little-known gem comes alive during Octoberfest, scheduled this year from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 6.
Reminiscent of Oakland's once-thriving German community, the Butters Canyon retreat, 3115 Butters Drive, will surprise you. Carvings of owls and scarecrows give it the feel of a Bavarian Village and the old dance hall has a handsome stone fireplace. During the Octoberfest, live music echoes through the canyon and lederhosen-clad dancers twirl across the stage.
If you'd like to ring in October with an authentic German celebration, check this one out at https://www.facebook.com/oak.nature.friends.
Crime beat: It's not often you hear of a stolen car being returned to its owner, but it happened this month in Montclair. A houseguest in the hills had her old Honda Civic taken by thieves, who somehow cut the club off the steering wheel and drove away. What she didn't realize was that the car's previous owner had equipped the vehicle with Lojack, letting Oakland police track and recover it. They found the car the next day at 34th and MacArthur.
Around town: Grand Avenue pet owners will have a neighborhood animal hospital again. Dr. Lauren Knobel and Dr. Eleanor Dunn are opening the Grand Lake Veterinary Hospital at the site of the former Lake Vet. Dunn worked at Lake Vet for 25 years before the owner suddenly shut it down last spring. For more on the October opening see www.grandlakevet.com.
Great outdoors: The folks at Oakland's Feather River Camp have seen a surge in phone calls since Berkeley Tuolumne Camp was destroyed by fire on Aug. 25. Feather River's Mike Moran hopes Tuolumne campers will consider making memories at the "treasure of great Bay Area camps that remain" -- Berkeley's Echo, San Francisco's Mather, San Jose Family Camp, Lair of the Bear and Oakland Feather River, which turns 90 next year. Meanwhile, the show must go on ... so Tuolumne Camp's popular end-of-season staff show has been moved to the Berkeley Rep Theatre. Captain Amazing and the Superheroes of Camp Tuolumne runs at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 6 on the Rep's Thrust Stage.