Three reasons to Celebrate World Penguin Day!

1.  Penguins always bring a smile to your face.

Admit it. There is no staying a grumpy-pants when you click through a slide deck of penguin photos.

Read more about Fiordland Penguins and the

Read more about Fiordland Penguins and other penguin adventures by clicking the Penguin category on this blog.

2.  Their clumsiness and vulnerability on land entertains and creates an emotional bond with us.

We laugh at what seems like their slapstick pratfalls on the ice, but we also have empathy as who among us has not literally fallen flat on our face. We recognize the penguins incredible commitment to raising their young, sometimes in nasty conditions, and we like to think we are as committed to our own children.

Even in captivity, the penguin can charm!

Even in captivity, the penguin can charm!

3. Penguins can withstand the harshest weather; raise chicks on ice; and yet the 18 species are all at risk because of us.

Whether it is climate change, depletion of food from overfishing and human pollution, loss of habitat from human development, and other causes, we need to care for penguins as they are the proverbial canary of Antarctica.

BONUS!

Test your penguin knowledge with this quiz from the Pew Charitable Trust. Then sign the petition (on same web page) to encourage the US State Department to reach and sign agreements to protect penguins in the Ross Sea and Antarctica.

Share why you love penguins!

New App Finds California Parks Resources

Are you interested in finding a trail for mountain biking? Or a beach where you can walk your dog? Or ready to book a camping site? There is a new App, Caliparks.org, developed by the Parks Forward Commission and a design firm Stamen. It includes all parks in the state–local, state and national.

Screenshot of Caliparks.org homepage.

Screenshot of Caliparks.org homepage.

The database has 11,826 parks in all, including photos and a catalog of activities and facilities. Check it out and then get outdoors!

Great Night Out at Rivercats Baseball Game

The sun sets at River Cats Ballpark in West Sacramento. The golden Tower Bridge is in the middle distance.

The sun sets at Raley Field in West Sacramento. The golden Tower Bridge is in the middle distance.

You do not have to be a big fan of the game of baseball to enjoy an evening at a good ballpark. The River Cats’ baseball stadium in West Sacramento is just such a park. Raley Field is across Tower Bridge on the Sacramento River just minutes from downtown Sacramento.

The River Cats just switched affiliations from the Oakland As to the San Francisco Giants. The Sacramento River Cats are a Triple-A club in the Pacific North league. They have been playing at Raley Field since 2000. Tickets are affordable, ranging from $10 to $65 apiece. Food prices are similar to going to the theater and a little less expensive than a Major League game.

Baseball games are as much about the food and the small traditions as the at bats and defensive plays. Tonight a local childrens’ choir sang the national anthem. I discovered later on facebook that an old friend’s daughter was in that choir. There is Dinger the River Cat mascot doing crazy skits and giving away freebies between innings. Then there is the 7th inning stretch when everyone is invited to stand, stretch, and sing.

Hey batter, batter!

Hey batter, batter!

Monday nights Cache Creek Casino sponsors free Bingo. I doubt anyone won this week. The numbers are based on the position of the player and how that player does at bat. Some numbers were “called” over and over.

I joined work colleagues at this game against the Las Vegas 51s. We had good tickets on the lower level between homebase and third. Our tickets also entitled us to enter the Solon Club for better food. Broderick Roadhouse offers a great ballpark menu. And the view as you eat is from a higher deck above first base.

I rode my bike to the ballpark. It is just 15 minutes from Midtown. There is plenty of bike parking. The wind came up and it was a chilly ride home and totally beautiful. I pedaled across the golden Tower Bridge and straight to the illuminated state capitol, then around N to 18th to home. I look forward to a long summer of baseball whenever I need some relaxation or a really great hotdog.

First published on Adventures of American Julie (http://americanjulie.com).

Mooching Around Midtown Sacramento

I moved to midtown Sacramento to be in one of the liveliest places in Sacramento, which is not saying much in a relatively sleepy place. It is the first Sactown neighborhood to re-embrace mixed use with restaurants and shops on the first floor and apartment living above. Plus it hosts the Second Saturday for Art events and a lot of other celebrations. It is loud and lively most every night from Thursday through Saturday.

Hoping for a kinder, friendlier police force.

Hoping for a kinder, friendlier police force.

I chose this light and spacious apartment 2 floors above the Rind restaurant to keep from becoming a hermit and to cycle to work and shopping (even more than in Davis).  I am finding that I interact with all sorts of people much more here. Just now as I type I can hear a duo busking with their guitars in front of Capitol Dime bar. I compare it to my experiences in Chelsea NYC.

My dog Lulu also gets me out of the house 3-4 times a day. And this week I am caring for Dozer and so my life is dominated by the dogs’ schedule–something I call living in dogtown. People are very interested in the dogs and this opens conversation as well as providing an excuse to cut it short and move on.

Beautifully restored home and garden near where I worked in the 1990s.

I used to walk past this dilapidated home and garden in the 90s and imagine how I would restore it. Someone else has done it beautifully.

I am enjoying riding my cruiser to church and around town for shopping errands or picking up my mail. I need to get on Map My Ride and begin making longer rides. Indeed, to prepare for RAGBRAI I restarted Bike Your Butt Off by Selena Yeager and.Leslie Bonci.  It is 12 week program that will peak July 4.

I love the Saturday Farmers’ Market at 20th and K Streets. I shopped at the Davis Farmers’ Market, but now I have a decent kitchen. So I am cooking at home more and making an effort to eat more healthy and fresh foods.

I thought I would give myself a challenge of picking one activity out of Sactown Magazine or Sacramento Magazine and do it each month. It turns out I do not need an official challenge. I have been inspired to try new restaurants, drink coffee in new places, go to the movies more, and generally enjoy the neighborhood amenities. I shop at Time Tested Books instead of the Avid Reader. Monday I will go to a Rivercats baseball game and in a few weeks a soccer game. Now I have a local wool shop in Rumplestiltskin. There are so many places within just a few blocks to watch rugby that the upcoming World Cup will be awesome.

Every move gives an opportunity to purge belongings, create new patterns, and make new friends. It also takes a while for my molecules to settle again. I have not learned to sleep through the night noise yet so I am tired in the afternoons. I look forward to the return to normal levels of creativity and energy.

Mostly I am glad to be here in this present moment and to explore my new neighborhood as if I were living in a foreign land.

Coming up: The Handle District will host the second annual Dress Up, Wine Down on May 9th between 3 – 9:30 p.m. The block party will be on Capitol Avenue between 19th and 18th Streets for a fashion show and wine tasting. Free to the public, donation to WEAVE suggested.

Alameda: Little Gem on the Bay

downtown Alameda, California

downtown Alameda, California

Alameda is a charming historic community on two small islands. The naval station (now closed) played a vital role in World War II. Alameda is now a vibrant smallish community in the heart of the Bay Area.

It is an ideal place for rowing and sailing with at least one America’s Cup teams headquartered here.

There are great places to eat and many establishments take advantage of the tremendous view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco.

Kale and avocado salad

Scolari’s kale and avocado salad

Taste wine at the Rock Wall and enjoy delicious food from

Taste wine at the Rock Wall and enjoy delicious food from Scolari’s

You can reach Alameda by car or ferry. There is a terrific bike shop in downtown where you can rent bikes and ride out to the point and see the naval buildings and ships, or dine al fresco at Scolaris, wine taste at Rock Wall, or try Hangar Ten vodka and spirits.

Rent a bicycle and pedal around  historic Alameda.

Rent a bicycle and pedal around historic Alameda.

Alameda would be a great place for a weekend getaway. There are not a lot of traditional lodging options in Alameda; however, there are numerous opportunities on Airbnb and several holiday accommodations on TripAdvisor.

Enjoy outdoor dining at Rock Wall and Scolari's

Enjoy outdoor dining at Rock Wall and Scolari’s

Beautiful view of San Francisco from Alameda

Beautiful view of San Francisco from Alameda

Happy Easter Chocoholics!

Poco Dolce dark chocolate tiles

Poco Dolce dark chocolate tiles

Lots of chocolate is sold for Easter: Cadbury eggs, chocolate bunnies, solid and hollow chocolate eggs, and more.

“Americans spend an average of $2 billion on Halloween candy, $1.9 billion on Easter candy, $1.4 billion on Christmas candy and $1 billion on Valentine’s Day candy.” (Universe)

The day before Valentine's Day the line went down the block at Ginger Elizabeth chocolate shop.

The day before Valentine’s Day the line went down the block at Ginger Elizabeth chocolate shop.

Since I moved to midtown Sacramento I have a birds eye view of the popularity of chocolate. Some of the finest and most popular chocolate is from Ginger Elizabeth. There is often a line for the hot chocolate or for a sweet treat.

At the cheese festival in Petaluma I discovered a San Francisco chocolatier, Poco Dolce. Today I am enjoying a couple of the bittersweet chocolate tiles: burnt caramel toffee and roasted almond. Yum.

Of course, as a followers of Jesus, the reason for Easter is to celebrate his resurrection. The chocolate is a bonus. Happy Easter.