Cycling Round Sacramento

3Z0B0GuiQ8uWnfkA+GdsPgThis weekend I spent Saturday afternoon enjoying what my hometown has to offer. Sacramento has invested in protected bike lanes and traffic safety. And now the Jump scooters and electric bike programs are fully implemented. I rode my own cruiser round town and couldn’t help but smile at the number of people enjoying the bright red Jump scooters and bikes. Why not? The sun was shining and a light breeze kept the temperature in the 80’s. Trees are leafing out on every avenue, roses around the capitol are heavy in bloom, and the rivers are running full.

I cycled across Midtown to my favorite local spot, Easy on I, for a brunch steak with breakfast potatoes (yum!). Then I traveled across 16th Street into downtown. Families were excitedly headed to the Convention Center for the Lego event. Young girls in white were posing for photos after their first communion, wedding parties set digital memories in front of the Capitol, and a poker tournament was getting underway at Morton’s.

I stopped in the middle of Capitol Mall to check out the Jorge Marin “Wings of the City” statues. One is designed for taking photos to look as if you have just touched down from your own flight over the capitol. The other two are interesting and part of an exhibit sponsored by the City of Sacramento, the Mexican Consulate and the Jorge Martin Foundacion. There are nine monumental pieces of bronze sculpture located around the perimeter of the capitol.

eO%Gd6IhR3mXQnGxy9ExLAMy destination was the River Walk Park in West Sacramento. It is just across the Tower Bridge (on the other side of the river from Old Sacramento state park). The City of West Sacramento has done a great job developing their side of the Sacramento River. I was going to listen to my friend Nailah Pope-Harden speak at the March for Science. It made a great setting, but I wondered if participation was dampened at all by people who aren’t familiar with the River Walk Park. It was my first visit.

I cycled home thinking how wonderful our city is for young people, families, and old farts like me.  Next weekend Sacramento will be hosting the Tour of California bike race. We will welcome bicycling professionals and their fans to our fair city. See you soon.

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UC Davis Arboretum Just Got Better!

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I have always loved walking around the UC Davis Arboretum. It was well established when I was a graduate student in the late 1980s, and even then it had a serious water quality problem in Putah Creek. The algae and other problems caused duck die offs and some stinky stretches. Now with a new design to help clean up Putah Creek, you can actually see the turtles swimming in the creek. The redwood grove has new plantings on the floor, and the new trailhead in downtown Davis is complete. If you haven’t been in a while, it is worthy of another look.

The new infrastructure in the creek helps to keep the water clean. Plus it introduces the sound of running water to your walk along the trail. You will get a healthy 3.5 miles of steps if you walk the entire loop. Along the way you’ll enjoy over 20 gardens, interesting bridges and paths and only occasional glimpses of campus life. I’m sure it’s kept many a student sane.

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Watch for slider turtles. The iNaturalist app suggests this is a painted slider.

I belong to the Arboretum so I learn about their plant sales and enjoy a discount. The Arboretum is free of charge. Most days you’ll have to pay for campus parking if you are starting from the oak grove side near the medical campus, so instead park behind Mikuni’s restaurant (by the closed Whole Foods). When you finish up you can enjoy a meal at Pluto’s or Mikuni’s. I’m taking my grandson on Friday!

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Trailhead accessible at end of D Street, in downtown Davis. Put “Arboretum GATEway Garden” into Google Maps.

 

 

 

 

Sutter’s Fort a Kind of Living History

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My toddler grandson and I visited Sutter’s Fort on a Friday morning along with school kids.

Many a fourth grader in the Sacramento area has taken a field trip to Sutter’s Fort. It is easy to see it as a place primarily for kids. Alas, that would be selling Sutter’s Fort short.

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It doesn’t take much imagination to put yourself into the place of a miller or blacksmith living on this farm enterprise. Or imagine what life must have been like living in a community confined to these relatively small courtyards during floods in winter. This is where many a pioneer stopped thankful to reach “civilization” as primitive as it was. The California Indian museum next door tells the story of the indigenous people who lived here before European settlers and their fate as the settlers introduced small pox and other diseases and land ownership.

Here you see how the fort was first and foremost an enterprise. Many of the recreated scenes are accompanied by a narrated recording, but there are a few volunteer re-enactors who enliven the feel of the clerk’s office or other activity centers within the fort.

John Sutter was a Swiss immigrant who was granted the land from the Spanish for the fort and farms around it. His place in history was secured as the owner of the mill further upstream of the American River in Coloma where gold was discovered. The resulting rush brought a population of seekers and adventurers, quick statehood, and huge environmental degradation and water laws.

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Toddlers will race through the Fort finding very little of interest except the stairs and the gift shop. However, with a little energy expended, you may enjoy a nice snack stop on this bench enjoying the view of ducks, geese and butterflies.

Entrance per adult is $5 and per child over 5 is $3 except on special interpretive days like the Friday we visited. Then the admission is $7 per adult and $5 per child over 5. (Toddlers are free!) The fort gates are open almost every day of the year from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Pacific Ocean Lifts My Heart

IMG_6907The Pacific Ocean is such large and magnificent and I’ve lived within a few hours of the ocean my entire life. It has always been a balm to my stress. This visit to Clam Beach met my need for my molecules to be reorganized and synced to the rhythm of the waves.

IMG_6915Taking @DozertheDozerian and Lulu along to enjoy the open space and fresh air made it more fun. Clam Beach allows dogs to run off leash on the wet sand for a limited time in the winter.

IMG_6902Of course the point of my visit was to spend more time with the Watlove family. We learned to play a new board game, Fuse. We ate at our favorite restaurants and cooked at home. Nora baked wonderful lava cakes.

IMG_6916I have traveled to Humboldt County about once a year since my best friend Harriet moved up to Arcata to attend HSU. Now her children are in their 20s and the youngest daughter attends UC Davis, so the Watloves visit the Sacramento area often. I can’t remember the last time I made the 6 hour trek to Humboldt County.  There have been changes to the route. The Willits bypass is completed. It makes stopping for lunch or a bathroom stop so much easier and more pleasant.

IMG_6926The weather was the wildest I’ve experienced driving up with snow in Lake County and in Mendocino near Laytonville. It is always good to check CalTrans to confirm roads are open.

Some other changes include legalization of marijuana, so there are more dispensaries now. Also the price of marijuana has dropped so the local economy is feeling the beginning of the pinch. Nora says that most people in Humboldt County also resent the portrayal of southern Humboldt in the Netflix “documentary” as exaggerating the danger for entertainment.

Some of our favorite restaurants:

Ramone’s Bakery, 1555 City Center Road, McKinleyville, CA; I did a pastry run for the sleepyheads and picked 7 different pastries then cut them up for more tastes. Everything was delicious!

Lighthouse Grill, 355 Main Street, Trinidad, CA; known for mashed potato cone and grass-fed beef burgers; our fav’s this trip included fish and chips and a tuna melt.

The Alibi, 744 9th Street, Arcata, CA; this is a dive bar on the Arcata Plaza that also happens to serve a wonderful breakfast.

Pacific Grove in Winter

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Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove, CA is popular with families and others year round.

I received the Monterey Bay Aquarium e-newsletter announcing the Member’s Night and made a hotel reservation right away. I figured that on a random Saturday night in January it would be quiet. While it is less busy than this last weekend with the AT&T golf tournament in Pebble Beach, it was still lively.

Traffic on Saturday was congested at various points between Sacramento and Monterey. I reached Monterey in time for a late lunch at Gianni’s Pizza in New Monterey. I checked into my hotel (not worth mentioning) and walked to the Pacific Grove coastal walk for some fresh air. It was beautiful at Lover’s Point.

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Beach 1: the family beach

The first Lover’s Point beach is the most protected and perfect for families with young children. The water is c-c-c-old but there is plenty of sand. This beach is also closest to a snack bar and coffee shop.

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Beach 2: Good for body paddling out to the surf.

The second beach at Lover’s Point provides access to the surf if you are interested in paddling out or surfing. The first two beaches have stairways to make access easier.

The third beach didn’t reveal itself until I walked a bit further along the beach walkway and looked back. It is a sliver of sand between the rock face and the waves. It is a beach for teenagers and others who like daring each other to dash in the surf.

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Pacific Grove is a wintering site for a diminishing Monarch population.

Lover’s Point is the perfect destination for a family walk and picnic or a bike ride. There is some parking on the street and is a good stopping point if you are driving around the peninsula on the coast road. Or it can be a rest stop if you are walking from Asilomar to the Aquarium.

I decided one night is not enough to warrant .a 3.5-4.5 hour drive one way.  A sign of my age, sigh. When I was a teenager I would drive that much to spend the day at the beach. Then with children I needed at least an overnight. Now I want more than one night to recover and to justify the carbon footprint! One thing for sure, Pacific Grove is worth the effort even in the dead of winter.

Railroad Museum Thrills Grandson

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Ground floor of the railroad museum, sometimes called the train museum

I have a beloved toddler grandson and he and I go on adventures most Friday mornings. He likes being outside so we rotate between the Sacramento Zoo, Effie Yeaw Nature Area, and McKinley Park. About 6 months ago we went to the California State Railroad Museum one afternoon about 3:00 p.m. We had to park some distance from the museum and walk past the horse drawn carriages. So we rode the carriage and had them drop us at the museum. Then we became fascinated with the wooden sidewalks, the cobblestones, the full size caboose by the river, then the river, then the turntable for turning engines. By the time we made it back to the museum it was almost closing.

This time we got there as it opened at 10 a.m. Staying outside was not an option as the smoke from the Camp Fire (Paradise, 2018) was just too great to stay outdoors. When we walked through the entrance Cal saw a train engine and his smile was huge. He was so excited he was starfishing with his hands. When the greeter asked if anyone was a member or wanted to become a member I knew I might as well invest right away.

Admission is $12 per adults, $6 per child 6-17, free for children 5 and under. Memberships start at $30 per year, so it is worth considering. The museum is open daily from 10a.m.-5p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.

56408582734__B2C234D8-29E9-4333-9140-D9267D4BE3E6I used to bring my children here about 25 years ago. My son and daughter were not as excited about trains as my grandson clearly is. At the urging of the greeter we went directly up the stairs to the 3rd floor to where the model trains are displayed. There is also a “toy room” where wee people (ages 2-5) can play with wooden train sets. I was concerned that Cal would never willingly leave. He was over the moon.

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Tom also recommends checking out the holiday “Polar Express” extravaganza.

We did eventually make it back to the ground floor to climb aboard all kinds of train engines and train cars. We saw a mail car, a sleeper, and a dining car. When we climbed up to the biggest engine we found our family friend Tom! He volunteers as a docent 2 days a week. He loves trains and he clearly enjoyed telling people about this engine. In fact, I believe the museum has more volunteers than any venue in Sacramento and they definitely make the experience.

We will be returning often.

P.S. The gift shop is also a great place to find things for the train enthusiast. You can shop without paying admission.

 

Getting out of the Smoke to Apple Hill

The smoke from the Camp Fire in Butte County is so thick there is no way we could enjoy a morning out of doors with my grandson anywhere in the Sacramento Valley. So we drove east to Placerville and to Apple Hill just beyond.

Apple Hill is an established trail of family farms and orchards. Long ago when I was a child, Apple Hill was only open in the fall and closed once everyone had come to get their Christmas tree. The main locations to stop and buy pie or apples were straightforward. These days Apple Hill is open June-December and the pie and apple stops are jammed with tents of vendors selling everything from wax hand art to signs warning your neighbors about your “crazy dog.”

Our first stop was at the El Dorado Orchard for the train ride. They have had a short train ride around 2 ponds for several decades. The ponds need some rain and the ducks and geese are gone, but the train ride still was a pretty ride past vineyard and orchard. The cost of a ticket has gone up to $3.50 a person but still better than $5 a person for a hay ride at the next stop.

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Traditional apple pie, heated. Yum!

We drove about another 5 minutes to High Hill Ranch co-located with the Fudge Shop Farm. We parked among the apple trees and walked up to the main pie shop. It is built like an old fashioned ski lodge and the view from the deck is really splendid. It was lovely to see some blue sky. The apple pie was delicious. I prefer my apples more tart but the crust was as good as mine.

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It is a quick trip down the hill and back into the smoke. My thoughts and prayers go to the many families impacted by the Camp Fire in Paradise, CA. As of this writing nearly 6,500 families are homeless and the fire is threatening the town of Oroville. Please join me in donating to aid these communities through your preferred charity. Mine is the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Disaster Relief.