I’ll admit it… I’ve never been particularly proud to hail from Southern California.
Come on. There are more of us than there are cockroachs in a second-rate greasy spoon.
When someone asks me, “Where are you from?” I usually respond with a low mutter, hoping they won’t hear that I come from the world of fake boobs and gridlock.
Half of the time, it turns out that they are from California too.
When I arrived in Hawaii in 2006, I was excited to be so far away from the mainland. But what did I find on the leeward side, where the weather was dry and most like SoCal? A Costco, a Walmart, and every other car with a California license plate.
Not only do California’s migrate, we colonize. And we take our darn cars with us wherever we go!
So it was with an odd sense of curiosity that I entered into the area of the California State Capitol last month.
I have never been to Sacramento. But this is the year to tie up loose ends and close the book on America ‘s MUST-
SEE’s before I move on to Paris to get lost in a steaming vat of café latte.
It could happen. Who knows?
That being said, there are points of interest here in the U.S. that I would like to visit just to say “I was there:”
North and South Carolina
New York (well, I’ll probably want to go back to New York)
And…drum roll please…
The capitol of the great state of California…Sacramento.
So here I am…
I witnessed the empty lime green and salmon-colored rooms where the state legislature hashes policy changes to pot smoking and educational testing. Really guys, hot pink? How can you even think in there?
I strolled down the vast hallway where portraits of the last five or so governors looked out at me. The Gobernator’s was the biggest. Jerry Brown’s was, of course, an abstract.
We strolled along the State Capitol gardens, where I smelled rose bushes the size of lemon trees and reminisced amongst redwoods like the ones Shane and I saw on our trip up north last summer.
I saw window displays of every single county in the state.
That’s a lot of counties.
And I didn’t just stay at the Capitol. After Shane bidded me adieu and rolled out of town, leaving me a bit lonely on my next Trusted Housesitters solo assignment, I was on my own to explore a bit. Here is a run-down of some cool stuff I saw (and munched) while I was there:
Melting Pot – Long wait, usually crowded, make a reservation if you can. Is it worth it? Oh yeah…bourbon gorgonzola cheese fondue…need I say more? I could have tried them all. PS a little bit of personal nostalgia…I didn’t realize until I sat down that I had actually gone to The Melting Pot in San Luis Obispo when I was 12 back in…well, a long time ago… with my mom for my first-ever fondue experience!
Freeport Bar and Grill – Good grub. Down home, stick to your ribs kind of affair. Service is friendly. Decent margaritas. If you go during the day, then you may have some daylight left to go across the Freeport Bridge to wine country where you can sample some desert wines as an apiferit!
Danny’s Mini Donut – A whole place devoted to super tiny versions of the collosal variety that I usually avoid because of being mostly g.f. If you are already in Old Sac, why not, right? They were crispy on the outside, filled with doughy goodness on the inside and SMALL! 4 of these little jewels for 2 bucks.
Sacramento Wine Country ─So I did finally take Mr. G.’s advice and drove across the old Freeporte bridge, past old farmhouses and rows of knobby grapevines held up by t-shaped rods, their leaves gone since it was technically still winter-ish and chilly at night. I stopped to let a flock of turkeys cross the road on the way to the Old Sugar Mill.
By the time I reached the country road that led to the Mill, I was fully immersed in memories of my teenagehood amongst the cropland and vineyards of Central California just a few counties away. The thin smell of fertilizer invaded my nostrils in the lazy afternoon.
Old Sugar Mill – an old 100-year old Crystal sugar factory turned wine-tasting mecca. I went later in the afternoon (they close at 5) with dog in foot so I didn’t stay long. Just long enough to have a flight and for my four legged friend to sniff a pug that came in to the dog-friendly establishment. The grounds are great, and would make for a great place to take abstract photos, if so inclined. I was just about to do that when my phone died. Dang! Also the drive there is lovely and there are plenty of other places that you can stop for a little vino along the way. Watch out for turkeys though!
State Railroad Museum ─ I love trains! I love trains! I love trains!
I rambled through the Calfornia State Train Museum like a little boy in a room full of legos. Minus much information about my Chinese ancestors who actually layed the tracks, the “roundhouse” was a pretty cool place. Bullet commuters stood slick and shiney next to 150 year old steam engines steeped in gold.
I especially relived my childhood giddiness when I found the walk-in cars, a Pullman with three generations of tablewhere and a bullet-type 1950’s train that rocked back and forth like it was moving (whistles and all) while a mannaquin of a commuter snored in a sleeper car.
Old Sacramento ─ Surrounding the train museum and hugged up against skyscrapers and the I-5 freeway, Old Sacramento use to be the center of town in the mid-1800’s. Now it houses the Pony Express monument and the Delta King Steamboat as well as the State Automobile Museum and the old-timey Huntington & Hopkins Hardware Store, as well as dozens of newer shops and restaurants tucked inside salon doors along the wooden boardwalk. Truth be told, I didn’t have much time to explore Old Sac (I was having too much fun with the trains), but the next time I come to the capitol city, I will definitely walk the boardwalk and see more than Danny’s Mini Donuts, as yummy as they may be.
I actually stayed in “Sac” for two weeks. Although I mostly holed myself up at the sweet little pad I was housesitting to get some serious work done, I did get to sniff around town a little bit and was pleasantly surprised by the big city-small town feel of the Sacramento “Delta” area. So much so that I might even come back someday to the “land of many trees.”
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Ever been to Sacramento? Let us know about it in the comments section below!