Sacramento last day

Our last day started off with a tour of the Stanford mansion! Apparently Leland Stanford (Sr) was the governor of California for a time and lived in Sacramento. The house, originally pretty modest at around 2000 square feet, was expanded to 4k and then 19k square feet.

Front of the mansion in the Second Empire architectural style.

After a really bad flood in 1862, the house was raised up and a relatively low-value ground floor added. That particular flood was so bad that Sacramento was about 10 feet underwater for 3 months. Afterwards, the entire city was raised a story, buildings and roads included. There are tours of the subterranean areas available during the summer.

The alleyways were not raised, which you can see evidence of in the still-present sloping.
A view of the Sacramento River with weird pyramidal building in the background.
Complete with abandoned stroller.
Pizza for lunch! J got a slice of garlic chicken pizza in addition.
Full-size model high-speed train at the State Railroad Museum. There’s a big room full of train cars from different eras.
Snow plow car, essential to rail travel through the Sierra Nevadas.
Dining car with historic train dining car china patterns.
Mail car, back when trains were used to transport mail. Apparently they were vulnerable to robbery.
Shinkansen training simulator. J did it and says its super easy – all you have to control is the brake.

Dinner for J. I had leftover burrito from the previous day.

We took Amtrak home in the evening, and then Caltrain back to our place!

Sacramento Day 2

The day started with a long walk to the farmers’ market! We asked the hostel’s desk clerk for directions.

Downtown Sacramento farmers’ market. Under a highway, dontcha know. We got lots of delicious free samples 🙂
The aforementioned highway.
Fortunately, the farmers’ market was right across the street from a scenic park with solar-powered… ducks?
The local Japanese sweets shop.

We got:

Walnut and red bean.
Peanut butter and mochi (and maybe red bean paste??) in a pancake.
Roasted soy bean flour and red bean paste. Was the mochi green tea flavor? Uhhh…
Sakura mochi.

The shopkeeper even put the sweets into my tupperware instead of the default styrofoam tray. Yay!

After a bit of a walk, we arrived at this hip and trendy mall.
…with a custom cobbler!!!!!!! The shop is also the workshop. In the back there you can see a lasting machine and a welting machine, maybe.

Of course, I was super interested (and pleased to hear that they get enough business). But the shop only uses one particular last, which I’m not interested in. So, that’s a no-go unfortunately.

Huge burrito for lunch. J got ceviche.
Neat street art. Reminds me of this.

We visited Sutter’s Fort and the State Indian Museum after lunch. Sutter’s Fort was an early settlement in California. I knew it only from it’s association with the Donner Party – it’s where they stayed to recover. I assumed Sutter’s Fort was a military fort, but… actually it was this guy’s private village.

Curiously, the fort was renovated in the late 1800s. So despite the fact that it’s not original, it’s historical in its own right.

The entrance.
The doll of one of the children from the Donner Party. She smuggled it during the trip after her mother had all the children throw their toys away to lighten the wagons. The doll is only a few inches tall.
The governor’s mansion! We walked by on the way to dinner. Sadly, tours are no longer available. The half mast flag was for some shooting that had happened recently.

We had disappointing Japanese food for dinner, so I’m not going to include pictures. All the photos are from J, by the way. We figured out a better way to share photos.

Sacramento Day 1

The main attraction!!!! The capitol’s lookin’ nice and tropical with that row of palm trees out front. Another main feature of the landscaping was the MOSS LAWN on the raised bed in front of the bushes. From afar, it totally looks like grass. Awesome 😀
The dome.
Some past governor with an interesting portrait. Arnold Schwarzenegger has one with a steel frame, oooo.
Each California county has a display case in the capitol basement to show off what they’re up to. Stanislaus County is really pumping out those cows…
Dinner at Ramen House.
The meat option.
The dessert not taken. It was a bit too cold for gelato.
Instead, we went to a chocolate shop (where I found a free chocolate abandoned on the ground… It was delicious)!
Hot chocolate with chocolate nibs.
Chocolate macaron. J’s all inspired now.

We also popped into Goodwill just in time for them to close. Since we weren’t actually looking for anything, a 5-minute browse was sufficient. This was the most professional Goodwill I’ve ever seen. The cashier was dressed in a suit (a suit!), and the store was clean and organized. When we walked in, I thought that we must be in the wrong place; it looked like an actual store!

Edit: My mom admonished me for not recognizing the portrait as being of Jerry Brown, a previous and the current California governor.

To Sacramento

Two weekends ago, J and I went to Sacramento to take advantage of the President’s Day holiday. We chose Sacramento because it is close enough to ride the train to, but far enough that we wouldn’t go on a normal weekend. It’s also the state capital.

Apparently though, it is not considered a valid vacation destination. Almost everyone we told our plans to said, “Why Sacramento??”, as if there’s nothing there. For the record, Sacramento has nearly 500,000 people (2.1 million in the metropolitan area), a very walkable downtown, and some of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the US (think of them as the antithesis of ghettos). Sacramento is a lot cheaper than the Bay Area too 🙂

Jimmy and I took Amtrak‘s Capitol Corridor line from San Jose to Sacramento. The ride took about 3 hours, which compares very favorably to driving. It cost $40 per person one way.

Flowering pear (so said another train passenger) trees as seen from the train.
Cows as seen from the train. I’m sure they love that 60 Hz buzz.

We stayed at a Hostelling International hostel (J’s first time in a hostel!) just a 10-minute walk from the train station. The hostel is housed in the repurposed Llewellyn Williams Mansion.

A classic and very spacious example of Victorian Italianate architecture. We stayed on the third floor.

I’ll make more posts on what we did in Sacramento.

Heat wave alert!

California is having a heat wave today and tomorrow. Around San Jose, it’s supposed to get up to 102°F or so! Whew! It’s time to take extreme evasive maneuvers, which means camping out in air-conditioned buildings!

J and I rarely use the air conditioning (or heat, for that matter). My preference is to leave the windows open at night to bring in the cool air or just tough it out if it’s too warm. If it’s too hot to sleep (usually > 83°F), we turn the AC on for a few hours before going to bed. If it’s too hot during the day even for sitting at a computer, though, I would rather just go somewhere else.

Continue reading “Heat wave alert!”

Purisima Creek Trail

A few weekends ago, J, friend A who likes bugs, friend S who is a friend of friend A, friend S’s college friends, and I took a trip to the Purisima Creek Open Space Preserve. We hiked on the Purisima Creek Trail a total distance of 12 miles!! That was much longer than anticipated, but J and I were surprisingly not in bad shape the next day. My calves were a little sore, but that was it. J and I do walk a lot now (at least 2 miles a day, just to the train station and back. If we do any extra activities, like on the weekends, then we easily reach 6+ miles in a day.).

We saw a tooon of banana slugs. They’re famous for being yellow and living in  redwood forests. It would seem that they have aposematic coloration, but they’re not toxic. In fact, there’s an (annual?) banana slug recipe contest in Russian River, CA.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of this trip. J brought his fancy camera, though, so I’ll have him upload something soon.

Redwoods and Cacti

A few weeks ago, J and I had an uncharacteristically adventurous and nature-filled weekend with our friend A. It turns out A really likes hiking and such, especially since he can look for cool bugs! I’m more into plants, but it’s good to learn about native insects too. Sadly, we didn’t see any banana slugs 🙁

A big tree at Sam McDonald County Park on the Heritage Grove trail. Heritage Grove has some of the last old-growth redwoods (the rest were logged). J’s camera has better, but inaccessible, photos.

Continue reading “Redwoods and Cacti”