Sacramento, March 2014
This is our first “real time” Travel Blog and, perhaps appropriately, comes from our first trip this year to see our California family.
We left home on Wednesday evening for dinner in Cincinnati and a night at the airport Marriott before our relatively early morning flight to Los Angeles and then on to Sacramento.
We left a cool (still around freezing) Cincinnati and arrived in Sacramento to mid-afternoon temperatures of about 70F and beautiful clear blue skies. The two flights had been uneventful and on time (two welcome attributes) and we had some good views of the country as we flew, although we flew too far south to get really good views of the Rockies.
We have, of course, visited Sacramento many times and always find it a pleasant city in which to spend some time. It has a good deal of history associated with the California Gold Rush. It was the main provisioning town for those heading in search of fortune in the hills to the east and the point from which those riches were shipped to the coast and beyond. Old Sacramento (a four by three block area on the banks of the Sacramento River) captures the flavor of the Forty-niners era with its wooden sidewalks and nicely restored old buildings. Sacramento is now of course the capital of the State and has a beautiful Capitol building and surrounding park area in a generally vibrant downtown. The city also has a comprehensive bike and walking trail network, particularly in the area in which we stay.
The main attraction for us, however, is now five years old and it is she, Samantha, and her parents, Christopher and Cyndi, that bring us west just as often as we can. Living over 2000 miles apart, we feel very fortunate to be able to see our family as frequently as we do – generally at least four times a year in one location or another.
Thus, our long weekends in Sacramento are spent with Christopher, Cyndi and Samantha as much as possible and don’t really need supplementing with sightseeing or other “vacation” activities. But, thanks to the organizing skills of our daughter-in-law, these trips often do include something a little extra – and this one was no exception.
Cyndi had arranged to get tickets to the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show for Saturday, so seven of us, now including Cyndi’s parents Bill and Shirl, spent a very interesting and pleasant time there on Saturday. There were two large buildings filled with exhibits, several lectures that were available throughout the afternoon and an area devoted to gardens laid out in their entirety. These latter were not as spectacular nor as beautiful as I had imagined they would be and seemed to emphasize more stone and gravel than soil and flowers – although in view of the prolonged drought in this area, perhaps that tendency was appropriate.
There were, however, several very picturesque water features (which reminded me of our former home but which did not make me nostalgic to return when I recalled the work involved) and some spectacular exhibits of orchids and other blossoms as well as a very comprehensive bonsai tree exhibit and demonstration area. Finally, there was a Children’s area where Sammy spent the last hour with a tireless group of volunteers who showed endless patience as dozens of young kids attempted crafts and asked questions on the various child-friendly (and uniquely appealing, as in the worm “farm”) five-year- old eye level exhibits). All in all, it was a very pleasant way to spend the day – a day once again filled with blue skies and mid-seventies temperatures.
In addition to this full day activity, we spent time watching Sammy at her gymnastics class, she and Granddad went for a bike ride and we spent time watching movies and pictures of recent events (including Sammy’s induction as karate Blue Belt and her school French Day recital as well as yet another Disneyland visit). We also exchanged several gifts; with visits of perhaps four times a year there is always, it seems, at least one birthday and/or Public Holiday that has taken place immediately before the trip (or will before we meet again) to celebrate. This time it was Cyndi’s and Christopher’s birthdays but, as is their custom, Cyndi and Christopher also chose to give us an Easter gift. Sammy was not left out as she received three Peter Rabbit books from our New Year visit to England as well as the recently published “Mrs Dog goes to India and Nepal” (with Grandma and Granddad).
Not to be omitted from the list of family activities during these weekend visits to California, we also spent most together meals (including on our last evening as a belated celebration of Molly’s birthday) and had plenty of time to catch up on the events of the past four months – and to anticipate our planned family cruise scheduled for July.
It is now Monday morning (March 24) and we are about to leave the hotel for our return flights to Cincinnati – where the forecast suggests we will be greeted by considerably lower temperatures.