We’re starting off a bit slow. The first part of this trip is all about escaping to sunshine for awhile. South, to California! We’ve been here so many times now that it’s difficult to find a route we haven’t taken before, but our first stop was to a place neither of us had ever explored – Sacramento.
Sacramento, the capitol of California. Also, we were told, the second most flooded city in the United States. That was one of the most interesting facts we learned during the capitol tour. Capitol tours are usually the best place to get the dirt on a state’s history, people and politics – fun stuff, like how the governor of Maryland (a boozer) illegally kept all of the taverns open during prohibition, or how the staff at the Texas capitol building poured four bottles of wine into the statue that sits atop their capitol dome, hoping to get rid of some bees. Unfortunately, nothing good like that has ever happened at the California capitol, or if it has, they’re not talking. In Hollywood dreams come true, in Malibu the sun shines all the time, in Napa the wine flows freely, but in Sacramento – eh, it’s flooding again, end of story.
There was one moment when we thought our tour might be redeemed when walking into the rotunda we saw snarling, marble beast heads surrounding the inner dome. Thinking there might be some interesting symbolism there, we asked, “Is there some symbolism behind the, uh, what are those, snarling opossums?”
“Actually,” our guide said. “Those are bears. California’s state animal. I know they might not look like bears, but they are. Anything else you feel I’ve left out?” Oh, so many questions. Do all bears in California look like that? Does the California opossum-bear live primarily in the mountains, or are they urban dwellers as well? What’s with all the snarling? Do opossum-bears eat tourists, or do they like us more than capitol tour guides do?
We left the capitol in search of more interesting history, and hoped to find it a few blocks away in Old Sacramento, a part of town with buildings renovated to resemble an old west town with plenty of parking and 2-for-1 t-shirts. Not much history found there, either, unless you count the ancient salt water taffy that is given away as free samples at one of the candy stores. They do have a good railroad museum, though; perhaps not as extensive as some, but better done than most that we’ve seen. So, we ended the day on a pretty good note.
Actually, our entire day
in Sacramento was pretty fun. As we’ve learned in our many months on
the road – it’s all an experience. Some tours are better than others,
some salt water taffy is actually soft and chewy, but taffy that can
chip a tooth and bears that look like opossums – those make for some
memorable experiences. Oh, and that homeless guy who cornered us with a
tale about his trip from New York via UFO? That memory, too, is a gem
and a keeper – loved it! We’ll remember you well, Sacramento.