Monday, September 05, 2011

Sacramento Adventure - Day 1

Reposting from my old blogsite...
September 13, 2008. Saturday
I had been chatting with cousin Elai Friday, the day of my flight to the US, and she mentioned that she and hubby Joshua were going to Sacramento on Saturday for the birthday party of Joshua’s niece.  She also mentioned that our niece Kay lives there and that they were going to have lunch on Sunday.  I have never been to Sacramento before and told Elai that I would love to visit that city.  High school classmate Ed also lived there and I thought it would be a good chance to visit him too.  Elai said she would communicate with Kay and tell her of my plans to visit.  So, on the plane to San Francisco, I started contemplating on a trip to Sacramento.

Saturday morning after I arrived, I started making calls to arrange my Sacramento trip.  Spoke with Elai again and she said I would be able to stay with Kay for the weekend.  I called Kay too but couldn’t reach her.  I spoke with Ed and “coerced” him to fetch me at the station and take me around the city, lol.  Nobody from high school has ever visited him before in Sacramento so he was happy and willing to take me around.  Now, I had to figure out how to get there.  I have never ridden the Amtrak train before and it sounded like a good option.  I could catch the Sacramento train from Fremont.  Roy called Amtrak and inquired how I could buy a ticket, since it was already Saturday morning and I planned on taking the 1:19pm train.  They told him that I could buy my ticket onboard from the conductor.  That was great!  Things were coming into shape for my Sacramento visit, so I started packing my overnight bag.

Ate and Roy took me to the Amtrak station in Fremont and I was able to board the Sacramento train on time.  I enjoyed the trip, taking pictures at every stop to document my journey.  The stops between Fremont and Richmond were short distances from each other, but after that, the stops became fewer and far between.  The coastal route after Richmond was really something.  We rolled along a beautiful stretch of California coastline.  I enjoyed looking out at the ocean, seeing the waves crash to the shoreline and the boats out on the water.  After that it was all flatland and farm fields all the way to Sacramento.

My train arrived just before 4pm and I waited at the station for Ed to pick me up.  When Ed arrived and showed me to his car, I was shocked!  Ed, is this really your car?  It was a sporty Honda S2000, and Ed put the top down.  Very impressive!  And the license plates “WHAT DUH”, very unique.  I just had to take pictures… of the car, of Ed and the car, and Ed even took a picture of me in the car.
First we drove around the city, and headed towards the State Capitol.
We toured the inside of the building up to the galleries.

We took pictures in front of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office.  Too bad it was a Saturday and we didn’t get to meet him.  We viewed the dioramas displaying the features of each county in California.  Up at the galleries, we spoke to the guides who provided us with additional information about the session halls.

We continue on to our next stop.  First we grabbed a snack at KFC before heading to the hills.  The air became chillier as we approached higher ground. 
We arrived at Auburn Bridge, the highest bridge in California and the third highest in the United States.  It spans the American River, where white water rafting is popular.  We took pictures of the bridge, of views of the river from the bridge, and of me on the bridge.  

Then we drove down to the river banks and parked there.  I took pictures of the bridge from below and the sign “No jumping from bridge.”  To my surprise, Ed brought along his panning tray. So, he really had plans of panning for gold.  The water was really cold, but Ed took off his sandals, waded and started his search for the elusive gold.  He mentioned that long time ago, further upstream, was the site of the early gold rush, and up till now, gold flakes could still be found on the river.  After several attempts, Ed finally found several gold flakes.  I decided to try my luck too.  I didn’t attempt the wade into the icy water.  This gold panning is backbreaking and frustrating too.  But after a few swirls of sand and water on the panning tray, I finally found my first gold flake, eureka!
The sun was setting low over the hills, so we had to leave the rest of the gold flakes for other panners to find and headed towards Thunder Valley Casino.  

Ed wanted to try out Austin’s Steakhouse for dinner.  Unfortunately, we had no reservations and the wait was one hour.  So we decided that Levi’s cooking would be the best for tonight.  But first, we had to try our luck at the slots since we were already there.  Tough luck, too bad.

I told Ed I wanted to sample some of his famous barbecue, but he strangely declined.  Good thing Ed’s wife Levi’s cooking proved to be superb.  We had munggo and paksiw for dinner, while Ed’s dad, Levi and a neighbor chatted with us.  Of course, I couldn’t leave without taking pictures.  Good thing I was able to recharge my camera’s batteries at Ed’s house.

Cousin Elai was starting to worry about me not showing up where we should meet, so she gave Ed directions to Kay’s house.  Ed lives in Roseville while Kay lives in Elk Grove.  That was a good 40 minute drive away, being opposite directions from Sacramento city center.  We googled for directions before heading out the door.  Ed’s friend lent him his GPS so we wouldn’t get lost, but Ed kept ignoring the gadget’s commands and just used his fine sense of direction.  We reached Kay’s house without getting lost, credit is due to Ed for that.  Kay and Bobby welcomed us, offered Ed some coffee and chatted awhile before Ed headed back home.

That’s the end of my first day of adventure in Sacramento.  Watch out for day two.

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