Monday, November 25, 2013

A Day in Sacramento

Back in October, Desert Girl and I took Amtrak from Salt Lake City to Sacramento, a 13-hour journey. Then we spent two nights in Sacramento before returning. Here are some of the things we saw and did during our stay in Sacramento; hopefully they'll get you started on trip planning if you decide to visit this beautiful city!

 We had passed these whimsical statues the day before when we got off the train, but on Thursday we really had a chance to enjoy them. Desert Girl liked that they were just her height. And where can you find them?

 The U.S. Courthouse! They were definitely unexpected, and I'm sure there's quite a story behind them. (Here's a bit of the story.)

We passed the Amtrak Station and headed south to the California State Railroad Museum. We had been fortunate enough to see the Utah State Railroad Museum earlier in the year, and we wanted to see what California had to offer.

The museum was impressive, with lots of trains and explanations. We walked through a sleeper car, where the volunteer graciously took our photo. It was interesting seeing the old-fashioned sleeper car and comparing it to the modern Amtrak sleeper we had just been on the day before.

Then we headed over to the dining car, with a peek in the kitchen and then the elegant seating area.

A volunteer conductor let Desert Girl ring the dinner bell.
Despite all the cool exhibits, interactive demonstrations, and amazing information, Desert Girl's favorite spot was the play area, with eight train tables available.

As we were leaving, I couldn't resist snapping a photo of the celebration of the meeting of the Transcontinental Railroad. We had visited Golden Spike National Historic Site earlier in the year, and seeing references to it made me remember that fun trip! It was also interesting learning about how the railroad progressed from California to the East Coast, and the idea-men and stakeholders needed to do that.

We spent about 2.5 hours in the museum and easily could have spent more time if I had let Desert Girl play longer or if she would have let me read more exhibits! I suspect we'll be back sometime when she's older.

Right outside the museum we found Old Sacramento State Historic Park. We wandered over to the river to take a look and then started meandering through the historic district. We ate some lunch and enjoyed people watching.

We also checked out the River Walk on the other side of the river.

To get there, we crossed the big gold bridge, called the Tower Bridge. It was really neat. If I had dared to run out in the middle of the highway, I would have spotted the Capitol building framed by the bridge. But I used common sense and stayed on the sidewalk with Desert Girl.

We wanted to get an even closer view of the river. Also, I figured it might be good to take a little break from walking. So we signed up for an hour long river cruise. (In some ways traveling with a child can be a little challenging, but then there are bonuses like free admission for young children.) We didn't see any sea lions on the dock, but I did appreciate the sign.

Before long we were on the Sacramento River. It was a beautiful day, and it was so nice to learn a little more about the history of the area.

The city's water pumps are housed in this interesting-looking building. On the side are water depth markings. The Sacramento River fluctuates a couple feet a day at Sacramento due to the tides. The river has also been known to flood, at times quite severely.

Here's a view of the Tower Bridge from the water. It sure looks bright! We didn't see any big ships on the river, but Sacramento is considered a deep water port, and the bridges open or raise in various ways to permit huge ships to pass by.

After our boat ride I had one other thing I wanted to see in Old Sacramento: the Pony Express Monument. The Pony Express trail is near our area, and it was neat seeing the ending place for the mail. Someday we'll have to check out the other end!

From Old Sacramento, we wandered a bit and got some ice cream, and then we headed to the State Capitol. We had explored the grounds the night before, and today we had more time to explore.
Except that Desert Girl fell asleep, so I hung out in the little movie theatre for half an hour to let her get some sleep! Then we were up and walking again, checking out some sculptures.

As we walked along, we saw so many fountains. At each and every one, Desert Girl said the water was warm. It wasn't really warm, but she said it was warm. Why? She wanted to swim. In every fountain. It was funny, but I did resist letting her strip down and swim. Sometimes we country hicks can have a little class! (Even though it really would have been fun to swim!)
One of the ugliest fountains I have ever seen.

So as we were nearing the end of our 4.5 mile walk (I didn't know it was that long till I got back and mapped it!), we stopped to get a pedicure. It was the perfect ending for a long day.

Desert Girl knows how to have a good time. She stopped and smelled the flowers all day long, and insisted that I did too.
Sacramento's a great place to visit! We found that the weather was terrific in October, and we easily made our way around by walking. I was impressed with how polite traffic was--the pedestrians always had the right of way. I feel like we just scratched the surface of things to do.

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