November 23rd, 2012

Train

SAC ajawea

Of course I was up early the one day I didn't have to be. Was done with my morning PC stuff by 8:30, I think, watched some TV, maybe college football, put my legs up with ice on the painful knee. Got so bored I went back on the PC.

I gave myself an hour to find parking just in case Amtrak's lot was full, which it was, with no one leaving any time soon. After touring the neighborhood and finding that it was ll permit or metered parking,  I asked at the Amtrak desk if they had any suggestions, because all the other parking was Caltrain, which doesn't allow overnight parking. She said "Storage parking lets you stay for 72 hour) and pointed me vaguely in the direction of the HP Pavilion lot, which does not.

So I asked the the HP Pavilion lot, the attendant says he is asked that a lot, but has never found an answer. I had time to drive downtown and park somewhere and take light rail back to the Amtrak station, but did not think any of those lots allowed overnight, or more than one night. I tried the almost completely empty lot which used to be a supermarket, which is now a city lot, I read the fine print on the pay station and it said there was a 72-hour limit, but it would only issue tickets good till 3 am the next morning. So I paid for 3 1-day tickets for my numbered slot, and will hope for the best. There are no events at the pavilion till Dec. 6, so I should safe from being towed.

Got to the platform 20 minutes early, and was puzzled because the electronic sign on the train said it was #730, but there is no #730. Mine was 734. It said Sacramento, though, and there were a lot of people waiting for the doors to open. Which they did 9 minutes before the 12:50 departure time.

I got a good window seat on the non-sun side, and spent some time configuring my camera's GPS unit. I had sent it in for a firmware upgrade, and of course they had wiped my configs in the process. The new firmware took longer to find a signal than the old firmware, but other than that it seems to work. I only took a few pix, then put the camera away and went to the cafe to get a hot dog and a root beer.

I had the pair of seats to myself until we got to Martinez, and the car pretty full. Of course the widest jock on the train sat next to me. Some people just don't think.

The scenery is very pretty, and I mostly watched, except for some napping, but I have taken those photos many times so I left the camera in the back and didn't disturb Jock, who had whipped out his laptop and put his tray down on it. I was hoping he ws getting off at Davis, but he stayed till SAC.

They have totally redone the station. It is now mega-huge, the tracks are underground and a mile from the station. There is a LONG ramp up which is too steep for anyone in a hand-driven wheel chair. They must have spent a couple billion on this renovation, but they left out the passenger in their planning. There is a cart between the train and the station, but when we got off the train they made it sound like it was for people who could not walk at all. I'll be using it tomorrow, for sure.

Outside the station, I popped into Starbucks, but they have removed all the Sacramento/California mugs and replaced them with Jesus mugs. Okay, not really Jesus, but you get the idea.

As I came out, there was some emergency vehicle coming toward the intersection where I was going to cross, so I walked toward the next one a block away, but as i was walking no less than seven fire trucks converged on the building across the street. So I took off my pack, took out my camera, put my pack on again and started taking pictures. About 15 firefighters with air tanks on their backs went in the front door of the place, it's an apartment building, and they were followed by about 8 more who were carrying folded hose, red blankets, a blower, a squeegee, grappling hooks (like for closing windows with eyes on the latches), axes and I forget what else. A fire engine left the front of the building to let an engine-length rescue truck in, and a ladder truck whipped out its ladder and put it up against an open window on the 3rd floor.

Meanwhile, personnel from the other five trucks continued to unload stuff and get hoses ready.

Seven fire trucks, one rescue unit and a supervisor's car. And not a single policeman to direct traffic, which was weaving between the emergency vehicles on one of the busiest roads in the city. No police ever showed up in the half hour I was there. The light started to fade, and when it got too dark for good pix, I put the camera away and walked to the hotel.

There was no smoke. No one was taken out of the building. There was no dramatic ladder rescue. I'd bet real cash dollars that this was the most over-responded to false alarm in the city's recent history. Maybe the state's.

Check-in was delayed by the customer ahead of me checking out who had to read all the fine print on the page before paying. Got a nice room with wi-fi on the 2nd floor overlooking the pool, which I forgot was heated year-round. There were people swimming till it closed at 10.

Ditched my bag, grabbed my Kindle and went to Old Town, and there's another change. Used to be from here all you had to do was cross the street and cut through a parking lot. Now that parking lot is a multi-story garage, and while cutting through is what I did, it's much longer than just crossing at the corner.

I ha planned to try a place called Fat City, but when I got there it was where I'd had dinner my last visit. So I walked to the waterfront, and took a peek at the "Polar Express" which is what they have renamed the steam engine train. The steam engine is in the barn covered with Xmas lights, they are running a diesel. :-(

Looked at the riverboat's menu, nothing caught my eye. The next place on the row was blaring jesus music, no thanks. Next one again had nothing of interest on the menu and the last one was packed to the gills with screaming children, and there was a 50-minute wait.

Walked around old town and finally found this place called Ten22. Bizarre menu, but some interesting stuff on it. Stunning hostesses and buswomen. The person who told me the specials was not my waiter, he was off somewhere else, and finally got to me after 10 minutes. But people checked up on me in the meantime, so it was not so horrible. I ordered the elk steak, which the menu said ws served with creamed spinach and something that sounded like potatoes and cauliflower au gratin. And I ordered the house salad, no choice of dressing, vinaigrette is built in. The salad arrived quickly, in the hands of a very pretty blonde who seemed to love the feel of the pepper mill. It was a lame item, just a few spring leaves in vinaigrette, with a couple of string onion rings on top. Tasted fine, though. Somewhere in there my waiter came by to apologize, he said the bread was being warmed up. As it turned out, what he forgot to add was it was being warmed up on the truck which just left the bakery in San Francisco.

The steak made it to the table in decent time, about 15 minutes, and it was HUGE. Thick and large. It was pretty good. The au gratin was okay, the spinach was not really creamed, as much as pan fried and drizzled with something off-white.

When I was done, one of the comely buspersons gathered up my plate, but now there were four people at the table next to me, and my waiter ignored me while he served them. After about 10 minutes I had a chance to ask for a dessert menu, which he brought in a few minutes, and then left me for 7 minutes (by this time I was using my stopwatch). I told him I'll skip it. He brough me the check right away, and then disappeared again for 5 minutes. The fellow who had told me what the specials were (I think he was the bar waiter) took care of my payment. I did not leave a big tip.

There are plenty of places for dessert in Old Town, and I decided to go to Fat City, remembering something about having enjoyed dessert there. I told the nice lady as I walked in i was just interested in dessert, she recommended the world famous banana cream pie, so I ordered that and their "nutty Irishman" coffee. The pie was mostly banana and not much cream, with a meringue topping. It was okay, but not world famous quality. But the service was, so she got a big tip. The coffee was very alcoholic, so i sipped slowly.

Back to the hotel, this time going around the parking structure, following some other folks.

Nice view of people in the pool, one of them of the female bikini-top-wearing persuasion.

Good wi-fi connection, too. But not A/C outlet by the desk, so I'll charge the laptop overnight from one on the other side of the bed.

Plans for tomorrow:
Sleep some.
Maybe watch some football
Check out and be at the station by 10 am. Take the cart to the 11:09 California Zephyr to Reno
Reno by about 4
Silver Legacy hotel
Walk around town
Try for a mug at Starbucks