Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

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Hello From Sacramento

I took 237 to 680 to 205 to 5 because when I used to drive to Gold Country every month, that was the fastest way. And for sentimental (semi-mental?) reasons** I wanted to wave to Livermore as I passed by, something which cannot be done by taking the route suggested by Yahoo, Google and CSAA maps - 237 to 880 to 80. I didn't want to drive through Oakland, that stretch of freeway is all beat up.

Everything is fine till I get to 205. It took 40 minutes to go the 10 miles or so from Tracy to I-5. And another 10 to get to where the two flatbed tractor trailer rigs carrying truck tires had collided and spilled their loads. It could have been worse - the tires were plastic wrapped into bundles of 3 or 4.

And I don't know what it is on I-5, but only the occassional daredevil or yokel with out of state plates was going even a single click over the 70 mph speed limit.

The directions to my hotel were easy. Take the J St. exit, go for a mile, it's on your right. Except for one detail they left out - parking was across the street on the left. Against four lanes of one-way traffic. After maybe 5 minutes I was able to pull into a lane to my left, and then the traffic gods were kind and I got all the way to where I needed to be.

The car's staying there till I leave in the morning, since everyting I wanted to see was in walking distance. Or let me put it this way, when I am in Tourist Mode, I'll walk a lot farther than normally. And eat better to make up for it.

My main target was the CA railroad museum. It's one block over and 10 blocks down, and Sacramento city blocks are short, and flat, and okay, it was 86 degrees out, but dry heat, so not much worse than 75 in the Bay Area. On the way I took pix of some of the classic architecture, and ogled the passing eye candy. There are a lot of sexy young women here. Must be a side effect of having all those politicos in town. Walked through the lower floor of the downtown mall - it's a Westfield's, very high end for the most part, odd to see one downtown. No doors to go through, the mall is a continuation of K Street. And on the other side is a pedestrian underpass to get past the freeway and into Old Town. They play semi-metal music with a heavy beat through pipe-shaped speakers attached to the underside of the freeway bed. It helps drown out the vehicle noise by replacing it with something even more vile.

Took more pix, searched for a place for lunch, eventually found a New Orleans cuisine place. Their BBQ chicken was tasty, but it was only a drumstick and half a thigh. On not quite completely cooked red beans and short grain rice. Good sourdough bread, which isn't very New Orleans but what the hey. Dessert was bread pudding. They make it in mini-loaves, slice it and nuke it. It looked like 5 little pieces of banana nut bread covered in whisky hard sauce. Tasted excellent, but was not worth the $5 they charged.

On to the RR museum. Wow. Major work was done to make much of the inside look like the inside of a mountain pass cut. Lots of restored steam locomotives, and a huge collection of toy trains up on the second floor mezzanine. They had the obligatory working toy train track display with the obligartory miniature freight yard and village and tunnel, but it was laughably simple, and done in the largest toy scale, which means the workmanship on the village was not as difficult to do as the HO, N-scale and basic Lionel scale I am used to. There's a much better display at the Santa Clara CalTrain station. Heck, I've seen better displays in my suburban neighborhood when I was a kid.

Next stop was down the block and across the street where I bought a ticket for the museum's last steam locomotive ride of the day. 40 minutes all together. They pull the train along the river front for 10 minutes, take 10 minutes uncoupling the engine and driving it up the track past the switch, then down the siding, past the other switch, and then back to couple it to the other end of the train for the ride back. The remaining time is eaten by loading and unloading passengers.

It was fun. No eye candy among the passengers or staff. Many views of crazy people on the river. One speedboat was pulling an inner tube with someone holding on for dear life. Jet skis were doing major air jumps.

I'll post photos when I get home tomorrow.

Walking back I went through the upper floor of the mall. Looks a lot like the one at 17&280. Got to the hotel, put on my swim trunks and went looking for the pool. It's behind the fitness center on the 4th floor. It's about 1/4 Olympic length, 3 lanes wide, and 4 feet deep at the deep end. Jeez. I swam a bit, I was the only one there, then drip-dried and went back upstairs.

I'm on the 21st floor, and have a view of the roof of the convention center and some lowlands in the distance. Not much to look at, especially at night.

Finding dinner was a trek. I went the opposite direction from the river, and found nothing for several blocks until I saw lots of college student types. My first try was a brewery similar to Gordon Biersch, they even have a similar logo. It was closed for a private party. Next was a British pub (I love steak & kidney pie) but they were set up to have you order from the bar and the line at the bar was long and not moving.

So it was Hamburger Mary's. I had their bleu burger, which was good, though the bun kind of fell apart in my hands. Not as fresh as it could have been, I guess. Or over-toasted. Major eye candy in both the staff and customers.

Back to the hotel, went in search of ice. There's none on my floor. The machine on the 20th floor was broken. 19th floor worked.

And here I am now. Plan on reading some Dark Tower, setting up a wake-up call, then going to sleep. I'm on call this weekend because the guy who was supposed to be on call is moving back east, and the van was at his house Friday, so there was no way to get the pager to him. Otherwise I would go somewhere and try to Get Lucky.

**When I planned this trip, there was a vague notion of making good on my promise to buy someone in Livermore a laté, but before I got around to suggesting the rendesvous, said person posted plans to be elsewhere this weekend.

Edit:Took this one with my cameraphone on the way to dinner:


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