California Winter 2018

It was time for me to see my folks. The last time I'd seen them was March 1, 2017.

Norma planned almost all of this trip. It is often hard to find a balance between spending time with my parents and doing stuff on our own but I think this time, she hit it just right in putting together our itinerary.

 Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Pending adoptionOpen accordion icon
Our neighbor, Dena, volunteers with K-9 Lifesavers. On November 16, 2017, a part beagle rescue dog in her care gave birth to seven pups, here in Savage, Maryland. The father, also a rescue dog, is part corgi. Upon returning, Norma and I would adopt one of the litter. This gave us something to look forward to but this also made it difficult for Norma to stay focused on the moment while in California.

We flew out that afternoon. Our neighbor, Samantha (Sam), gave us a ride to the airport. It was a long flight.

Upon landing, we rented a car and then drove to my parents' house. We were very glad to see each other.

 Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bird housesOpen accordion icon
It was good weather to be outside so Norma, Mom, and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. Winter in Sacramento tends to be overcast and cold but generally not below 30 degrees at night. The sun doesn't come out a lot. You need to go to higher ground if you want bright, sunny days. It only snows about once every 10 years and even then, it melts as soon as it hits the ground. In terms of temperature, January in Sacramento is like late March in Baltimore.

Next, Norma, Dad and I went to the hardware store and bought supplies for mounting the bird houses I made for them over the last two years. I dug a hole, put in a 4x4 pole, poured concrete around it, and then put up the boxes. It took a few days so the concrete could properly cure. Here is the end result.
Two birdhouses mounted on a pole

That night, we went out for dinner at one of my folks' favorite Asian restaurants.
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 Friday, January 12, 2018

ChoresOpen accordion icon
My Aunt Bonnie is an artist. She makes some interesting drawings that make me think of Spirograph and fractals. So I figured she would appreciate some of the nature photos I'd taken. I sent her one of the 2018 calendars I made using Maryland snapshots that Norma or I took in 2017. She did indeed enjoy it and sent me a beautifully made thank you card, featuring some of her art. She came by that day to visit.
Aunt Bonnie, Norma, and I

Later that day, I worked on trimming my parents' bush near the house. While I was there, I did a variety of other jobs. I fixed and repainted their address sign. I checked the gutter for debris and re-attached some of the gutter guards. I made a freestanding trellis, removed their old stakes, and attached the branches of one of their bushes to it. No major jobs. All pretty easy.

Thinking about the pending adoption, Norma and I looked around at PetSmart for dog stuff and then went to the Middle Eastern market where she bought exotic groceries.
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 Saturday, January 13, 2018

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic ParkOpen accordion icon
On this day, Norma organized three short hikes. Cousin Steve showed up and caught a ride with us to the trailhead at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park visitor center. We were met there by cousin Alex and Drs. Dennis and his lovely wife, Sharon. Dennis was my 12th grade English teacher.

In Sacramento, it was overcast as it often is during the winter, but here at higher elevation, it was sunny.

We looked around a bit in the Gold Discovery Museum and then walked around the park grounds, visiting the Miner's Cabin, Man Lee Mining Exhibit, Wah Hop Store, Gold Discovery Site, and the Sutter's Mill Replica and Monument, shown below. From left to right in this pic is Sharon, Dennis, Steve, Alex, Norma, and me.
Group photo in front of Sutter's Mill Replica and Monument

When some people think of California, they think of Hollywood, beaches, smog, and traffic. But I associate it with mountains, the gold rush, clean rivers, and towns that are reminiscent of the old west. This area, Coloma, epitomizes this.

The six of us commenced our hike on the Monroe Ridge Trail.

The trail started out uphill with switchbacks. We saw moss, fungi, and lots of manzanita trees. We also saw flowering trees including one with very small, white flowers that looked like shower heads.
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Interestingly patterned moss
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Norma with moss-covered trees
Mossy trees.
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Red fungi on mossy tree
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Norma with red bark manzanita trees
Manzanita trees.
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Very small, round white flowers
White flowers.

Stopping at an overlook, we saw the South Fork of the American River below.
Alex with South Fork of the American River in the distance

There wasn't much wildlife but since it was January, I wasn't expecting anything. We did, however, see a small frog.
Small frog

We stopped at the James Marshall Monument and then hiked back to the start on the Monument Trail, completing our 4.2 mile hike.

The six of us ate lunch overlooking the river. Some whitewater kayakers paddled by.

We said farewell to Dennis and Sharon.
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Gerle LoopOpen accordion icon
Norma planned two more short hikes. We had just completed the longest one. We decided to do the next longest one and abort doing the shortest.

We drove just a few miles down the road to the Magnolia Ranch Trailhead where we saw someone release several pigeons from a cage. Not sure why.

The four of us hiked the Gerle Loop.

Alex and Norma walked to the South Fork of the American River.
Alex and Norma walking to the South Fork of the American River

Then Steve and Norma checked out the water at the confluence of the South Fork and Greenwood Creek.
Steve and Norma walking to the confluence

River rocks along in the central California area are almost always rounded from all the friction. Generally, they aren't very interesting. But there is an exception to most rules and in this case, I found a rock that looked like it had lots of stuff embedded in it. This area isn't known for fossils because it is geologically young. So I'm guessing whatever is in this rock is purely mineral-based.
Rock with white things embedded

We found what appeared to be two trees that merged into one.
Norma with two trees merged into one

At an overlook, we had a nice view of the river.
Nice view of the river

We finished our 2.9 mile hike as the sun started getting low and the temperature started dropping. It was a great day to be outdoors. By Maryland standards, it felt like spring.
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Dinner in AuburnOpen accordion icon
Steve, Alex, Norma, and I drove to the nearby town of Auburn where we ate dinner at a Thai restaurant.
Nicely decorated building in Auburn
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 Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sailor BarOpen accordion icon
Norma and I met cousin Jodi for a walk along the American River at Sailor Bar. This is where we walked the last time we saw her on February 27, 2017.
According to stories, this area was named Sailor Bar after two sailors jumped ship and found gold on this site.

We didn't see as much wildlife as our previous visit but we did see a few raptors such as this turkey vulture.
Turkey vulture at shore

Seeing the seal that had been recently spotted in this vicinity was our unmet goal.
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Fair OaksOpen accordion icon
Since we were in the area, I insisted that we go to downtown Fair Oaks. This is easily one of my favorite towns. It is near the American River, the homes are nice, and most importantly, it is home to many chickens that walk around like they own the place.
Few places so prize and protect their feral fowl as this quiet outpost amid the bustling suburbia of eastern Sacramento County.
The town's wild poultry - reputedly dating back three decades to the original free-range rooster and three hens - now number more than 200, according to one unofficial census.
Chickens have the run of Plaza Park, the grassy downtown square. They squawk, beg for scraps and roost on playground equipment or century-old storefronts.
They jaywalk with abandon, halting rush-hour traffic. Cocks and pullets alike strut into nearby neighborhoods, rooting among knobby oaks to cluck and cock-a-doodle-doo.
This being America, locals hold a festival each fall to celebrate the chicken. It's one of the few times humans vastly outnumber the barnyard birds on the streets of Fair Oaks.
"We adore them," said Sandy Lidstone, a longtime resident. "They're an integral part of the village."

- from SFGate - In Fair Oaks, the chickens truly are free range

There is a wide variety of chicken breeds in Fair Oaks. Most are beautiful and appear healthy.
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A wyandotte rooster about to crow
Wyandotte rooster.
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Cats and chickens get along fine in Fair Oaks
Cat and chicken.
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Chickens on road with driver watching them in car
Why did the chicken cross the road?.
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Welsummer rooster...the same breed that appears on the Corn Flakes cereal box
Welsummer rooster.
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Several chickens and two guinea fowl
Chickens and guinea fowl.
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Three very healthy-looking chickens
Healthy chickens.
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These two chickens are hoping you'll ignore the 'do not feed' sign
Do not feed.
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Three chickens at Arts and Crafts building
Arts and Crafts.
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Chicken on downtown sidewalk
They think they own the place.

I admire the good posture and confidence that roosters project. They seem to have good self esteem. Should Norma and I move, I would like to have enough land to legally own a rooster.
Proud-looking rooster and hen
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Effie Yeaw Nature CenterOpen accordion icon
Next, Norma and I took my folks to the Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Ancil Hoffman Park. Dad used to work as a groundskeeper at Ancil Hoffman Park in the 1970s.

There were various structures built to honor the Native Americans that once lived in the area such as the Tule house shown below.
The Nisenan (Southern Maidu) thrived in this area for about 12,000 years before European contact in the 1830s.
- from "California Indian Cultural Demonstration Area" sign
Norma looking at Tule house

Inside, we saw a northern saw-whet owl about to eat a white mouse which it held in its talons.
Saw-whet owls are a winter visitor to the Sacramento region from the neighboring Sierra Nevada mountains.
- from "Northern Saw-Whet Owl" sign
Northern saw-whet owl

The four of us walked on the trails outside the Nature Center to the American River.
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Norma and my folks with a cross section from a very old tree
Very old tree.
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Ten point buck at the edge of the woods
Ten point buck, 130 feet away.
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Three bucks, the closest about 50 feet away
Three bucks.

One interesting thing we saw was a large walnut tree grown by a farmer that grafted an English walnut to the disease-resistant California black walnut. The bark on the lower part of the tree looked black. My grandfather had a walnut farm and he grafted his walnuts the same way.

Upon leaving the area, we saw several wild turkey such as the group at the top of this page and the one shown below.
Wild turkey
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Lady BirdOpen accordion icon
Norma had been wanting to see the movie "Lady Bird." It was no longer showing in our area but it was still showing in Sacramento...probably because the movie takes place there. Dad wasn't up for seeing it so Mom, Norma, and I saw it at the art deco Tower Theater after eating dinner next door at the Tower Cafe.
Norma and Mom holding a plate of food with Norma also holding tickets

"Lady Bird" referenced many things that I knew about including the high schools and various sections of town. I enjoyed it though I don't know if I would if I hadn't grown up in this city.
The idea that attention is a form of love (and vice versa) is a beautiful insight, and in many ways it's the key to Lady Bird...
- from "New York Times" review by A.O. Scott
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 Monday, January 15, 2018, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Kayaking on the San Joaquin RiverOpen accordion icon
It was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Sacramento is a good place to be on such a day.
In 2002, the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University conducted for Time magazine named Sacramento "America's Most Diverse City".
- from Wikipedia - Sacramento

Sacramento (and the surrounding area) is also not such a bad place to be on the water on MLK day because the winters are mild. For this day, Norma scheduled a kayak outing. Our "custom tour" trip was scheduled with Delta Kayak Adventures in Antioch. We launched out of the Antioch Marina.

Steve joined us for this outing and drove down with us.

We met our cheerful guide, Kathy, who provided a tandem for Norma and me. Not sure what kind it was but the words on the bow read "La Chica Fresca." In the below pic, we are near the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.
Norma and I in tandem kayak

Kathy was on a fiberglass "Point 65 degrees N" from Sweden while Steve paddled a Perception Expression 15.0.
Steve in kayak on cloudy day

It was early afternoon but it was still overcast and cool. On days like this, I sometimes feel like I never truly wake up.
Me kayaking on a dark day

The four of us headed upstream (east) on the north side of the San Joaquin River to West Island and then Sherman Island. Along the way, we saw some small islands that Kathy said held shipwrecks. But they were so overgrown with vegetation, one would have never known there was anything there.
Overgrown shipwreck

We did, however, see an old Navy barge that likely arrived sometime in the 1970s.
Navy barge run ashore

A few great blue herons flew past.
Great blue heron in flight

We also saw a heron rookery.
Heron rookery

During our entire visit, we did not see any osprey. But we did see a few hawks.

Kathy took a few photos of us such as this one.
Norma, Steve, and I in kayaks

Norma wore her raingear but could have used additional insulation. Winter in the central part of California may not be too terribly cold but after a few hours, it sucks the warmth out of you, especially when the sun doesn't come out.
Norma wearing rain jacket, seated in kayak

In terms of wildlife, we saw quite a bit considering it was winter. Within our first 10 minutes of paddling, we saw a beaver. At least twice, we saw a seal. Both were too elusive to capture on film. But I did get this picture of a river otter.
River otter swimming

The four of us made our way up Mayberry Slough and saw Sherman Lake before returning on the south side of the river. Kathy timed our four hour trip with the tide.

We saw some ruins of something but of what I know not.
Something large and industrial

It was here that we saw more herons.
Great blue heron sitting on something industrial

It was a good trip but it would have been better if we had some sun.
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StocktonOpen accordion icon
On the way home, we drove past Stockton. I've spent very little time in Stockton. I don't think I've ever been there as an adult. I've never heard anything good about it. Did it deserve its reputation? I did a little reading up about the place. According to Wikipedia - Stockton:
  • In a 2010 Gallup poll, Stockton was tied with Montgomery, Alabama for the most obese metro area in the U.S. with an obesity rate of 34.6 percent.
  • In the February 2012 issue of Forbes, the magazine ranked Stockton the eighth most miserable U.S. city.
  • In 2012 the National Insurance Crime Bureau ranked Stockton seventh in auto theft rate per capita in the U.S.
  • In 2012, Stockton was ranked as the tenth most dangerous city in America and the second most dangerous in California (behind Oakland).
  • In 2013, Stockton was ranked as the third least literate city in the U.S. in a study by Central Connecticut State University.

  • Steve, Norma, and I stopped for dinner at a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant in the Greenhaven part of Sacramento. Growing up, I was told that's where the rich Asians live.
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     Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    Paddling at the Dow Wetlands PreserveOpen accordion icon
    Steve had to work so Norma and I returned by ourselves for our second day on the water with Kathy. She took us on a short trip she calls "Weekday Wetlands Paddle."
    Kathy, our trip leader

    Again, we launched out of the Antioch Marina. Before we got on the water, we saw a seal.

    This time, we started by paddling upstream on the San Joaquin River to the Dow Wetlands Preserve which was
    Awarded "Corporate Habitat of the Year" through Wildlife Habitat Council in 2000.
    - from "Dow Wetlands Preserve" brochure

    I was on an inflatable SUP.
    Me on inflatable SUP

    Norma was on the boat Steve paddled yesterday.
    Norma in kayak

    Today was definitely warmer than yesterday. It even started out somewhat sunny but after an hour, the clouds rolled in.

    Kathy took some nice photos of us.
    Norma and I on the water

    Unlike yesterday's mostly big water, much of our trip today was in narrow creeks lined with grasses.
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    Me on SUP looking back in a narrow waterway
    Small waters.
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    Norma and Kathy kayaking
    Reminds me a bit of Maryland.
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    Norma on kayak surrounded by grasslands
    Not many trees.

    Except for the seal in the marina, the only noteworthy wildlife we saw was a hawk.

    We thanked and bid farewell to Kathy then headed onto further exploration.
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    LodiOpen accordion icon
    Norma and I drove into Lodi listening to the song Lodi by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
    Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again.

    Lodi didn't seem like such a bad place to be stuck in. We stopped at the Lodi Lake Nature Area and walked on the nature trail along the Mokelumne River to Pigs Lake.

    We found a painted rock from Lodi Rocks. Seems like a good idea for Savage.
    Colorful rock

    The two of us saw coast redwoods and live oaks. The latter produced a lot of acorns.
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    Six pointy acorns in hand
    Six acorns.
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    Several dozen acorns on the ground
    Several dozen.

    After our short walk, we ventured across the street for a snack at an old-fashioned burger stand.
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    Cosumnes River PreserveOpen accordion icon
    Our final stop for the day was the Cosumnes River Preserve.

    It turns out I'd been pronouncing "Cosumnes" wrong my whole life. I'd been calling it "con-sume-nez" with an extra 'n' in the first syllable. Not sure why.

    Norma was excited to be here. My book described it as
    The last free-flowing river within the Central Valley. The Nature Conservancy has designated the Cosumnes one of the "Last Great Places" and created the Cosumnes River Preserve.
    - from "Paddling Northern California" by Charlie Pike

    One can kayak here but it is easy to get stuck at low tide.
    The elevation at this site is only five feet. The tides off the California coast rise and fall up to ten feet in a day. If you are here between January and June, you may witness the water rising or falling as much as five feet over a six hour period of time (nearly a foot an hour!).
    - from information sign

    We saw many birds including mallards, redheads, and various geese. I couldn't very well identify many of the ducks. Trails, boardwalk, and viewing areas were set up to get a good look.
    Me on boardwalk by the water

    Norma and I saw black-necked stilts and lots of coots. I'd never seen so many coots before. They should call this place "cooterville."
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    Front view of black-necked stilt
    Black-necked stilt.
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    Side view of black-necked stilt
    Same bird, different angle.
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    American coot in water
    American coot.
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    Many coots on land
    A plethora of coots.

    Our main objective was to see sandhill cranes. Unfortunately, they were all pretty far away.
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    Three sandhill cranes in the reeds
    Three sandhill cranes.
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    Several sandhill cranes with ducks in the foreground
    Sandhill cranes behind ducks.
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    Three sandhill cranes in low light
    Low light.
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    Sandhill cranes in flight
    In flight.

    Norma and I stuck around as the sun set and stayed a little after.
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    Norma taking a photo of the sunset from the boardwalk
    Norma on the boardwalk.
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    Sunset at Cosumnes River Preserve
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     Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    BancroftOpen accordion icon
    In the morning, Norma and I took my folks for a short walk in the neighborhood. We stopped at the Hubert H. Bancroft Elementary School garden. This is part of the Schoolyard Habitat Program.
    Garden at school
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    Old SacramentoOpen accordion icon
    Next, Norma and I ventured off on our own to Old Sacramento.

    It was supposed to be a really nice, sunny day. The sun did come out a little but not as much as we wanted. I was hoping we could rent bikes and then ride on the bike trail. But it turns out the bike rental place in Old Sacramento is closed on Wednesdays. Maybe next time.

    The two of us paid a visit to Candy Heaven where we bought a lot of treats to take home.
    Inside Candy Heaven store

    Our next spending excursion was a pet store. Being California, Meowijuana was sold. There were similar products for dogs.
    Can of Meowijuana cat nip

    Old Sacramento is known for being reminiscent of the Old West.
    Old West building motif

    We were hoping to do a tour of the underground area but they weren't doing them at this time of the year. Getting off the main streets and into the alleys gives one a slightly different view and helps one understand why an underground area exists.
    When Sacramentans raised the level of the streets in the 1860s to combat flooding, they did not raise the alleyways to match. Instead, they sloped the edges upwards to meet the new street levels.
    - from sign titled "Look around Old Sacramento for...dipping alleyways"
    Me in low alley

    We walked under a bridge which took us from Old Sacramento to the K Street Mall section of the downtown area. I've spent a good bit of time here in my younger days but today, nothing looked familiar. Everything seemed more upscale.

    In front of the Golden 1 Center, an R2D2-ish Knightscope security robot wheeled by.
    Security robot

    Norma found an on-line walking tour. She likes to read and I don't so she read to me the descriptions of the various buildings we saw. One of the places was the Crest Theater.
    It was originally opened in 1912 as the Empress Theatre, a vaudeville palace. It later operated as the Hippodrome Theatre. On September 14, 1946, the Hippodrome's marquee suddenly fell to the pavement below, killing a bystander. Shortly after the tragedy, in 1949, the building was completely remodeled and revamped to its current form as the art deco Crest Theatre.
    - from Crest Sacramento - About
    Crest Theatre

    Our next stop was the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. We got to see the inside of this church.
    With construction beginning in 1887, Sacramento's Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is an example of the strength and history in Sacramento's architecture. Since many of the buildings date back to the mid-19th century, Sacramento is home to the largest concentration of buildings dating back to the California Gold Rush era in the United States.
    - from Wikipedia - Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (Sacramento, California)
    Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

    Continuing east on K Street, we came to the historic Esquire Theatre.
    The Esquire Theatre was operated by Blumenfeld Theatre in 1941. Taken over by the Pussycat Theatres chain from 1974 to the early-1980's. It was twinned in the early-1980's and then turned into offices.
    The theatre is now once again showing movies, with the IMAX format, and includes first run 3D features in its programming.

    - from Esquire IMAX Theatre in Sacramento
    Norma in front of Esquire Theatre

    At the Sacramento Convention Center, we turned around and headed back on J Street.

    Norma and I passed by some graffiti art.
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    Painting of boy on side of building
    Big building art.
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    Creepy bird-head people paintings
    Bird-head people.

    Back in Old Sacramento, we took in some of the old pioneer-feel of the west side one last time.
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    Buildings with an Old West feel
    Old West motif.
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    Old train
    Old train.
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    Dojo visitOpen accordion icon
    That evening, I showed up at my first martial art instructor's house and participated in his class.
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    Group photo
    Sensei Arnie I., Dale, me, and David.
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    Arnie and I
    Arnie and I.
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     Thursday, January 18, 2018

    Florin Road Farmers MarketOpen accordion icon
    Norma and I awoke to a dreary foggy morning. We drove out to the Florin Road Farmers Market and bought some stuff. There were a lot of schoolkids there for a field trip. They seemed pretty enthusiastic. I'm guessing they were doing a scavenger hunt. Seemed like a good way to teach them about local produce. A lot of farmers from Sacramento and neighboring counties were present.
    Florin Road Farmers Market
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    Sacramento National Wildlife RefugeOpen accordion icon
    Norma and I took my parents to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. It seemed like a long, monotonous drive to get there. Along the way, we saw tumbleweed which reminded me of Texas.
    Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 with funds from Emergency Conservation Fund Act of 1933 to provide refuge and breeding habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, provide habitat and manage for endangered, threatened, or sensitive species, and alleviate crop depredation. Historically, the area of the refuge was known as the Colusa Plains which was a vacant, windswept plain with short grasses, shrubs and forbs. In January 1937, the federal government purchased 10,775-acre Spalding Ranch and christened it the Sacramento Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. From 1937-1942 the Civilian Conservation Corp's (CCC) "Camp Sacramento" housed up to 200 men at the current headquarters area. The men constructed levees, water control structures, and delivery ditches to create and sustain wetlands across the majority of the refuge. Mosquito bitten, sunburned, dust-choked men worked non-stop even on 100-degree days to create the refuge.
    Today, the refuge is known as the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and it functions as the headquarters for the entire Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The refuge supports over 250 species of birds. Most notable are the huge wintering concentrations of 500,000 to 750,000 ducks and 200,000 geese.

    - from About Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

    Upon arriving, we stopped by the visitor center and then drove the six mile auto tour route. We saw quite a bit of wildlife and nice scenery.
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    Jack rabbits.  These are bigger than the rabbits I've seen back east.
    Jack rabbits.
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    Four greater white fronted geese
    Greater white fronted geese.
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    Lots of snow geese in a wet area
    Snow geese.
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    Two ring necked pheasants
    Ring necked pheasants.
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    Likely a red-tailed hawk
    Red-tailed hawk (I think).
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    Wetlands in low light
    Low sun.
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    Great egret wading
    Great egret.

    For most of the driving tour, people are not supposed to get out of their cars. But there were some areas where we could park and stretch our legs. This is my folks and me near the North Fork of Logan Creek.
    My parents and I in front of the North Fork of Logan Creek

    It rained a good bit that night which is a nice thing. Sacramento always seems to need rain.
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     Friday, January 19, 2018

    MarieOpen accordion icon
    This was our final full day. It was also the nicest in terms of weather. Very sunny. I think it might have been in the low 60s.

    Norma, my parents, and I drove out to visit a good friend of the family. Her name is Marie. She has a beautiful farm in Wilton where my relatives gather annually for a reunion. I'm not typically around then so I requested a special visit which Marie welcomed.

    Here's Dad and Marie walking around her pond.
    Dad and Marie walking on the far side of the pond

    This is Marie's alder tree. Bees really like it.
    Honey bees around an alder tree

    Marie has a new dog whose name is Babe.
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    Babe on cushion with Dad adjacent
    Dad and Babe.
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    Norma reaching down between raised garden beds to give Babe a belly rub
    Wants a belly rub.
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    Dad, Marie, and Babe in front of the barn and behind the pond
    In front of the barn.
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    Mom, Dad, Babe, Marie, and I
    Group photo.

    Of course I had to see the chickens. She has two pullets that she raised from eggs. The father is an Araucana while the mother is a Plymouth Barred Rock.
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    Two black and white pullets
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    Several free range chickens
    Free range.

    I've spent very little time around sheep. They were quite the crowd pleasers.
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    Six sheep approaching
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    Me calling the sheep as if they are dogs
    Calling them like dogs.
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    Mom, Dad, Norma, and Marie giving the sheep treats

    We came home and ate lunch. I took a catnap and pondered my visit. I thought about how Sacramento differs from our area of the country in Maryland.
  • Sacramento has fewer abandoned cars on the side of the road.
  • More sun in Sacramento but fewer residential rooftop photovoltaic solar panels.
  • Fewer Toyota Prius cars in Sacramento.
  • The library has much more limited hours in Sacramento.
  • Greater public access to waterfront land in Sacramento.
  • In my opinion, the highways are not as logically placed in Sacramento.
  • I think the cost of homes and property tax in Sacramento is a little lower but gasoline and sales tax is much higher.
  • More skunks in the Sacramento region.
  • Sacramento is more bicycle friendly though the neighboring town of Davis is even better. It was declared in 2006 the best small town for cycling.
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    Jedediah Smith Memorial TrailOpen accordion icon
    In the mid-afternoon, Norma and I went for a walk along the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail. This runs alongside the American River. We walked the loop between Howe and Watt Avenues.

    Near Watt, we saw a strange looking machine. I reached out to the county to inquire what this thing might be. A Senior Natural Resource Specialist of the Sacramento County Department of Regional Parks said,
    This is a rotary screw trap, which is used for counting juvenile salmon in the river. The one by Watt bridge is used and maintained by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
    More information can be found at FishBio - Rotary Screw Traps
    Rotary screw traps in river

    Here is a view of the river from Watt Avenue looking west.
    View of river looking west

    That evening, Norma and I took Mom to see Walking After Midnight: Broadway Loves Country. Dad didn't feel like attending. This is a show performed by the Sacramento Theatre Company. It brought back memories of seeing the Music Circus with them in the summer. It was an affordable way to be exposed to the arts. Looking back, I'm really glad my folks took me to such events. This is just my way of trying to return the favor.
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     Saturday, January 20, 2018

    Flight homeOpen accordion icon
    Norma and I were up long before sunrise. We said our farewells to my parents, thanked them for their hospitality, returned the rental car, and then flew home. It was a much faster flight then coming out. We had a layover in Salt Lake City and had to wait a bit while the plane was de-iced.
    Looking out the window to see de-icing
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    Adopting DaphneOpen accordion icon
    That evening, Norma and I paid a visit to Dena. We adopted our chosen dog and named her Daphne.
    Daphne (meaning "laurel") is a minor figure in Greek mythology known as a naiad - a type of female nymph associated with fountains, wells, springs, streams, brooks and other bodies of freshwater. There are several versions of the myth, but the general narrative is that because of her beauty, Daphne attracted the attention and ardor of the god Apollo (Phoebus). Apollo pursued her and just before being overtaken, Daphne pleaded to her father, the rivergod Ladon, and Ge (Gaia) for help. So Ladon then transformed Daphne into a laurel tree. In Metamorphoses by Roman poet Ovid, she is identified as the daughter of the rivergod Pineios in Thessaly.
    - from Wikipedia - Daphne

    This name seems appropriate since our neighboring town is Laurel and we hope Daphne will end up loving the water as much as us. But the truth of the matter is we picked the name because we like the way it sounds. We also like the character with this name who appears on the television show "Frasier."

    Our cat doesn't like Daphne and our chickens are afraid of her. But hopefully in time, everyone will learn to get along. I've been spending more time with our cat, Asha, to make sure she doesn't feel too neglected.
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    Daphne walking in our back yard
    Daphne in back yard.
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    Norma sitting near retaining wall with Daphne at her shoulder
    Norma and Daphne.
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    Norma and Daphne, face-to-face
    Picture by Sara.
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    Daphne on Norma's lap
    Lap dog.
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    Norma checking for rain
    Palm up.
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    Daphne looking sleepy

    The small one below is Daphne's brother, who we call Rosco. He had some health issues so he was taken to the vet. He's fine now but because of this, he'll be adopted out later than the rest of the litter. So we're holding him until then. Here, he is trying to take Bailey (Sara's dog) for a walk. Bailey is quite patient with Rosco and Daphne.
    Rosco walking Bailey

    Daphne and Rosco asleep after playing with Bailey and Cassie (Sam and Sara's puppy).
    Daphne and Rosco asleep in same bed

    Plans for Daphne? As soon as possible, we plan to enroll her in an obedience course through the Canine Training Association (CTA). Sara recommended them to us. Then when it warms up a bit, I plan to take her paddling
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    ConclusionOpen accordion icon
    Norma and I had a good time visiting my parents, friends, and family. It is always sad to leave but in this case, we had something to look forward to upon returning home.