SMF—Sacramento International—has one of the least effective baggage-handling and public announcement systems I have experienced in a long time. It took me close to an hour to get my bag after flying in late on Christmas Day. And Dollar's rental car counter was even worse, but quite a bit more rude. Merry Christmas indeed.
But I eventually made it to my hotel from where I started up yesterday morning to first have a look at Sacramento and then drive over to Santa Rosa. It's easy to forget that with LA and San Francisco as the major cities it is actually Sacramento where Arnold hung his governor's hat for a long time. From what I saw in my two-hour stroll through Old Sacramento and the area around the capitol, I must say that I want to go back and spend more time. Sure, there was a fairly large number of homeless or transients, but maybe they were more apparent because of the low number of "regular" folks milling around on this Sunday morning after Christmas. But overall, I was taken by the architecture (look at Tower Bridge, built in the '30s in a style called Streamline Moderne) and tidy layout of the area around the capitol. The capitol itself—open to the public even on this post-holiday Sunday—houses some interesting historical exhibits, piquing my interest in learning more about the wars with Spain and the Philippines just a little more than 110 years ago. Old Sacramento may be a little Tombstone, AZ, like, but there is more history than touristy fluff that exudes the waterfront and the old buildings. I definitely will have to come back to visit the California State Railroad Museum.
On the way to Santa Rosa I stopped in the town of Sonoma, where Judy and I had spent a little bit of time and I had bought her a serving tray in a small artsy store. I wanted to revisit that store, just to make sure I was OK. I was. Another whiff of the past was a visit to the Lisa Kristine gallery, which we had visited on our last visit to Santa Fe and which had been relocated to Sonoma. If you haven't seen Kristine's astonishing photos and prints, do so. All those memories had made me thirsty, and I stopped into the Highway 12 tasting room for a nice complimentary tasting, which resulted in my picking up a couple of bottles. Life as a tourist is sweet.
So, finally I made it to Santa Rosa and my friends Kai and Kit, where I'll be hanging out for a few days. Kai and I walked five minutes to the coolest Whole Foods store in the Delta Quadrant: They have an on-site taproom with something like 10 superb local beers. Oh my, I was in heaven!