Seeing the Sights in Sacramento

Hey there Delilah,

My name is James, and I live in Sacramento, which is the capital of California. I was honored to host Clawdeen when she came to visit on her way home to you! Her flight landed late in the afternoon, so we just went to my apartment to hang out for a bit and make plans for the next day.

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While looking around my apartment, Clawdeen noticed my strawberry collection. She was particularly taken with this beautiful porcelain strawberry box that I have. I wonder what kind of things you collect, Delilah? I’m sure you collect a lot of things with the color purple in them.

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When Clawdeen went out onto my balcony, she was awestruck by the huge sweet gum tree in my courtyard. She’d never seen a tree that large before. The roots cover about half the lawn space that’s allotted to the tree. Tell me, Delilah, do they have trees as big as this in Brooklyn? If they do, be sure to take Clawdeen there to see them!

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Before she went to sleep, Clawdeen mentioned that her skirt kept flipping up at inopportune times. So, I gave her a towel to wrap herself in, and then we ironed her skirt. We found that this really helped the problem.

The next day, we started a grand tour of Sacramento, to show her the sights. Sacramento got its start in the days of the gold rush, which were also the days of the Wild West.

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With that history in mind, our first stop was Fort Sutter, which sits in the middle of downtown Sacramento in a park. Clawdeen was fascinated by the crumbly old walls, and said the high barred windows made it look like a prison. I explained that a fort was a defensive structure, to protect people from raids by the enemy. Clawdeen nodded and said that made sense.

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Our next stop was the State Capitol, but before we got there, she just had to stop and admire the flowering trees on the Capitol grounds. She just loved the camellia flowers and asked that I take a picture of her with one.

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On the way through to the Capitol, Clawdeen noticed a statue of some nuns, and wondered about it. We read the plaque that went with the statue, and discovered that the nuns had come to California during the days of the gold rush to serve the children of miners and care for the sick. They had built a school where the Capitol building now stands. The state bought the land back from the nuns, so they could build their legislative center.

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The State Capitol was our next stop. Here she paused while I took a picture of her with the distinctive white dome in the background. Clawdeen was intrigued by the classical architecture found here.

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We went up to the doors of the building, and Clawdeen was immediately taken with the intricate carvings on the door. The center medallions had the head of a bear carved into it. California used to be known as “The Bear State” because of the large population of California grizzly bears found here. Unfortunately, the California grizzly is now extinct, but their legacy lives on in the symbols of California and several California colleges have the bear for their mascot. What is New York’s state animal, Delilah? It would be fascinating to find out!

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When we peered through the windows in the door, we saw that the floor was paved in beautiful old-fashioned tiles featuring Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and “Eureka,” which is the state motto. The word is Greek for “I have found it!” It probably alludes to the discovery of gold in California, which helped the state’s economy boom.

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Our next stop was Old Sacramento, an area of town that attracts tourists with its mix of boardwalks, Old West architecture, and eclectic shops. It is also near the Tower Bridge. Clawdeen was surprised to find that Sacramento has its own Tower Bridge, and that it was painted gold! I’m curious… what color are the bridges in New York City, Delilah?

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While we were on the bridge, Clawdeen became quite excited, thinking she had espied some Mayan pyramids across the river. The building is known locally as “The Ziggurat.” When I told Clawdeen that the place was a government office, she quickly lost interest. Oh, well…

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On our way into the old part of Sacramento, we saw an old paddle wheel boat. It turns out the Delta King was an active passenger boat between Sacramento and San Francisco before World War II. It had a sister boat that used to ply the Mississippi River. But, today, the Delta King is permanently moored in Old Sacramento, and serves as a restaurant, hotel and convention center.

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On board the Delta King, Clawdeen admired the opulent wood paneling and was fascinated by the scale model of a paddle boat.

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The ship is decorated with many maritime artifacts, including a giant steering wheel mounted on one wall.

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After we got off the boat, Clawdeen was quite interested in the trains that were on the tracks here. She wanted to jump on one right away to go home to Brooklyn and see you again, Delilah. Unfortunately, these train cars were part of the California State Railroad Museum. Sacramento was a major stop on the Transcontinental Railway which was completed in 1869, so trains are a big part of Sacramento’s economic history.

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We walked around Old Sacramento, where Delilah admired the Old West feel of the architecture.

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As part of Old Sacramento’s touristy shtick, there are lots of interesting attractions on the sidewalks. Clawdeen was particularly fascinated by this carved buffalo outside an ice cream shop. She asked if I could take a picture of her riding it, to go with her other pictures of kangaroos and horses. I was happy to oblige.

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At one store, Clawdeen could not believe her eyes! There was the TARDIS from the Doctor Who TV series. She wondered why it would be in the middle of the Old West. But, I explained that the particular store specialized in TV and movie memorabilia.

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Given that Clawdeen plans to start a fashion empire when she grows up, it was not too surprising that this dress, outside an “old-time photo” shop, caught her eye. She’s now bursting with ideas for new clothing styles.

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Just before we left Old Sacramento, this horse-drawn carriage caught her eye. Clawdeen was fascinated by the idea that, at one time, nearly all of our transportation needs were met by horses and other beasts of burden.

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She insisted on taking a tour of Old Sacramento in the carriage. She loved the red velvet seats inside, and she loved the relaxed pace of the carriage, which was quite a contrast to her rush-rush-rush life back home. She hopes that you will be able to take her on a carriage ride in Central Park when she gets home.

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We realized that it was almost time to go to the airport, so that she could go on to her next visit. But, before we did that, we made one more stop. The site of the original Tower Records store is near my apartment, and she just had to see this place. The building is actually a movie theater, but back in the 1960’s, it also shared space with a drugstore owned by the father of Tower Record’s founder. The space is now occupied by a café, but it still had the neon sign for the record store.

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As we made preparations to leave the tower neighborhood, Clawdeen let out a howl of pure excitement. She had spotted a purple poinsettia! She had never seen one before, and insisted I take a picture of her with it, since she knows it is your favorite color, Delilah!

It was great fun hosting Clawdeen, and I was sad to see her boarding her private jet to make the next stop on her journey home. I told her to be sure to give you a high five from me when she sees you, Delilah! I’m really excited that she chose to stop by Sacramento, but, I look forward to hearing all about her reunion with you! Take care, and enjoy!

By James M. Berry

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