We're fairly sure it's a "she." She even looks like a she, small and delicate. When we settled Tergel in Site 237 at Cal-Expo on Monday 9/22, she turned up... late afternoon, I think. Snack time. She sat out in front of Tergel, far enough to be safe, but close enough to be seen. Jimmy and I were sitting in our chairs having a cuppa and commenced talking to her. "C'mere, kitty, kitty." She inched closer. "Bet she's hungry," I said to Jimmy. I swear she smiled! OK, I'll fess up -- I went inside and hacked off a small piece of cheddar cheese. Figured she'd prefer cheddar to jack. Stepping outside, she was now beneath Tergel, behind the steps. Correct. The cheese was devoured.
She played catty with me and moved away. Cheese gone, she moved back under Tergel, looked at me and quietly said, "meow." Aw, geez, melting like the proverbial soft touch, back inside I went and returned with a bag of chips (of all things) and spinach dip. She liked the dip. Left the chip. (Actually the chips and dip were for us, but I was willing to share!) I was sitting on the bottom step and by now she was a couple feet away from me. "Meow." Aw geez, back inside again! Looking in the fridge, I spotted sliced roast beef for sandwiches. Oh yeah! Three times I returned to the fridge for another slice of roast beef. She got so close, next to my hand, and GRABBED the last piece out of my hand and retreated.
She returned every day at snack time. "Meow." It worked like a charm every day!
Who could resist a sweet face like this?
She took to following me around... always at a safe distance.
I think she was under Tergel in this picture. We'd just returned from an evening walk.
She was poking around in the weeds next to the asphalt (eyeing me, too), sure something was moving in the crack. She pawed several spots, alert, and suddenly pounced. Her prize was a small wiggly snake that she carried away to eat beneath a different motor home!
Quite a few feral cats inhabit Cal-expo. They keep the rodent population down. The American River bike trail is approx 100 feet to the left, and a rich diversity of wild critters lives along the water course.
My early evening walk on Wednesday revealed a "Murder of Crows" at Cal-expo's Harness Race Track, next to the RV Park. Lots more were off to the left out of the picture. They may have been discussing where to roost for the night, the price of tea in China, and other deep subjects. Estimated number? Hundreds. Sycamore leaves rustling in the Delta breeze almost drowned out the sound of hundreds of crows! The breeze felt wonderful.
When I turned around, the setting sun had turned the cloud bank into a rainbow of colors.
Rain was forecast for Thursday morning, and about 6:30 am I heard the first light drops hit Tergel's roof. Real rain fell till mid-morning. Jimmy and I stayed high and dry, happy to watch puddles form in the parking lot -- a most welcome sight! This is the first measurable rain in months. Everyone hopes it will help knock down the massive King fire east of Sacramento. That beast has grown to over 95,000 acres (150 sq miles +/-). As many as 8,000 firefighters from across the nation are on scene. Homes have been destroyed, and it has caused misery to thousands. The monetary cost is astronomical: $53 million dollars since it began nearly two weeks ago. I've heard it's become the second most expensive California wildfire this year. So, let it rain, rain, rain. Containment is now at 55%; that's a big plus.
One more note. On our way home this afternoon, we pumped Tergel full of regular gas at Arco for $3.29/gallon! "Cheap" gas! Splashed a few gallons in Smartie, too. Now they'll both be ready to roll down the highway in a few weeks.
And the kitty? She was waiting for us out front when we emerged from Tergel this morning after the rain. And? She was walking toward another motor home as we pulled away. Fickle feline! We'll both miss her....
Matt was a little feller when we moved from SoCal to a small town near Baton Rouge, Louisiana (1989). Naturally, we visited the State Capitol in Baton Rouge, especially since my sister worked in the towering building overlooking the Mighty Mississippi River. That started something. During summer vacations when it was hotter'n a Tabasco pepper in the south, he and I would hop in my red Toyota extended-cab truck and head for the hills -- any hills -- as long as it was cooler. I had a nice camper shell attached, so we could either sleep in our pup tent or in sleeping bags in the truck. I had a pretty good system worked out. We traveled from one end of the country to another on a shoestring budget, and along the way, wherever we were going, I'd make it a point to visit a State Capitol bldg, and drag Matt with me! (And we always sent Nannie, my sis, a Capitol picture postcard!)
And now, after two-plus years as California residents, Jimmy and I are finally spending a day at our State Capitol. Hallelujah!
This photo was taken approx 1890. The building has undergone many changes since its beginning in 1861. Too many for me to list. You can read more here.
Governor Jerry Brown's official portrait ... from his first terms in office 1975-1983.
This has to be the most unusual official portrait ever!
28 years later, he was re-elected. Maybe he'll get a new portrait? (his wife wants one!)
The "red" Senate chamber. Jimmy is in the white cap.
When Arnie Schwarzenegger was governor (just as amazing as Jerry Brown's 28-year gap) he "bought" the bear and had it placed in front of the Governor's door. It's art, don't even think of sitting on it.
The one-hour tour was full of newsy information and tidbits about past people. We learned a lot of things, stuff we didn't know, which is good. We toured the House and Senate chambers, learned about the building's history and related California history. After the tour was finished, Jimmy and I wandered the halls, looking at exhibits and pictures. Then we went outside.
The grounds (despite the drought) were a delight. Mature trees of all sorts, a rose garden, statuary, we walked all around; fact is, we walked till our feet talked.
I'm including the California Firefighters Memorial pic, because, well, because it's fitting.
They do a whale of a good job, and we are grateful.
We made our way down Capital Mall toward the Sacramento delta, and stopped in the Wells Fargo Center, for even more history. Here we are looking at this fantastic desk....
On our way to fetch Smartie from the parking garage, we returned to the Capitol -- to buy picture postcards, of course! Jimmy stands beneath the beautiful Capitol dome.
* * * * *
This evening's enchanting sunset. Is that cloud bank a harbinger of drippy skies?
We hope so!!
Honestly, what could be better than a coolish morning with clear blue skies, and no smelly smoke in the air? Today was a super fantastic fall day! Isn't the above scene pretty? Jimmy and I decided to ride the American River Bike Trail which runs 32 miles from Folsom CA to Old Sacramento. For us (staying at Cal-Expo), it's a short ride to Old Sac, roughly seven miles. It's a really great multi-purpose trail, used by both recreational cyclists like ourselves and commuter cyclists, as well as joggers and just plain folks out for a stroll.
We encountered a bit of wildlife along the way. Mr and Mrs Wood Duck very obligingly posed for a photo. Didn't get a picture of the deer crossing the trail -- it skedaddled into the thickets.
The trail flora is diverse. Open fields morph into a trail lined with mature Cottonwoods draped with vines. In Discovery Park, the Sycamore trees dwarf all life below. (see Jimmy?)
Discovery Park is at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers.
Discovery Park is at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers.
We passed the old abandoned PG&E Co Powerhouse Building (circa 1912). Word on the street is it may be renovated to become the Powerhouse Science Center. That would be cool.
We see pictures of the Tower Bridge all the time (on the news, etc.), but this is our first time to see it up close... and ride across it.
The Tower Bridge is a vertical lift bridge across the Sacramento River. We ate our sandwiches and tater salad sitting on a tree-shaded bench with the bridge in view. I remarked to Jimmy that I wished the bell would ring and a whistle sound, and the traffic gate close ... so I could watch the lift raise. By gollies, I got my wish: the bell rang, a whistle blasted, and the traffic gate closed. I raced to the bridge and watched a sailing ship (tourist) motor beneath. The lift is lowering into place above. What fun!
Wind vane atop the control tower.
The bridge is a bright, shiny gold color . Maybe it should be called the Golden Gate? Wikipedia tells me that in June 1976 it was painted a yellow-ochre color, to be representative of the gold-leafed cupola on the nearby State Capitol. In 2001, as the old paint job could hardly be distinguished, residents who lived within 35 miles of the capital voted on a new color scheme. Their choices were burgundy, green, silver and gold, or all gold. Obviously the winning color was all gold and it was repainted in 2002. I like it.
We pedaled on the River Walk, biked along the Delta trail, thru Old Sac, and back on the American River trail, never in a hurry; we're slow. We had a wonderful time. Put 21 miles on the bikes today.
This handsome Great Blue Heron seemed convinced that his camouflage rendered him invisible. Haha, fooled him.
I took his picture anyway!
Tomorrow? To the State Capitol.
This is the second time we've had to change plans this summer due to wildfires and smoke. (Altho I believe tonite is the autumnal equinox.) Jimmy and I are fortunate in that our schedules are usually flexible and where we live affords us unlimited great-places-to-explore possibilities. Our original plan had been to camp up in Twin Lakes (off Hwy 395 on the Eastern slope of the Sierras), where we could kayak, hike and fish, and enjoy cool mountain air. That monstrous King wildfire, burning south of Nevada City, has charred close to 90,000 acres of forest, and blown so much smoke into the air that it was likened to the 1980 Mount St Helens blast. That's close to 140 square miles burned to a crisp!! And the durned thing is less than 20% contained....
Pyrocumulus cloud: smoke cloud.
All that smoke has to go somewhere, and we've been choking on hazardous air in Nevada County for over a week. While Twin Lakes hasn't been affected as much, the A/Q up there wasn't so good and we would've traveled many miles thru dense smoke to get there. We said, "no thanx." Don't get me wrong ... many people have it much worse than us, but this is our personal blog and how Jimmy and I are personally affected. Our eyes burn, our throats feel like sandpaper, my head hurts. Why, we don't even have campfires when we're Out and About 'cause we can't abide the smell of smoke! So? Get out of town! Can't go to the mountains? Go elsewhere!
Birds (mostly Juncos and Nuthatches) have been flying into our back deck sliding-glass-door daily. I found this Red-breasted Nuthatch flopping about on the deck after it knocked itself silly. I cradled it for several minutes, and eventually it flew (wobbly wings!) to the nearby feeder where it continued to recover. Smoke gets in their eyes?
Here are a couple of pictures I took in Tergel today (Monday 9/22) while in route to Sacramento.
Check out the comparison below:
Auburn, Monday, 9/15 -- the smoke plume billows!
Auburn, Monday, 9/22, same approximate location: A smokey blanket.
The A/Q in Sacramento was in the good range and it's fairly close to home, just down the hill (we live at 3200' and Cal-Expo where we're parked in Sacramento is at approx 30' -- literally, down the hill!) We've camped here before, but never really checked out very much of our capital city. Dunno why locals don't take advantage of the highlights in their own back yards; too easy perhaps. I grew up in Niagara Falls, New York, and the only time we visited the picturesque falls was whenever company came a-callin'. Go figure. Lots to see and do while parked at Cal-Expo. We're adjacent to the American River bike trail -- a fun place to ride -- and, by gum, I want to visit our State Capitol buildings. And whatever else might strike our fancy!
Tuesday, 9/16. This is not a good time of year for California. The entire state has endured a long, hot summer. Oh, and need I add the word, "dry?" Months have passed with no rain to speak of. Fires ignite, maybe lightning, sparks from a backfire, carelessness, or even arson. Everyone has read about the wildfires in the west, especially our state. Jimmy and I had to alter our camping plans not long ago due to smoke from forest fires. In the past week more fires have broken out in NorCal, blanketing western Nevada County with smoke, which resulted in smoke (health) advisories. Thank goodness, that's all we've had to put up with! The Dog Bar Fire, six miles south of Grass Valley, is 95% contained now (more thankfulness). The huge out-of-control King fire is approx 60 miles southeast of Nevada City, and depending on wind direction, we're either choked out or in the clear. Others have it much worse.... Jimmy sez I shouldn't mention anything about the fires, but this is part of what goes on in our lives.
Jimmy took this pic of the King fire plume Monday (I was driving) in Auburn; the fire is 40 miles away!
ENOUGH ABOUT FIRES!!
Nevada City's Constitution Day parade and celebration (a local tradition since 1967, and the oldest and largest Constitution observance in the western US) was held on Sunday, 9/14. These parades always involve a crazy good time! It was pretty darned hot and a little smoky, but we went anyway, tho we missed over half the parade waiting on slooow food at a local lunch joint. My son, Matt, (up from SoCal for the weekend) joined us.
Broad Street in the historic district is decked out.
This is called "humorous, but reverent." OK.
These two drew applause and laughter.
I don't know if it was President Obama's attire or the cardboard cutout that made the crowd roar!
Matt and Teddy.
I just love seeing a green John Deere hauling the Statue of Liberty. So classic.
These guys are terrific. The Ophir Prison Marching Kazoo Band and Temperance Society, LMTD, are high energy and funny, and they can PLAY! They've been a parade favorite for 40 years!!
Everything a marching band could possibly need, right?
Me and Mr. Rubber Ducky at the Duck Race, held in conjunction with the parade festivities.
Later that evening we all drove to Roseville to eat dinner -- Matt and Jen, Tom and Alice, me and Jimmy. Tom and Alice and Matt cooked, and the food was delicious: BBQ'd ribs, tater salad, beans and garlic bread, and a tasty slab of salmon for the non-rib eater (I'm smiling - it was so yummy). We had such a grand time! Too bad I forgot my durned camera.
Here's a nice picture of me and Matt taken Monday at Awful Annie's in Auburn, where we ate a really good lunch. Jimmy and I escaped from smoky Nevada City on Monday, and Auburn was a good choice. The air was clear here, but because the temp was 93 or 95 or some HOT number, we sat indoors. Another smart move.
So, life goes on. Jimmy and I are busy planning now for our next trip, upcoming on Sunday, and maybe even plotting a bit for the one soon after (think air travel for that one!).
And we're all hoping it'll rain soon in the West. Please!!