May 2, 2012

Spring Break Pt.2: Sacramento with Kids

After we left San Francisco, the second stop on our whirlwind Spring Break trip was Sacramento.  We made this visit partly to make up for deciding to skip Lily's fourth-grade school trip to the state capitol.  Each year, the fourth graders in her school are given the opportunity to travel with their classmates and a few teachers up to Sacramento for the day.  It's a true whirlwind of a trip: they catch a plane in the early morning hours, spend a day touring all the major sites around the capitol, and then arrive back home around midnight.  All this for the low, low price of about $500 per child.  I decided to pass on this: we're seasoned road-trippers here, and I knew we could travel as a family for a whole lot less per day.  (I get that traveling with your family is not nearly as awesome as taking a plane trip with your friends. But she's 10, and has years of expensive school field trip options ahead of her.) (Besides, not that many kids even went.)

Anyway. It was funny to drive into downtown Sacramento after 8pm. Compared to the city hustle of San Francisco, the capital felt like a ghost town. I mean it was empty.  We checked into our hotel, the Best Western Plus Sutter House, and called it a night.  I have no strong impressions of the hotel: we arrived after dark and checked out before 10 the next day. 
Our destination was the state capitol building.  We parked in a downtown parking garage and strolled over. It was a cool, sunny morning.  We didn't take an official tour, but wandered around the halls, checking out the portraits of govenor's past, and sitting briefly in both the senate and congressional chambers.  And looking up:

In the Senate Chamber
In the basement hallways are dioramas representing each of our state's counties.  (The smaller, quirkier northern counties were the most creative. All the larger counties were pretty eh.)

And just like at Disneyland, I like to appreciate the lighting:

 Deputy and "Mike the Bear" guarding the Governor's Chamber:
 Touring the capitol took longer than we anticipated, and with just a few hours left of our trip, we drove over to the nearby Old Town section.  I somewhat regret this, as it would've been more in keeping with the fourth-grade field trip itinerary to have headed over to Sutter's Fort, a nearby state park chock-full of history.  But I also knew that Sutter's Fort would also be a big investment in time, we were in need of lunch, and that we still had an eight-hour drive ahead of us.  So Old Town it was.
Big muddy American River

Me as "disapproving school marm" outside the old school house. This is probably my expression most mornings as I'm hustling the kids out the door.
We strolled the faux-historical boardwalks, stopped in a few touristy shops, and had lunch in a little corner cafe. Down the tracks, we saw several trains belonging to the California State Railroad Museum, which looks like an excellent place to visit. But alas, the meter was running down on our streetside parking, and also on our road trip. Time to traverse the flat, green Central Valley again, and make our way down south to home.  Farewell, NorCal! Hope to see you again, for a much longer, leisurely time around.

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