I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Saturday, April 13, 2013

History in River town.

The Prospector surprised me with a proposition on Wednesday. Now, you have to understand that we have been married for many years and I don't, as a rule, get propositioned much. So this was kind of exciting.
He offered to take me to Old Town in Sacramento, take the Historic River Tour and buy me an early dinner... all in time to get back home to feed the dogs.
"Yes!" I said, "That sounds like fun."...  feeling that this was a most magnanimous moment on the Prospector's part and that it really sounded like the kind of clean fun two people could have and not have any regrets in the morning.
So, I said "Yes!". He called and made reservations. We left the dogs outside, which Carl wasn't too happy about but, Oh well... when excitement calls... you just have to ignore the offended little Corgis and leave quickly.
We drove down to Sacramento to OLD TOWN. This is where Sacramento began. It was the port on the  river where everything was happening during the Gold Rush.
Now it's a fun, tourist attraction with all kind of stores, restaurants and museums.
While we waited for our boat to depart,




We walked along the boardwalk for a few blocks and split a corn dog to tie us over until we came back from the tour. I'm sure we could have made a better choice but... it was a fried delight with mustard and catchup in a paper boat. It was cheap and fast. I did buy water to go with it, so that kind of redeemed the bad choice. (Not really.). I like to think that the water wash away some of the grease.

We also walked through a huge candy store. I emphasize "walked through" because I wanted all of you to know that we didn't lose control completely with the "junk" food.We bought nothing.
I think this store was appropriately named "Candy Heaven".
We met this bear, on the sidewalk. He was make entirely of  Lego's. Cute and amazing.
And we made a mental note to check out Joe's Crab Shack when we returned for dinner.
We picked up our tickets for the river tour and walked down to the dock.
This was our tour boat. The Capitol Hornblower was its name. It looked sturdy and reliable. We boarded the frigate with a few other tourist and a whole classroom of what looked to be "private" school 6th graders. 
It took me back a few years to my visits here and to the Capital building with a bunch of 6th graders from Pine Grove Elementary School. I was "in charge" of five or six of the children in our classroom. I don't think that I have ever fully recovered from the experience.
So... we oldsters were allowed on first. Then the children came aboard. Some ran around like wild Indians but on the whole, they were pretty well behaved. 
We went up to the second level and watched the "first mate" untie the ropes and close the doors.
There was no escape now.
 We were moving out, around the other tour boat and into the Sacramento River.
We pulled out and passed the Delta King Hotel, a floating hotel that. without Corgis waiting at home for us, we could have stayed on overnight. I was beginning to understand that without 10 chickens, two Corgis and forty two acres to take care of, there are a lot of exciting and different things to do outside of our little town in the foothills. Maybe I will surprise "the old guy" with a night on the Delta King for his birthday. What fun that might be.
When we passed this old paddle wheel showboat, it made me want to burst out singing  Ol Man River or Make Believe, as folks waved to us from its decks. It made me think about high school and my" life upon the wicked stage" when I sang "Bill" from Showboat, sitting on a piano in fishnet stockings and a beautiful dance hall costume. Those were the good ol' days when I could sing and loved the smell of grease paint and the magic phrase was "Break a leg." for "Good luck."
Do you remember the lyrics?
I used to dream that I would discover
The perfect lover someday.
I knew I'd recognize him if ever
He came 'round my way.
I always used to fancy then
He'd be one of the God-like kind of men
With a giant brain and a noble head
Like the heroes bold
In the books I've read.

But along came Bill
Who's not the type at all,
You'd meet him on the street
And never notice him.
His form and face,
His manly grace
Are not the kind that you
Would find in a statue,
And I can't explain,
It's surely not his brain
That makes me thrill -
I love him because he's wonderful,
Because he's just my Bill.


Well, the year after high school I found "my Bill" but he had a different name. 
Yep, I still have "my Bill" after 47 years... and, unlike the "Bill" in the song, he has a giant brain... and a good heart too. .. and he's still good looking... and he's always ready for a great adventure.

We navigated out into the river and passed this interesting looking building. The "first mate" was telling us the history of the river front and said that this was a new water intake plant for the city. Eighty-five percent  of Sacramento’s drinking water comes from these neighboring rivers. To collect water, the City has two water intake structures, one located on the American River and one located on the Sacramento River.
This is the old intake that was replaced by the new one above.
This little guy just couldn't keep up with the population explosion.
And around the bend in the river, next to highways 5 is the Jab boom Street Bridge. It's a swing bridge and it's actually on the American River.
There is a great city park and beach area here.
This is the confluence of the American and the Sacramento River. You can clearly see the beautiful water of the American River mixing with the cloudy and muddy Sacramento River in the photos above and below.
 Our tour speaker said that the American comes down from the mountains to the east bringing its clear mountain water. The Sacramento, comes down from the north and picks up a lot of sediment in the central valley from the small creeks and ditches that run into it. The difference is striking.
This is what it use to look like before anyone was here. Beautiful. with many different kinds of trees and bushes... but very prone to flooding.
We moved on down the river as she told us a lot about the history and how the river had to be tamed and land had to be filled in before people could live in this area.
A levee system was developed early on to keep the river under control and there is an ongoing concern about the age and condition of these levees to this day. I wonder at the common sense of the early pioneers that came here and decided to start a city. I know it had to do with a river,  the transport of goods to and from San Francisco and of course, the Gold Rush but, the whole area is land between rivers. It's still a series of flood planes that are only protected by an antiquated levee system.
We moved slowly down the river as we listened to its history, lulled by the sound of water against the ship and the sounds of Seagulls, Cormorants, Egrets and Geese... and some other birds I didn't recognize.
 The kids moved like the ripples of the ships wake, from the bow to the stern ... hanging over the edges of the ship railings and coming in and out of the wheelhouse, where the Captain talked to them and answered questions.
They all seemed to be lulled by the river's magic.
I wished that my grandson's could have been with us. They would have loved this ride.

We came to a group of apartments that moored some beautiful boats waiting for their owners. The Prospector said that this houseboat was just about right for us to vacation on.
I had to agree. It was NICE. It even had a slide off the back end for the grandkids.
Truth be told... this is more what we could afford.
 And then, reality hit.
This was probably more in our price range.
Still, it would be nice to have a place to come and stay on this river. It's very relaxing here. It's a certain kind of lifestyle... laid back... slower paced.
So we continued for another half mile or so until I saw a place that I recognized.
A restaurant called the Virgin Sturgeon. My friend, "C" brought me here one time for lunch when she lived in her apartment. It is a very popular place to eat. I love the name.
We turned around here and started back toward Sacramento proper. The weather was warm and beautiful. There were lots of folks out fishing and enjoying the beautiful day.
The area  on the west side of the river was wild in some areas,
giving you a good idea  what Sacramento was like before there was a city.

Our tour boat went back toward Old Town and continued south, under the Tower Bridge.
 This is looking south with the sun on it's far side.
 This is a view of the downtown area of Sacramento from the river. The white buildings on the lower right are the new additions to the Crocker Art Museum. We didn't have time to visit the museum but we will take another day and come down to see it.
As for the Tower Bridge... it looks so pretty with the sun on it. It was painted gold because we are after all, the golden state and this is its capital.
 The Tower Bridge is a vertical lift bridge. A very beautiful one. I loved taking pictures of it.
This was taken almost directly into the sun. from the north side , just as we came under it.

As we headed back into port, we passed the river side of Joe's Crab Shack
 and decided that we couldn't get off of the boat fast enough.
We said thank you to the captain of the ship, almost got run over by a couple of hungry children as we walked up the ramp walkway , walked into Joe's and sat out on that balcony you see in the photo above.
Then they brought us THE MENUS.
The Prospector had a Crabcake Cesar Salad and I had a mixed plate of shrimp, fish, dirty rice and some kind of crab cakes in a shell. OMG! Was it all good. We had iced tea and shared the food. I can't begin to tell you how good it was.
 That's when I saw something underneath one of the tables. Something moving quickly and with purpose.
I'm going to stop now. I will tell you about the birds tomorrow. It's almost 11:00 p.m. and I can't see the computer screen anymore.
Sweet dreams...










Sunday, April 7, 2013

Wild Blue Lupine Morning

"It's Spring fever. That is what the name of it is.
And when you've got it, you want... oh, 
you don't quite know what it is you do want,
 but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"
 ~Mark Twain~

I know this quote well. I understand what Samuel Clements was saying. He died in the Spring of 1910 in Redding, California. I live in the same part of the country. I know what he means. I hope that he was looking out of a window filled with Lupine when he died.
I love winter here. I love the mildness of our weather, the hope of snow and the ability to hike and walk in December and January... but, Oh spring. I feel its joy when I walk outside. The birds that choose to nest on our porch, the green hills, the wildflowers and the fragrance of this place. It's a sweet "heart ache" and it's there every year for all to see and feel.
The Prospector was weed eating the old goat run and came in to tell me that he left the blueish purple Lupine standing so I could take some pictures of it.
I walked down to the vegetable garden with my camera and went through the gate to the pasture below, sitting down in the field where the goats use to roam. For five years our goats did not leave these flowers for us to enjoy but, in exchange, they cleared the land below the house. These flowers were tasty delicacies for them. I could always find the flowers elsewhere on our road. I didn't mind that the goats enjoyed them so... if only I could see Brownie and Murph' down there again. I miss the boys.
"Our spring has come at last with the soft laughter of April suns..."
~Byron Caldwell Smith, letter to Kate Stephens~



Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. 
~Rainer Maria Rilke~


I know the thrill of the grasses when the rain pours over them.
I know the trembling of the leaves when the winds sweep through them.
I know what the white clover felt as it held a drop of dew pressed close in its beauteousness.
I know the quivering of the fragrant petals at the touch of the pollen-legged bees.
I know what the stream said to the dipping willows, and what the moon said to the sweet lavender.
I know what the stars said when they came stealthily down and crept fondly into the tops of the trees.
~Muriel Strode, "Creation Songs"

I know. I know.
Yes, I know.