8 total hours
Last week, I attended a medical writing conference in Sacramento. It was my first time in the city, and aside from the pesky work-related stuff, I had a great time! I’m only half kidding. The lectures and workshops were pretty good, but I was just not in the mindset to network and schmooze my way through receptions and lunches and dinners. So whenever I could get away, I did, and it was lovely.
The first night, after a painful networking event — hello, it was called the California Dreamin’ Welcome Reception — I walked a couple of blocks down the street from my hotel to have dinner at Grange, recommended by Ashlee. I sat at the bar, and the bartenders were really great. I drank a local beer with my porcini gnocchi and talked with the people around me. When I told JG that I was “making friends! At a BAR!” he said, “Who are you, and what have you done with my wife?” This is RA on Work Travel, I guess.
The next day, I sat through some dull lectures and then escaped to walk around the Capitol Mall, also Ashlee’s suggestion. It was warm out, almost hot, and the whole area was beautiful and quiet.
Unsurprisingly, the Capitol Building is at the end of the mall, and I approached it hesitantly. The security guard beckoned me in, and I asked, “Am I allowed to walk through?” He said, “It’s a public building, honey!” and took me through an airport-like security check. Well, then! I wandered the halls in a sort of quiet amazement, halfway expecting a Leslie Knope-type to come bounding along. I really, really wanted to take a picture of the big metal bear outside the room marked “Governor’s Office,” but there was a state trooper standing at the door, so I wimped out. Instead, I admired the very many dioramas decorating the place. Yes, dioramas! Each county in California has one, and there are a lot of counties in that state. Some were quaint, with little figurines and models, and some were high-tech with scrolling marquees and flashing lights. Very entertaining.
I kept walking to the end of the mall until I got to the Tower Bridge, which Heidi suggested. I wished I could have seen it in operation, since it kind of lifts up to let boats through, but no luck there. I read my book on a bench until the sun beat down on my hair too steadily for comfort, so I continued on to the Old Sacramento section, which appears to be a sort of Old West tourist trap. Case in point: a teenager wearing an apron approached me with a voucher for free salt water taffy at Candy Heaven. I said, “Don’t mind if I do,” and he said, “Wow. I did not think you would go for that.” Well, then! I happen to love salt water taffy, young man!
Candy Heaven purported itself to be “the sweetest place on Earth,” but I’m pretty sure that Hershey, Pennsylvania, holds that title. At any rate, it was kitschy but fun. The girl at the register told me that I could help myself to a few pieces from any barrel with a blue sign or any of the salt water taffy. “Okay,” I said, “so do I give you this?” and I held out my voucher. “No, keep it! Lifetime pass!” Uh, okay! I chose pineapple, maple bacon, and green apple. I tried the maple bacon first, and it was disgusting. Bacon and taffy: never the twain shall meet! I had to wash my mouth out with the taste of fake pineapple, people. And then I had to buy some gummy frogs.
That night, I was heading toward Cafe Bernardo for dinner (recommended by Janet), but I walked past a big building with … did I see brewing kettles? Yes, I did! Hello, River City Brewing Company! I bellied up to the bar and asked if they had flights of samples. I texted JG a picture of my 6 beer samples, and he responded, “So freaking jealous.”
The next day, I had 2 3-hour workshops: Elements of Medical Terminology and, what I was most looking forward to, Tables and Graphs. Yesss. During the intermission between the 2 courses, I walked to The Bread Store for lunch (again, Ashlee’s recommendation — are we sensing a trend?). It was one of those places where you order at one counter and pick up at another, which is fine, except that the menu was over the pick-up counter. So, I was kind of relieved that there was a giant line, because I had plenty of time to crane my head and try to read the options. Finally, I gave up and asked the girl at the register what she recommended because it was my first time there. “The Cubano!” she said. Great! Let me at it. And it was ridiculously amazing. The sandwich was some sort of magical combination of the perfect sturdy but yielding bread, yummy deli meat, and melty cheesiness. Gah. I wish I could have another one right now.
In all, I think I had about 8 total hours of wandering and eating time in Sacramento, and I feel pretty good about how much ground I covered! By which I mean, how much food I ate, ahem. The city was pretty and interesting, and I’m so glad I got a chance to get out and about.