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We slept in a bit this morning, to 08:00 or so. Allison made buttermilk pancakes for breakfast - I had 4 but Michelle stuck with cereal and a pumpkin muffin.
Allison drove us over to the Hertz car hire place where we picked up our car for the next two weeks - a sporty looking silver Oldsmobile Alero. Then she led the way back to her place as I drove behind. She took us a back way and took some "scenic" detours so I could have practice driving on the wrong side of the road.
After gearing up back at the house we set out on the drive to Sacramento - about half an hour east on I80. We took the Jefferson Boulevard exit and headed over the Sacramento River on to Capitol Mall. We found a parking spot in an open carpark for $7 a day. Then we walked over to Old Sacramento and noticed the multi-storey carpark there charged $1.50 per half hour! So we considered ourselves lucky not to have been able to turn left into that as we passed it earlier.
We wandered the old-style streets, reminiscent of the old west days, with the wooden buildings full of touristy shops, joined by a raised wooden sidewalk. We stopped in one shop called Candy Heaven, where a woman explained as we walked in the door that we could sample any of the lollies with blue labels for free - and that was most of them in the store, including about 50 flavours of salt water taffy. We tried some and Michelle decided we needed to buy some, so we got 22 pieces - 2 each of 11 different flavours. Then we walked over to a cluster of lunch places and selected a Middle Eastern one for some felafel and shawarma rolls for lunch, which were decent.
Salt water taffy, Old Sacramento
Then we browsed a bit more and headed towards the California State Railroad Museum. The museum had several cool locomotives and rail cars that we got a good close look at. Some of them we walked through the interiors, looking at the historical fittings and so on. One car had a big display of the different patterns of china used by the railroad companies over the years.
Steam locomotive, California State Railroad Museum
After exhausting that we wandered back through Old Sacramento to Capitol Mall and walked down it towards the California State Capitol building. I stopped at a modern Wells Fargo office building to take a photo of the incongruous old stagecoach on display just inside the foyer entry and an old man spied us as tourists and asked where we were from. After chatting for a minute we continued to the Capitol. This is a magnificent classic style American capitol building with a big dome on top. There are gardens all around it and it all looked very picturesque. It was just a shame that the massed roses in front were not in bloom.
California State Capitol
After some photos we walked right up to the building and found an entrance through which we gained access. I expected to have to join a guided tour to get in, but we were free to wander the halls at our leisure and we checked out most of the floors, finding bunches of senators' offices and stuff, with lots of people in suits looking very bureaucratic wandering around. We found the photocopiers in the hallway and so on - everything you'd expect in a busy office, and we were just free to wander around. We also saw the office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and got some glimpses inside as various important-looking people wandered in and out. Later, a guard told us that the Governor had been in earlier in the day, but wasn't in the building at the moment.
Inside the cupola of the California State Capitol
We went up a few floors until we found the Assembly and Senate chambers, where we entered the public galleries and looked down on the rooms from which California law is made. The Assembly chamber was magnificently decorated in dark wood, gold, and deep green carpet, while the Senate matched except for red carpet.
When we exited the building, we walked around to the back side where a park held specimens of many different trees from around the world, which were populated by squirrels. It was quite beautiful. In all, the capitol area reminded us of Canberra - very neat and clean and immaculately laid out. We saw the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the park before heading back to the car to drive back to Vacaville, arriving about 18:00.
California Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Allison was feeding the girls, and after that we went out for dinner at the local Mongolian Barbecue, our treat in thanks for the hospitality Allison and Terry showed us here the past few days. Unfortunately, Terry was still feeling sick after getting some sort of stomach bug yesterday so couldn't join us there. Allison dropped Brianna off at Awani - a sort of kid's play and activity group in the evening - while we had dinner. After dinner we picked her up again and Allison drove us on a scenic tour of downtown Vacaville, showing us the old buildings and so on there.
Then we came home and rang up a place in Seattle to book a room for the nights we will be staying there. That done, all we need to do is get a good night's rest before our trip to Yosemite tomorrow!
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