At least once a week I go on an adventure with my grandson Calvin who is 16 months old. He reminds me of the joy and wonder of noticing the things we adults often overlook. Like the inlaid wood and carving at the Crocker Museum. Or the joy of going to the nursery in springtime.
Where is Gramma J?
Today we went to the Plant Foundry in Oak Park, Sacramento, California.
The challenge is getting plants whilst enjoying it from a wee man’s perspective. So glad my daughter was along to help out this time.
In a recently published book, 1001 Things to Do with Kids in Sacramento by Sabrina Nishijima, there are many ideas for kids of all ages. I have been looking for more ideas so I plonked down my debit card to buy this from Time Tested Books on 21st Street near K. Just remember, sometimes you can keep it simple and have a great adventure, like the time we never made it into the Railroad Museum because the wooden sidewalks and rocky paths were so fascinating.
*Post originally appeared in Adventures of American Julie on March 11, 2018.
Multiple generations team up to cook lamb for Lamb Pops!
My friend Scott and I dropped in on the Sacramento Greek Festival at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on Alhambra and F Streets. With a $5 per person admission we entered a celebration of all things Greek. From fried cheese to a raffle for an original Gregory Kondos painting.
We started with appetizers including fried cheese and pita bread, spanakopita and skewered pork with yogurt sauce. Even sharing these dishes we hit “Tilt!” with yummy food. We needed to walk and digest. We discovered the gyro cafe across the plaza and a dinner buffet inside the hall.
We walked through the markets where you can buy a Greek pride t-shirt, Tupperware, jewelry or an icon. The kids zone offers an outlet for children to play. There is a full bar and a wonderfully slow coffee bar. Kathy cooked my coffee in a pan full of sand, guessing my nationality and keep us entertained until my very hot coffee was ready.
We had bought baklava and baklava cheesecake at the desserts booth inside the hall. We scored an outside table and listened to trad Greek music by Mythos and watched dance lessons and more accomplished Greek dancers. The baklava was just the right balance of walnuts and honey and phyllo. Even with the delicious coffee we couldn’t finish the dessert, so Scott took one for the team and offered to take it home.
This is 54th festival but the first in a few years back in the courtyard of the newly expanded Greek Orthodox church. Church tours are available, check the program.
We live in Midtown so it was easy to walk to the Festival. There’s also parking at Sutter Middle School. The Festival continues through Sunday, October 8. Don’t just sit there–Go!
We took advantage of the tail end of Farm to Fork Sacramento’s restaurant week at Hook & Ladder. My friends were visiting from out of town and they are adventurous eaters. I wanted to try someplace none of us had been. The menu offered two choices of an entree, plus two choices of main, plus two choices of dessert. My friend and I made sure we tried it all–3 dishes each for $35 per person. Our other friend ordered the peach and pesto pizza.
It started with a craftsman cocktail with a clever name. So clever the gin blotted it from memory.
We enjoyed the very competent service and ordered our drinks. I decided to splurge and try the cocktail. This is about twice what I normally drink. Actually, I rarely drink so how to measure? It was tasty and had a fun name I can’t remember. Sign of a good drink.
Corn soup (cold)
We dug into our fun appetizers and agreed that we’d like more of both. But wait, we have entrees coming and a huge pizza for Nora.
We were comfortably digesting when our desserts arrived. Our server brought plenty of forks without asking. Yummy.
Hook & Ladder is at S Street near 16th Street in downtown Sacramento. You can make reservations on Open Table. This is a good idea on the weekends. The atmosphere is not fussy, but not overly casual. And with cocktails $10 and over and a main in the high $20s, it is a good date spot or place to gather with well-heeled friends.
Most of us are afraid of bats at an almost instinctual level. Unlike snakes and spiders though, I am hardpressed to name a species of bat. The other night I learned there are more species of bat of any other type of mammal except rodents. I might have known at one time in Jr High biology that bats are mammals, but it was good to be reminded.
I wasn’t prepared for the bat expert, Corky Quirk, to have live bats on display in small plastic carriers. They were fascinating to look at up close and watch as they stretched a wing or moved about. However, I was still pretty creeped out. Corky gives a great presentation including playing a rap on echolocation. She uses a camera to give us an larger than life view of the bats eating.
After a quick last bathroom break and a chance to buy a t-shirt, we piled into the van and our cars and drove out to the public entrance to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and drove the loop until we needed to turn off onto some farm roads to reach where the bats live during the day. You cannot go there without the Foundation volunteers, although you can watch a smaller colony of 15,000 bats fly out from the first parking lot.
The best time to see them leave is about 30 minutes before sundown. The sun had already mostly gone down when the ribbon of bats started exiting from under the Yolo Causeway. It was impressive. The colony we watched fly out to eat insects all night under the Yolo County sky was a mix of mothers and adolescent pups. Bats do us a great service by eating their weight in insects every night (and twice that when moms are nursing). I was happy to learn so much about this small but mighty member of our ecosystem.
I’ve been a supporter of the Yolo Basin Foundation for 5 years and have heard various people extol the niftiness of watching the bats leave their “cave” under the Yolo Causeway. Finally I helped to organize a group of colleagues so I participate in one of the Bat Talk and Walks. You can sign up for a public Bat Talk and Walk on the Foundation’s website. Or you can contact Corky and arrange a private tour for your group, $12 per adult and a minimum $240 donation. You must have at least 12 and they can accommodate up to 60 people.
The Delta Marketing Taskforce has quietly been working away behind the scenes to develop a 5 year strategy and build a website that promotes California Delta Tourism. As someone who remembers the battle over the logo a few years ago, I find this remarkable. It is a beautiful site.
On places to eat there are over 40 restaurants. Other sections are yet to be filled out. It is a promising start. Check it out.
The Yolo Basin Foundation released the new dates for Bat Walks and Talks on the Yolo Basin Wildlife Area. You must buy tickets in advance and the dates can fill up fast. If you want to see this fascinating phenomenon of the bats flying out from underneath the Yolo Causeway to feast on night insects, and learn how bats benefit us, then sign up now. $12 per adult
From the website: Following a 45 minute indoor presentation on bat natural history, the group will carpool out to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area to watch the “flyout” of the largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in California. The bats emerge in long ribbons as they head out to hunt for insects for the night. To get to the viewing site, the group will caravan through wetlands and rice fields to an area not open to the public.
The whole experience takes about 3 hours. This is a family friendly event! There is a small amount of walking. Those in wheelchairs or unable to walk may view the bats by car. Please let us know if you have special needs.
The Sacramento River in the California Delta is super full and is going to remain running high through June.
It’s official: the State of California declared the drought is over. Driving to Los Angeles in the rain, I enjoyed the green hills all the way through the San Joaquin Valley. After years of seeing scary empty reservoirs, it is thrilling to see all the signs of a very wet year.
Pyramid Lake is part of the State Water Project and stores water until it continues its journey to SoCal water users. When deliveries are low, the level drops. This year the reservoir is full again.
On my way to Los Angeles I stopped at the top of the grapevine at the Vista del Lago visitor center to look at Pyramid Lake. It is thrilling to see how full it is and to see someone recreating.
San Luis Reservoir is also part of the water delivery system in California. Water is pumped from near Santa Nella into this reservoir to store it to keep a water supply for irrigation and people throughout the summer. Levels have been restored!
This blog post first appeared on Adventures of American Julie (americanjulie.com).