Not Every Adventure Needs to Be Big



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.


Finally Watched the Bats on Yolo Causeway

IMG_2627Most 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.

IMG_2629The 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.

C715A256-2067-4134-87D6-DE8AA07FA297I’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.


Now On-line: California Delta Tourism Website

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.

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 5.54.36 PM

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.

Batty for Bats on the Bypass!

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.

Golden One Center Opens


The Golden One Center is ready for events and for the NBA season. This large construction project is completed on time and on budget (cost increases were at owner’s request and expense–not the City’s). It is still surrounded by construction sites for other buildings, yet this weekend it will open for it’s maiden concert with Sir Paul McCartney.

The Sacramento Bee offered some helpful advice on getting to the Center by car: reserve a parking spot in advance in a downtown garage at I highly recommend this because the available street parking is of short duration and now extends to 10 p.m. So if you arrive at 5:30 p.m. for a concert and park in a one hour spot, you will have a ticket by 6:31 p.m. It is much cheaper to pay for a garage spot than a $58 parking ticket!


The Golden One Center is designed so most seats are between the boxes and the floor.

For the McCartney concerts the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates are offering valet bike parking at Cesar Chavez park (and they’ll stow your helmets and backpacks, which are not allowed in the Center).

YoloBus is offering free shuttle rides to the arena from the West Sacramento transit center on West Capitol Avenue from City Hall. Sacramento Light Rail will drop you within a block of the Center and you can park and ride from many locations.

The most relaxed way to enjoy an event is stay at one of the hotels within walking distance. Depending on your mobility, the Holiday Inn Sacramento, and the Citizen’s Hotel. There are many more closer to the Capitol about 7-10 blocks away. Finding places to eat near the Golden One Center is also easy.

I am not a basketball fan and I rarely go to concerts in large venues, nonetheless, I hope the downtown arena delivers on its promise to revitalize K Street.

Mural Walk in Sacramento


Michelle Blade, 1300 21st Street

The Sacramento Mural Festival provided much interest and entertainment for the week in August when artists worked on the 11 murals throughout downtown and midtown. The best thing about the Sacramento Mural Festival is that it beautifies Sacramento for many years and you can still use their map as an art scavenger hunt.


David Fiveash, 1025 R Street

I spent 3.5 happy hours on Friday afternoon pedaling to all of the locations on my bike including a lunch stop at Crest Cafe. I am writing a two-part longer blog on and breaking it into zones if you do not have a half day or longer to pedal or walk to see all of the murals.


Add Fuel, 1108 R Street

Some of the artists drew the short straw with the walls available. Jake Castro not only is on the back of the Crest Theater but his alley workspace is jammed with dumpsters. It must have been aromatic in August! Presented by the Friends of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, I hope it becomes an annual tradition. Art on exterior walls fits with the other public art in downtown and midtown Sacramento. (Reminder: the Bicycle Rack Scavenger Hunt game card is still available as a free download on this website.)


Drew Merritt, 2020 J Street (behind building in alley)

The winners are the people of Sacramento and visitors who will find some of the murals sneak up on them to their surprise and delight.

Poets in the Park and Ice Cream Too!

20160826_153712There have been several features in travel magazines about the Poet Laureate Park in the space between the Natomas Library and Community Center. The poets featured include many Sacramento poet laureates (who knew we had such?). The artist Troy Corliss created these poems in metal art calling them, “Poet’s Path: Circle of Laureates.” (2015)

20160826_153527There are other things to entice a family to seek out this park. Besides the library, there are two playgrounds, a picnic area, a green with a fitness track, and a rose garden.

20160826_153059It is much like McKinley Park in East Sacramento. I have never explored Natomas except to go North on Truxel toward the basketball arena. Instead turn south and find this lovely collection of public delights.

20160826_153015Saving the best for last: after a stroll through the park in the summer heat I was ready to google “nearest ice cream” when I spied Ms. T’s Good to Go Cafe. I ordered a handmade ice cream sandwich. I chose the just baked chocolate chip cookies and took my sandwich to a cafe table in the courtyard. Yum! Yum! It is worth a stop all on its own.