Sunday 9/13/09 Today is another touring day of downtown Sacramento so we start moving around early so we can make our 9:41 am bus. I must repeat myself again....what a bargain for $2.00 round trip each. We board our bus, which is right on time, and tell the lady bus driver we want to go to the State Capitol www.capitolmuseum.ca.gov . She informs us her last stop will be only 3 blocks away so we are on our way again. It's a great ride down, it was like a personal guided tour as eventually we were the only ones on the bus and being Sunday....there was NO traffic.
After getting off the bus we are walking on the outskirts of the Capitol which has beautiful grounds. Of course not knowing where to go we venture into the first spot we see & BINGO... it's the security office for tours. After our "airline departure" where we put our valuables on the xray belt, walk thru the metal detector and see if you pass. Fortunately, we didn't have to take our shoes off. They tell us where the tours begin & we head down there to sign up for the next available tour...which will be 11 am & it's about 10:20 am so we are glad we got here early. It is a beautiful building & the first floor has exhibits in some of the offices that are decorated as the office would have looked in the early 1900's. Also on this floor is the Rotunda, Arnie's office with the $30,000 Grizzly Bear that he donated to the California people...and that would be on the $1.00 a year salary he accepts for being Governor.....what a guy!!
The tour starts in the Basement Wing so we hurry down so I can go inside the bookstore/gift shop to buy some postcards. They also have a Museum Theater down there with 4 different movies you can watch, unfortunately, it is not working now and the State of California doesn't have the money to fix it....(I just added that!) But who cares, we gather for our tour with the other 15 people and our guide, Anna who is from Europe. Now Anna was a wonderful person/guide who told us so many interesting facts about the government in California and she was especially attentive to the young people on the tour, asking them questions, talking with them and just a warm, wonderful person. I think each of us felt so lucky to be our her "watch."
We head back upstairs to the third floor & she takes us into the Assembly and Senate Gallery, explaining all about the two house legislature and how it works. I think our favorite thing we learned was: Do you know what the red star on the California Flag represents? Of course, I'm thinking what red star? She tells us to visualize the flag & what's on it, so people are taking guesses but of course no one gets it right. Do you know????? Answer: It represents Texas......go figure that one. It seems that California & Texas were the only states that were not a Territory before being admitted into the USA as they already set up for it by having their own government already in place and the best part California had just discovered GOLD (which made them real attractive....so they admitted them right into the Union as a State. Texas is the only other state admitted this way....and the star on our flag pays tribute to Texas. Now Will & I are sure that we have NEVER heard any of this information before and found it so interesting.
We saw the Rotunda and she explained all the symbols & what they represented. She showed us signature flaws in workmanship as the workman/artist can't sign their names so they create "something" that represents their signature. In the Assembly high on the ceiling is a small frog with his tongue sticking out at the legislature's from far above. Representing....don't take yourselves so seriously. On the first floor on the tile floor, 2 tiles are upside down representing.....no one is perfect, mistakes are made everywhere. It was a wonderful tour and lasted about 1 hour and if you are ever in Sacramento you should take it. We learned so much...of course our sorrow is - we won't remember most of it but I won't forget the red star & Texas!!
After the tour it was time for lunch but because it's Sunday most places are closed in the downtown area. We find out they have a downtown mall with a food court & it's about 3/4 of a mile walk so we head over, The downtown pedestrian mall reminds you of Fresno, empty store fronts & bums but they say they are "developing it" yeah, that sounds like Fresno too! We find the food court & Wills choice is a steak sandwich which he says is delicious.....which is not a word he uses often with food. I of course use that word ALL the time & find Panda Express which is without a doubt....a very guilty pleasure of mine. Stomachs full we walk back towards the Capitol for our next destination, the Leland Stanford Mansion www.lelandstanfordmansion.org
Leland Stanford was one of the four men who loan the money to build the railroad out of Sacramento over the mountains & joined up the rest of the railroad in Promontory, Utah. It seems the Big Money guys in San Francisco wouldn't lend a dime towards this project so these four business men in Sacramento put up $150,000 total and became big billionaires. That's Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, C. Huntington & Mark Hopkins. Leland Stanford was at one time the governor of California & purchased and built onto this beautiful home...4 floors and 19,000 sq ft. They had one son who died before his 16th birthday of typhoid in Europe at that point their focus changed & they gave much money for children's causes. The first being Stanford University, which is named after their son, Leland Stanford, Jr. After Leland Senior died, his wife Jane donated this home to a Catholic orphanage in 1900 which became an orphanage for girls for more than 50 years. Fortunately, much of the furniture was stored in the attic and when the the State of California bought it back to restore it as a historical landmark they had a lot of original furniture. The other good thing that happened was Mr. Stanford had pictures taken of each and every room so in the restoration process they were able to find antiques that were very similar to the original. It is an absolutely beautiful place and Will & I were the tour so it was pretty terrific and we were so glad we got to see it.
Now the only bus stop we really know of is outside the old Sacramento Historical District so we walk down there about a mile or so and decide to take a ride on the old Steam Engine train. We buy our tickets for the 4 pm ride which is a 6 mile ride along the Sacramento River. We only have a few minute wait and then board the train. Instead of an inside car we sit in the outside car which is an old sugar beet transport car that has added some bench seats. It's a beautiful afternoon with a stiff breeze and pretty full train and it is a wonderful ride. We go about 3 miles past Capitol Avenue along the Sacramento River, pass beautiful covered boat docks, a bicycle/running/walking trail and everyone pauses to watch & wave at the train. After the 3 miles they unhook the steam engine take it down another set of tracks & attach it to the other end & back to the station we go. We have now missed our 4:41 pm bus so decide to go into a bar & Will has his coveted 7/7 drink & I have my coveted diet coke/w lime & the best part is they serve peanuts & you can throw the shells on the floor. My kind of place!!! We nurse our drinks for 45 minutes, eat peanuts, watch football & then head for our bus. To say we are dead tired is an understatement. We head for home, I settle for "the peanuts" as dinner while Will has a can of soup.....then a showers & a real early bedtime....it has been a long & very fun day. Much love to family & friends.