Okay, we didn’t walk the whole way, but we stopped for many short walks along the way from Santa Rosa to Sacramento.
We started on Hwy 12 from home and tried to stay with it as much as we could. We hadn’t known there was a real Suisun City but we found it. It sits at the end of an inlet from Suisun Bay. One of the fishermen along what looked like a former boat turnaround said there used to be an oil refinery on the spot. Suisun City has a look of a town on hard times, but recently a walkway along the water and a few new buildings were built in the downtown area.
We savored coffee and pastry at a new shop, Eco Delight Coffee on Main St.
Across the ‘creek’ off Hwy 12 is a road to Belden’s Landing. The road runs through Grizzly Island and 2,000 acres of wildlife preserve. Unfortunately, walking was restricted by lack of access or weedy paths. We were too late or the tide wasn’t right for many birds. At the landing was a boat launch and some picnic tables in a county park. (Plans are afoot for more walking areas.)
Western Railway Museum
Our next stop on Hwy 12 was at the Western Railway Museum specializing in electric transit cars. Over 26 are restored and available to wander around or in. We figured someone in the family rode three of types of cars from our time in Indiana, St Louis and San Francisco.
We walked around the picnic grounds and spotted several jackrabbits leaping through the train yard.
One car is in service and the BAERA (Bay Area Electric Railroad Association) has gained ownership of or access to almost 10 miles of track. Volunteers have helped repair the track. We rode through beautiful golden meadows on a finely restored car while conductor John Krauskopf told us tales of the area and the restoration plans for the railway line. Our engineer, Edna, tried to spot a fox for us that she had seen near the line, but we were too slow-witted.
For a great ride back in time and an unusual view of Mt Diablo for most Bay Area people, stop at Western Railway Museum and take the train.
River Roads and Towns
Our next stop was Rio Vista, on the north bank of the Sacramento River. We walked a short loop of downtown and one tiny park.
West on Hwy 160 we drove along a bloated river. That’s what it looked like to me with roads atop dikes on either side of the river while having a view of treetops and roofs on the ‘sunken’ agricultural land. We only stopped briefly at Clarksburg to see the industrial-sized vineyard style that has come to the Sacramento area.
Last year we cancelled a trip to Sacramento because of the heat. This year, rain was an issue. We took our walking indoors. First we walked to the Sheraton Grand Hotel. The old part of the building was designed by Julia Morgan. Bare beams show inside and beautiful brickwork covers the façade. Under umbrellas we walked to the State Capital Building. Somehow, we had never been inside.
We gawked at the rotunda ceiling – well worth a gawk – and watched other visitors do the same. Several offices are on display in 1906 or 1935 décor. A simpler time of huge desks, cabinets and finger-banging typewriters.
Since it was still raining, we retrieved the car and drove to the Crocker Art Museum near the Sacramento River. The last time we visited it was only a Victorian mansion. Now it has a mega-museum attached. Mike persevered through much of the third floor. I was mentally exhausted in short order. I people-watched and waited. I think I would have attracted attention, if I’d tried to put in my daily 2 miles through the galleries. But it’s big enough that I could have. I enjoyed some of the Art Deco art and paintings from the 1950s and 60s. The addition has exotic rounded portions. The old building still had all the charm, though the art hung there is not quite to my taste.
(Sorry for the lack of photos – but it was raining! A rare summer occurrence.)
American River Parkway
After touring the gift shop for a second time we left the museum with blue sky in view. We decided to find the American River Parkway. The first access was at Discovery Park. Our hopes for expanding blue skies shrank under intermittent rain and a soggy looking park.
One of Sacramento’s nicknames is the City of Trees and many streets are tree-lined. This park is loaded with huge sycamores. But today they seemed to loom and we drove on to locate other access to the Parkway.
We found one crossover with no parking before coming to park (from Arden Way and by the Volunteer Center for the Parkway) with trail and river access. It looked like in fair weather it would be a fine park filled with picnickers and Frisbee throwers.
I held the umbrella over Mike and the camera as a few cyclists passed by and a sodden dog owner and pups seemed to appear from the bushes. Besides the paved path, some areas seem to have dirt paths nearer the river.
We gave the parkway (it does run 26 miles) a couple of more tries. One spot was part of an urban tree planting project of 2000 oaks. Another provided a boat launch. We decided that the American River Parkway was more for locals, bicyclists and more avid trail finders than we were on this trip.
The next day after an early shower we walked around the Capital. The 40 acres include a beautiful rose garden, memorials and huge exotic and native trees. The World Peace Rose Garden has 140 varieties of roses in 650 bushes. June is a prime month for the rose garden when it’s not raining.
Backroads to Home
On our way home we took what backroads we could to avoid the dreaded Hwy 80. This did not involve much walking since the weather was threatening again. But we drove through the backside of Davis to Winters and made a quick stop at Lake Solano. We came through the hills on the backside of Vacaville. It was beautiful with walnuts, oaks and golden meadows. Our last view of water was at Cuttings Wharf in Napa, somehow on the Bay Trail. But not a portion of the trail easy to bike or walk. Good thing we can drive from home to Sacramento and walk when we can.
It was a full trip and left us with ideas of what to do next time. We certainly want to try more parts of the American River Parkway. Sacramento is a good walking city because it is flat, has lots of beautiful trees and parks and interesting architecture.
See you on the trail!
Photos by Mike Millar
In Sacramento we stayed at the downtown hostel, a beautiful Victorian that has an excellent location. The bed was hard. We ate dinner at the Tower Cafe (twice). It has an amazing decor and a varied menu. We wished Santa Rosa had such a place.
More walking options: Davis is a good walking and bicycling city. Brannan Island across river from Rio Vista has a state park with walking trails, picnic grounds and boat launch. Visit now because it’s slated for closure in 2012 due to budget cuts. Yolo Basin Foundation provides bird walks and other educational opportunities.