Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Free Days at the Maidu Museum in Roseville!

Free Entrance Dec. 21st, 22nd, and 23rd!

I don’t know about you, but Christmas season has a way of breaking a balanced budget. Even if you put money away ahead of time and planned your shopping wisely, there’s more spending done than most of us would like. There’s always those unexpected parties, office gatherings, and children’s events that – well – we just didn’t plan for. So it comes with a great relief to see something offered at this time of year – free.

And not just “something” but an awesome place to visit. The Maidu Museum is brand new – just opened this year – it still has that “new building” smell. Recently, landscaping crews began their artistry around the entranceways – a project close to completion – i can hardly wait to see how it will bloom come springtime!

Do you and the kids like to watch the Discovery Channel? Well going to the Maidu Museum is like being in one of the shows – IRL! So now that the kids are off from school, the shopping is mostly done, and there’s little cash left in the bank, why not treat yourself to a visit – because it IS a treat! There are hands-on activities, beautiful works of art, guided tours, and brand new displays. And that’s just what’s inside – go out on the trail and get a whole new picture of how the Maidu people lived with the land!

The FREE DAYS won’t last – so get in while the getting’s good!

Free Days at the Maidu Museum start December 21st and run through December 23rd (Tues.-Thurs.). Free entrance to the Museum and Trail. Tours are given at 10 AM and 1 PM.

Operating hours for the week before Christmas:

Tues. – Thurs., 9 AM – 4 PM

Closed Fri., Dec. 24th through Mon., Jan. 3rd, 2011

For more information call: 916-774-5934 or visit their website at http://www.roseville.ca.us/parks/parks_n_facilities/facilities/maidu_indian_museum/default.asp

California Museum - The Famous Come to Town!

I know i'm not saying anything new here - which makes me wonder why i am writing this - but i'm really excited to see the California Hall of Fame being hosted by the California Museum tonight.  It's what i've been saying all along - there is a lot going for Sacramento.  We've got the stuff!  ;-)  So if i hear one more person say that Sacramento is boring - i say - you only have yourself to blame!

You can catch all the famous faces and action tonight starting at 6 PM streaming live on the California Museum's home page or through Comcast Hometown Network, digital cable channel 104.

For a list of the Famous - go to California Museum - the California Hall of Fame - and check out just how cool Sacramento is!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Old 5 Mile House

There’s something about a quaint little building stuck in the middle of nowhere. Seductively inviting. It doesn’t need a gaudy sign to announce its presence. Its aloneness and singular nature draws us unerringly towards the mystery better than a neon billboard. I had driven that morning through some of the most beautiful snow-covered country, reveling in the silence and spectacular scenery, when up pops this homely pub. And my eyes immediately wandered to the building, to the people coming and going and the kind of cars there. Judging if it would be a safe place for a single woman to stop. Because i knew i would stop. That decision had been made the moment i spied the place. It was now just a matter if i would feel safe going in there. Into that mystery.

My safety sensors gave me a green light, so i parked in front and headed in. I liked the place immediately. Dark mahogany walls with lots of interesting western d├ęcor and a large fireplace with a real log fire that – judging by the embers – had been burning for a long while. And my timing was perfect – between the lunch and dinner rush. There were just enough people to make it interesting. I got a chance to chat with one of the servers and, after a short sit at the bar with a hot cup of coffee, i moved to a table by the fire. This is the kind of place you snuggle into after a long day of playing in the snow – or in the spring – a long hike on the trail. The patrons were a mix of locals and folks like me, friendly and talkative without being nosy. Just north of Nevada City on Hwy 20 at Scott's flat lies the building that was built in 1890 mainly as a stagecoach stop, but also served as a postal drop, telegraph post, a restaurant, and pub. My server told me the story how The Old 5 Mile House got its name – supposedly it was also a brothel and by law it had to be at least 5 miles from town. Ah! Good story whether it’s true or not.

I’d been out all day and was famished – time to ponder food choices. I liked that the menu wasn’t 10 pages long. I’d rather a restaurant do a few dishes well than try to please every person ever born and do it poorly. That said, when i asked the server about the flag out front, he informed me that every month they have a special ethnic food – the current month was Indian food – hence the Indian flag. The specials are an addition to the regular menu. Ah! As i looked over the menu – still hours before dinner – i was impressed with the fresh take on the typical luncheon fare. Panini with fresh pear, Italian rosemary ham, and brie cheese; skirt steak sandwich with arugula, shave red onions, blue cheese, chimichurri (i had to look that one up!) and aioli; and piadine – a type of pizza dough topped with salad items; this along with more traditional fare; burgers, Ruben sandwiches, and sausage pizza; filled out the menu nicely. (All of this is making me hungry…) They had several items too for the vegetarian – organic greens salad, grilled zucchini and eggplant pizza, and grilled Portobello Panini. I ordered the rosemary chicken, potato, roasted garlic, and goat’s cheese pizza. It was a little bit of a wait, but when the pizza arrived i was delighted by a lovely thin crust with just the right amount of sauce and toppings. Delicious! My only real complaint is that it wasn’t piping hot.

Now that i was warm and happily full, i wandered around the place and took a closer look at the dinner menu. It seems that The Old 5 Mile House is a full restaurant and can easily handle events and banquets as was evident by the elegant cloth covered tables in the back of the building. The front is deceiving – it only looks like a small bar/restaurant – a whole parking lot and main entrance was hidden by the piles of snow. Another “ah!” moment.

When i got home and looked at their website i felt a bit foolish. I had no idea just how much they had to offer – which only makes me want to go back. The dinner menu is mouth-watering, and though it was a touch pricey for a poor girl like me, the variety and tastiness of their food, and the warmth and coziness of the place will draw me back. Sure as the sun rises in the East…i’ll be back.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Shoutout - Thanks!

Here’s a helloooo to all the work crews who have been busting their balls clearing the snow and getting the power back on in Northern CA. I was up in the Scott’s Flat area on Hwy 20 and the crews were tucked along the road in every nook and cranny. Snow plows, bucket trucks, front-end loaders, tree cutters, snow blowers, utility trucks – you name it – they were everywhere. I saw downed tree limbs everywhere too. PG&E had lines and electrical poles propped and crews were working furiously to repair the damage. What a mess – and on the day before Thanksgiving too. No one can predict or help what Mother Nature will dish out for us to deal with. So i’m glad you are there to keep us from freezing our butts off!

PG&E Storm Outages and Safety Page

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Hawaiian Chieftain

There are some things – that simply escape me to put into words. It’s as if the idea is so close to the heart, so primal, so deep, that any attempt to describe it will surely fail. Yet, like so many things across time, the more powerful something speaks to us, the more we fumble to put into words that which moves us.

For me, this powerful emotion lies in the beauty of a tall ship. Docked here on the east bank of the Sacramento River is the Hawaiian Chieftain, a topsail ketch and 19th century replica of a traditional trading vessel. She sailed to our port on Oct 15th and will depart on Dec. 14th to make her way down the coast to San Diego. I could rattle off stats here – her sail area, her length on deck, her draft – information you can find on a website, but that isn’t necessarily what makes her beautiful though that is part of it. I am reminded of a line from that infamous Hollywood pirate, Capt. Jack Sparrow, “it’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails – that’s what a ship needs. But what a ship is, what the Black Pearl really is – is freedom.” And so it is. A ship is freedom. There is a magic that surrounds these tall ships like a shroud descended from the heavens. But i think that magic – in reality – comes from love. Love of the shipwrights as they dream into being the body of a ship; love of the carpenter as he planes the wood for her hull and decks; love of the sailmaker weaving miles of canvas into billowing sails; love of the crew who bath and feed her and keep her a happy ship; love of the Captain who knows her every mood, strength, and weakness, and calls her, “My Love, My Love…” Love of the Ocean. Love of the unknown that some call adventure. Love is the magic that fills the sails and floats the beautiful tall ships from one port to another.

I was very fortunate, though i think luck had little to do with it. Maybe destiny. Fate. Several years ago i sailed upon the Hawaiian Chieftain in the San Juan Islands that lie between Washington and Canada. A three day passage from Townsend to Anacortes, winding our way through some of the most beautiful islands whose giant ferns, trees, and misty mornings made me think of a time before humans. The Hawaiian Chieftain sailed with the Lady Washington, what a sight! To walk the decks of one ship while gazing across the water to see another tall ship gliding silently through the mists. Dreamlike. There were times when we saw no other boats, no other ships. Just these two great ladies, the water, and the mist covered islands. The crew taught me to haul on the braces, to read a leadline, and to stand a watch at night. I treasured every second. After three days of sailing, the crew saw me off with a farewell song – “don’t forget your old shipmates…” I slept on shore that night in sight of the docks. I still rocked to the motion of the ship and heard her ship bells ringing as i fell asleep…

If you visit the Hawaiian Chieftain, and i strongly suggest you do, as you walk the decks take a moment, close your eyes, let the noise of our modern world drift away, and imagine the spray of salty sea air, the wind in your hair, the roll of the Ocean. Imagine hauling on the lines, going aloft, and shimmying out the bowsprit to furl the sails. It’s hard work sailing a ship but the payoff cannot be measured – not with money, words, or pictures.

So if you find yourself in a nostalgic mood, or you want to get out and do something different, take a wander down to Old Sac and visit the docks near Joe’s Crab Shack. The Hawaiian Chieftain lays docked just below the restaurant. She’s open for tours and the ship’s crew will be happy to answer your questions. But if you feel that special magic, hear the call of the sea, ask the crew about an adventure sail or maybe even a passage sail. Who knows, you might find yourself volunteering for a two week crash course in sailing a tall ship at sea!

…Fair Winds and Following Sea, Hawaiian Chieftain!

Special Note: The Hawaiian Chieftain is working in conjunction with the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services to collect food and clothing donations for the holidays. So when you’re making your plans to visit the ship, bring along some non-perishable foods, infant formula, or winter clothing for children and adults and donate for those less fortunate than ourselves.

Photo taken in San Francisco, Feb. 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another Halloween

Ah – how depressing. A fav time of year gone by. I seriously think we should petition to add Nov 1st as a holiday on Tuesday’s ballet. About the only thing i could vote on with a clear conscience. What an idea! The kids could re-coup from their sugar-binged excitement and we adults wouldn’t have to worry about crawling out of bed with the previous night’s make-up still smudged behind our ears and a frightful hang-over. Don’t know about you, but that sounds mighty good to me.

I would love to hear from anyone who joined the “zombie train” on Friday night. I went to one of the stops, “O” Street and 8th, and found it empty of zombies – and pretty much everything else. Anyone out in Folsom know if the zombies arrived? Of course, i suppose if they did arrive there would be no one left to report on it as the living would have all been eaten…

I was downtown in Old Sac on Halloween night. I HAD to go by Evangeline’s. That’s just the most awesome place no matter what time of year. While i was standing in the middle of the street taking a picture, a huge murder of crows flew by… Shiver…

When i walked up to this display, the elevator opened.  There was no one in it.  Well, i can tell you, iiiiiiiii wasn't going to go in!  No way!

There were tons of parties going on all over the town all through the weekend. So if you didn’t get a chance to join in the festivities…you only have yourself to blame! Now we get to watch as all our wonderfully carved pumpkins shrivel into little old men. Funny, but after a few days, they all look exactly the same. Till next year!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Halloween Weekend!

How can you NOT luv Halloween?  You have to be a real-stick-in-the-mud to not enjoy the Fall, the silly and sometimes scary costumes, carved pumpkins, and the yummy candy.  It's fun for all ages - not just the kids.

So what's happening? 

Check this out - a Zombie Train ride on Friday night.  A Flashmob event.  How cool is that.  Just make sure to have an alternative way to get home from Folsom.  Also - check out this link too...  If i've read the RT fare rates correctly, the single fare ticket which is good for two hours is $25.  Check out RT here.

Ghost Tours of Old Sac.

Here's a massive list of the party scene for Halloween weekend.  Everyone should be able to find something that is frightfully right for you. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Get Outside!

Oh the weather outside is N-I-C-E! Yeah duh. Like no one has noticed. Fall, or Autumn as i like to call it because it sounds – well – more pumpkiny, is just a few days away. The Autumnal Equinox is Sept. 22 at 8:09pm PDT, a time when day and night are equal length. (And the 23rd is the full moon!) It’s such an outdoorsy time. I want to lie in the sun, wiggle my toes in the earth, and watch the leaves fall. Eat chick-a-dee candy. Breath in the cool morning air and bake pumpkin muffins – because i know in just a few more months the weather will turn cold, wet, and grey. Not that that’s a bad thing. But the knowing what’s ahead is what makes the present day even sweeter.

There are some events and places that are dear to my heart and satisfy my need for Nature and just good kid fun. I debated a bit before putting Apple Hill on the list because it’s so well-known, but it really is a fantastic place to visit.

SacramentoEffie Yeaw Nature Center

I’m always surprised at how many locals have never heard of this beautiful place. It should be at the top of everyone’s list as a great outdoor nature park and information center. And don’t think you have to be a kid to enjoy its bounty!

The park was named after a wonderful teacher, a woman whose passion for conservation spurred the interest of local citizens and councilmen alike and brought about the preservation of what is now the American River Parkway system. The Center has live exhibits, guided tours, a reconstructed Maidu village, and multiple trails that meander through meadows and woods down to the river. In less than one hour, on a visit i made this past Spring, i counted a dozen different animals and butterflies.

 RosevilleMaidu Museum and Historic Site (formerly the Maidu Interpretive Center)

Here’s another beautiful and under-appreciated place located right in the middle of Roseville. This center boasts a wonderful, brand new museum – just completed earlier this Spring. The thing i found remarkable and exciting is that this is an actual site of an ancient Maidu town. The people of this land lived and died here for 1000’s of years.  There is so much history here in fact that the Center is listed with the National Register of Historic Places. There are numerous petroglyphs, whose meanings have been lost to time, and over 300 bedrock mortars that the Maidu used to grind their acorns. A fresh spring runs through the site – which is quite pretty – and provides water to many animals that live in the area – coyote, beaver, ground squirrels and more.

Elk GrovePumpkin Festival
For you festival go-ers, this is a great chance to get out and enjoy the weather and support your local pumpkin! There’s music, a scarecrow decorating contest, food – lots of pumpkin recipes and contests of course – and even a pumpkin regatta on Sunday! Yes – they hollow out a real pumpkin and race it across the lake. No joke. There’s also the heftiest pumpkin contest – last year’s winner weighed in at 1,467.5 lbs! I suppose that’s where they grow pumpkins for Cinderella’s coach.

PlacervilleApple Hill
I suppose i don’t need to say much about this one. Apple Hill and Autumn celebrations go hand-in-hand. One of my best memories of when i first moved to Sacramento was when a group of friends and i went to Apple Hill and ate just about every pie concoction made. Our bellies were poking out from under our shirts but – oh! – the pies were so yummy! Definitely good times! Apple Hill has grown so much over the years that i strongly suggest you take a look at the maps available on the website. I really, really like it too that organic produce is available. Nice. I prefer my apples sans pesticides and non-GMO! ;-)

Museum Day - Sept 25th Only!
If allergies or bad weather make it difficult to go outside – there is the Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day where you and a friend or family member can print a ticket from their website and get in to a participating museum for free! (The Maidu Museum is one of those…) Click on their “Find A Museum Near You” button, click on your state, and you can scroll through all the museums that are observing this special.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dancing At The Lake

Dance is beautiful. Um, let me clarify, not the kind of dance i do at clubs – which is flailing around like my hair is on fire – but graceful, expressive movement of body and soul. THAT kind of dancing. I got a chance to see a troupe the other night in a very unique setting –
 E: motion Dance Ensemble at Willow Hill Reservoir in Folsom. The setting was completely different than my memory of college ballet performed in the bowels of a dark theatre. Willow Hill is everything that a theatre is not. Light, airy, fresh, charming. It’s nestled between the arms of Prairie City Road and Iron Point Road adjacent to Folsom High School. Though small, it has a lovely blue pond with cattails rimming one side and tall trees on the other. This picturesque setting was the perfect backdrop for the stage. Who needs a theatre when you have such a wonderful vista!

I got turned on to E: motion through a friend who dances with the group. According to their website, E: motion is dedicated to a limitless fusion of jazz, ballet, modern, musical theatre and basically any number of combinations and creations to express the vision of the director and dancers. Though E: motion has been around for several years, this is the first season they have not been associated with The Sacramento Ballet.

The day had been just a tad too warm, but by 6 PM the sun was dropping low and the Delta breeze kicked up, chilling the sweat off our bodies. The dance began. Lovely. Expressive. Fun. Silly. Theatrical. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful. I loved it all. I’m not a dance critic. And i don’t really care if everyone is in perfect synch or if someone misses a step – what i’m looking for is the overall expression and do i connect to that? The exquisite delicacy of pain etched on a face, the tenderness of arms as they unfold like flowers opening to the sun, the bouncing rhythm of feet hitting the stage, this is the real experience for me. And it was all just lovely. But better than i can express in words – pictures. See for yourself what a wonderful thing it is to Dance!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Deserted on the Sacramento River

I am a wanderer. And a photographer. Sometimes i ask myself, am i simply wandering and the camera is just a happy passenger capturing moments along the way? Or does some image in my mind make me wander – looking to give shape to the emotions in my soul?  Either way, the other day i found myself rambling along a lonesome stretch on the banks of the Sacramento River. And as serendipity would have it, i stumbled across an old lost soul – a broken-down riverboat listing hard to starboard.

In fact, she was sunk in silt and water past her starboard rail and the water rippled softly across the main deck all the way to her port deck guards. She was an eerie sight. Doorways opened into darkness where imagined ghosts of men wandered. It sounds cliche, but the sight made me shiver and i couldn't stem the flow of questions. What was her name? Why did she sink? Who had abandoned her to this fate?  

And then, standing there on the banks of the River with the sun setting low, i imagined how haunting and magnificent she would be in the moaning winds of Autumn with swaying lanterns hanging from the upper decks and pilothouse. I would sit inside the dark doorways and watch as people stopped to whisper and wonder. Yeah. I’ve got a bit of deviousness in me – for some reason that makes me smile.

The image of that lonesome hulk stuck with me and when i came home i sat at my computer trying to find who she was, who had she belonged to…and…i found nothing. Zip. Nada. I called the Sacramento Yacht Club, which is just down river, and spoke to a very nice lady. She didn’t know anything about it either though she did say it was supposed to be moved. You know, for all the history surrounding Sacramento, i’ve come to realize that the history dwells on one thing and one thing only. Gold. If you want to know about panning, mining, or claim jumping during the mid 1800’s, there’s a plethora of material available from museums, books, to online sites devoted strictly to the gold era that California is so well-known. The history of the railway gets a nice second billing. (And if you haven’t been to the California State Railroad Museum in Old Sac, you should set aside a Saturday to view some of the best train restorations possibly anywhere in the country.)

However, Sacramento is also known as a port city. Really? Does anyone out there know the stories of the ships and sailors who sailed to this port? Sacramento was founded because it was a port. So where’s our maritime history?  Where's our museum? San Francisco? That’s the closest one i could find. There are teasing bits of info on the web, but nothing that constitutes a real collaborative collection of maritime history for a city who’s named after the River. Amazingly enough, the best local info i have found is at the aforementioned museum, the California State Railroad Museum. They have some fine B&W prints, mainly from the early 1900’s, depicting maritime traffic on the river. Yet there is so much more to discover.

I am now intrigued to the point of making phone calls - which i loath above all things.  I want to know about these ghosts of the past.  The ships.  The men who sailed them.  The tall tales of the sea and rivers.  Is there anyone out there that has some knowledge of the nautical history of the area? Who knows about this haunting ship that lies rotting on the banks of the Sacramento River – what is her story?

Other References:
1. A brief history of Sacramento, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Sacramento,_California

2. A history of San Joaquin Delta,
3. Historic Old Sacramento Foundation run by the City, http://www.historicoldsac.org/shm.asp
4. An excellent site devoted to maritime history in San Francisco Bay area which also includes lists of ships that sailed to Sacramento, http://www.maritimeheritage.org/index.htm
5. Recent (‘09) discovery of a sunken ship, the Clarksburg, in the Sacramento River, http://www.kcra.com/news/20270043/detail.html

Monday, July 12, 2010

More Free Stuff at The Fountains

Whoo-hoo! Fourth of July fireworks and concerts in the park. Yup – it’s summer all right! I love the laid-back atmosphere of summer concerts. A warm breeze, a cold beer, and groovy tunes. Ahhhh… Many SAC folks know about Cesar Chavez Park and the Friday Night Concerts (for a list of concerts at CCP click here), but there are a number of other free concert series that run all summer long throughout the valley. One i attended recently was at The Fountains in Roseville.

The Fountains shopping and dining center are still relatively new yet i have avoided it like the plague because – well – there are a lot of exclusive shops there. By exclusive i mean shops i can’t afford. But the lure of free music brought me around and i found my feet wandering into the center late one Saturday evening.

And i’m sorry now that i let my prejudice keep me away; i was snooty about being snooty. Prejudice = missing out on cool stuff. Even if you don’t shop or take advantage of the restaurants, it’s a beautiful place to just wander around. The landscaping – yeah i’m a geek and notice things like that – is beautiful and well-maintained. There is even a large fire pit – which i am certainly going to dig come Autumn. And two things that i’m always looking for in a center and usually don’t find – trash cans and lots of whimsical seating areas.
OK – snicker if you want – but i was happy to not have to wander all over for a trash can to toss my empty water bottle. And the hits don’t stop coming – The Fountains also have a train car ride for the kids. It’s rather cute. My friends tried to talk me into riding it, but i opted out. Hard to believe, i know. But there were other things that had caught my attention…

Yes, the crowning glory of the center – the fountains. Splashing, sparkling, bubbling, lusciously wet fountains. While there are several water features on the property, the central fountain is the most interesting and fun. So maybe it doesn’t rank up there with the Bellagio in Vegas, but it certainly has its own charm.

My first impression made me think of a fountain floating in the clouds. Along with the multiple water jets, colored lights, and music, the fountain boasts a huge set of very fine misters along the inner lip of the pool. It’s a beautiful and welcoming sight – people are drawn into the cooling mists like magic. Advertisers all across the world wish they could get that kind of publicity – the ability to draw in every person without garish signs, promotions, or the Internet. About the only thing that would get more attention are the words “free” followed by the words “chocolate” or “sex.”

But for me, all the above is bonus material; the real reason i came was for the music. On July 3rd i caught the show for Sacramento Blues Revue and was lucky enough to get a front seat. What a blast! A fine line-up of talent – from vocalists to the horn section and lead by Rick von Geldern – energized the crowd. People clapped, whooped, and sang along. It was a fantastic way to start the Fourth weekend.

The following week another blues band hit the stage – Pinkie and Blind Resistance. The name alone piqued my curiosity so i met some friends early and we got a front row seat. We weren’t disappointed. This band plays some wicked blues. I loved their raw and soulful sound. And the harmonica player – wow! Trust me, you’d just have to see and hear this guy to believe it. Words won’t suffice. Pinkie Rideau, their illustrious leader, was as down-home and genuine as they come – and you got it – she loves pink. The band wowed the crowd; people were dancing in the aisles and rocking in their chairs.

Now i’ve only had the good fortune to see these two bands – but if this is any example of what’s in store for the rest of the summer then i’m going to be one happy chica until the tunes stop flowing. Oh happy summer!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

NorCal Pirate Festival - Vallejo CA

I luv Pirates! And it’s another free event so it’s hard for me to not get excited. I’m a poor girl and it irks me no end that all the fun stuff costs what i pay for groceries for the week. So i can either have fun or i can eat. Life’s full of tough choices, isn’t it? ;-)

But not only is the NorCal Pirate Festival a free event, but a really well-organized, “fun-ly-run,” decadently decorated, fantastic weekend of pirating. You’d have to be one grumpy sour-puss to not enjoy yourself. There’s something about pirates that just brings out the silly, fun-loving kid in me. Joie de vivre. It’s like Halloween in summer. If you’re too uptight to enjoy maybe you should get a Doctor to prescribe a bit of medicinal marijuana. OK. Well, maybe not. But with so many great props and backdrops, and folk decked out in nautical garb, it’s hard to resist the levity and good-natured, slap-stick humor. Rum all 'round!

And the fooooooood! Tender lamb and beef gyros; roasted turkey legs; tri-tip; fried artichokes stuffed with goats cheese; cheese blintz with raspberry sauce; tasty, England-style meat pies (and if anyone’s been to England you know if i say “tasty,” it’s been Americanized); and all sorts of scrumptious treats like roasted almonds; yummy soft pretzels; and my favorite – gourmet chocolate fondue over fruit. There was more that i can’t recall at the moment – but it all looked – and smelled – so good! I wanted to go both days just so i could sample more of the food. Oh and rum cakes, i really wanted one of those! Ah well – next year. And yes – for the less gastronomically adventurous, there were hamburgers, sandwiches, fries, and chips. But for me, i can get that any day. The NorCal Pirate Festival is a time to explore!

And explore i did – through every tent-filled shop of treasures. Spun glass the color or the Ocean. Delicate, hand-crafted jewelry fit for a queen or king. Shops with nothing but beautifully designed leather apparel. Call me weird, but i love the smell of leather; i stood in the middle of the tent and just – breathed! Swords, clothing, beads and baubles, it was all here and wonderfully displayed. Sorta like a Ren Faire but better. Then there were the entertainers which reminded me of old vaudeville. As much acting as singing. As much playing as laughing. It’s sometimes hard to tell who’s having more fun – the audience or the performers. When the musicians played, i couldn’t help myself but to sing along and not care one whit what anyone thought of it.

However, the best part of this festival is the people – the organizers, laborers, vendors, and entertainers. Yes, their costumes and site designs were great, their food fantastic, their goods beautiful, their entertainment fun. But it was their love for what they were doing, their sincerity in sharing this gift with everyone, that stood out and made the day. Their happiness was in the air; you could feel it. Wow. Imagine if DMV was run by this group.

Of course, how can you not love having fun? It was a party atmosphere. Pirates passed out “doubloons,” “Capt Jack Sparrow” fought off opponents, and mermaids swam through crowds of onlookers (OK – that was corny). There were all kinds of things for the kids – making nautical knots, magic shows, and sing-a-long sea shanties. The finale for the day was the battle between the “Red Coats” on land who fired their cannons at the attacking pirate ship, the Aldebaran. She’s a schooner with lovely lines and beautiful rust-red sails. The pirates tacked the boat back and forth along the waterfront, returning fire at the British navy. Great ending to a great day.

This is such a fun event, i wish it was twice a year. Oooo – they could hold another on Sept. 19th – on International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Ah-ha! Landlubbers be warned!

Backyard BBQ

May 2010

It doesn’t happen very often; maybe this will set a trend. I hope so because this weekend was one of the best pick-me-ups i’ve had in a while. The Backyard BBQ hosted by Journey’s was just killer lovely. In this economic crush, it was so welcome to go to a completely FREE – and very cool – event. Those two don’t usually go hand-in-hand. Generally you get crap for free and pay through the nose for real talent. Not this weekend. Saturday rocked. Hello Sacramento and event organizers – T-H-A-N-K- Y-O-U!!!

Journey’s hosted a Backyard BBQ Tour with some great talent – BMXers, skaters, some rad FMX boys, and the sweet tunes of rockin’ bands – simply fantastic. To get the negative heads out of the way – yeah not everything was bliss. The parking was confusing. It took an hour to park and would have taken longer if i had not turned around and parked down the street in an undeveloped lot. There weren’t enough “blue rooms” – either that or they were darn well hidden. I ended up going into the mall and using the facilities there. Maybe that’s what the event organizers wanted – get people in to buy stuff. Then the title to the event was based on the laid-back, down-home goodness of the word BBQ. I didn’t see a food vendor unless you count Rock Star as a food group. But honestly, i wasn’t coming for food anyway. Food at events tends to become a smelly mess. I was fine without the food – i just thought it odd for an event named BBQ.

I’m not going to pretend i knew the BMX, skate, or FMXers. But talent is talent and damn hard to miss. And it was a fine display all around. Skaters – Rob Dyrdek (check out his “Journey Across the Internet” at robsjourney.dcshoes.com), and Chaz Ortiz. BMX talents like Dave Mirra and Chris Doyle. FMXers – i have no idea. I couldn’t find a listing of players on the official site. The sponsor, Metal Mulisha, has a great site but doesn’t list who’s doing what event. Maybe because they don’t know till the event. Whatever. I had a blast watching; i’m particularly attracted to “sports” that developed out of the primal need for fun. The guys turned, twisted, flipped, and levitated boards and bikes alike. Sweet.

Then there was the music. Awesomeness. The event organizers wisely kept the tunes coming – whether live or not – it was head-banging, heel-stomping, thrust-your-fist-in-the-air good times. If i had been driving a car i would have broken the law numerous times. High energy was flowing. I had arrived at the event later in the day and only saw two of the five bands that played. All are CA based, and FFG, A Lover’s Plea, and Hero’s Mission are local to the Sac Valley area. I was sorry to miss Hero as i really dig their sound. But i got the opportunity to hear the opener, Fight Fair, who made me smile with their head-banging rock. And it was obvious from the numerous young girls who thronged to the front, they felt equally pleased – though certainly for different reasons than mine!

But the real all-round treat for me – was Switchfoot. They were the main drive for me being here. Not to take away from any of the talent i had seen or heard, but i’ve followed Switchfoot off and on over the last 7 years and they’ve only gotten better. The kicker is that they are an awesome concert band too. Not all bands can pull that off. And they seem genuine. Real. Like family playing a reunion. I have family members who are in bands, so i know that feeling. Switchfoot is like that. To the heart. They smiled easy. Laughed. They were having fun and radiated energy – and the crowd felt it. When Jon Foreman, the lead singer, gave a little talk on Love – i mean really – there’s a subject that can turn cheesy in a blink. But the sincerity behind it hushed the crowd. Everyone listened. Almost gave me goose bumps from the positive energy that powered his words. It was a perfect moment in a perfect day.

So a shout out to Journey’s, sponsors, and event organizers – Thanks for taking a chance during strange times and bringing good times to Sacramento.