Our first morning in Sacramento dawned a lot drier than it had been when we drove in to town the afternoon before. As it was Valerie’s birthday, we had a day off from driving & biking – instead we walked a short distance along the river to Old Sacramento. There’s still quite a few of the old buildings left around this part of the riverside & it was a pleasant walk around them & by the vessels docked. What was billed as North America’s best railroad museum was also in the vicinity so we popped in there to have a look.

The museum did a really good job of covering how the expansion of the railroad helped the nation to mature. There were also, of course, many big shiny old locomotives & carriages. Most of the wood-burning steam locos were quite small (4-4-0), but beautifully presented.

In this case, not so beautifully photographed

The biggest steam loco was one of the last built for Southern Pacific (in the 1940s). A cab-forward design (the locos were getting so big all the steam & so on was getting to be a problem in tunnels on cab-rear designs) it was a hulking great big thing with sixteen drive wheels (4-8-8-4). Unfortunately, it was only in service for twelve years as it was superceded by diesel. Another highlight was finally getting to go on a Pullman car – this one a sleeper.

Strolling for fifteen minutes or so after lunch in to downtown Sacramento, we reached the Capitol. With extensive gardens around it, the building itself is also impressive. We wandered around a bit looking at various displays before getting our now weary legs back to the motel.

Valerie’s birthday dinner was on the Delta King – a old paddlewheel boat moored in Old Sacramento that we’d seen earlier in the day.

I’m convinced that whoever was building that pyramid across the river got bored & gave up

It was by far the fanciest meal we’d had in a long time – it was great to have a break from over-enthusiastic & overbearing waitresses. As we were walking around the deck at the end of the meal we saw Tower Bridge lift its deck for a launch & as we got back on dry land I saw my first skunk (thankfully from a distance). But that sighting didn’t sour my impressions of Sacramento – the small part of what we saw (all downtown) was really nice, & we had two great meals to boot.

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