Monthly Archives: September 2016

Throughout America: 20 Years of Personal Discovery – Chapt. 12

Chapt. 12

California Dreamin’


In 2005, after 4 years in the Portland, Oregon area, opportunity in hotel management took me to California. Sacramento, that is. Situated just east of San Francisco, west of Lake Tahoe (Sierra Nevada mountain range), and northeast of San Jose, Sacramento is the capital of California, initiated in 1854, when the state was just 4 years old. During this era, the California Gold Rush was in full swing – Sacramento being a major trading and distribution point of the mined gold.

Panoramic view of Sacramento, California

Panoramic view of Sacramento, California

I resided in Folsom, just outside of Sacramento. Despite the namesake of the prison that was popularized by Johnny Cash and the reputation of being violent, Folsom is actually an upscale area. During the summer it can get quite hot, while in the winter, mild and a bit on the wet side. Due to the bay breeze from the west however, the heat in the summer is kept in check at times, as the air is much cooler coming from the frigid Pacific Ocean.

There was also many outdoorsy things to do. There are river canyons everywhere, perfect for a camp-out or a day on the cold streams that run through. Fishing is huge, as is hiking and sightseeing. Speaking of which, some personal points of interest include Yosemite National Park, the mountainous region of Lake Tahoe, the beaches, and attractions in southern California, just to name a few. We will touch on those areas in later chapters.

It’s unclear with certainty when the earliest known inhabitants came to the area. Some estimates range between 10-25,000 years ago, when hunters from northeast Asia followed herds of grazing animals, which fossil evidence includes mammoths. During this era, the modern-day Bering Strait was frozen, allowing for such a passage in to the region.

In the 1500’s, Europeans laid their eyes on California for the first time. They discovered over 300,000 Native Americans, within about 200 tribes. These people lived in relative peace among tribes, and since the climate was a dry one, agriculture was very limited. Instead, they became experts at making use of roots (for both food and medicinal remedies), fruit gathering, and fishing.

A tributary of the Sacramento River

A tributary of the Sacramento River

The first trip designated to exploring was San Francisco. I quickly discovered that driving through the roller coaster of hills through town was a challenge. So, parking the car and hiking was the best way to go.

I always wanted to see the famed Alcatraz Island, a prison that was decommissioned in 1963. There is a rich history of the island, located about 1.25 miles off shore in the San Francisco Bay. Made famous by inmates such as Al Capone (who served time for tax evasion), and Frank Morris, who with two others escaped the fortress in 1962 on a makeshift raft (they were assumed to have drowned, but no evidence was ever found to the contrary), there is no shortage of intriguing stories. Learn more on the history of Alcatraz here.

San Francisco also began as a result of the gold rush in 1849. Almost overnight, the city became the most populated in the west, and due to the natural harbor that is San Francisco Bay, it was a mecca for shipping and trade. There’s much to tell about San Francisco, and a lot to learn. There’s more to see at

Although California is a “gold mine” of things to see and do, there is a down side. Taxes are through the roof, and the government, it would seem, has been plagued by scandal for many decades. But since I knew I’d be there a while I made the best of it, taking advantage of any and every opportunity I could to see and enjoy the sites.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island

The adventure in California was aplenty. In later chapters. we’ll be touching on the many national parks to be seen in the respective states visited.

Stay tuned!