We have been out of Sacramento for 24 hours now so it’s time to look back and share some impressions while they are fresh and of the mind and not the memory. Flying into Sacramento is like diving into a miles long patchwork of streams and parcels of farmland.

You feel like you’re landing in a pasture when your plane touches down. There is no doubt this part of California thrives on agriculture and living from the land. This Sacramento Reloaded post generally deals with experiences within a 30 minute walking radius of the Sheraton Grand hotel in four directions of the wind.

1. Everything closes at 5pm. Good luck finding an open deli or a Starbucks or a restaurant if you’re thirsty or hungry at 5:01pm. On the East Coast we are used to the 24-Hour Deli and eating and drinking joints that close at 2:00am and open again at 5:00am. Our hotel only served food in their restaurant from 6:30am-2:00pm and from 5:30pm-9:00pm. If you were hungry in the afternoon you were on your own! We are used to hotels having eating places open for 24 hours a day.

2. Janna noticed the children in Sacramento are more fearful than those in New York City and Jersey City. Sacramento children walk in fear of strangers and they make too much eye contact that reveals their terror. On the East Coast, children do not worry if you’re a local or a tourist — is there a difference?  — they just go along with their business and don’t bother looking you in the eye unless you cause them trouble and then they stare you down eye-to-eye to send terror into your being! Sacramento children appear more vulnerable and unnerved by the unfamiliar than their East Coast peers.

3. Sacramento is rebuilding its urban core so walking down a main drag like J Street is a fascinating experience because one store will be deserted while another is just opening. The architecture of Sacramento is mixed and confusing — the old does not blend well with the new — and there is an aesthetic disconnect between buildings on the same block. One wonders how the city planners wish their city to look and feel 20 years from now.

4. People who work in service positions in Sacramento are incredibly friendly! They will welcome you to the store and then thank you for shopping even if you don’t purchase anything. They will even strike up a genuine conversation! That kind of honest earnestness was refreshing.

5. Arco Arena — the venue where the Kings play basketball — is old and small and the floors are made of wood and you have an old time feeling of returning to the pinnacles of your childhood. The day will come when Arco Arena is torn down in favor of steel and concrete and the bigger and the impersonal so now is the time to visit the college game atmosphere in a professional sport setting and that mix of the heartfelt and the exceptional are sweet and reminiscent of more innocent times.

6. Sacramento blends the Christian and the Jewish better than New York. Janna has a lot of Jewish and Christian friends in New York and it is always a struggle for her to find a holiday card that blends the best of both religions into a universal human experience. New York separates the holidays into individual cards while Sacramento offers a large and beautiful mix of blended cards. Watch for them in an upcoming holiday theme here on your favorite Urban Semiotic blog!

7. The homeless and indigent live and wander on the streets outside of Human Services centers in Sacramento just like on the East Coast. Most people in Sacramento who drive will never experience the underbelly of that miserable street life but for those who regularly walk throughout the day on the East Coast will know what to look for, and what to avoid, in the Sacramento City services streets.

8. The main J Street drag has at least seven bridals stores along a 10 block stretch. Janna had never seen so many big bridal stores sardined into one location and she has no interest in weddings — but the budding Sacramento bridal stores cannot, and shall not, be ignored!

9. When the stores open at 11:00am on a Sunday in Sacramento people are lined up outside the store to get in while on the East Coast people don’t start entering the stores until Noon even though the stores are open at 10:00am.

10. There is more human space in Sacramento. You can walk down the aisle of a store and not bump into another person passing the other way. The “Open Air” architecture where the “hallways of the mall” and the “corridors of the schools” are exposed to the outside elements are a culture shock coming from the rough-weathered Midwest and East Coast experience where all hallways and corridors are covered and connected to the entrances they are serving. We spent most of our time in Sacramento but we were fortunate to have a three hour tour of Davis on Saturday with Jeff as our expert guide.

Davis is gooey and oozing and smart and agrarian and friendly and just-like-Nebraska except with better weather and wealthier people. Davis is the place to live. Sacramento is the place to visit and work. “Causeway” is the word of the day everyday between Davis and Sacramento because the causeway serves as the wide and stretching and obvious Maginot Line of defense dividing the cultured from the uncouth. Perhaps in the future we’ll cover Davis as we have covered Sacramento when we spend more time interacting with the peopled landscape of The City of Davis.

28 Comments

  1. Wow thanks for the detailed explanation of your visit…I can’t believe how much you picked up. You must be very observant or just had a notebook with you everywhere you went.

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  2. That can be a valuable talent, Robin! There was a very cool looking IMAX-only movie theatre around the block from our hotel. It was in a really old theatre infused with new technology. It looked like so much fun!

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  3. Yeah, it can be quite an interesting talent. So many times I’ve had friends contact me to ask a question about a random movie.
    Once a friend called me to ask me what that movie was that Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore were in that was like Bonnie and Clyde and I knew it right away. Now if I could just use this power to MY advantage 🙂

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  4. Ha! I love the post. I have worked/lived in Davis and Sacramento for the better part of 27 years and you have insights that I just now discover.
    Sacramento is gritty and “real.” The problems and the solutions are very visible, front and center.
    Davis, too has its problems, just not as visible to the eye. Bob Dunning, the local columnist for the Davis Enterprise is the gadfly, who keeps things real for me. He writes in a blog sort of casualness and can come across as silly at times. Over time, through, he strikes a pefect chord often enough that I realize his comments come from a very sharp, very perceptive mind.
    http://www.davisenterprise.com/columnists/bob_dunning/
    I will look forward to your next visit!

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  5. Ha! I love the post. I have worked/lived in Davis and Sacramento for the better part of 27 years and you have insights that I just now discover.
    Sacramento is gritty and “real.” The problems and the solutions are very visible, front and center.
    Davis, too has its problems, just not as visible to the eye. Bob Dunning, the local columnist for the Davis Enterprise is the gadfly, who keeps things real for me. He writes in a blog sort of casualness and can come across as silly at times. Over time, through, he strikes a pefect chord often enough that I realize his comments come from a very sharp, very perceptive mind.
    http://www.davisenterprise.com/columnists/bob_dunning/
    I will look forward to your next visit!

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  6. Been a long time since I have been to Sacramento. Back in the mid to early 80’s I was a long distance truck driver, made nearly 1 trip a week for Arkansas to California during that time.
    I unloaded several times in and around Sacramento, as well as loading produce coming back this way.
    Most of my experience with people in California was they were usually friendly people. Many times when they would find out I was from Arkansas the next thing said was my grandparents were from Arkansas.
    I remember 2 times even knowing the person grandparents. I love it when something like that happens, it makes the world not seem so big.
    Also the truck had Nashville, Arkansas on the door, had many people that would holler at me on the CB radio out there telling me they are their parents or grandparents were from Arkansas. Seemed that most people in California were from somewhere back this direction.
    How it must have grown since I was last out there in the early 80’s.
    Sounds like you and wife had an enjoyable trip, that is good, and I enjoyed reading your thought on it.
    One more thing, I remember from my truck driving days is, there is much beauty to be seen all across America and very enjoyable. But as I would get off interstate about 30 miles south of here, to drive up the 2 lane highway made me appreciate the pretty country I grew up in.
    May God Bless,
    Jerry

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  7. Been a long time since I have been to Sacramento. Back in the mid to early 80’s I was a long distance truck driver, made nearly 1 trip a week for Arkansas to California during that time.
    I unloaded several times in and around Sacramento, as well as loading produce coming back this way.
    Most of my experience with people in California was they were usually friendly people. Many times when they would find out I was from Arkansas the next thing said was my grandparents were from Arkansas.
    I remember 2 times even knowing the person grandparents. I love it when something like that happens, it makes the world not seem so big.
    Also the truck had Nashville, Arkansas on the door, had many people that would holler at me on the CB radio out there telling me they are their parents or grandparents were from Arkansas. Seemed that most people in California were from somewhere back this direction.
    How it must have grown since I was last out there in the early 80’s.
    Sounds like you and wife had an enjoyable trip, that is good, and I enjoyed reading your thought on it.
    One more thing, I remember from my truck driving days is, there is much beauty to be seen all across America and very enjoyable. But as I would get off interstate about 30 miles south of here, to drive up the 2 lane highway made me appreciate the pretty country I grew up in.
    May God Bless,
    Jerry

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  8. Hey Jerry —
    It must be fascinating to drive across the country on a regular basis. You can see the seasons changing on the land and in the people. I’ve spent a lot of time in Los Angeles and that is a fast and slick town. Sacramento is a different speed. It feels older and a little awkward compared to The City of Angels. That awkwardness gives Sacramento a small-town feel in a big time state.

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  9. Jerry, my mother in law was born in Arkansas– Green Forest, to be exact, near Fort Smith.
    I think that the soul of the California Central Valley is Midwestern in spirit. Farming values, hard work, loyalty, not expecting something for nothing, and above all, mistrust of anything too slick.
    David, the fleece vests are perfect to wear when our temps are in the 40-70 range out here. We dress for function and not for looks, unlike the Sports Medicine doctor you saw years ago in New York City. If one of us came to work in a suit, we’d assume that it was for a funeral.

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  10. Hi Jeff —
    Yes, I understand the uniform is for comfort and function — it’s just interesting to observe how so many of you use the same solution for a personal evaluation. 🙂 If Dr. Marder wears the uniform, snap a photo and send it to me. I have a hard time imagining him in a fleece vest! 😀

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  11. Jeff, Green Forest, yes I know exactly where that is. Been thru there a couple of time during my truck driving days, but been thru there also during my motorcycle riding days, its pretty country. I live down in Southwest Arkansas, about 50 miles from Texarkana.
    Just a couple of days ago I told Linda, wish I could still ride, right now one would have beautiful scenery riding thru that part of the country on a motorcycle.

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  12. Somehow I Doubt the List for Sacramento Would Be This Amusing (Updated)

    [Originally posted last night just before 7:00 EST] Then again, how would I know if I didn't try. Anyway, Vicky has two posts over at Oddfellows Rest that I want to point you to. The first is a list of "You know you're from New Orleans w…

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  13. Somehow I Doubt the List for Sacramento Would Be This Amusing (Updated)

    [Originally posted last night just before 7:00 EST] Then again, how would I know if I didn't try. Anyway, Vicky has two posts over at Oddfellows Rest that I want to point you to. The first is a list of "You know you're from New Orleans w…

    Like

  14. Somehow I Doubt the List for Sacramento Would Be This Amusing (Updated)

    [Originally posted last night just before 7:00 EST] Then again, how would I know if I didn't try. Anyway, Vicky has two posts over at Oddfellows Rest that I want to point you to. The first is a list of "You know you're from New Orleans w…

    Like

  15. Somehow I Doubt the List for Sacramento Would Be This Amusing (Updated)

    [Originally posted last night just before 7:00 EST] Then again, how would I know if I didn't try. Anyway, Vicky has two posts over at Oddfellows Rest that I want to point you to. The first is a list of "You know you're from New Orleans w…

    Like

  16. Somehow I Doubt the List for Sacramento Would Be This Amusing (Updated)

    [Originally posted last night just before 7:00 EST] Then again, how would I know if I didn't try. Anyway, Vicky has two posts over at Oddfellows Rest that I want to point you to. The first is a list of "You know you're from New Orleans w…

    Like

  17. As a Sacramento resident, I have to disagree that Davis is superior, and also that Sacramento closes at 5PM. In the central area near the Capitol, that is the case, but Midtown is developing a nightlife. I’ve lived here for almost 5 years, and I can assure you, it’s a thousand times better than it used to be! As for Davis– well, it’s elitist, which makes it difficult for me to sing its praises.
    I do agree that there seems to be little effort to integrate old and new architecture in Sacramento. If you ever make your way out here again after the several new condo towers are built, you’ll see your point validated even more.

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