A spring adventure – the exploration


Monday, 03-May-2021

Spring Break, 2021

I don’t recall having a real Spring Break trip last year… If I’m remembering correctly, I did a short Spring Break trip down to Joshua Tree back in 2019, but 2020 didn’t quite lend itself to much traveling…

With that in mind, and looking at how much vacation time I’d accumulated over the last year or so, I realized that I really did need to take some time off to escape from work, from Wilsonville, and from getting stuck in my own head. Thankfully, most travel restrictions on the West Coast have been lifted, and my back’s been feeling a lot better… and I was able to finally make the long trek down to Sacramento to visit my friend Mike and finally meet his girlfriend Michelle!

It was a long drive, and a full week of stepping out of my usual little patch of world. I didn’t really go into it expecting anything specific, but I came out having even more appreciation for my friends, and feeling gloriously rested and recharged. I’m not quite back to my old self yet… but this trip was an amazing change to stretch back into myself, and just… explore.

Monday, 03-May

I don’t know why, but on Monday I got really scared / nervous… I was down in California, visiting friends, and getting to finally stretch myself out and explore a new city again. Something I hadn’t done in years, it seemed, and something that I’ve always hugely enjoyed doing.

But I was nearly 600 miles from home, and exploring on my own while Mike and Michelle were at work… so alone in a new city, for the first time in longer than I care to think about. It’s invigorating and freeing, glorious and amazing, but the weird thing was that I was freaking out on the inside.

I was super nervous, kind of scared, and frankly just wanted to hide indoors and watch Youtube or some stupid TV.

I don’t really get it, but… maybe it was because it had been so long since I’d really gone on a new adventure?

I remember when I first set out on my big South American adventure, a friend of mine warned me that, every time she traveled, she’d get super homesick a day or two into a trip… and that it’s a perfectly natural thing. You just have to push through it, and accept that it’s a simple psychological reaction that everyone has. One that comes, but one that will pass quickly enough.

This trip was pretty tame by my standards, so I wasn’t super convinced that I was falling into the homesick category. Looking back through where I’d been and what I’d done, and my memories of my mental state during those, and this doesn’t quite add up. I wonder if this is just one more effect of the pandemic, of the breakup, and of the new world that I’ve found myself navigating…

Regardless of why I was feeling it though, the solution was the same. I texted a neighbor of mine, asking if they could give me a sanity check on my garden, and then I buckled down and did my best to enjoy this brand new city laid out in front of me.

I started with a great breakfast at an English-style brunch place called The Fox and Goose, and then headed to the climbing gym in town. By the time I was done bouldering I was feeling a bit better – two hours of climbing almost always helps make things better, I’ve found.

(Ed Note: Please see Ben’s other post, titled “A spring adventure – The Climbs” for more details on the climbing)

After the gym, I kept the adventure train rolling – hitting a few shops, and wandering around ’till I found a restaurant that piqued my interest… then just kicking around ’till it was time to head back and hang out!

Thursday, 06-May

Today was another adventure day, full of exploration and cycling around town.

I don’t quite remember any major standouts, to be honest – I had breakfast at Fox and Goose again, since they’d had three different breakfasts that I knew I wanted to try, and I happened to have three mornings free. That was just too fortuitous to pass up, and I made starting my day there a nice little staple to the adventure.

The rest of the day was spent enjoying myself. I biked around a bit, looking around for anything that caught my eye – I started toward a part of town called Land Park, at Mike’s recommendation, and sort of moved on from there. I settled on exploring a small rock garden before lunch, and then explored around until a BBQ place caught my eye.

It was a lovely day, full of lovely exploration.

Friday, 07-May

My last full day in Sacramento, I kept to my theme and spent the day exploring and relaxing, immersing myself in the freedom to do literally anything I wanted at any time, and the excitement of being in a new place.

My nerves had mostly gone away at this point, and I was becoming almost comfortable in the day-to-day temporary routine that I’d created for myself. I had brunch at Fox and Good, I read in a park for a while, and then I went back to the climbing gym to get a few bouldering routes in.

That afternoon, Mike was able to get off work a bit early, so he and I took a nice long bike ride around town – Previously I’d been meandering around a bit aimlessly, so having a tour guide was a nice change of pace. Mike’s been cycling a lot recently, so he kept up a very solid pace, tempered by the narration of the neighborhoods, and other places that they’d looked at renting apartments at. It was lovely, and the weather was absolutely perfect.

In the evening, Mike and I went to a taco place I’d found on Monday, and then the three of us just relaxed in the living room, chatting and watching TV. Lovely and quiet, calm and happy. It was a very good day.

Saturday, 08-May

My last day in Sacramento… last morning, really.

We biked, and had out last nice breakfast out – this time, at a really nice indoor place that Mike and Michelle recommended. The indoor aspect was quite appreciated since the weather had gotten a bit windier than the previous two days, and the pollen was falling from the trees in thick waves across the streets.

It was… intense, but not the worst ever. Better than my drive back from Tahoe, at least, so I wasn’t about to complain too loudly.

We biked around a bit while waiting for our table, and found a rather impressive pile of scooters that had been created at a Bike Rack… from what Mike told me, there was quite a bit of pushback in Sacramento regarding the electric scooters. Not that they existed, but about the requirement that they be left at a bike rack. They’re not locked to it, of course, but just… taking up spaces that bikes could normally use. It wouldn’t have been a problem, except that none of the scooter companies had installed extra bike racks… which leads to most racks being fully taken up by scooters, leaving cyclists a bit in the lunch.

Unless, of course, some enterprising youths (so I assume, at least) decide to create impromptu street art using the scooters…

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