My husband Randy had worked on a project in Sacramento a couple of years ago, and became good friends with some of his co-workers. So, when 2 of his former co-workers announced that they were retiring, a plan was made bring the former project team together and have a retirement party. People flew in from Florida and Oklahoma, along with us flying in from Canada to attend the party.
Click here to see some photos from our trip.
Day 1 – Early morning, burritos, and dinner with friends
We were connecting to a morning flight out of Vancouver, so we were on the same 6:00am flight that we had taken to Vancouver a couple of weeks ago. Again, we were up and out the door by 4:30am. However, this time we decided to just pay a little more and park right at the airport. This way it was just a short walk to the terminal, and we didn’t have to wait for a shuttle.
Randy had used some upgrade credits to upgrade us to business class, so we didn’t have to wonder whether we would get upgraded or not. On the flight to Vancouver, we got the usual Air Canada breakfast (omelette and sausage).
Once in Vancouver, we headed over to US departures, went through security (again) and cleared U.S. customs. Then we went to the Maple Leaf Lounge and hung out until our flight left at 9:00am.
As it was still fairly early in the morning, we were also served breakfast on the flight to Sacramento. This time we were offered either the omelette/sausage meal, or a fruit plate. We both went with the fruit plate, as we were still full from our first breakfast.
We arrived in Sacramento around 11:30am. We caught the shuttle to the car rental centre and headed out. Prior to our trip, Randy had contacted the owners of one of his favourite food trucks – the Culinerdy Cruzer. They were supposed to be at the Amazon distribution centre right near the airport, so Randy wanted to go there to get some lunch.
We drove to the Amazon building and drove around the entire (huge) building looking for the truck. We couldn’t find it, so Randy sent a text to the owners. It turns out they had done an event the night before, and with the hot weather, the chef ended up with heatstroke. So, they had cancelled their appearance at Amazon. That’s too bad.
So, we decided to head to our hotel and check in. We had just driven a short distance from the Amazon building when I noticed a fire down a side road. There was nothing on this road – just fields, and so we went to check to see if it was some sort of controlled burn. But when we got there, we didn’t see anyone else around, so we called the fire department. Having done our good deed for the day, we continued on our way. We hadn’t gone far when we saw the fire truck heading towards the fire.
We made our way to the Hilton Sacramento Arden West. Our room was ready when we arrived, so we were able to check in and drop off our stuff. Since we weren’t able to eat at the food truck, we decided to go to a nearby location of Chando’s Tacos. Randy ordered a chicken burrito and I had a chicken burrito bowl. They were both very tasty.
After lunch, we decided to go get some alcoholic beverages for the retirement party and we also wandered around Arden Fair Mall for a bit. We didn’t find anything that we needed to buy at the mall, so we headed back to the hotel and had a little nap (as it had been an early morning for us).
We had plans to meet our friend Jenn (and her beau Kevin) for dinner, so we got ready and headed to Mulvaney’s B&L. It is a cool spot – located in an old fire station. Jenn and Kevin were running a little late, so we ordered a beer while we waited for them.
We had a lovely meal with our friends. We were given a swordfish amuse bouche to start, and we shared some smoked salmon and house-made mozzarella cheese with tomatoes. All were delicious. For our main meal, Randy ordered the pork chop – which was this MASSIVE hunk of pork. It was literally like a small pork roast. He was only able to get through about half of the pork chop. We ended up sending the rest home with Jenn. I had ordered a corn and mushroom fettucine, and I even though it was considered a ‘small plate’, I wasn’t able to finish mine either.
After a nice, 3 hour meal, we said goodbye to Jenn and Kevin. We headed back across the street to where our car was parked, and noticed this outdoor Golden Road Brewing bar. It looked like a really cool spot, but we were very full, and we had already had a lot of beer with our dinner. So, we hopped in the car and went back to the hotel. Even with the afternoon nap, I was asleep early.
Day 2 – Wine, beer and retirement party
After a good sleep, we went downstairs to have breakfast at the hotel restaurant (as it was included). We had the buffet, which was fine, but nothing exciting.
After breakfast, we decided to go for a bit of a wander. First we went to check out Sand Cove Beach Park, which is this little beach on the river. The sand was soft and fine and had little flecks of gold in it. I’m assuming it wasn’t actual gold, but it was very pretty. We didn’t stay long, as we didn’t have any beach gear with us.
After that, we decided to head just outside of Sacramento to a place called the Old Sugar Mill. This is an actual old sugar mill that has been converted into wine tasting rooms. There are tasting rooms for 15 different wine vendors. We arrived just when it opened, so there weren’t that many people around. In fact, some of the vendors were still setting up.
We ended up doing a tasting at Bonitata Boutique Wines. The tasting was only $5, so you can’t go too wrong there. The wine was decent, but not amazing (what do you expect for $5?). After that, we wandered around for a bit, but weren’t in the mood to do any other tastings.
It was getting close to lunch time, so we decided to head back into Sacramento and go back to that Golden Road Brewing place we had seen the night before. It was quite hot out when we got there, so we sat in the shade of a big old tree. We ordered some beer (we both tried the mango cart flavour), some avocado fries and some chips & guacamole. Definitely a nice spot to hang out at. However, since it was so hot, we left after we were done our lunch.
On our way back to the hotel, we noticed a farmer’s market (the Midtown Market). We found some parking and went to check it out. Unfortunately, the market was just starting to pack up. But we did manage to buy some pistachios and some gorgeous flowers to take to Tammie, who was hosting the retirement party later that night.
After that, we went back to the hotel to cool off. We put on our bathing suits and cooled off in the outdoor pool. Then we hung out in the room until it was time to head to the party.
The retirement party (for Roger and Jerry) was fun. I finally was able to meet the people that I had heard so much about. Tammie did an awesome job hosting at her place, and cooking some amazing Mexican food for us. We left around 11:00pm and I went straight to bed when we got back to the hotel.
Day 3 – Breakfast then time to head back home
Our flight was leaving at 11:45am, so we knew we wouldn’t be able to a whole lot before having to head to the airport. The previous night, I had suggested that we go to Tower Café for breakfast if we woke up early enough. The café opens at 8:00am, which would give us enough time to have breakfast before having to head to the airport.
Luckily, we woke up early, so we showered up and then headed over to the restaurant. We got there about at about 7:58am. As we were driving past the front of the restaurant to get to the parking lot, we noticed a line-up of people waiting to get in. At first we were worried that we would have to wait a while to get in. But, by the time we parked the car and walked back to the front, the line was moving. We were told to seat ourselves, so we picked a nice spot on the patio.
For breakfast, I ordered the eggs benedict, and Randy ordered the eggs mole. We also got a side dish of corn bread. Both meals were delicious, but a lot of food. I was only able to eat one of my eggs. If I lived in Sacramento, I would’ve taken the leftovers home. But, alas, we had a plane to catch.
By the time we left the restaurant at around 9:00am, the place was full, with people waiting to get in. So, if you ever want to go to the Tower Café on a weekend, go right when they open!
We headed back to the hotel and finished packing. We were going to head to the airport around 10:00am as it was only a 20 minute drive. Around 9:45am, Randy decided to check the route one more time, and noticed that our 20 minute drive was now 35 minutes due to the fact that the highway we were going to take to the airport was completely closed! We later found out that there had been a car crash early in the morning, but then the police suspected it was actually a murder, so they had the highway shut down.
As we now had to take a longer route to the airport, we checked out the hotel and headed off to the airport. We took a roundabout way to get there, but we did manage to get there on time. The terminal doesn’t have any Star Alliance lounges, so we just hung out by the gate until it was time to board.
Once on board, we found out that we were the only 2 people in business class. On this flight, we were actually given a menu with an option of General Tao Chicken or a cheese ravioli. We both decided to go with the chicken. The flight attendant working business class was fairly quick with getting the meals out, and then clearing them away. But then he went into the galley, closed the curtains and we literally did not see him until it was time to land. The flight attendant working the economy section actually stopped by a couple times to see if we needed anything – but we got zero service from the other guy.
We arrived in Vancouver on time, and headed to customs. It looks like a couple of flights from Asia arrived at the same time, and I have never seen the customs hall this busy. Luckily, Vancouver airport has a new process for people making connections within Canada. It appears to be only for Air Canada flights at this time, and only when coming in from specific countries. Shortly after getting off the plane, an airport employee asked us if we were making a connection. After confirming that we were flying Air Canada, coming from the U.S. and going to Edmonton, she gave us this yellow card that said Quick Connect. When we got to the customs hall, we saw another employee holding up the same yellow Quick Connect card. We went over to her, and she confirmed the airline and where we were coming from/going to. We were then directed to an area off to the right, which was good – because the normal Nexus line was massive.
This new area currently doesn’t have any Nexus kiosks, but there were other kiosks that you could use your passport to make your declaration. There was about a dozen of these machines, but we were the only ones using them. Once the kiosk spit out our receipt, we then went to see a customs agent that was in this same area. There was no line, so we were through quickly. Then we were directed to a door that took us outside to the tarmac. However, before being let outside, another employee wanted to see both our domestic boarding pass and the boarding pass of our previous flight. We had already put that boarding pass away, so had to dig it out.
We then boarded a bus that took us on a route past some planes and through the luggage area to another door at the domestic terminal. We went up a ramp and walked straight into the terminal. With this new process, we were able to by-pass having to go through security again, which was nice.
At a nearby gate was an earlier flight to Edmonton that had just started boarding. As we had no checked luggage, we went to see if we could get on that flight and get home a little earlier. But, unfortunately, the flight was completely full. So, we went to the Maple Leaf Lounge and hung out until it was time for our flight.
Our flight ended up being delayed an hour due to a late incoming flight. On our flight to Edmonton we were given a little snack (meat and cheese plate), and before we knew it, we were home. When we left Edmonton on the Friday, the weather was 35 degrees Celsius. When we arrived back home on Sunday night, it was 12 degrees and raining. It was a good thing that we were parked in a covered parkade a quick walk away, and not having to stand in the rain and wait for a parking lot shuttle.
So, we had a nice little getaway to Sacramento. It was great to catch up with old friends, and to finally meet some of Randy’s co-workers.