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Sacramento: Road tripping with Maguiver

Author: HotelCharlotte
Date of Trip: August 2007

We did it again, another one day adventure. This time to Sacramento. If you think living with “Maguiver” is fun, perhaps this little getaway story will show a downside to living with someone who can fix just about anything.

As is often the case, we decide at the very last minute if we can get away or not. This time, it looks good and Victor wants to go to the State Fair. I am not sure why, but if anything grabs his attention, I like to do it. We also have to pick up some stuff from SF and decide to leave Tuesday afternoon for the California State Fair, spend the night on the Delta King in Old Town Sacramento then hustle off to San Francisco in the morning and back to Groveland by the evening.

So off we go, leaving the hotel at 2, we plan to be at the fair by 4:30. We get as far as Oakdale before stop at the busy Beacon for gas. Getting the gas is no problem, but the van won’t start again afterward. Victor reminds me that he thought he told me we needed to change the alternator. So now I have, for the first time in my life, enjoyed the pleasures of pushing a vehicle to affect a rolling start. Once the vehicle is going fast enough that you think you can’t catch it if it gets away, Victor jumps in and pops it into gear. We aren’t successful. It’s 100+ degrees, the road is flat or slightly uphill and cars constantly flowing into and out of this gas station around our stalled and now wrong directioned vehicle. This is not the funnest moment of my life. After a few failed starts we get some help pushing from some very nice gentlemen who may have themselves been in this position at some point in their lives. Success!

Now we are headed through Oakdale and Victor suggests a stop at the Kragen Auto Parts shop, and asks that I remind him NOT to turn off the van. I do. I remind him again and again and he doesn’t turn the van off. We get the part, toss it in the back of the van and start rolling towards 99. We like the back roads and “shortcuts” and so head into Stockton via the central valley maize maze.

Finally on highway 99 and under an hour from our goal Victor mentions that all of the gauges seemed to have stopped working and the van isn’t driving right. Oh…maybe we should stop? Do you know the emptiness north of Stockton, before Elk Grove? This is where we roll into a commuter parking area and blessedly find a big tree to provide shade while “Maguiver” replaces the alternator. I reread a previously read magazine.

I hear mumbles over the next hour and a half such as: “where’s my something or other tool” and “$#@!” but am confident that eventually we will head somewhere….I have triple A.

We are finally ready to go, but we have to do another one of those heart thumping running starts, this time with no hope of helpers. But we do it and he is all a grin and I file away my AAA card for the next time.

Did I mention this van doesn’t have air conditioning? So the only release from the 100+ degree heat we have is driving with the windows open and the breeze cools as it dries the sweat. Well, now its rush hour and the road is bumper to bumper, stop, roll a few feet, repeat. No breeze to cool!

I suggest we just head to the hotel for a refreshing shower and nice dinner. We can skip the fair. This is when the “motivation” for the fair as a destination makes itself clear: Wine! I should have know it wasn’t the midway, the rides, the music, the screaming kids….Victor wanted to see who medalled at the fair and if there were new finds to be had. I saw no need to argue with this.

Off we go, along with everyone else just off work, to the Fair. This is such a huge venue, I can’t imagine how many people are inside the gates at one single moment. The attractions are endless from the performance stages to the motor cross route to the rides, games of change, the County building, the farm displays and the list goes on and on. We never felt crowded, but we knew we weren’t alone.

We wander our way to the wine center and get up to the bar for our overview. We are an easy couple to work with, as we are only tasting whites and are looking for specific items to fill out our Cafe Charlotte menu. We taste some Chardonnays, very sweet this year. We try a Sauvignon Blanc, more sweetness. Seems to be a theme running through the show. Sweeter is better? Not for us. Best of Show was 2-buck Chuck, the Trader Joe’s exclusive Charles Shaw, Chardonnay. This has brought about a great deal of interesting speculation on the process, the judges, the wine….but isn’t our choice for tasting today.

For parking, two entrances fees, two little glasses of wine each, the wine guide, 3 bottles of water and $70 later, we are out of the Fair grounds and headed into old town Sacramento where the Delta King rests on the river for a shower and dinner. As we are parking the van I note to Victor that his front tire is low. By the time we are completely parked, it is sitting square on the ground—flat. Okay, and yes, the spare is in the garage, of course. This doesn’t really bother me since we discovered fix-a-flat a few years ago.

We check in and have the reception call us a cab to take us to the nearest auto parts store where for $37 we get a nice roundtrip “tour” of downtown and two cans of the trusty spray. Dinner on the Delta King is delicious. We order the calamari to start and the sauces are both wonderful. I get the seabass for dinner, Victor orders the steak and we are both pleased with our choices. We have an after dinner glass of wine on the veranda and very much enjoy the outdoor setting and privacy that is so often missing from our Charlotte life. The next morning we head back into the restaurant for breakfast only to learn after a great deal of discussion that breakfast is no longer part of the Bed, Boat & Breakfast formula. Odd, it was last time we were there and conspicuously not mentioned upon reserving and checking in. I don’t mind that they aren’t including breakfast, I do mind that they failed to mention this to a repeat guest who might be anticipating an included breakfast.

We head out to take care of our flat tire and find some good coffee and a bite before taking off for SF. Vic whips out his can of fix-a-flat, attaches the hose and we both watch as the air rushes right back out through the gaping crevasse in the tire. Thank goodness I have that triple A card! We call and are soon on our way with two new front tires.

We change our plans and just decide to go home, it is too blazing hot for 7 hours on the road and well, there is just a lot of stuff to do. So off we head south on 99. I am reading the wine guide when Victor asks me if he should take Grant Line Road. I really don’t care. He says it comes out at Manteca. So Easterly we head for about an hour. Seems longer than it should be without any identifying features. I am almost done reading the wine guide. Looking up I see a sign that says Freeway left. That isn’t possible. The freeway can only be behind us and in front would be highway 49 if anything….Hmmmm, so where are we? Eldorado Hills. Guess what, we are headed to Tahoe. Great! I suggest maybe we just go, head over the Sierra, hit 395 south to 120 and over Tioga Pass. Victor thinks I am crazy. Instead we head to Placerville and get on 49 South. All is well.

Until we hit Shingletown and miss the 49 left turn. We figure whatever road we are on will loop around, based on the direction of the shadows, it looks to be going in the right direction…..Driving, driving, and we finally reach the next town…Eldorado Hills! Isn’t this exciting! Perhaps we should buy some property here, it seems to have some sort of natural draw.

We are now both tired and hot and have 3 hours to go. Maybe we should have gone to SF! We finally make it home and settle into our usual tasks of keeping the hotel up to snuff. I have agreed with myself that I will never take a distance ride in That Van again. Living with the creative skills of a Maguiver is wonderful, but my Maguiver has developed a level of quiet confidence such that troubles others tend to avoid with simple but regular checks often become our next fix-it challenge.

I will always carry a triple A card in my wallet.

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