Vagabond Vacation

When you’re a VISTA, funds can be tight, but that doesn’t need to stop you from taking a vacation! The agenda for my great adventure was to leave Saturday morning for Sacramento, California to see whatever there was to see and meet up with a fellow VISTA I met at PSO. (If you don’t know what PSO is, then read the last post) Then I was to stay the night in a hostel, and check-out anything I missed before making my way back to Reno. Monday, I planned to hike up Mount Rose, and maybe visit Lake Tahoe. I figured it would be a good balance between city and nature. However, you know what they say about the best laid plans…

Friday night I packed all my things and went to bed giddy as a schoolgirl! Saturday morning came, and I was on the road…the windy, twisty, steep road. I soon discovered that the locals like to fly around the mountain at crazy speeds, paying no heed to gravel, construction workers, or the threat to their lives. Honestly, the experience was a bit too much like being on a roller coaster…for two hours.. (I really don’t like roller coasters!) and I was sure that my brakes were going to give out any second. I finally made it, however, and in touring the city I was reminded of the best parts of St. Louis. I hadn’t realized how much I missed seeing old architecture and large trees lining the streets (I DO live in the desert ya know). My fellow VISTA and I toured Old Sacramento, going through the old-fashioned candy stores and stopping at a saloon for a late lunch. It was so nice to chat with someone without explaining the mission of my program or asking for donations. I was a woman again, and not a spokesperson! Of course, the Guinness (That’s right, I like my beer like I like my men! A bit scraggly, robust, and a touch thick.) I had with lunch did a lot in the way of helping me relax! We both took some time to admire some ruins of the original city, and then we decided to head to the park for a bit of a walk-about. Just like in St. Louis, there were several groups there taking photos. Except in Sacramento, it wasn’t glowing brides in fashionable dresses posing near a fountain, instead we encountered a few Quiceaneras and some young couples from East India. The 15-year-old girls were proudly posing in their impressive gowns, and the young couples were resplendent and exotic in their suits and sashes complete with jeweled headdresses. What soon caught my eye, however, was a row of Magnolia trees in full bloom! I have no idea when my love of Magnolias developed, but they somehow remind me of a very happy time, much like the scent of honeysuckle which grew along the fence of the house where I lived in Louisiana as a small girl. My fellow VISTA looked on curiously as I admired the waxy leaves and large blossoms, and we eventually moved on. We came upon a tree perfect for climbing, and I eagerly dropped my things and scampered my way up! It was quite a wonderful visit, and I even saved money by sleeping on my friend’s floor instead of going to a hostel as I had planned. The next day we visited a wonderful doughnut shop which served some wonderful creations, and then we moved on to make the rounds of the farmer’s market, and soon after I was on the dangerous road back home. The next morning I was all geared up (literally! Paranoid as I am, I bought flares, water-proof matches, a compass and a crank operated flashlight) to go hiking! I once again braved some twisted steep lanes to make it to the trail summit, and armed with protein bars and bottles of water I began a whole new journey 10 miles long. Soon I found myself taken in by the beauty of my surroundings and was reminded by my constant stumbles to keep my eyes on the trail. I climbed over rocks, fell down a steep sandy grade, and clung to a trail right on the side of a rock slope, but I did it! By the end, I was thoroughly exhausted and I was just hoping to make it back to the car before my legs decided they’d had enough. Later that night, I discovered my fall was a bit more serious than I’d thought, that the meager amount of sunscreen I had applied that morning wasn’t nearly enough, and that I wouldn’t be able to walk normally for a couple of days. As exhausted, bruised, sore, and burned as I was, I was filled with a sense of pride at my accomplishment, and couldn’t forget the beauty of the mountain.

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