By John C. Dyer, UK correspondent
(This is the first of two off-the-beaten track photo stories by John C. Dyer. His marriage and honeymoon took place August 2011. Several photos were taken by his wife, Victoria Buchan Dyer and are so identified. Enjoy.)
Woodland is a long way from Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire. It is located near Sacramento in California’s huge central valley. Probably not anyone else’s first choice for a honeymoon. But ours was delightful and rich with memory making moments.
We chose Woodland for family. My daughter and grandchildren live there. So does the brother of Victoria’s American “sister.”
I had not seen my Woodland family for some time. Victoria had never met them. I arranged for my son to fly in from Seattle, making the occasion a family reunion.
Victoria had not seen her “sister” (an exchange student in Victoria’s childhood home in Dorset) or her “sister’s” mother and brother in ages.
As it happened, Victoria’s brother’s daughter and my granddaughter are friends. It was all a happy coincidence. This happy coincidence gave me the opportunity to introduce Victoria to my past haunts.
In describing our experiences to you, the toughest decisions have been what to leave out. Let’s start with my experience of trying to enter the country on a British passport.
Sadly, I cannot show photos of exciting bits of our journey. Security, both at the train stations and the airports overrode our best photographic intentions.
The interesting thing was how much more cumbersome security is for a Brit entering the US than for a Yank entering Britain. I found this out by accident. In a senior moment I thought the US Embassy had told me that I had to enter the US on my British passport. Other way around. Before a friendly US TSA agent clarified, I had gone through an electronic Visa, 4 passport checks and 2 luggage checks. Victoria had gone through a pat down. Coming into Britain I had just gone through one of each and no one other than Victoria touched me.
The friendly US TSA agent also explained an unexpected benefit - as my wife, Victoria would not need a green card. But it was not until we were safely back in Lancashire before Victoria breathed again. She kept expecting a Border Patrol agent to demand she produce a green card. It is quite usual for a Brit entering the US to wait in line, fingers crossed hoping they will not give the wrong answer to a simple question and be immediately deported.
Many tourists visit Old Sacramento, especially during Jazz Festival each May. Old Sacramento features many fine restaurants, including the Firehouse and the Rio City Cafe to name just two. (Photos right "Old Sacramento" by John C. Dyer and "Old Sacramento Exit" by Victoria Buchan Dyer, August 2011)
We did visit Old Sacramento and ate at the Rio City Cafe, which overlooks the confluent Sacramento and American Rivers. These rivers etch Sacramento, joining just to the North of Old Sacramento. (Photos left of "Firehouse Restaurant" and "Rio Cafe" Sacramento, CA by Victoria Buchan Dyer, August 2011)
Sacramento is the capitol of California, dressed out in appropriate power buildings. Sacramento enjoyed a building boom prior to the crash of 2008. (Photos left of Capitol, frieze on Capitol and photo right of the Cathedral, Sacramento, CA by John C. Dyer, August 2011).
It sports many gleaming new buildings (Photos left "Sacramento’s newest office building" and "Sacramento sky scraper" by John C. Dyer, August 2011) including the super modern Public Employee Retirement System HQ (Photo right PERS HQ by John C. Dyer, August 2011). These join other more established masterpieces of steel and brick. (Photos left "Hyatt Hotel by John C. Dyer," "Memorial Auditorium," and Memorial Auditorium column detail by Victoria Buchan Dyer, August 2011).
Yet Sacramento is also a very livable, “human scale” city (Photos left "The Crest - Downtown Cinema" and "IMAX" by John C. Dyer; "Penthouse for Rent" by Victoria Buchan Dyer; and "Mixed Use Residences" by John C. Dyer, August 2011).
Seen from the Sacramento River levy, Sacramento shows it has not lost its down-to-earth roots. It is an altogether happy environment for its natives (Photos right: "Sacramento City Scape" and "Squirrel" by John C. Dyer, August 2011.)
Expecting a capital city to be imposing and intimidating, Victoria found it easy to navigate on foot and fascinating in the variety and ages of the buildings. The number and size of the trees and their close proximity to the buildings is particularly remarkable. She was sorry to see the old Greyhound depot awaiting demolition, but on this visit to CA she had passed on that form of transport. She fondly reminisced that her 1976 visit to the US had been conducted entirely by Greyhound. Do they even do those 3 month passes any more?
(This is the first of two "Honeymoon in America Off the Beaten Track" posts by John C. Dyer. The second will appear next Sunday.)