California

Sacramento

IMG_6783.jpgSacramento is the nearest city to where I live. While it doesn’t have the sophistication of San Francisco, or the glamorous allure of Los Angeles, Sacramento has its own unique personality. It sounds like I’m bashing Sacramento, but I’m not – Sacramentans are proud of their city and all the things that make it stand out from California’s other cities. It’s the state capital of California, full of gold rush history, leafy, tree-lined streets, a thriving craft beer scene, and an incredible minor league baseball team, the Sacramento River Cats. Sacramento is also a river town, with one of the best bike trails in the nation. Check out the books below to get a feel for Sacramento.

The Reads

Where I Was From by Joan Didion  Writer Joan Didion is one of Sacramento’s most famous native daughters. Her book, Where I Was From, examines her family roots in Sacramento and the surrounding area. Parts of the book also delve into the changing landscape of California, but the most powerful parts of the book deal with her family and ancestors.

Lost Restaurants of Sacramento and Their Recipes by Maryellen Burns and Keith Burns  When I started to research books about Sacramento, I found this guide to past restaurants of Sacramento. I feel like I missed out on some amazing places! From Posey’s, a downtown hot spot for lawmakers, to Dunlap’s Cafeteria at the old state fairgrounds, these local restaurants were a common ground for the city’s citizens. Included in the book are many photographs and recipes from the gone-but-not-forgotten restaurants.

Abducted by T.R. Ragan –  Abducted is the first book in the Lizzy Gardner series. Lizzy Gardner is a typical teenager, sneaking out to visit her college-bound boyfriend, until she is abducted by Spiderman, a serial killer. Fourteen years later, Lizzy is a private investigator living and working in Sacramento. She was the only one of Spiderman’s victims to escape, and has worked diligently to put her life back together. Then one day, she gets a call from someone claiming to be Spiderman, promising to finish what started fourteen years before… This thriller is a fast-moving read and takes place in and around Sacramento.

Planning

Sacramento has several online resources to plan your trip. The Visit Sacramento website is an excellent place to start your planning your trip. For information on visiting the Capitol building and grounds, check out the official site.

If you go, don’t miss:

There’s lots to do in Sacramento, such as biking on the American River Bike Trail, visiting the train museum, or taking a stroll through the Capitol World Peace Rose Garden. However, for this post, I am focusing on BCC aka Beer, Coffee, and Chocolate.

Breweries:

Sacramento has an active craft beer community. Here are a few of my favorites:

Track 7 – Track 7 has a fun, relaxed atmosphere and food trucks every evening. It’s also dog-friendly and kid-friendly, making it an ideal place to gather with the whole family. All the beers are tasty, but I especially recommend the Bee Line Honey Blonde Ale and Panic India Pale Ale. I’ve only been to the original Curtis Park location by the railroad tracks, but I’ve heard nothing but praise for their other location in Natomas. I think a field trip there is in order!

Other breweries that are popular around the area are Fieldwork, Bike Dog, and Device. If you can’t make up your mind, the Federalist Public House is a fantastic place to try a variety of local beers, and order up one of their tasty pizzas. Plus, it’s in a unique building – a shipping container.

Map of Sacramento Area Breweries

Coffee:

Sacramento also has some incredible coffee places. Temple Coffee is an experience, and offers coffee that is hard to beat. There are several locations around town, and all of them have their own distinct vibe. My favorite is the one on 9th. Another favorite is Old Soul Coffee, with three different locations.

Chocolate:

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the chocolates from Ginger Elizabeth. The chocolates are dreamy little squares, with flavors such as Caramelized Milk & Coffee, Raspberry Rose Geranium, and Buttermilk Lime. When I have friends visiting from out of town, I always plan a stop here. If you visit Ginger Elizabeth in the winter, don’t miss out on the specialty hot chocolate, especially the Oaxacan Spicy Hot Chocolate.

Do you have a favorite book that takes place in Sacramento? A special place around the city? Let me know!

California

South Lake Tahoe, California

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Mark Twain wrote in Roughing It (The Penguin American Library) that Lake Tahoe must be “the fairest picture the whole earth affords”, and it is hard to disagree with that sentiment. We are lucky enough to live about an hour away from South Lake Tahoe, so we get up to the mountains as often as we can. Several things make Tahoe an ideal place to plan your next adventure – the pristine lake, hiking trails for all levels of fitness, skiing down the snowy slopes, and gambling in glitzy casinos. It’s also the perfect place to unwind and read a book next to the lake, or by a crackling fire. If you can’t fit a trip in to Tahoe, hopefully the following books can take you there.

Two excellent mystery series take place in South Lake Tahoe, and although quite different, both series give the reader a vivid sense of life in South Lake Tahoe.

The Nina Reilly Series by Perri O’Shaughnessy
  Motion to Suppress is the first book in the series. Nina Reilly, a hard-working lawyer, recently divorced with a young son, has moved to South Lake Tahoe to set up her law practice. Misty Patterson, a cocktail waitress at a local casino, may or may not have killed her husband. He’s missing, there’s blood in the house, and she just can’t remember everything that happened the night before. All the evidence points to her guilt. Can Nina discover the truth in time? This mystery is fast-paced and full of suspense. I highly recommend reading the series in order because of how the characters and plots are linked.

The Owen McKenna Mystery Series by Todd Borg

  Owen McKenna is a tall, laid-back private investigator working the mean streets of Tahoe. With his Great Dane wonder dog, Spot, and his forensic entomologist girlfriend, Street, he investigates crimes around the Lake Tahoe area. The first book in the series is Tahoe Deathfall. Owen is hired by teen Jennifer Salazar to investigate her twin sister’s death in a fall years ago. Jennifer is sure it wasn’t an accident, and that she’s next. Unfortunately, no one believes her, and Owen is her last chance. The mystery highlights the gorgeous but sometimes deadly landscape of South Lake Tahoe, and the many people who call it home. All of Borg’s books highlight a specific aspect of Lake Tahoe, from arborglyphs to an extremely rare plant growing in the region.  It’s not necessary to read the series in order, but I would recommend reading Tahoe Deathfall first because it establishes the main characters.

If you’re looking to learn more about the history of Lake Tahoe, Michael J. Makley’s A Brief History of Lake Tahoe is a good place to start. Chapters include the Washoe Native American tribe, the timber trade, and the developments around the lake.

Planning:

Here are a few websites to help you plan your South Lake Tahoe adventure:

Tahoe South– Tahoe South is a great place to get started planning your vacation. There is information on lodging, weather, activities, and events. Don’t forget to check out the webcams too!

Keep Tahoe Blue – If you make it up to South Lake Tahoe, you’ll see “Keep Tahoe Blue” stickers everywhere. This website showcases the challenges Lake Tahoe faces, and what people can do to help.

Tahoe Tessie – Lake Tahoe even has its own “monster”. Check out Weird California’s website to read all about Tahoe Tessie.

If you go, don’t miss:

Taylor Creek  This short, paved trail meanders through woods and meadow, boasts some stunning views, and even features a stream profile chamber to view fish at eye-level.

The Keys Cafe –  For the BEST smoothies and breakfast sandwiches, look no further than the Keys Cafe. Everything is tasty, but the Green Dragon smoothie is my favorite.

Red Hut Cafe– There are several locations for this Tahoe institution, all serving tasty breakfast and lunch entrees. The Red Hut Rosti with an egg on top will keep you going all day.

Lam Watah Nature Trail  – This trail winds through a meadow and some forest before ending at a beach on the Nevada side of the lake. It’s a popular trail with locals, but never too crowded, and you’ll meet many people walking their dogs.

Todd Borg, Author – Todd Borg has an outstanding website that highlights the area. At the Red Hut at Ski Run, you can even order an Owen Omlette, named after his private investigator!