Obviously, my main area of interest and expertise is Presidential history and U.S. history because those two topics are so closely intertwined — you can’t have one without the other. I love all history and do my best to be as knowledgeable as possible on as many historical subjects as possible. With Presidential history being the focus of my studies and my work, I’m strongest when it comes to United States history from the ratification of the Constitution to the present.
As a native Californian, I’ve always enjoyed the history of my home state, so I’d say my knowledge of California history is pretty solid. No area of study approaches the level I’m at with Presidential history, but I was born and raised in California’s capital city and, with the exception of a four-year sabbatical of sorts, I’ve lived in Sacramento my entire life. Sacramento is a very historic city — not just in California’s history, but in American history, particularly when it comes to the 19th Century, Westward Expansion, the Gold Rush, and the Transcontinental Railroad. Living in Sacramento has helped feed my interest in California’s history because, as the seat of government, there are plenty of important museums and terrific state archives to search through. Sacramento is also a great place to get your fix if you happen to be a political junkie; my favorite spot in the city has long been Capitol Park, and I couldn’t even attempt to estimate how much time I’ve spent wandering around inside the State Capitol Building or reading and relaxing among the scores of wide varieties of trees and plants in Capitol Park (Sacramento’s climate allows for a ton of different types of trees and plants to grow and it seems like one of everything is planted in Capitol Park). Monuments and historic sites are just as plentiful as the tree and plant life, and I never get tired of exploring downtown Sacramento, or strolling through Capitol Park with someone and taking them to a spot where you can literally see the Governor working at his desk through a window of his corner office. Those are the types of things that motivate a continued interest in learning more-and-more about California’s history. I doubt that my knowledge of California will ever surpass my knowledge of Presidential history, but the Golden State’s history definitely appeals to me, and I love doing things like checking out some of California’s historic missions or going back-in-time to the 1840s by visiting Coloma or Sutter’s Fort.
The last time I was in Sacramento was when I moved, so it’s been since June 2010.
There are definitely some things that I miss. I love living where I am now where it’s rural and quiet and calm. I don’t ever miss hearing helicopters and sirens like I did every night for the first 30 years of my life. That was the most surprising thing that I noticed when I moved to Austin. I thought those were just the noises that you hear in every large city, but then I moved to Austin and it was quiet and I realized that what I was used to in Sacramento was not normal. (Other than the LBJ Library, I don’t miss a single thing from my one miserable year in Austin, by the way)
Maybe I should just answer your question and get back to what I do miss about Sacramento.
Of course, I miss the weather. The weather here in Missouri is exponentially better than it was in Austin, but there’s nothing better than those summer nights in Sacramento where the temperature drops down to 65 degrees even though it was 105 during the day and that beautiful Delta breeze comes off of the river. Once I moved out of Sacramento (and California overall, really), I realized that I took the great weather for granted since I had lived there all my life.
I miss Capitol Park. I loved taking a book and just chilling somewhere in Capitol Park under one of the scores of various species of trees planted in the park because so many trees from around the world can thrive in Sacramento’s climate. Or just walked around Capitol Park after catching dinner somewhere downtown. I really miss getting a nice cigar from Rodney’s or the tobacco shop on Front Street in Old Sac, and enjoying it while walking and talking with a friend along the palm-lined sidewalks surrounding the Capitol. Or strolling through Capitol Park with a girl, looking at the monuments and the orange trees, and showing her where, if you stand just right, you can peek into the Governor’s first-floor corner office and sometimes see the Governor sitting at his desk.
I miss Round Table Pizza and Pizza Guys. There’s a 40% chance that I’ll move back to Sacramento just because I can’t live much longer without having Round Table or, if I don’t want to spend as much money, Pizza Guys. I can’t believe Round Table isn’t a national chain. The rest of this country is missing out. If everyone had Round Table Pizza, we would all be happy and prosperous and there would be peace in the Middle East.
I miss having a nice, stiff drink and lounging around like a gentleman in the bar in the lobby of the Sheraton Grand. Or having a pricey, tasty margarita in the bar of the Delta King. Or having a lot of cheap, tasty margaritas at Chevy’s on the River.
I miss Time Tested Books on 21st Street in Midtown and the piles of used books at the Book Nook on Madison Avenue where I found some real treasures over the years.
I miss going to Sacramento Kings games and lunch at the Esquire Grill. I miss being so close to San Francisco and the coast as well as Reno, Tahoe, and the Sierra.
I miss living within walking distance of a Trader Joe’s. I miss Temple Coffee House on 9th Street, and I’m pissed because they waited until I moved and then opened a new location in my old neighborhood!
There are probably some more things, but those are what I think about from time-to-time. Except for both Round Table Pizza and Pizza Guys, which I usually think about for an average of no less than three hours each day. Despite the things that I miss, I’m still very happy to be where I am and doing what I am doing. The only time I consider moving back to Sacramento is when I want pizza, so I think that’s a good sign.
Shit, now I’m hungry.