Wednesday, October 1, 2014

California - Merced & Sacramento

Bob's been in class and studying a lot this week so I decided to spend all day on Tuesday exploring Merced. He has pointed about 2 or 3 of the main streets here and so I thought I'd take the car and just drive without a map or GPS. After all that definitely seems like the best way to figure out your way around a city! I was pleasantly with how easy it is to get around. I was able to find about anything I could have been looking for following those streets. I walked around a little bit and scoped out the mall here. Found a Barnes and Noble with a Starbucks and sat around for awhile until he got out of class.

We then had a super interesting adventure when we found the apartment we had rented for the week on Airbnb. Neither of us felt very comfortable in the area. I think we likely would have been okay, however we decided to go with our gut feeling after talking about it and canceled the reservation. We frantically searched on airbnb for another place to stay that we could afford and came across a gorgeous house nearby the college. The place actually didn't appear that it was available but Bob reached out to the owner and he was able to accommodate us through Thursday afternoon. He has 3 or 4 people staying at his house at one time. They are able to get together in the evenings, cook together, talk and get to know each other.. It's actually really fun. We haven't gotten to enjoy it much because we've been out very late each night, but in the future it would definitely be a perfect place to stay! We're so much more comfortable here and I'm glad it all worked out. It sure was stressful for awhile trying to figure out where we were going to stay for the week!

Yesterday I discovered that California driving is all a realm of it's own. Not anything like I'm used to. I was a bit nervous about driving but I figured that I had driven in the city in SLC for a few years, I could definitely do it again. Bob had classes from 7:30am to 9:30pm so I decided to take a day trip to Sacramento to see a couple of friends and do some exploring. What. A. Trip. I was completely wrong about how "easy" California driving would turn out to be. Not so easy when you're a passive driver! ;)

I met up with my first friend and we ate at a Japanese place. I went the safe route and just had Shrimp Tempura with some rice. It was delicious, though! After that we decided to go to Old Sacramento. I forget how long it takes to get to places in the city vs. how long it does in Kansas. We were about 20 minutes away which I didn't realize at first, but it wasn't a huge deal. I was excited to be able to go. So we head out and then I realize... it's rush hour. It took us probably about a good hour to get to where we were going. I would have LOVED to spend more time with her and walked around a bit more, but I was starting to run really short on time so we said our goodbyes, I dropped her off at home, and then went back to the heart of Sacramento.

It probably would have been a little bit better had it not been DARK when I was heading downtown. Thankfully rush hour was over by that time and I was able to drive on the free ways no problem. But then it came time to get off of the free way. I got off no problem but when I was trying to turn on P street I got really, really confused with the stop lights. There were several different streets going across and I truly thought my light was green. Turns out it definitely was not green. (that or the other guy ran the light, but I doubt it). I was going along, thankfully very slowly, and nearly t-boned a black car in the middle of the intersection. It was terrifying. I felt awful. Someone was watching out for me!!!

I was getting ready to meet my other friend downtown to eat some dinner. I was still shook up from my earlier experience. I found the place, no problem, however parking was a different story. I cannot parallel park. (A skill I really need to work on). I can, but I do NOT feel comfortable doing so, especially since it wasn't my car. So I drove around forever trying to find a place I could park. I finally found one I felt comfortable enough using and was getting ready to do it until this a-hole of a car pulled right in front of me and whipped into the spot I was about to take. I was not happy.

At that point I was just completely done because I had been searching for a spot for at least 15 minutes. And most of the streets were one way, so I kept getting confused and turned around. I finally found some public parking, even though I knew that it would cost me more than street parking. Decided to use that. About crapped my pants when it turned out to be $10 but at that point it seemed really worth it. I then get out of my car and I knew that I was a ways down from the place we were meeting at. Unfortunately I got really turned around. I couldn't see the street signs from where I was at so I really wasn't sure what direction I needed to go in. I just decided to go for it and started walking. I found that I was at 16th street and 1200 but I couldn't figure out what way would get me to 1414, right or left. I started getting REALLY frustrated. When I get stressed out, uncomfortable, and that frustrated all I want to do is cry. Ya. Bad combination.

I finally just started walking, hoping I could make some sense out of the streets. My friend was my saving grace when she noticed me walking and called out my name! I was completely relieved! We had a very nice time catching up (it's been several years other than contact online and phone) and I'm so glad we were able to make it work to see one another. I hope I get more opportunities in the future to see her :)

I haven't gotten many more pictures yet, but here are a few more from the last couple of days :) You can click on it to enlarge!

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