Friday, July 20, 2012

On the Road: Lassen Volcano National Park to Sacramento (July 19-20, 2012)

A very successful day, yesterday. I returned in the morning to Lassen Volcano National Park, to the area around the entrance in the northwest corner of the park, and took a couple of short hikes from there--one through lily ponds, another around Lake Manzanita, a flat oval of blue surrounded, as its name suggests, by manzanitas, but also by towering evergreens. I had hoped to see White-headed Woodpecker, a bird I've never had the pleasure of meeting, and one described in the national park handouts as "common," but I had no luck with the woodpeckers. Mostly I saw Mountain Chickadees, Steller's Jays, and Canada Geese on the lake. I did, however, get to watch a Western Wood Pewee flycatching over one of the lily ponds, a pair of Red-breasted Sapsuckers feeding a fledgeling, and a Coot with two babies with their bizarre red and yellow whiskers--something I've never seen before. So, the day started with a pleasant walk, despite the absence of White-headed Woodpeckers.

What made the day so successful, was my spur-of-the moment decision to head toward Sacramento. As I entered the city, I happened to see a sign pointing the way to the Crocker Art Museum. I was in no hurry. I like art museums. I decided to follow the signs.

Good fortune. I found a parking space immediately in front of the galleries. Thursday, the museum stays open late, until 9:00PM. With good summer weather and long days, the museum invites musicians for outdoor concerts on these late evenings. The museum café looked good. So, I took a leisurely stroll through the exhibits, had a light dinner of pulled pork tacos and amber ale in the café and then finished my ale out in the museum's courtyard, lazing on the grass, listening to the music, watching people dance. Excellent Latin-flavored jazz by the Gonzalo Berger Quartet. Serendipity.

The Crocker Art Museum has a good collection, strong in arts of Africa and Oceania, in contemporary glass and ceramics, and in 19th and 20th century California artists. A recent addition (completed in October 2010) has created a very large display area. Special exhibits included ceramics by Karen Karnes, photographs from the museum's collection, contemporary glass from the museum collections, and paintings by Mel Ramos. Details here.

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