We haven't even left the state but, with a stop in San Jose to evaluate a new travel wheelchair, it's taken us 2 days and 560 miles to get to our latest destination, Redding, California just an hour south of the Oregon border.
Our hotel for this trip is Oxford Suites. We've had wonderful stays at this small, west coast chain of hotels at their Pismo Beach and Chico locations. This one is not quite on par with those two.
After a breakfast at the crowded hotel dining room, we head down the road a bit to Turtle Bay Exploration Park. We find that Turtle Bay is just a small part of a bigger park that is anchored by a pretty stunning pedestrian bridge across the Sacramento River.
That would be the Sundial Bridge (note, you do not have to pay admission to Turtle Bay to access the bridge), a functional piece of art spanning the river with a glass deck, suspended by cables attached to a tall spire that is an actual sundial.
We take a slow stroll across the bridge, stopping to admire the view and to watch a few rafters drift underneath. There was a race here earlier for kayakers that started at the bridge and ended up in Chico, a hundred miles away. Our path is much shorter, maybe another hundred yards.
There's music at the other end of the bridge, sounds very live, but no band in sight. I guess they just have a great stereo system and speakers.
I show Tim the large arc of time points and tell him how the sundial works. It's configured to be correct on the day of the summer solstice.
We wander a little bit on some of the trails. We've been here before, years ago, when we came to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park but much of this area was undeveloped. There's a small bridge over a nearby creek, shaded by stands of oak and sycamore.
The main trail continues on to the banks of the river and doubles back under the bridge. An accessible platform there allows wheelchairs to go right to the edge of the water.
A band is playing under the bridge, taking advantage of the acoustics it offers. So that's where the music was coming from.
I ask a lady playing with them if it's okay if I take some video of them playing. She tells me it's okay and that they're having a 45 year reunion of a group that used to just get together here and play once a week.
She asks where we're from and I say Los Angeles. She used to live there and knows that's a very generic term so she asks specifically where. I tell her the San Gabriel Valley.
"Oh, really? I used to teach school in South El Monte," she tells me.
"I grew up in South El Monte," I respond.
"I taught at Dean Shively School."
"I went to Dean Shively School."
"Do you remember a Mrs. Salazar?"
"Yes, she was one of my teachers."
"I used to be Mrs. Salazar."
Fate had brought us back together 45 years later. Just a fluke turn and an interest in their music led to a reunion with my elementary school teacher.
We spent the next few minutes catching up with each other's lives. She divorced, moved to Redding, met and married her current husband, then moved up to the Seattle area.
Just by chance, she was here this weekend to have that reunion with her bandmates. It really is a small world sometimes.
After that impromptu reunion, we head back across the bridge to visit Turtle Bay. Part zoo, part museum, part educational center, part aquarium, part garden, this is Redding's biggest attraction right now.
Inside, we go through a faux cave meant to evoke Shasta Caverns to the north. This is the only wheelchair accessible way to 'visit' Shasta Caverns, by the way. At the other end of the cave is an aquarium meant to represent the Sacramento River with examples of the different species of fish and animals that call it home.
Trout, salmon, ducks, and even a less than eager beaver are in this display.
Outside, an elevated and accessible boardwalk takes us over to the zoo where we see an animal show.
We are warned strictly to take a seat and do not move during the entirety of the presentation because these are still wild animals and we do not want to spook or distract them.
The show goes on with a couple of trainers and a menagerie of critters such as foxes, porcupines, and skunks along with some hawks, a vulture, and a raven.
After a day of wandering around the river, we head over to downtown and have a nice lunch at Mary's Pizza Shack before ending up back at the hotel where while waiting an hour for the pool lift to be fixed, the quiet swimming area became a small pool populated by a large swarm of noisy kids.
Oh well, we'll just call it a day at that point and pick up where we left off tomorrow.
Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
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Photos Copyright 2016 - Letty Musick
All Rights Reserved