After seeing happy excited dogs greet Casey and Mary, I headed off. After a quick detour to the mall to get a belt like I promised my mother I would do, I drove to Berkeley and met up with Luns. After a slight detour in the supermarket parking lot (I had parked there because my parallel parking fu is non-existent) to look at a very nifty looking car (I'm sure Luns can tell you more about what kind of car it was, but it was Italian, and the guy had painted it in the Italian flag colors), we decided that Zachary's would be a nice place for a very late lunch.
Now, if you've never been to Zachary's, needless to say, it's a rather awesome pizza place. There's one on College Avenue on the Oakland side of the Berkeley/Oakland border, there's one on Solano Street in Berkeley, and there's a new one in San Ramon. (Or you can check them out online: http://www.zacharys.com/.) After pizza, I had been wanting to go poke around at Moe's, one of the many most excellent used bookstores in Berkeley, so Luns came along with me. I found a hardback copy of Sorcerer's Stone, which means that I simply need to get a hardback copy of Chamber of Secrets and of course, Deathly Hallows, to have the whole HP series in hardback. After that, we hiked up to the student store to see if they might have a new copy of Blindsight, which is the only Hugo novel nominee that my library didn't seem to have. (Yes, I know it's available online, but I don't do well reading book-length texts on my computer screen.) Unfortunately, they didn't, and it was too late to go poke around at Other Change of Hobbit, so I will have to see if I can come up with it here in Sactown.
After that adventure, I gave Luns a lift back to his apartment and headed out. It was not quite six, and there was plenty of daylight left, so I decided to go take an alternate route home. After stopping for gas in Berkeley, I headed out to Highway 24, and made my way towards Antioch and the forgotten bridge. (There's a trivia question for you. Name the seven state-controlled toll bridges in the Bay Area.) Then I drove up Highway 160, passing through Rio Vista and Isleton and Walnut Grove and Courtland. It follows the Sacramento up, crossing several drawbridges in the process, and while at large points, it's a narrow winding levee road, it's different. The scenery is gorgeous between the river and the planted fields and it's a rather relaxing drive. I see why my mom didn't want me driving it if there were still whales in the Delta -- narrow two lane highways and crowds do not mix well.
Also, if you drive up 160, you pass very close to the second highest free-standing structure in the world. The short of it? The Central Valley is big. It is also very flat Don't believe me? Here's the proof. Sacramento's about 26 feet above sea level. If you drive 150 miles north, you hit Redding, which, depending on where you're at in the city can vary between 400 and 500 feet above sea level. We'll just say the difference between Redding and Sacramento is 400 feet of elevation. That works out to a slope of (400 feet) / (150 miles) = 0.000505050505, which is nearly as flat as you can get.
If your local television market is Sacramento and Stockton and surrounding communities, you need a way to broadcast your signals over a very flat area. Thus, you need to build a very tall television transmission tower. And the second tallest transmission tower in the world is located right in Walnut Grove, California (and the other ones in the area aren't far behind it).
I also saw a tugboat pushing a barge of dirt upriver for some levee repairs. Tugboats are cool.
Anyway, yeah. If you ever get the chance to drive up 160, take it. It's worth the trip. Every once in a while, it's a good thing to shake up the routine and see things you've not seen before. And that's why I'm glad I did this. Even if it does mean being back in Sactown.