It was all a bit new to me. I noticed a sudden flurry of activity in the house and realized a new interest had been birthed. From my vantage point on the black leather couch, I watched the exit of a few members of my family every evening for a few days before my curiosity got the better of me. I learnt they were all chasing an elusive creature called the Pokemon. I was given bits and pieces of information on this Pokemon that I could hardly comprehend. Finally in exasperation they suggested I google the information and learn for myself. So google I did.
At first I was incredulous. Then I was amused. So much time spent on capturing imaginary creatures on the streets? This could not be true. But true it was. I read and I learnt. Information is power as they say. Well I was now armed with the power of knowledge and so I decided to join my kids the next day. That month I was in Sacramento (California) as they lived there, so I set out on my first pokemon hunt with them to Old Sacramento. Well, they were hunting for pokemons and I just followed presumably to get some exercise. Oh by the way, that’s the good part about chasing pokemons according to the said enthusiasts. You get loads of exercise, make new friends and you contribute to that marvelous plan to eliminate all couch potatoes from the face of the earth. I can hear the tired springs in our black sofa heaving a sigh of relief.
Visiting the old Sacramento area is something I love to do and not just because there’s a shortcut to Macy’s through that town. To get there from West Sacramento (where we lived) we have to walk over the Golden Tower bridge, which unlike the Golden Gate Bridge in SF is actually painted in a shimmering gold shade. When the rays of the sun fall on this bridge, it stands there in all it’s golden splendor. That particular day, the bridge was pretty crowded with groups of pokemon enthusiasts every few yards. Since they all had their eyes glued to their phones, I had to do a zigzag kind of walk to avoid bumping into any of them.
Old Sacramento Town is one of the quaintest places I have been to. As soon as you take a left turn from the Tower bridge you are transported into a different era and are immediately reminded of the Wild Wild West . Boardwalk pavements, saloons, old style shops and stores that have been deliberately given facades of an old bygone era all add to the charm of this town. The shops are delightful and there’s something for everyone depending on how much you want to spend.
But on that particular weekend, all I did was observe pokemon hunters while continuing my walk. Here from the zig zagging I also had to walk around a bit in circles. The groups were larger and the excitement was more palpable. Apparently Old Sacramento was teeming with Pokemon stops/gyms. I saw a young dad walking with his lil daughter fast asleep on his shoulder. Over her head, his eyes were glued to his phone. I saw a couple in each other’s arms leaning against a wall – eyes not on each other but on their phones, a young mom pushing a pram head bent over her phone, groups of people crossing the street barely heeding the honking from irritated drivers and more groups of people huddled in corners, on the sidewalk, all lost in a world that was made in Japan. I saw one walk across a ground stage where a Michael Jackson lookalike was performing to a sporadic crowd. He had no idea he was walking on stage behind a live performance albeit an amateur one. After about an hour in this surreal pokemon obsessed domain, I began to feel decidedly uneasy. By this time I had sort of convinced myself that I was in some kind of zombie land. At this point I heard a loud shout of ‘Aerodactyl’ from one of the pokemon hunters. I panicked as I saw hordes of people running (Was there an earthquake? After all, this was California.) My daughter explained “Don’t worry mom. They’ve found a rare pokemon and everyone wants to catch it.” I had enough. I started my walk back home deciding to explore Old Sacramento on another day.
Thankfully a week later, my adult kids decided to delete the pokemon application from their smartphones and life got back to normal. I would like to believe their love of travel and books played a big part in this decision. I did manage to explore the old town during the rest of my holiday, even fitting in the Old Sacramento underground tour into my schedule. This tour is a good way to learn the old history of Sacramento during the Gold Rush era. I also visited the candy shop with its delightful array of candies, tasted a candied apple at the chocolate factory and browsed through a mind boggling array of ornaments at the Christmas & company. On one visit, we chanced upon this charming little shop called ‘Garden of Enchantment’ that had the most amazing articles from around the world. A must visit for those of us who love to buy small and beautiful gift items.
Though most of my culinary adventures took place in other parts of Sacramento, I did go to a couple of restaurants in the old part of town. There are a number of Riverfront restaurants, bars, pubs and sweet and pastry shops lined up all along the streets. Many of the restaurants have live music that add to the general holiday atmosphere, which is probably what makes this an immensely popular stopover for tourists.
A separate blog on the rest of Sacramento will follow soon. I promise there will be no lurking Pokemons there:)
Update: A version of this article was published in the Sacramento Parent Magazine on 6/2/2017. Linked here – http://www.sacramentoparent.com/pokemon-in-old-sacramento.html