Sunday, March 05, 2006

Chico in a Day

One thing Alan and I like to do to revive ourselves is to get away for a night. Sure, it’s great to get on an airplane for a week, but sometimes we’ll just throw a change of clothes in a gym bag and get in the car. That’s what happened recently, when we decided to hit Chico and were on the road within a few hours of the decision.

Why Chico? Alan wanted to see a concert of Kaki King, who was performing at Chico State that night. We left around 4 p.m., the concert was at 7:30, and Chico was three hours away. Cutting it a little close, wouldn’t you say?

Alan had heard Kaki on Prairie Home Companion and thought she was reminiscent of Michael Hedges. She performed that night with two other guitarists in an evening called La Guitara.

Afterwards, we bought one of her CDs and waited to have her sign it. The woman ahead of us in line had not been foresightful enough to take the plastic wrapping off her CD, so Kaki did it for her, breaking the jewel case in the process. Mystifyingly, she did not laugh or apologize or make any kind of comment. She was utterly silent through the signing process. Alan asked her, when it was his turn, “Will you please sign this for me?” Again, no response, not even to a direct question! No smile, not so much as a tic.

In the car, Alan said, “She’s young, she’s talented, and she’s autistic.”

We stayed at a motel that I convinced myself was haunted, based on the very frightening sounds of a ghost peeing in the bathroom (thought it was Alan, but then I turned my head and he was still *** in *** bed***. Creepy!)

We visited the Bidwell Mansion, the highlight of our trip, where Mr. Bidwell of the 1800s refused to bribe people to become governor, and his wife was a suffragette.

We had an amazing breakfast at the Sin of Cortez (I thought the sin was how he treated the native peoples, but Alan says it’s coffee). Check out this hipster offering on the menu:

Bohemian Breakfast. Three eggs scrambled with scallions, roma tomatoes, jack cheese, with salsa, rosemary potatoes and your choice of a cigarette or a multi-vitamin.

We also trekked part of Bidwell Park, which reminded me of Canada for its barren winter trees and almost-Europeaness. The fast-flowing Chico Creek is apparently so clean that you can swim in it: one stretch is partially dammed to form a swimming area, with aqua-painted walls, stepladders for getting in and out, and white wooden lifeguard chairs. We were impressed.

Chico is charming. After our 20-hour visit, we turned around and drove home.

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