Beer Week in Sacramento

I was out of the house quickly in the morning, some time around 9 or 10. I walked down the icy Reno sidewalks towards the freeway, Sacramento beer week on my mind. I waited at the first ramp I came to, but quickly became bored - the casinos on the other side of the freeway offered temptation and warmth.

I abandoned the on ramp and headed towards the casinos. I found one with video roulette and at for a while. After I'd managed through a few swings, I was $20 heavier, heading for the door. I walked down to the next freeway entrance, not an ideal place for cars to pull over, but I tried it for a while.

Once tired of it, I walked up the ramp and on to the freeway on the shoulder. Taking a wide turn I then noticed a cop had pulled someone over, probably a speeder. I was already committed at this point, so I just continued walking until I was walking right past the cop car. I guess he hadn't seen me until just then, he honked, I turned around to see an angry face, his army sternly whipping and pointing. I acted confused, I wasn't, walking up to the window.

"This isn't a sidewalk, it's a freeway, get off of here!", he pointed back where I came from, I was angling to walk forward to the next exit rather than where I'd came from, but no dice. I walked back to the narrow entrance, thumbing a few more runs of cars until I decided to walk the side roads in order to get to the next entrance.

It was quite a walk, a looping hilly road that wrapped around indirectly. The next entrance I found wasn't much better, the deep snow made the shoulders less attractive for cars to pull into. Without much of a choice, I leaned against a construction cone with my thumb out. After a bit of time a van at the red light turning lane rolled the window down, the driver motioned for me to cross the street, I ran over and he pulled next to me where I quickly got in.

The driver and the passenger were old friends on their way to Tahoe for skiing, probably in their 50's and full of energy and a lifelong understanding of each other. They'd both hitchhiked at different times in their youth, we swapped a few stories as we drove up the road through the hills. They dropped me off in Truckee where the snow was getting thicker.

I walked along the side of the freeway as the snow fell, then a a guy stopped his car, moving two dogs to the back so I could sit up front. He was going towards the bay area, so Sacramento was right on the way. He'd lead an interesting life of hitchhiking, living in cars, vans, trailers, houses, backpacking and carpentry. The latest drama in his life was a custody battle over his young daughter, dealing with an unstable wife who'd routinely skip town with his kid, once for so long he had to track her down in Arizona.

He dropped me off at a movie theater in Sacramento where Aaron came and picked me up. We went back to his place and had a few beers, soon Jess came home and also their friend Dan. Part of Beer Week involved a scavenger hunt - taking pictures of various beer related things - the four of us headed out to various bars that night, drinking pints and taking pictures.

The next day I helped Aaron turn in a bunch of cans before heading out to the Thunder Valley casino, there I won a little money playing roulette and free play on the slots, we had a big meal at the buffet afterwards. Back at Aarons later his dad came over and we had a few beers, when Jess came home we hit the town again. We stopped at five different spots for beers and scavenger hunt pictures - Rivercity, Pyramid, Rubicon, Townhouse and Hilltop.

After a lazy hungover start to the next day, Aaron and I went to popular spot called Squeeze Inn, known for it's burgers with overflowing crispy cheese. We made a trip to the Pyramid brewery after that, getting samplers and each filling up growlers to go. We stopped at the Rubicon brewery for a pint before heading back home to wind down with some drinks and a movie.

The next night brought a similar excursion, out to bars for cheap Lagunitas pints, a friends house for more beers and darts, and a trip to a bar I don't recall much at all, my memory skips to waking up the next morning at Aaron's house to start a lazy Saturday.

By late afternoon we pulled ourselves together and headed out for the Pyramid pub crawl. We arrived at the meeting bar and got free shirts, then rolled as a pack to the next bar where we began drinking. The crawl appeared to be a bit lame, even though there was 60 or more of us, there were no real drink specials or beer variety to hold our attention. We went to the next bar, but left before getting a drink, we headed to another place where I got a dark beer called Snow Cap that was pretty good.

We headed back to the house for some lazy beers, a couple friends came over and we motivated ourselves out into the night. We stopped at a couple bars, winding up at one called Lime Light. We sat in a side partition where people played blackjack, a poker room nearby as well. When we had first walked in there was a bit of a scuffle, the tail end of it. Later a guy involved, who'd been kicked out, snuck back in somehow and managed to stab someone in the cheek with a broken bottle. It was shortly after this that the group of made our way to the exit.

The next day Aaron and Jessica began sanitizing their brewing equipment in preparation for the next home brew. We headed to a bar midday where we turned in a CD with the pictures we'd taken for the scavenger hunt. We'd done a pretty half-assed job, but figured it was worth going out for a pint or three. We wound up coming in fourth place, mostly due to a low amount of people turning in anything at all. The prize package was forgettable, coupons mostly.

Back at the house we got to brewing and drinking. Jess added a healthy amount of honey and extra sugar in hopes of a higher resulting alcohol content, it would be about a month until any of us would find out if it worked out.

Aaron and I got some food the next day, then headed out to the Red Hawk casino where I was able to win about $50. From there we headed to Manderes where we met up with Jess, they'd been bragging about the places beer selection for a while, it lived up to the hype. A pint or three later lead to a trip back to the casino, they won some money and I lost just about everything I had. We went home for some food, a movie, then sleep.

I intended to hitch out of town the next day, but the rain kept me in Sacramento another day - a lazy one of writing and lounging around, capped with a chili dinner Aaron whipped up. The next day too was a rainy one, delaying my hitch again. That night I trimmed down my beard and made a fancy San Diego sign; reminiscing on good beer and pondering the road ahead.