Once in Sacramento, how can we miss a visit to Napa Valley, America’s most celebrated wine region. Napa is best known as a booming wine region, serving up some of the top vintages and some of the best wines in the world. The rolling hills and sunny skies make the region a picturesque spot for a quick getaway.
In Napa Valley, I was surprised by the giant Oak Trees – not by their sizes and not by the littleness of the small acorns that grew on them, but by the Oak Apples.
That’s what I knew about Mighty Oaks and Little Acorns until my visit to the Napa Valley. There were Big Oak Apples growing on the Mighty Oaks too.
An oak apple is not a fruit but a gall. Now what is a Gall?
Plant galls are abnormal outgrowths of plant tissues. They can be caused by various parasites, fungi, and bacteria. Oak apple galls are leaves that have developed into a thin sphere because wasps have laid eggs inside of the leaf.
As the egg hatches, chemicals and hormones released through fluid alter the leaf’s typical growth and the leaf develops into green round ball to create a secure tiny home for one wasp larva. In summer, the larva turns into a pupa, and then into an adult wasp. The adult wasp exits the gall by making a hole, and the galls turn brown and sometimes drop to the ground. Males and females mate, and females burrow into the ground to lay eggs and the cycle restarts again.
The mighty oak tree, the galls and the oak apple wasps teach us about the complexity of the natural world around us and demonstrate how native tree species support. There are hundreds of insects that produce galls, even within a single oak tree. Other insects use different species of plants to create galls. And many other organisms sometimes take advantage of a gall one larva has created and repurpose it for their own use.
On September 03, Kumar Bala aka Nandu surprised me with a visit to Sacramento. Kumar and I are from the same batch at Sainik School, Amaravathi Nagar, Thamizh Nadu. He is the Head of Life Sciences Strategy at Oracle with a focus on Medical Device and Pharma sectors. He lives in the Bay Area, about 90 minutes’ drive from Sacramento. We had lunch at Mylapore Restaurant at Folsom, about thirty minutes’ drive from Sacramento. The restaurant served the most authentic Dosa, Uthappam, Idli and other South Indian delicacies. It was indeed a great place to culminate our reunion and my California trip.
California State Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento is a tribute to the Iron Horses and the people who sacrificed to make it possible in connecting California to the rest of the nation. The museum features restored locomotives and cars, some dating back to 1862. First opened to the public in 1976, the Museum is visited by Over 500,000 annually.
The California State Railroad Museum serves its function is to collect, preserve, interpret, and display objects of artistic, cultural, or scientific significance for study and education of the public. Various restored engines, rolling stock, railroad artwork, and interactive exhibits are sure to delight both rail enthusiasts and first time visitors alike.
City of Sacramento derives its name from its location near the confluence of the American and Sacramento River. Thus, water and railroad transportation were vital to the development of the city. During the California Gold Rush (1848–1855,) Sacramento was connected to San Francisco by rail, road, pony mail and ships.
During our summer vacation of 2022, we visited our niece Deepti and her family at Sacramento. While touring California in 2008, I believed that either Los Angeles or San Francisco or San Diego could be the capital of California. That time Sacramento did not find a place in our destinations.
A series of devastating fires prompted a group of citizens to establish the first volunteer fire department in the western United States. Sacramento Fire Department was established and became the first paid professional fire department west of the Mississippi.
When most cities around the world moved ahead with the times, Sacramento city preserved old buildings which are historically significant and aesthetically appealing. These buildings have been put to good use for businesses and offices and they also attract a lot of tourists year around.