Steve's Thunder Travelogue: Sacramento And Phoenix, A Friends And Family Trip

A win-win road trip for this guy for a couple of reasons. One of my best friends from high school (Wichita) lives in a suburb of Sacramento, and my sister lives in Scottsdale.

Tuesday, November 14th 2023, 9:05 pm

A win-win road trip for this guy for a couple of reasons. One of my best friends from high school (Wichita) lives in a suburb of Sacramento, and my sister lives in Scottsdale.

When I landed in Sacramento, the weather was too good to stay in my hotel room. I ventured around downtown and stumbled upon breaking news right outside my hotel -- a stabbing, no serious injuries.

The Capitol of California is downtown; that’s always a must for me. You can walk around the Capitol grounds, which runs 12 blocks. (40 acres).  The California Capitol and all the nature that surrounds it, must be at or near the top in the United States. Tall sums up the trees that stand on the grounds. It includes various types of trees - cedar, cypress, palm; and many more. It consists of plant life from all over from various parts of the world.

The downtown thrives off the Capitol setting and the new basketball arena they opened in 2016, the Golden 1 Center. Once the Center opened, restaurants, a nice hotel/apartment quickly developed around it, creating a great spot for basketball and non-basketball events at the Center.

On the day of the game, I was hoping to eat breakfast at Jim-Denny’s, a fixture in Sacramento for countless years. I had eaten there before the pandemic hit. They serve pancakes that cover an extra-large plate. Sign me up for that again.

You walk in and they have a long counter on the right, and you just pick a seat at the counter and watch them cook right in front of you. A vintage setup that reminds me of the days when I visited my grandmother in Copeland, Kansas, growing up and at their small-town diner.

Unfortunately, they are not open for breakfast, or at least not for the day I showed up. Bummer! 

Every NBA arena across the country offers something unique. No two are alike except for the court and the ten-foot baskets.

Outside the visiting locker room in Sacramento, a picture of Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters) was put on the wall, guessing about a year ago.

The picture hangs on the wall exactly where the picture was taken, which is cool. Taylor Hawkins (pictured on the left) died in March 2022, so the picture represents his last concert at Golden 1 Center.

The day after the Thunder loss to the Kings, I met up with my friend and had breakfast at the Mimosa House East. Breakfast did not disappoint. He was able to take me the airport, and off I go to our next Thunder stop – Phoenix.

I normally don’t rent a car on my Thunder trips, but my sister lives about 15 miles north of downtown Phoenix, so I rent a car when I stay at her house. I was able to have dinner with my sister’s family in Old Town Scottsdale at Grimaldi’s Pizza.

The weather was near perfect on the trip. I can see why people flock to Phoenix in November: plenty of sunshine.

Instead of coming home for one game and then flying back, I decided to stay an extra day with my sister, bonus family time. 

Now I’m off to San Francisco for two games with Golden State and one in Portland. I was warned two weeks ago that security will be tight in downtown San Franciso. Wear your Thunder press credential if possible. The APEC summit (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) is taking place this week. This event will be San Francisco’s largest international gathering since 1945. Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet on San Francisco on Wednesday. This event also factored into my decision to stay out West. I didn’t want to fly into the Bay Area on the day they were meeting.

My first two nights I will stay at Fisherman’s Wharf, where it should be quieter, and I’ll play it by ear to see if I want to move closer to the arena for the rest of my trip. Protests in San Francisco are expected, if they haven’t happened already.

Thunder On,



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