Cambrian: Slice of Life

Away from home, but not away from reporting

It was supposed to be a vacation day of shopping, capped off by dinner with the family. But one segment of that day turned into a bit of a busman’s holiday for this reporter. Sure, I’ve had those before, from writing a column while on vacation to finishing an assignment in a hospital waiting room.

But this was … different.

We were visiting Sean, Kim and their giggling gaggle of girls in their new house. I also was taking a break from my journalistic pressures, stressors and deadlines.

The first morning, we had the house to ourselves, as everyone else was off to school or work.Husband Richard and I had a leisurely breakfast, listened to squawking geese as they flew overhead to the nature preserve next door, and enjoyed our son’s new pride-and-joy surroundings.

We headed out to learn more about the family’s new hometown, driving around to get oriented and acquainted.

Did that, but not quite the way we planned.

Loomis is a charming little rural community of about 6,600 people at the edge of California Gold Country and the foot of the Sierra Nevada range. It’s also a slightly far-flung bedroom community for Sacramento workers.

Amtrak tootles through town, as does Highway 80 to Reno. There are some chain restaurants and stores and a host of shops ranging from antique stores to rock-and-gravel purveyors (they don’t call a neighboring city Rocklin for nothing).

Nearly everybody sells locally grown mandarin oranges, including farmers themselves, an upscale “farmers market” produce-and-gourmet-foods shop and the junk dealer on the edge of town.

Driving around, we made note of places where we wanted to stop — the aforementioned farmers market store, for instance, to buy produce for the elaborate Valentine’s Day dinner we’d planned to make for the family.

Husband Richard played tour guide, calling out the names or types of stores we were passing.

But I was feeling on alert, somehow.

About a mile further, my journalistic antennae really began quivering.  One … two … four … there were at least six law-enforcement vehicles with lights flashing, all parked in a bumpy-looking parking lot between Taylor’s old-fashioned drive-in café and a saloon.

Someone was being forcefully restrained, one arm behind his back and the other above and behind his head, with his hands almost meeting in the middle of his back, held there by a lawman.

Another deputy or policeman had taken “the stance,” both hands clenched around a gun aimed at the detainee. Everyone was in high-alert posture.

No, I wasn’t on duty. I wasn’t even on my beat. And number three, Kathe, we’d better get the hell out of here. So, we did, until we were clearly out of range.

Later, next door to the farmers market, we saw the offices of the Loomis newspaper. How convenient. So we went inside.

After chatting a bit about our respective papers, I asked about the incident, but apparently we knew more than they did.

Back in the car, Husband Richard said, “It’s time for lunch.”

“Sure is,” I replied. “Let’s go back to Taylor’s.” He grinned and agreed.

We pulled in, parked and sat there scanning a list of 120 different milkshakes (I kid you not … including bacon, Cap’n Crunch and honeydew melon). A young man in an elf suit (I kid you not, in spades) came out to take our order, and I asked about the earlier incident.

He said someone had come to repossess a motor home, and the owner had dashed back inside his house, followed closely through the back door by the repossesser man. Motorhome owner said, “Get out! I’ve got a gun!” Mayhem ensued. Someone called the cops, and everybody and his mother showed up.

Later, I called to tell the newspaper office what I’d learned. My mental notes pretty much matched what they’d gotten from a law-enforcement spokesman: No gun was ever brandished or shown, really, so no arrests were made. No repo made either … seems someone was living in the motorhome, and repossessing someone’s home is a different drill.

Interesting, yes, but enough, already! This busman reporter was done, ready to forget work and enjoy her holiday in mom-grandma mode only.

Sure will … just as soon as I finish this column.

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