September 14th, 2010
The delta’s been one of my favorite rambling spots for a handful 0f years. Its like a wonderful mix of rolling mid-western farmland and the water-skiing river atmosphere of my growing up, complete with dockside bars serving Coors and potato skins. Beyond that sweet nostalgia, it’s also full of small town history, abandoned boats, weird old marinas and some breathtaking scenery.
One of these summers we’ll boat up there and spend a week exploring by water.
Til then, it’s spritzers and camping.
I think I have an obsession with docks.
We’d only ever been up for day trips, but with the weather nice everywhere but the city, we thought we’d try for a full weekend. Brannan Island SRA is pretty gigantic and unexciting as far as campgrounds go, but they have 10 or so really nice “walk-in” campsites that overlook the slough and are separated from the drive-through areas by a little hill. Franklin and I settled in with a proper picnic.
Picked a bunch of wild spearmint by the water’s edge and made cocktail-hour mint juleps.
Fried up the catfish Franklin caught at Lake Temescal and watched our college-aged neighbors nearly burn their camp down trying to dump a jug of lighter fluid on the fire. Highly amusing for us old-timers, especially the “Dude, aren’t you training to be a fireman?”.
Some damn pretty colors out there.
Woke up and watched this guy chug his cool little double-ender out of the boat docks.
Jumped in for a quick swim off the dock at the Ryde Hotel.
Rumor has it there was a secret underground tunnel from the dock to the hotel’s speakeasy during prohibition. Whether illegal or no, it played host to many a movie star during the 30′s and looks like it would’ve been a pretty amazing place for dancing and late-night pool diving.
Whizzed back up a couple weekends later with Kate and Clare in tow, this time with no reservation but a crossing of fingers. Got there to find the campground full, but the last spot secretly held for us by the nice gal Kate had pleaded with while we sat in traffic through Antioch.
So worth it.
Busted out the cheese in celebration.
I love the sun.
More laying in the sunshine, blackberry picking and the occasional dip while karaoke wafts across the river from the Outrigger bar. It’s enough to make you need a cold beverage.
Stopped off for bait and tackle in Isleton on the way to Al’s. To be able to say you got blood worms from the Master Baiter. . . it never gets old.
I think this may have been the mayor of Isleton, or at least it’s homefront security. Cruising the street un-chaperoned, his bark was a force to be reckoned with, as I imagine would be his bite unless you had a shoebox to stuff him in.
The infamous Al The Wop’s, where began a lifetime addiction to pepperoncinis with peanut butter. Set a few back, then took the winding levee roads through the warm night air and another listening of Tusk. Who’d have known that would be the best feeling ever?
So long summer? One never can tell, but it was nice to get that sun in while we could. And in truth, the delta’s one of those places worth exploring anytime of year. There’s a couple of different ways to go (and no real way to avoid the Antioch gridlock) but Franklin and I favor taking the 80 east all the way to the 4, which takes you past the awesome Thrifttown on San Pablo Dam Road and gives you a nice stretch of Hwy 4 before it turns into strip malls again. From the 4, you turn off on the 160 north and the entrance to Brannan Island SRA is just a little ways. The swimming area is great for a day trip and never seems to be too intensely crowded, mostly just families bbq-ing, fishing and hanging out in the shallows. There’s also a boat launch and docks if that’s your angle (or it may be someday). Just up the 160 is Isleton, home of the Crawdad Fest, the Master Baiter and one tiny terror, and winding beyond that is Ryde, Walnut Grove and Locke, the latter most definitely worthy of a visit. Be sure to eat a peanut butter pepper for me if you go.