Grand Opening Of Tower Park
The long anticipated grand opening and ribbon cutting for this great restaurant took place on Friday, May 10th. A crowd assembled for the occasion including the Lodi Chamber and Delta Chambers. Restaurant manager Julio Camperos was greeting everyone as they dropped in.
The Lodi Chamber was there to officiate with the ribbon cutting ceremony. Membership Director Marina Narvarte handled the officiating and Julio did the cutting. Blair Hake and yours truly represented the California Delta Chambers. It is great to have this restaurant open again. The establishment’s inside has been totally remodeled and it looks great. One new, exciting feature is the outdoor dining facing towards Mount Diablo. You can sit at this beautiful venue and admire beautiful sunsets while enjoying your dinner. We tried samples of coconut chicken skewers, shrimp and other exotic fare. It was all excellent and I am confident this will become a popular place to dine.
I would say the menu has a lot of entrees that you would expect in a Delta restaurant, but these have a definite upgrade such as the Tower Park Steak Burger on a kaiser roll with gruyere cheese and tomato jam. Or, try the BBQ shrimp BLT on foccacia with applewood bacon and vine ripe tomatoes. Julio has even has the pizza oven fired up for some California-style pizzas.
While we were there, Bruce Gordon, a friend of mine who now works part time for the Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Resort took Sue and me for a golf cart tour of the campground. It is amazing to see the improvements they have added over the last couple of years. The campsites have all been improved with fire pits. Some sites are drive through for ease with your RV and there is a good inventory of cabins as well.
The water zone and Lazy River should be up and running by the time you read this article. There is a miniature golf course and Laser Tag. The pool has been totally upgraded and it now looks like a pool at some exotic resort with the matching chaise lounges and furniture.
If you have not been to Tower Park for a while you need to drop by. The owners have spent millions on upgrades and renovations; it is truly a destination now. You can come by boat, car, or RV.
Turner Cut Resort 50th Anniversary
Kathy and Skip McGuinness have been the proprietors at Turner Cut for 30 or so years. Kathy’s parents, Florence and Darrell Hannan, were the former management team. I recently spent a morning with Kathy and Skip. They took me for a tour of the marina and RV Park and told me of the history of the resort and Kathy’s family.
Florence and Darrell Hannan married when they were teenagers. Shortly thereafter, Darrell was called to serve in the Army O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Services) during World War II. He took parachute training and had fifteen jumps under his belt. He served in England, France and Germany.
After the war was over, they began spending time in the Delta where Florence’s father had a cabin on Big Break. They would head to the Delta at every opportunity. The military interrupted their lives once again when Darrell was called back into the Army during the Korean conflict. It wasn’t until 1957 that they were able to buy their first boat, a 14-foot Aristocraft powered by a 40hp Mercury outboard.
They had two children by then, Kathy and Doug. They became a river-rat, waterskiing family. Every summer weekend they would pitch a tent at Orwood Resort, launch the boat, then get up at 5 a.m. to head off to their favorite ski beach. They had permission from the landowner to set up daytime housekeeping on the beach. They terraced the land and made it quite comfortable, but they had to get there first each morning to claim it.
In 1960 they bought a cabin on Hammer Island and quickly set about remodeling it. Those who knew Kathy’s Dad could tell you that he was the fastest man on the Delta with a hammer and saw. He never let any sawdust grow under his feet. He started a job fast and finished it fast. If he had nothing better to do, he would add a room to the house.
Hammer Island is a tiny outpost near Del’s Boat Harbor in the South Delta. On it is an enclave of river dwellers in seventeen cabins, some of which are quite elaborate. There is a spot on this island that is the juncture of three counties. So even though it is comprised of a mere 3-1/2 acres, three counties have jurisdiction there (Alameda, San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties).
The Hannan family enjoyed spending their weekends and vacations on Hammer Island but they did not like to haul everything in by boat. Also, the land there was leased and they wanted to own their own property. With two other families, they began looking for Delta property to purchase.
They found Turner Cut Resort, a decrepit fishing resort that was ready to fall into the water. Some of the docks were rotted and old barrels supported other parts. The Hannans along with Lefty Hogg and Sam Vacaro bought the resort in 1967.
The new marina owners planned to shut the place down and operate Turner Cut Resort as a private facility for themselves and their friends. They built three 1,000 square-foot cabins up against the inside of the levee and then drew straws to see who got which cabin.
Four years later, Sam Vacaro sold his share of the resort to the Hannans and in 1985, Lefty Hogg, due to illness, did the same. Florence and Darrell and their kids were still having fun waterskiing and messing around in the Delta, but now they also had a resort to run.
Turner Cut Resort is located on Roberts Island, on what is actually a portion of the old course of Whiskey Slough. Turner Cut was dug to help form the levee system on neighboring McDonald Island. Tiki Lagoon Resort is located to the south of Turner Cut Resort; Lost Isle is about a mile to the north. PG&E has a major presence on McDonald Island with its huge underground gas reservoir. For decades, the Turner Cut cable ferry shuttled back and forth between Roberts and McDonald Islands, but it was replaced with a sliding-span drawbridge in 1979.
Kathy said her Mom talked about the good old days when she would walk their dogs down to the ferry and the ferry tender would give them a ride to the other side. They would reminisce about long ago when the old McDonald Island School across from the ferry had a jet fighter plane in the school yard for kids to play on.
The resort is situated in the heart of Delta agriculture country. Crop duster planes and tractors are familiar sights. During harvest time, farm workers come to the resort cafe to purchase beer and other supplies. At one time there was an asparagus packing shed nearby and guests would stop on the way home to get a fresh supply.
Kathy and Skip work hard keeping the resort beautiful and keeping up the spirit of Turner Cut for their four grand children and future generations. It is a great place to visit by boat or recreational vehicle.
Locke Asian Pacific Spring Festival
This, I think, was the 10th anniversary of this festival which is held on the main street of Locke. The town has a nice public parking lot but with all the extra visitors they opened up an adjacent vacant lot to handle the excess crowd. It worked out well; they had some very efficient young folks from Boy Scout Troop #8 directing traffic.
The townsfolk wanted to show the public the unique history of the hamlet as well as provide entertainment to the visitors. The event offered live music, dancing, martial arts demonstrations, exhibits and food vendors.
The MC was Jim T. Chon (aka “Wok Star”) and there were demonstrations of gambling devices by Douglas Hsia, a friend of mine and all around good guy. We heard the history of the Transcontinental Railroad and the fascinating history of Locke. Most of the businesses were open along with Al the Wop’s place, the legendary eating drinking establishment. Al’s was packed as it usually is on weekends with people enjoying cold beer and the famous steaks.
We met a lot of folks and it was a pleasant way to spend a spring afternoon.
Locke is always interesting even without a festival. Tie your boat up on Railroad Cut (sometimes known as Locke Slough) or if you are on the Sacramento River side you can use the Walnut Grove public dock and walk into town for a bite to eat and browse the stores and museum.
Rob & Kim
Rob and Kim Englent celebrated significant birthdays as well as their 10th wedding anniversary with a party at their estate in Lodi. It was like the tri-fecta of parties. It was an 80’s theme so many of their friends came decked out in their polyester outfits and colorful trousers. The dancing was disco and the food was Mexican. We had tacos made to order and plenty of cold things to drink along with jello shots. They have a great view of Mount Diablo from their front yard so we all admired the sunset before the party got going into high gear.
Discovery Bay Boat Show
Dane McCoy and I spent the day supporting the Save The California Delta Alliance at the show. We passed out plenty of literature, got many folks to sign up for email updates, took donations for the legal fund and promoted the upcoming golf tournament. Silver Seas Yachts was there with some beautiful boats, Scott and Jamie Mack were there representing Bethel Harbor. We dropped by Simpson Yacht Sales and caught the whole family hard at work.
Summer is here and already there have been a few unfortunate water accidents including a recent death in the Sacramento Deep Water Channel. The victim in this case fell out of a boat and was not wearing a life jacket. Many boating fatalities happen when people not wearing a PFD fall into the water and drown. I wear mine when underway in my boat and I have people asking me if I wear it because I cannot swim. I had my swimming merit badge in Boy Scouts and attained the Shark rank in the YMCA program. I try to swim a few hundred yards a day in the summer. I pride myself on my swimming ability but always wear it as a safety precaution. You never know when some emergency will arise.
I was at the Discovery Bay Boat Show recently and saw John Garza an acquaintance who is the Deputy Chief of the combined Rio Vista, River Delta and Delta Fire districts.
John mentioned Perry’s Boat Harbor donated an eighteen-foot Boston Whaler to the organization and they are fundraising so they can get a new 4-cycle, 90-120 horsepower motor and rescue safety gear for the craft. They are also looking for a seaworthy vessel with a fire pump. Tracy Motor Sports recently donated a Yamaha Rescue Water Craft to the organization. The combined Fire Depts. have twelve Rescue Swimmers and will have completed formalized Rescue Boat and Water Craft Training by the time you read this.
John explained to me that every year, River Delta and Rio Vista firefighters respond to water-based rescues. These rescues are all over the response area but often our firefighters find themselves near the Sacramento River or levees attempting to rescue someone trapped in the moving waters of the River. During the winter months this large river becomes a rain-swollen raging torrent with currents exceeding eight knots. Often on calls, victims or vehicles fall into the river and are swept downstream or stranded on rising waters.
John said, “We are called an average of 50 times a year for water/boat emergencies, and accidents that occur on Highways 160 or 12 which are both next to waterways. With our current capabilities we are unable to respond with the industry standard two or three vessels with crews on each. Additionally our peers at (DART) Drowning Accident Dive Team respond to an average of 150 calls per year with a large portion of the incidents on the Sacramento River. In fact, DART has started a progressive Safety and Prevention Program that we should model.” This is a needed worthwhile organization. If you can support them with cash or equipment please contact John at 925/337.2294.
Fred Weibel managed to pull off the surprise of the year on his beautiful spouse Judy. It was a significant birthday for her and Fred decided to throw a surprise party. Fred’s Executive Assistant, Corrie Gutierrez, handled most of the logistics and did a stellar job. I hope no event planning firm lures her away to work for them.
The ballroom at the Stockton Golf and Country Club was secured for the event. Invitations were sent out to a few hundred of Judy’s family, close friends and associates. Fred used some pretense of a night out with friends to get Judy to the club. The conspirators were hidden in the ballroom and Judy walked into a wall of well-wishers that shouted out the anticipated happy birthday as the group entered. She was totally surprised and overcome with emotion to the point of tears.
Walk around hors d’oeuvres were served and the bar was open. After the social hour a delicious dinner was served along with Weibel wines. Each guest received a split of champagne with a commemorative label honoring the occasion. The birthday cake was a work of art befitting the very artistic Judy Weibel.
After dinner the Jay Rollers band struck up a set of all of our favorite tunes. This drew many folks of all ages to the dance floor. The band was rocking and these guys played with a sense of humor. When I walked up to take a photo they stopped in the middle of a song and posed and then went back to work barely missing a beat.
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Feinstein was in Sacramento recently for a roundtable with reporters and a meeting with the governor. Rusty Areias invited her to a reception at Orchard Gables in Walnut Grove. Many political types from all over Northern California assembled to hear the Senator’s presentation. I would say that while my political views are somewhat different than hers, she is utterly charming with a great sense of humor. When Rusty introduced me to her I told her I was his biographer and she got a chuckle out of that.
Her political career started in San Francisco when she was elected to the board of supervisors in 1969. She first became mayor of San Francisco when George Moscone was assassinated in 1978. She was elected to succeeding terms after that. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992 and has served ever since.
You always meet interesting people at the Areias home and that evening was no exception. We met an interesting woman, Tess Wallace, who once held the speed record for barefoot waterskiing at 100+ mph.
Once again Marina West Yacht Club held their annual Memorial Day service at their clubhouse. In the past it has always been outdoors and there have been times when there is wind to contend with. This time they brought it inside and it worked out great. It was a very windy day so being inside was a welcome relief. Tina Tremain handled the music and special effects while Jerry Tremain conducted the service. After the ceremony the galley was opened and we dined on biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, tater tots, fresh fruit, juice and coffee. The bar was open, naturally, and Bob Kocher made me a tall bloody mary, the breakfast of champions.
Dennis and Cindy Kazee along with their children (young adults now), Zach and Kaylee were conspicuous by their absence. They have attended this event and have been part of the program every year that I have and probably long before. I found out that Kaylee’s high school marching band was nominated by Congresswoman Doris Matsui to represent California in the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington DC. Cindy says, “Dennis and another parent drove the band trailer across the country and back. I was fortunate to attend as well to help chaperone and wrangle the trailer while in DC. It was a spectacular event, really a lifetime memory for the kids and parents alike to march down Constitution Avenue. The kids participated in a tour including many of the monuments and museums along with a White House tour and time well spent at Arlington National Cemetery. The booster organization spent nearly a year raising funds and over 100 kids were able to participate.”
Ebony Boat Club
The club held their annual Jazz and Wine Festival at their Stockton Downtown Marina clubhouse. Niecey & The Obamah$ entertained. The clubhouse is an intimate setting so the event had the feel of a San Francisco jazz club. We enjoyed tasting local wines along with a selection of crackers and cheeses. Later the club galley served an excellent dinner of ribs, links, potato salad, corn bread, spinach, pound cake and peach cobbler. The band was great; they did a few instrumental numbers with a definite jazz heritage to warm up. Niecey has a great voice and does her own personal interpretation of many songs that we all love. It was a pretty warm day but she performed song after song and got the crowd up dancing throughout the set. They went on all afternoon with only a short break.
I wrote a while back about the club’s steer fundraising raffle. You can still obtain tickets. The winner of the steer will be announced during the club’s December 8, 2018 Change of Watch Dinner (the winner need not be present to win). With the assistance from Randy Harris, the winner will have two choices: 1. At the winner’s expense, the steer could be delivered to a local butcher for preparation and packaging or 2. The steer could be sold at a Live Cattle Auction and the funds from the sale of the steer will be mailed directly to the winner, minus any processing or auction fees. For more information, please contact Randy Harris at 707/678.4802.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District voted 4-3 to use $650 million of their ratepayer’s money to help fund the Brown/Laird twin tunnel WaterFraud. A joint powers authority, the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority has been created to oversee the final design of the tunnels. I am sure nothing can go wrong with that. So far Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Kern County Water Authority, and Contra Costa Valley Water District have committed a total of about $12.5 billion of their ratepayer’s money leaving it about $42.5 billion short if you use Arnold Schwarzenegger’s $55 billion estimate of the cost of the project.
Governor Brown is quoted as saying, “The only time you get anything done with water is when a Brown is governor and there are no more Browns coming along so you better get it done. I can tell you if I wasn’t pushing this thing it wouldn’t be going anywhere. If it doesn’t make it this time, forget it. You will all be dead before it is even thought of again.” I am confident this mother of all boondoggles can be stopped if enough good people stand up against it. The California Department of Water Resources has proven over and over again that they don’t understand and cannot manage a project like this. The state Waterboard hearings are available on YouTube, when you have some spare time listen to the state attorneys’ presentations and draw your own conclusions.
You will note an unintentional irony that the state’s lead attorney Tripp Mizzel bears a resemblance to the Roman Polanski character in the film Chinatown.
The Delta Counties Coalition offered public comment in response to the formation of the new Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Joint Powers Authority (JPA) at its board meeting in May. From their press release: Contra Costa County Supervisor Diane Burgis said, “Some have called the WaterFix a diabolical plan, bold and presumptuous. The Delta is a special and unique place. It is the largest estuary west of the Mississippi river and home to many historical legacy communities and towns, a thriving agricultural economy, diverse geography and many natural resources. Those of us who are directly impacted are being locked out.”
Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli stated, “Many of the Delta communities were settled around the time of the Gold Rush era, and in some cases, today are a part of a legacy of seven, maybe even eight, generations of farming families and Delta residents. Quiet rural farming areas will be transformed into gigantic construction zones, more akin to an industrial complex than tranquil country settings.”
San Joaquin County Supervisor Chuck Winn stated, “We have the opportunity to build a world class water system, but instead we are getting a flawed, inadequate and enormously expensive project that will not benefit the residents of California.”
Solano County Supervisor Skip Thomson said, “Expediting the project with a JPA at this point in time is grossly inappropriate. Where it may make the Governor happy, it is bad public policy to acquire land, design and construct the proposed project before it is fully permitted and before environmental impacts identified. In addition, many lawsuits are pending and bonds have not been validated.”
Don’t forget, Barron Hilton fireworks at Mandeville Wednesday, July 4th after sundown.
Bob Wilkerson, longtime partner of Gary Clausen at Twin Rivers Marine Insurance Agency Inc. has retired and looks forward to a life of leisure. He was a fixture at the firm for years.
Andy Bachich, the owner of Andy’s Local Market in San Rafael, is now operating the store of the very same name in its new location. When the Loch Lomond Marina property underwent development, the original location at the north-east end of the property was torn down. A whole new market was built closer to the marina and right next door to the Loch Lomond Yacht Club. If you find yourself in the area you might want to check it out. Aside from what you would expect in a market, the deli, meat department and ice cream bar are top notch.
James Pflueger, the Operations Supervisor of the Antioch Marina, advises me that the new Smith’s Landing Restaurant on the waterfront should be open in July. Smith’s Landing was apparently the original name of Antioch. The restaurant is in the totally refurbished building that once housed Humphrey’s Restaurant.
The Save the California Delta Alliance is holding a fundraising golf tournament on July 21 to help offset legal fees encountered in fighting the Brown/Laird tunnels. You can be part of the tournament and or help sponsor the event. For more information please check out www.nodeltatunnels.com.
My colleague, the noted Pat Carson advised me of an event at the Stockton Sailing Club. Runabouts on the River is presented by The Antique & Classic Boat Society - Northern California/Lake Tahoe Chapter and is the first ever boat show on the San Joaquin River at The Stockton Sailing Club, 498 Buckley Cove Way in Stockton, on July 28th, 1000 hours to 1600 hours. This event is free to the Public. For information please contact ACBS President Layne Davis at 408/234.7613.
A limited number of tickets are still available for the 17th Annual Taste of the Delta at Village West Marina on August 4th. Do not miss this fun afternoon. Get your tickets at: http://www.tasteofthedelta.com/purchase-tickets-2/ they are $30.00 online or $35.00 at the door.
Don’t miss the Stephens Yacht Rendezvous at Village West Marina August 3, 4 and 5. See some of your favorite boats all in one spot. Call me for information 916/869.9141.
The summer party is just starting. Let me know what you are up to: 916/869-9141 or email@example.com H