Retirement is a goal that most people strive for after many years of working. We save and plan and hopefully with a little help from social security as an additive, we can spend our later years enjoying the fruits of our labor. We may not be jetting off in a private plane or cruising the world, but for the most part just enjoying well-deserved time off and spending that time with loved ones is enough.

Travel is always nice. But when we think about where we live and the fabulous weather we enjoy here in Northern California, it seems funny that we have to think twice about going someplace based on weather. It’s either too cold or maybe storming. Is it tornado or hurricane season?  I look out my window and say, “Why leave?”

For many years we lived in Discovery Bay and spent a great deal of time on the water. We visited lots of places by boat, enjoying the Delta and its numerous nooks and crannies. The boat is long gone and we enjoy the memories but there is no reason to not continue the exploring. 

Last week Grandpa said, “Get dressed. Let’s go!” I didn’t even ask where. I just nodded and obeyed! That’s a first. He decided to take a ride along the Delta and visit some of the fun little towns in the area. We started our journey and visited the town of Locke. It’s very old with a lot of history. 

An unincorporated community in California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, Locke was built by Chinese immigrants during the early 20th century. We tried to go into the Chinese Museum on Main Street, but unfortunately it was closed. We plan to return. Locke was originally named Lockeport after George Locke, who owned the land that the town was built upon at a time when Chinese people were not allowed to own land. It’s right off State Route 160 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as of 1971. It was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1990 due to its unique example of a historic Chinese-American rural community. Main Street is extremely narrow and not very long. The old buildings are worn and rustic as are the little shops and the famous bar, Al the Wops.’ We were told Al’s is a very popular place on weekends. The walls are filled with memorabilia and a few buffalo heads while the ceiling has dollar bills hanging down with notes and signatures. Grandpa had a cup of coffee and I snapped pictures while visiting with the friendly bartender. 

We left and went through Walnut Grove, also a very historic little town.  On Oct. 7, 1915, the Chinatown of Walnut Grove was destroyed and burned by accidental fire. This caused a migration of Chinese immigrants to neighboring towns like Locke. Established in 1850 by John W. Sharp, Walnut Grove is one of the earliest settlements along the Sacramento River. The town quickly prospered as an agricultural center and riverboat stop exporting Bartlett pears as a large source of income. We drove through town and enjoyed looking at the old shops that unfortunately were also not open yet. 

Our final stop that day was Rio Vista, which is several miles south of the original settlement. Colonel Nathan H. Davis founded Brazos del Rio near the entrance of Cache Slough at the Sacramento River in 1858. The settlement was renamed Rio Vista before a flood in 1862 that resulted in the town moving to its present location on higher ground. The community was officially incorporated as Rio Vista on Dec. 30, 1893. 

From 1911 through 1992, Rio Vista was home to the United States Army Reserve Center that served as a base for river control activities by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A more recent claim to fame was the visit by a lost humpback whale in 1985, despite being 60 miles upriver from the Pacific Ocean. The young whale nicknamed “Humphrey” became famous and even had a restaurant in Antioch named after him for quite some time. Humphrey was guided back to sea by rescuers, but in May 2007, other humpbacks were sighted in Rio Vista. “Delta” and “Dawn,” mother and calf, stopped at least twice in the river near the town.

We had a great day, enjoyed a nice lunch in Rio Vista overlooking the water and realized that we live in a very interesting and historic area. Since it took well under an hour to get there from Brentwood, perhaps there is no need to fly 12 hours to Europe to experience history when it’s right here in our own backyard. The weather sure helps too!

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