Seven Crown Resorts is the Way to Go Story & Photos by Barbara L. Steinberg©
Yes, the Delta. No, not the Mississippi Delta. The California Delta! Some of you know of where I speak. Stretching from Sacramento to the San Francisco Bay and passing diverse Delta towns like Walnut Grove, Ryde, Rio Vista, Antioch, Isleton, Brentwood, Stockton, and Pittsburg. But many of you out there have no idea that this magical landscape – thousands of watery miles, hundreds of islands, wildlife, expeditions galore, recreational wonderland – is out there waiting…for YOU!
It’s my great good fortune to have been exploring the California Delta many years. My first encounter, sometime in the late ‘70s, left this East Coast native in complete awe. I had never seen or experienced anything like it. We drove for what seemed like many miles to a Delta marina. Because I was unfamiliar with the region, I had/have no idea where we were. I just remember the many drawbridges, the topography, tiny river towns, and winding levee roads that brought us to our final destination: a sunset Delta cruise. I fell in love. With the Delta, of course!
For the past 33 years, the Delta love-affair has grown stronger. By some standards I am a layperson. As much as I have seen, it’s an immense area of specialty. Just like my pursuit of all things California, it’s just a drop in the Delta bucket. But each time I venture out I come away with something new…something more…something special. And that’s the thrill of this Delta oasis. Even those who have made this a lifetime pursuit will say the same. There’s always more to learn.
So on a recent Delta adventure, I was most blessed. A view of the sun rising over Venice Island and me from my Seven Crown Resorts houseboat outpost. It was my first Delta houseboat and what an experience it was! From our soggy berth we saw and heard Canada geese, coots, cormorants, great and lesser egrets, great blue heron, night heron, raccoon, kestrel, red-tail hawks, ducks, and sandhill crane. Under the cloak of darkness, we could not identify the land mammals swimming past our floating home, but watched with glee as their trail was lit by a two-thirds moon. Each was a thrill. Binoculars and camera close-at-hand, I ran from stem to stern at the mere suggestion of wildlife.
When we first departed Paradise Point Marina near Stockton, I was a little apprehensive. What if we get lost? What if we damage the boat? I even asked, “So you just give us the keys and let complete amateurs lose out there?” Well, I’m sure you can guess the answer. But pretty hardy folks, we were well-equipped with proper maps and a brief introductory lesson from Seven Crown Resorts/Paradise Point Marina staff. Luckily on this early morning, we have the most perfect weather. A few billowy clouds, blue sky, a small breeze, and all that Delta stretched out before us. So we departed on our houseboat voyage.
Before long, the marina is far away and we are alone on the water. It’s mid-week, and so there are fewer boats along the way. Other quick-moving vessels are the hare to our slow-plodding turtle. But we don’t care. This is not about winning the race, but enjoying life at a slow and peaceful pace. And enjoying life the way it use to be…so much of California Delta life is a trip back in time. Keep your eyes open for the local transit system of ferries transporting trucks and cars from island to island.
We found our way to the recommended anchorage and in the company of what can best be described as an island of coots. There was already a small gathering, but they continued to come and spent the night as one large floating mass. Then came the cormorants. The two communities floated close to each other, but remained separate. An unwelcome fishing boat sent the cormorants scurrying; the sound of their wings filled the air. Those silly mud hens (coots) just paddled away. By morning the cormorants were nowhere to be seen, but our neighborly coots remained.
The most magical time came during and after sunset. At the recommendation of Paradise Point Marina GM, Brian Healy, we anchored along Venice Cut just south of the Deep Water Channel. From this protected berth, we watched the on-set of an Alpen-glow over Mt. Diablo – that way-off in the distance 3,849-foot mountain in the Bay Area. That’s how clear and wonderful the views can be. And as the dark settled around us, the sounds of nature and the gentle lapping of water were all the lullaby we needed.
And speaking of the Deep Water Channel...there's nothing quite so thrilling as rocking in the wake of some giant freighter, passing silently on its way to or from Stockton or Sacramento. Be sure to look both way before crossing!
This houseboating excursion was also a painful reminder of the delicate balance necessary to protect the California Delta. Invaders – natural and man-made – threaten the health of the Delta. Invasive water hyacinths, quagga mussels, mitten crabs, and a kelp-like forest of Egeria densa(a popular aquarium plant) grows thick all around. Many intruders were brought innocently to this delicate eco-system as hitchhikers aboard freighters and boats that ply this labyrinth of waterways. Some, deliberately, by human hands. Either way, we must work to protect this Delta gift, which is (literally) the watery lifeblood for most of California.
Too soon we turn and make our way back to the marina. We spy a den of river otters along the way…and I know I am truly blessed.
Get Thee Down to the California Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta! If you don't have a copy of Hal Schell's Delta Map...it is the best! Hal was the "king" of the California Delta. You can purchase one at Paradise Point Marina. There are plenty of places to tie-up and disembark along the way. We chose to live aboard for our entire trip and relish every moment.