If you haven’t figured it out by now, I love California.
But I’d be lying to say that the Delta despite its vastness, uniqueness and being ground zero for California water politics that make up the topic of the lion’s share of my home bookshelves, is at the top of the charts.
I might think differently if I was into boating, waterskiing, fishing, bird watching, leisurely Sunday drives or exploring the nooks and crannies of old river settlements. I get why the mountains were calling John Muir whether they are snow-capped peaks in the Sierra or endless barren summits in the desert.
That doesn’t mean I don’t like the Delta. It just doesn’t float my boat — pun intended — as much as hiking to summits to look down on creation.
I can make some recommendations but for the most part they are sidelined thanks to the pandemic.
That said, at the earliest possible opportunity you need to book Sunday brunch that is served year round at the Ryde Hotel or — more tantalizing — at the elegant Grand Island Mansion.
The Ryde Hotel with its deco pastels three miles south of Walnut Grove looks like it harbored a speakeasy because it did. You can dine in the elegant 1927-era dining rooms or out in front on a patio overlooking the lightly traveled highway separating you from the river’s edge.
Sunday brunch is $27.95 for adults and $13.98 for children under 10. When it does resume it’s the perfect excuse for a Sunday drive a little over an hour away.
Check the website at rydehotel.com to see when Sunday brunches resume.
The Grand Island Mansion is an even better trip.
It just takes a few minutes longer to reach and takes you back to what feels like the Great Gatsby Era.
The unique and historic 58-room Italian Renaissance villa is part of the largest estate in Northern California. The four-story 24,000-square-foot villa was built in 1917 for Louis Meyers and wife Audrey, daughter of Lubin of the Weinstock’s Lubin department stores. It was built by European craftsman.
Today its main forte is as a wedding venue.
The mansion has been the subject of photo spreads in National Geographic, Sunset magazine, Architectural Digest, Playboy magazine, Victoria’s Secret catalogue, and Macy’s furniture catalogue.
The mansion and grounds are open for public viewing during the Sunday champagne brunch.
When the champagne brunch is served it’s typically a late fall to spring thing. It costs $39.95 for adults and $19.95 for children. The setting in the stunning grand ballroom would be worth it even if the food wasn’t top drawer which it is.
Check grandislandmansion.com to see when brunch dates will again be offered.
Both brunch options allow you to take a peek at the rustic and charming historic river community of Locke with its narrow streets lined with crammed wooden houses and occasional stores.
My favorite thing to do in the Delta over the years has been for a quick escape via pedal power.
There was a time when I was bicycling four or so days a week after moving to Manteca that once every two weeks I’d make a loop of the southeastern edge of the Delta covering less than 40 miles.
The beginning and end portions are a bit hectic today while the middle is still enchanting for its wide open vistas and minimal traffic.
The best route is to head out Yosemite Avenue and turn right by the wrecking yard to access the bike path that takes you along the 120 Bypass and under Interstate 5. From there it is a left on Manthey past Dell’Osso Farms heading south into the turnaround where you access the entrance to the bike path that runs along Interstate 205. It’s then a right turn on West Canal, a left on Paradise, a right on Arbor, a right on Holly Drive that turns into Sugar Drive at the base of the old Holly Sugar plant. Then it is a right turn on Tracy Boulevard that takes you deep into Delta farmland.
My favorite stop to grab a cold drink or ice cream is at Sam’s Market nestled against the Old River and bridge crossing where Tracy Boulevard intersects with Finck Road.
When you reach Howard Road you turn right and head toward French Camp. My preferred route from there is to connect with French Camp Road and return home via Union Road.
The route takes you past asparagus fields, orchards, row crops and such. It gives you plenty of fresh air, open views minimum traffic and a decent workout.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org.