Part II – The California Delta Trip Report

The Delta ride trip Report – Riding Through California River Delta History

“Men do Not Quit Playing because they Grow Old; They Grow Old, Because they Quit Playing”


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed in the things that you didn’t do, than by the things that you did.”


Which one of the above quote best suits you?  What is still fresh on my mind is that yesterday we survived the Golden Gate bridge ride.  Soon afterwards, the entire group caravanned in rush hour San Francisco style traffic from the Richmond launch site to the town of Orwood, California to camp and ride the delta.  An interesting note is that Orwood, is only 3 feet above sea level however, all our delta river riding takes place below sea level.  Orwood resort is a fifty year old family resort touted as the friendliest place on the delta.  Correctly so, and their food, including their nightly steak and lobster special is also well worth the drive.   We liked the lobster so much the entire group ordered a second tail. By the time we refueled, ate dinner, paid for a camp site, launch site, and berth, my wallet felt a whole lot lighter.  Yes, everyone slept like a rock.  For some, it was a little hard setting up a new tent in the dark.  For others, it was only hard getting up in the morning.  Also hard to believe that just the night prior, most of us pulled our PWC trailers for over six  hours from Southern California, places like Irvine, Encino, San Pedro or Hollywood.

Lewis, (President and founder of the West Coast Watercraft Club) I thought, this better be another great ride!  And then there were seven.  One of our group bailed on us after the ocean ride.  For those not familiar, it’s a totally different ride on a personal watercraft vs riding the waterways on a boat.  When on a straightaway, the river is smooth, everything about riding feels good. Seven of us loosely play follow the leader.  On a PWC the throttle is always your friend.  Not knowing what is up ahead we only imagine a curvy river.  Soon, the river gives way to a large open waterway, the swells begin to break, the water, once it hits you, is ice-cold.  It’s brackish water, now I’m totally drenched.  Uggggh!  Who said to just wear shorties, shorts or skip the wet suit altogether?  Shouldn’t’ve listened.  The air temperature hovers just over 70 degrees but the water feels much colder. A short while later, still on the same ride.  I’m now totally air-dried.

We’re banking corners, left, then right, then what seems to my senses like we may be going around in circles.  A totally different mountain landscape suddenly appears in the distance.  The clouds are amazing large, some threatening rain, the sky around them is a bright blue.  Windmills?  Do I see windmills in distance?  Not quite.  These are the kind that produce electricity.  Hundreds of them, off in the distance.

I have no idea where I am.  In fact, I don’t even know the general cardinal direction that we are now moving.  No problem, all I know is that we’re having fun on the water banking turns and I’m loving it.  The only thing that could screw this all up, is getting separated from the group or a break down.  And then it happens.  From WOT riding down to about 45 miles per hour, then smoke all around, unresponsive throttle and dead in the water.  Thank goodness Lewis is keeping an eye on the group, shepherding us along.  He spots me, I give the danger signal and in no time he is on the radio relaying the info forward that one of us is in trouble.  Arrangements are made to meet back at Orwood.  We hook up my old 2008 GTX LTD Seadoo with Lewis’ brand new 300 RXP Seadoo and off we go.  Half a tank of fuel later we arrive back at Orwood Resort.  I feel like my ride is over but, not Lewis.  Quickly David offers up his spare Kawasaki 300 Ultra.  Again we refuel, and off to further explore the delta we go.  This time I feel like I just traded in a Prius for a Ferrari.  Yes, I’ve been quoted as saying they build ultras for the older rider.  Spend time on one and you will see that your body does not get as beat up riding one.

The first part of the Delta, Doctor Angelo, another local guide is in the lead.  His 95 pound Chinese born sweetheart is his passenger.  He moves like the wind on a Seadoo 255X.  I comment to him that he rides faster two up, than some people ride single.  Angelo takes us to Giusti’s Place, a 100-year-old restaurant that is still family owned and operated. Yes, it is the oldest restaurant and bar on the Delta.  Outside we all assemble for a group picture and enlist the aid of a local.  Ken, at 86 years old, has no trouble using a smart phone camera.  Soon we are all deep in conversation about the area’s vast history.  He tells us a story about how his father operated a tug that hauled the rock used to build up the levees.  At eight years of age he was helping his father run the tug and making himself useful.  Angelo’s sweet heart Paris curiously listens in.  Suddenly she wants to know more about his father.  “How old is he”?  The rest of us surmise that maybe something was lost in the conversation.  We add that Ken is 86 years old.  Yes, she says, but how old is his father?  Ken plays right along.  That would make him 129 years old!  She  now gets it.  “He’s dead”?  Sad face.  We laugh with her.

Before coming up to Northern California for this ride friends and family told me not to go.  That place up there is a dangerous part of the world, not PWC friendly.  Those waters will eat you and your watercraft up.    Why come here and why add these two places to your PWC riding bucket list?  All I can tell you is that I’ve managed so far to ride hundreds of miles in places like Alaska, the Florida keys, Lake Powell, Lake Havasu, to and from Catalina Island hundreds of times, San Diego, LA to San Diego and everything else in between.  The golden gate and delta ride are now in my top five.  No passport needed to ride up here and it is only as dangerous as you choose to make it.

Thank you Lewis and Jason for having the foresight to enlist the aid of local knowledge.  Without the aid of Chris (Golden Gate); Angelo (First part of the Delta); and Carlos (Way more Delta) we never would’ve truly touched the passion of the ride, like we did!   Now think again!  Which one are you?

“Men do Not Quit Playing because they Grow Old; They Grow Old, Because they Quit Playing”


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed in the things that you didn’t do, than by the things that you did.”

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Jerry, holding a picture of Jerry, in his younger Navy days.







About trawlercat

Retired and now moving on from the cruising life jeeps, adventure bike, gardening, and travel. Always in search of the next great adventure!
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