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Delta

What with the impending change in life circumstances (the cliff at the end of the year), [personal profile] scrottie has been keen to check out some marinas in the Sacramento River Delta. The Delta as a whole is fascinating. It covers a huge area. Recognizing that a lot of the lower stretches have incredibly rich soil, people have put in an extraordinary amount of effort to claim land back from the river waters. The outcome is a reticulated network of waterways surrounding tiled islands kept (mostly) dry by levees. It's like an American equivalent of the Netherlands. The only thing is, a lot of the reclaimed land consists of peat bogs, which start to sink if they aren't periodically recharged with new nutrient and plant inputs. So occasionally, there's a watery hole in the island network.

Anyway, not too long ago, S got his boat back from Bethel Harbor, and they suggested he go and check out a place called Owl Harbor as a potential alternative to his current mooring at someone's house in Discovery Bay. Initial investigations suggested Owl Harbor was accessible by a multi-transit expedition, so we decided to go for it on Sunday. We rode over to the Richmond station and threw ourselves and our bicycles onto an Amtrak train bound for Antioch. Then we picked up our bikes and rode along the heavily industrial waterfront over to the Antioch Bridge.

Things didn't look so promising at the bridge. The southbound onramp had a sign posted saying that bicycles and pedestrians were prohibited. The OoGley-derived directions had us heading up the southbound off-ramp, which lacked any sort of promising infrastructure and sounded like the worst of all terrible ideas. It was starting to look like the trip would be a complete flop. But at least the weather was nice and we were out on our bicycles. I proposed crossing under the bridge to examine the northbound onramp, where we finally spied a promising sign that read, "PEDESTRIANS BICYCLES MOTOR-DRIVEN CYCLES PERMITTED." There was a toll booth slightly ahead, so we cautiously rode up to it and confirmed with a tool booth worker that yes, indeed, we could ride our bicycles across the bridge. No toll necessary, for bicycles.

So I paused to snap a photo, as evidence:
Yes, you can cross the Antioch Bridge by bicycle

And we proceeded across.

The bridge reminded me of a number of the bridges I drove across in Louisiana. You feel like you're going to climb forever into the sky, but then eventually you reach the crest and cruise back down on the far side. The whole thing feels impossibly narrow and ridiculously high, but I guess that's what it takes to make sure that enormous shipping vessels can fit through.

I don't think I'd ride over that bridge just for fun, but I've ridden in worse places.

I didn't take any photos at Owl Harbor, but it was indeed a very nice marina, and there were many lovely boats of different ages and character moored there. The person working in the office that day suggested we fit in a 10-mile expedition around the "Delta Loop" to learn more about the local geography, so we did.

We had lunch at another nice little marina, just down the road:
Lunch stop at a marina along the Delta Loop

And as we continued to ride along, we saw all manner of other watercraft, in all sorts of shape, ranging from well-appointed river barges to half-sunk catastrophes. I could spend all week ogling boats.

We didn't pause for more photos, however, aside from this one:

Cycling around the Delta Loop

Then it was time to head back to Antioch to catch our return train.

We couldn't stop marveling about the whole bridge experience. Here's the Antioch bridge, viewed from near the Antioch train station:
View of the Antioch Bridge

Now I'm really curious about how it came to be, that the bridge is all-access. Was that included in the original plans, or a product of bike/ped interest groups working hard to advocate for access? Why is the Antioch bridge open, while the bridge between Richmond and the Marin Headlands remains only a dream?

Anyway, it was cool to have that sort of adventure in that pocket of California. The Sacramento River Delta is a fascinating place.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1178388.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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