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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Delta Blues, Part 2

I frickin' love the California Delta!

It reminds me of Florida and the laid back culture you often find there. Of course, like Florida, there are all kinds of subcultures at play in California. The Delta culture in California is also down-to-earth, slow, laid back, outdoorsy and just a little bit countrified and loose. Could you call it somewhat redneck?

Well, yeah.

Left: Not Redneck, Right: Oh. Hell. Yeah!

That's probably unfair to some since "redneck" has all sorts of negative connotations, like being as worthless as a broke dick dog. Sure, some folks in the delta are straight-up redneck from the bottoms of their soles to the back of their necks, and that's apparent from some of the floating trailerparks you see ever so often. However, many Delta denizens are neither redneck nor poor.

Take for instance Conrad Hilton, whose home we dropped anchor outside of and relaxed for a couple of hours a few weeks back. Surely this is one of his many homes – this one in particular is where he has a great spectacular bash every 4th of July which draws many a mullethead and coldneck from the 1,000 miles of waterways that make up the delta region.

Avoid Arrest

Or take for instance this guy. Your average Joe Schmoe couldn't afford a bitchin' boat like this – with the snazzy name on the back – working behind a register at the local Stop and Rob.

Sugar Daddies don't grow on trees, you know.

A Pussy Wagon on Water

Bruce's brother doesn't do bad neither. He also owns a boat, which he lives on. It's nice knowing someone who lives on a boat docked somewhere in the Delta. You can go fishing, swimming, or get really drunk and puke your brains out in the water. The best part of all three: minimal clean up.

Speaking of fishing, the Delta is a great place to cast a line if you're an angler. Right now, there are plenty of people fishing for Striper (no, not them). Striper, or striped bass, can be caught year round but the best time to fish is in the spring. You can fish for striper in the bay as well, although any striper over 35 inches shouldn't be eaten unless you want to seriously raise your mercury levels to life threatening levels. Striper and sturgeon are both great local fish to catch and eat, but you should only do so twice a month, or once a month for pregnant women and children (see Delta Advisory Sign).

The day we were in the Delta, we weren't there to fish, which meant no freshly-caught seafood for dinner. Instead, we ventured out in a smaller, single-engine boat to check out a couple of local dives. Boats, large and small, seem to be the preferred method of travel in these parts, and no matter where you go there's a boat hitch convenient to shopping and dining. People around here really live on the water.

The first place we checked out was Happy Harbor, which boasts of having the "best damn pizza in the West". Umm, yeah.

Pick Up Dog Poo

Something tells me that's probably an exageration, even for the Delta. Perhaps it could be that, besides a dirty dog and an even dirtier old drunk, the only other person in the restaurant was the waitress/bartender. Nothing on the menu (hamburgers, sandwiches, pizza) looked particularly good or interesting here (trust me – I'm not picky) so we left.

Since that was a bust, we hopped back on the boat and sped over the choppy delta waters to our next destination. It wasn't the most luxurious ride, especially when you have wind and water pummelling you and you're trying to hold on for dear life. However, it is the quickest way to get around and, sure, it's a little fun.

Our next stop was Moore's Riverboat. Moore's is a pretty large restaurant with both inside/outside (covered) seating and a bar. I'm sure the bar is a great place to do shots after a long day out on the water, and it seemed to have a regular crowd of Delta characters. If I still drank and lived close by, I'd probably hang out at Moore's on occasion (although, being an alcoholic, I'm not sure that's a good thing).

The restaurant had pretensions at being something fancier, but its delta charm (coasters propping up crooked tables) blew that right out of the water. That, and the dead bugs on the wind/spray shield which lines the perimeter of the deck. The bathrooms were clean, which made up for the sticky tabletops.

Our waitress was a cute little teenage girl who, bless her heart, just couldn't get anything right...but that's okay! I'm chillaxin' on the delta, so it's all good.

The one thing that was disappointing overall was the lack of fresh, local seafood both at Happy Harbor and Moore's. The fish and chips at Moore's is heavily breaded (and probably not fresh), while the Dungeness crab and shrimp in my crepe were unrecognizable after being drowned in an ocean of something close to a bechamel sauce. Plus, I've eaten plenty of frozen vegetables in my day, but this green stuff on my plate was just wrong.

Left: Crab and Shrimp Crepe, Right: Chicken "Cordonne Bleu" with Lasagne(?)

Considering the price of the entrees (most over $14), you should tie up your boat, jump in your car, and drive over to Al the Wops for a steak sandwich. After eating in so many city dives (and nicer restaurants), I can tell every single one of you out there reading this now that you CAN serve better food at these prices and still have a viable business. Besides, you know places like this make a killing on alcohol sales...skimping on the food is lame.

But whatever. The delta isn't a foodie destination (that I know of), but the fishing is great and if you know the right people, like the Hiltons, you can probably scrounge up a great meal.

I still love it though.

Definitely some of California's Gold (thank God I haven't run into Huell!)



Blogger Molly said...

Memories! In high school and college, a whole group of us, or sometimes jsut a few, would go up to my best friend's house boat on the Delta on weekends during the summer - some of my best memories ever. Swimming, sunning, beering, bbqing, card games. Love the Delta. Love it!

8:06 AM  

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