Hot Italian: Great Fun

Hot Italian restaurant

Hot Italian restaurant on corner of 16th and Q Street in Sacramento

If you are cycling in the Sacramento area, the most generous bicycle parking available is at Hot Italian pizzeria. Fortunately the pizza is also inventive and delicious.  They can accommodate large groups, or smaller groups can share a table. Located in midtown Sacramento.

Hot Italian interior


Broderick Roadhouse Worth Planning Your Day in the Delta Around

Johnny Cash burger and fries at Broderick Roadhouse

Johnny Cash burger and fries at Broderick Roadhouse

West Sacramento is the way cooler younger brother to the over-achieving Eagle Scout of City of Sacramento.  West Sac is still little bit rude teenager and rapidly becoming hipster. Broderick Roadhouse is at the center of this transformation. Broderick Roadhouse evolved from the Wicked ‘Wich food truck. Exhibit A for why Sacramento and other cities should loosen regulations on food trucks. It serves up gastropub grub 7 days/nights a week at 319 Sixth Street in West Sacramento. It is a 15 minute walk or 7 long blocks from Rivercats Stadium. It is a quick detour from the Sacramento River bike trail. Although most people arrive by automobile. I dined at Broderick Roadhouse three times in the last month. The first two times on weeknights when the main dining room was quiet enough for a business related conversation. On the last occasion, our party of four arrived just after 6 on a Saturday to celebrate and we lucked out getting one of the last open tables in the quieter bar area. If you are looking for a rowdier time, then weekends are your best bet. The wait staff is excellent. One had the old soul of a diner waitress using “dear” liberally throughout our meal. All were quick, courteous and friendly. The Johnny Cash burger won “best burger in Sacramento” and is amazing. I also enjoyed the True Blue burger with bacon, blue cheese,  onion rings and tasty angus beef burger.  The flank steak on the same-name salad is marinated in a truly yummy sauce. The salad has both onion rings and french fries prompting my one warning. This is not a place to dine if you are on Weight Watchers. One friend joked that there is nothing on the menu for less than 3500 calories. Another friend limits himself to once a month even though he and his wife love the food. If you are planning a day in the North Delta region–biking, fishing, kayaking, fossicking–then plan your day to start with lunch or end with dinner at Brodericks Roadhouse. You will not find better food in the North Delta. UrbanSpoon review: 91% like (as of 4/6/14)

Nigiri Project Wraps Up Another Successful Year

You can read about the conclusion of another successful year of salmon fish fattening on Knaggs Ranch rice fields on this San Francisco Chronicle cover story.  Or…

Salmon ready for their journey to the PacificOnce upon a time the California native salmon population was dwindling. Every year the fish hatcheries would release hundreds of thousands of salmon to have a miniscule return because the river was so channelized that the fish could not find the important floodplain habitat where they need to put on weight and delay their migration to sea to a time when the upwelling off the coast of San Francisco provides food.

Then one day a Department of Water Resources scientist Ted Sommers had an idea. He placed a 100,000 tagged hatchery fish in the main stem of the Sacramento River and 100,000 tagged hatchery fish in the Toe Drain of the Yolo Bypass (a flood control area that can still operate like a floodplain). He caught 16 fish in the Bay trawls at the end of a few weeks and the Bypass fish were noticeably bigger. And then Carson Jeffres, a grad student at UC Davis decided to build off of this with an experiment on one of the few remaining undammed rivers in NorCal. He created an experiment on the Cosumnes River, which resulted in the now “famous” cooler picture of floodplain salmon three times the size of the other salmon. This resulted in the National Marine Fisheries Service requiring 17,000 acres of floodplain habitat in the Sutter and Yolo Bypasses as part of the Biological Opinions for the water agencies to continue pumping water through the Delta.

In some ways this seemed like an “all is lost” moment because the agencies interpreted that as flooding the Bypasses wall-to-wall for long periods of time and this would have made it tough for the farmers and duck clubs in the Bypass to survive and then this would have compromised the Bypasses as a flood control structure.  Until one day John Brennan, a farm manager/appraiser/rice drier owner put together a group to buy Knaggs Ranch and experiment with using rice fields as surrogate salmon floodplain habitat. And now 3 years later the experiment has proven that the rice fields with water held for up to 6 weeks create “Floodplain Fatties”. And a coalition of farmers, scientists, fish advocates, county folks, wildlife area managers, and agencies are proposing a management system that is compatible with all of the existing uses in the Yolo Bypass. This year is a drought year and naturally really tough on fish. Access to the floodplain will give them resiliency to survive this kind of water year and in the future sea-level rise and warmer temps. It is also Conservation Measure 2 in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

Urban Bike Adventure Challenges Sacramento Cyclists

We were not sure what to expect. I signed up for The Urban Bike Adventure via Amazon Local and only received a ticket. The website was equally vague. Honestly I had forgotten that I bought the tickets some months ago, and then it popped up on my calendar. I recruited my friend Alison and team “Sactown Friends” was ready to go.

The TUBA Sacramento event's start and finish at Hot Italian pizza place
The TUBA Sacramento event’s start and finish at Hot Italian pizza place

The Urban Bike Adventure (TUBA) team made full use of social media. We received text message updates; advance clues were provided via Twitter and Instagram, and they encouraged people to bring a computer or digital camera (practically speaking: a smart phone will do).  Bike helmets are required so Alison purchased hers just the day before and forgot to take off the tag. We decided it added to her look! We arrived at the pizza place Hot Italian at 16th and O Streets in Sacramento about 11:30 a.m. We registered and we were none the wiser about what to expect. We sized up the crowd and felt reassured that this event did not require one to be a Serious Cyclist.

We got our Clue Sheet at noon and interpreted the instructions to “be sure to read all of the clues and directions carefully” as permission to solve the clues and plan our route for fastest time. We had a great time and it reminded us of a Young Life event.

Everyone in the team has to be in the photos so it forced us to ask for help from other teams and strangers. The clues took us to Old Sacramento and Land Park and I learned Sacramento is very busy on the weekend!

A friendly competitor suggested we jump for joy off a bench to ensure all four team feet off the ground.
A friendly competitor suggested we jump for joy off a bench to ensure all four team feet off the ground.

We had to recruit a stranger to sing for us as we did background moves (I promised Alison the video would not end up on YouTube!). We probably bicycled about 15 miles over the 2:09 it took us to complete the tasks.  We did not expect to be competing for a top prize and yet we were among the top 20 teams!

I also learned that there is a Funderland next to the zoo and Fairytale Town. How did I escape going there with my children?

Team Sactown Friends with he little tomato

Here is a sample clue: “Sacramento is also nicknamed “The Big Tomato” for its role in the tomato canning industry. Find a tomato and take a team picture with it.”

The event takes place around the country and $2 of every entry goes to the Wounded Warriors nonprofit.

We definitely recommend this event for friends, families or co-workers who want to team build. We are looking forward to next year.

 This blog first appeared at Adventures of American Julie.

Photography on the Delta

Guest Blog by Bill Reid

Boat dock at Walnut Grove with bridge beyond

Boat dock at Walnut Grove with bridge beyond

Google Earth Walnut Grove, California and you can’t miss the dock to the north of the bridge where these pictures were taken. Everyone has Google Earth, right?  The stroller we recently bought for our future granddaughter has an iPad holder!

Joking aside, You don’t need an iPad or fancy SAT NAV to get to the River Road, just follow your nose south from the intersection of Broadway and Freeport Boulevard in Sacramento and enjoy the scenic route through the Sacramento River Delta. The scenic route is about 30.4 miles and 44 minutes on a relatively curvy levy road (state highway 160).  A faster route down Interstate 5 to Twin Cities Road is also a pleasant drive at 28.5 miles and 36 minutes.

The River Road south from Sacramento is one of my favorite local drives. I still remember one of the first times I drove it in an old VW convertible in the late seventies. No NAV then. Those were the days of typewriters and whiteout.

Walnut Grove Bridge taken from dock with sun setting behind.

Walnut Grove Bridge taken from dock with sun setting behind.

One morning early in the new year, I decided to take photographs of the sun rising over the River for a website I’m building. I left a little too late and missed the best light so returned later in the day for some sunset shots.

Walnut Grove is a pleasant stop along the Sacramento River.  There is ample parking and a selection of restaurants with tables outdoors, even an art gallery or two. I enjoyed an ice cream while waiting for the sun to set.

The boat dock is accessible to the public although children must wear life jackets. There is a lift for handicap access and there is a portable toilet. The boat dock affords a good vantage point for photography with ample space for tripods and equipment.

I have returned a few times since to test different equipment and media. In the age of tablets, digital cameras and smart phones, I am going back to using film, but that’s another story. The light is different on each occasion and the sunsets can be spectacular as the weather changes.

Bill is an architect by day.  He lives in Sacramento with his wife, Claudia.  His images can be purchased on his website:

Discover the Delta Identity

Resolution: Discover the Delta in 2014.

Visit their website for a calendar of events, a Delta t-shirt and more.

Visit their website for a calendar of events, a Delta t-shirt and more.

Most residents of the Delta have been happy to be left alone for so long. With 5 county boundaries divvying up the region, “the Delta” is not the focus of any county’s economic development.  California’s tourism promotion is divided between the Bay Area and the Central Valley (even “Gold Country” by State Parks).  This strategy may not be the best for the future as the State is knocking on the door with the Bay Delta proposal.

Change may not be welcome, though it is inevitable. Two of the agencies that make up the Delta alphabet soup are collaborating with residents to develop a “Delta Brand”: the Delta Protection Commission and the Delta Conservancy.  There are already some marketing efforts in various parts of the region–with a “farm trail” in Sacramento County and parts of Contra Costa County, and a hub of wineries in Clarksburg in Yolo County.  These efforts may benefit from something coordinated region-wide.

You can read more about it in the article in the Stockton Record.

New Years Day at Brannan State Park

Brannan Island SRA sign

The California State Parks are celebrating their 150th anniversary in 2014.  They are kicking off the celebratory year with 40 different hikes on New Years Day (January 1, 2014).  I went on the website to see if any of them were at a state park in the Delta. The only Delta county with a hike is Sacramento, but both hikes were in Folsom.  My curiosity was peaked: how many state parks are there in the Delta? Two. Brannan Island State Recreation Area offers day use and camping. The other park is Delta Shores and appears to be closed due to the state budget cuts.

There are 26 reviews of Brannan Island SRA on Yelp. Brannan Island is in Rio Vista in Solano County (about 30 minutes from Fairfield). Although there will not be an organized hike, the weather forecast suggests New Years Day is a good day to enjoy the park.

Brannan Island Marina