We have difficulty managing time and too often end up wasting this most precious and constantly diminishing resource on activities and pursuits that offer no value and little satisfaction. This new year offers opportunities for happy and fulfilling hours and days that will leave a sense of time well-spent in their passing.
Day-trips offer one of the most efficient and effective ways of securing memorable use of time. Fortunately, a number of East County destinations within easy driving distance offer the potential of creating life-time memories.
1. Lighthouse RV Resort and Marina
The 32-acre Lighthouse RV Resort and Marina is located just off Highway 12 near Rio Vista on the 10-Mile Delta Loop. It is a wonderful example of California Delta’s natural beauty. The resort offers year-round opportunities for fun and relaxation for the entire family including unlimited use of an 18-hole mini golf course, a movie room, and a clubhouse with BINGO, ping pong, and darts. A campground is available for RV’s and tents or rooms for overnight guests.
The resort also features a grill & bar restaurant plus a launch ramp with immediate access to deep water. For more information, visit www.lighthouseresortandmarina.com.
2. Grand Island Mansion
The historic Grand Island Mansion is a unique Renaissance styled villa and one of the largest private estates in Northern California. Visitors enjoy displays of classical architecture and expert craftsmanship plus amenities that really are fit for royalty. The mansion is a superb venue for upscale parties, weddings, and celebrations of all kinds. A visit to Grand Island Mansion’s champagne brunch on select Saturdays and Sundays is a wonderfully memorable event. You can stretch the visit to a weekend in one of the venue’s stylish suites. For more information, visit www.grandislandmansion.com.
3. Byer Nail House
The Byer Nail House, built in 1878 by Johnson Fancher as a boarding house for land speculators and travelers, serves as the home of the East Contra Costa Historical Society. The house is completely furnished with furniture, utensils, and appliances from the period. The site also contains a one-room schoolhouse, and a large assortment of antique farm equipment and tools. Most importantly, perhaps, the site is home to the Kathy Leighton Resource Center, which houses thousands of documents and 20,000 photographs that preserve the history of the area. For more information, visit www.eastcontracostahistory.org.
4. Mandeville Island 4th of July Celebration
A visit to Mandeville State Recreation Area affords one of the best ways of viewing the Delta. During the weeks surrounding the Fourth of July, the island becomes a go-to place for people who want to party. For the past sixty-one years, the massive celebration has been one of East County’s longest running traditions. The event attracts locals as well as travelers from Canada, Great Britain, and Europe. Waterfront festivities conclude with a spectacular show that can be seen from miles away as representatives from the Hilton Hotel chain supply a one-of-a-kind firework extravaganza on a barge as the closing event of the day’s celebration. For more information, visit www.californiadelta.org.
5. Windsurfing on Sherman Island
The Delta offers many recreational activities by land and sea. Windsurfers from throughout California gravitate to Sherman Island’s Rio Vista RV Park where nature provides a perfect environ-ment for people with sufficient courage and balance to ride the winds above the Delta waves. Several local businesses and organizations dedicate their professional practices to this sport including the Rio Vista Windsurfing Association (RVWA), Sherman Island Kiteboarding Organiza-tion (SIKO), and Delta Windsurfing Co. If you are interested in catching some great waves in a unique fashion, visit www.rvwa-siko.org.
6. The Brentwood Library
The sparkling new Brentwood Library, located across from the Brentwood Community center opened last fall. It offers an amazing design that creates interesting public, small-group, and private spaces. Of course, the library provides access to thousands of books and DVDs suitable for residents of all ages and interests. However, the books are only part of the library’s resources. Programs and presentations are available for learners of all ages — from Toddler Story Time, to Story Time for preschoolers, to Homework Help for school age children, to college and career training sessions for older teens, and finally literacy for adults. The library is a great place to read, learn, and simply to hang out in an intellectu-ally stimulating environment.
For more program information and story times, visit www.ccclib.org.
7. El Campanil Theatre
For the past 90 years, El Campanil
Theatre in historic Rivertown near the Antioch Marina has provided an amazing venue for concerts, plays, musicals, and other kinds of performances. The Spanish Colonial/Gothic style façade is a compelling compliment to the building’s impressive interior. In its heyday, the majestic structure attracted countless A-list entertainers — not all of them human because Roy Rogers rode his horse Trigger onto the stage. El Campanil continues to offer a premium venue for performances and productions of many kinds. At its 1928 opening, local media pronounced the new edifice to be “the most prestigious structure in Contra Costa County.” Attend one of the performances, check the place out, and see if you know any other “structure” more “prestigious” than this. For more information, visit www.elcampaniltheatre.com
8. Los Vaqueros Reservoir
Los Vaqueros is the largest reservoir in the Bay Area. The 20,000-acre protected watershed offers outstanding fishing, hiking, and educational opportunities.
The reservoir itself is 1,500 acres in size with 52 billion gallons of drinking water supplying a half-million local inhabitants. Enter off Vasco Road near Brentwood to view the dam itself and learn about the history of the area at the modern John Muir Interpretive Center. A number of scenic trails lead from the top of the dam, many of them with scenic viewpoints. The south end of the reservoir, accessible from Livermore, leads to a marina offering fishing supplies and electric boat rentals plus another system of trails and shoreline fishing sites. For fishing reports or trail routes, visit www.ccwater.com/losvaqueros.com.
9. Mangini Agricultural Museum
Antioch’s Mangini Agricultural Museum near the Contra Costa Fairgrounds is dedicated to the preservation and education of East County agriculture. The museum showcases a number of antique tools, implements, and vehicles including wagons, farm equipment, a working blacksmith shop, a country kitchen, and a restored fire engine. A classroom seating for up to 30 students features an art display that highlights the true essence of Mangini Farms. A garden located behind the classroom consists of compost bins, a greenhouse, and eleven raised beds growing a variety of flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. For more informa-tion, visit www.ecologycenter.org/about.
10. Antioch Historical Museum
The Antioch Historical Museum highlights the heritage of East County. Exhibits and artifacts include everything from antique sports equipment to steamboat wheels. It is located on West 4th Street, a short walking distance from the Rivertown district. Display themes include movie posters and artwork, a premier exhibit of Local Sports Legends, the McCoy Cookhouse, and an antique fire engine. For tour times and directions, visit www.antiochhistoricalmuseum.org.
GET UP AND GET GOING
Determine to make good use of at least some of the days and hours that flee away from us like water running down a rushing stream. Shut off the television set, computer, and game machine. Pack up the family and visit all ten of these interesting and memorable destinations. Note that these are only a few of the many intriguing destinations that you can search out and visit. These sites will improve your understanding of the world and create experiences that provide memories your mind can return to any time during the remaining years of your life.