California Route 160 is the highway cutting through the delta region, connecting the Bay Area with the Sacramento Valley. Going east, the road begins at Antioch, and at Isleton you get the feeling that you’ve crossed over some invisible border. You feel that you’ve reached the end of the bay area, and as you go inland, you know that you’re entering a lusher, slower place. Route 160 follows the Sacramento River, and for most of the way, the road runs right on top of the levee that holds the water back.
Angel fishes on the Sacramento River regularly. He lives in Antioch, where the Delta meets the Bay. He and his wife lived for many years near San Francisco, where he worked as a postal worker. I think he said they lived in Daly City. Angel let me watch him fish for a while. I asked him if he had fished for long, and he said yeah, for a long time. He used to fish at piers in the Bay Area. I asked him if he fished in the bay itself, and he said yes, but you couldn’t eat the fish too often because of the chemicals in them.
Long flat fields of alfalfa, grape, tomatoes and other crops sprawl across the bottomland separated from the river only by the wall of the levee.
Locke is a town on the river that was built in the early 1900’s and doesn’t appear to have changed much. Levee construction originally brought Chinese migrant workers to the area, then they became involved in the local agricultural economy. Locke is said to be the only town in the US built completely by and for Chinese people. These days it has the feel of a still-inhabited ghost town. It’s one of several biker stops on the delta, though Isleton seems to be more of the biker hangout simply because it’s bigger.