December 19, 2019 –January 30, 2020
Next up for us was just a half mile away at the US Army Corps of Engineers Bay Model Visitor Center, a working hydraulic scale model of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta System. While the Bay Model is still operational, it is no longer used for scientific research but is instead open to the public alongside educational exhibits about Bay hydrology.
In the late 1940s, John Reber, an actor, theatrical producer, and schoolteacher, proposed to build two large dams in the San Francisco Bay as a way to provide a more reliable freshwater supply to residents and farms and to connect local communities.
In 1953, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed a detailed study of the so-called Reber Plan and authorized by Section 110 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1950, the construction of the Bay Model was completed in 1957. Subsequent tests proved that the plan was not viable and the Reber Plan was scuttled.
The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta portion was added to the model in 1966-1969 to provide information for studies concerning impacts of the deepening of navigation channels, realignment of Delta channels (via the Peripheral Canal), and various flow arrangements on water quality. When completed, the expanded model covered 2 acres of land.
The model is approximately 320 feet long in the north-south direction and about 400 feet long in the east-west direction. It is constructed out of 286 five-ton concrete slabs joined together like a jigsaw puzzle. Features that affect the water flow of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are reproduced, including ship channels, rivers, creeks, sloughs, the canals in the Delta, fills, major wharfs, piers, slips, dikes, bridges, and breakwaters.
We spent an hour or more walking through this large complex, identifying specific locations that we’re familiar with, having driven and biked around much of the Bay and the Sacramento Delta. It’s incredible to think about how much effort went into creating this hydraulic model, the largest of its kind, and its use as a scientific research tool from 1958-2000. Assessments could be made regarding the impact of man’s activities such as dredging navigation channels, filling portions of the Bay, diverting water, introducing wastes and oil spills.
Although the model does not look exactly like the bay or delta, its action is similar. Now, it’s all done on a computer, likely faster and with much more robust analytical tools than the originators could have ever imagined. But in its day, it served its purpose and it was nice to spend time looking at the ingenious way it was accomplished in a much more analog fashion.
We decided to drive back the long way, so to speak, by heading over the Golden Gate Bridge and through San Francisco, a mistake of epic proportions, construction and one way streets creating a mad route that nearly resembled the time we almost got stuck in the narrow back streets of Seville (https://3jmann.com/2014/07/06/europe-2014-sevilla-we-succumb-to-a-burger-craving/). We didn’t get stuck this time, but it took us almost as long to get across the bay. We’ll keep that in mind for the next visit to Sausalito.
And so, we completed our stay in Oakland and drove home knowing we’d return in a couple of weeks for a joyful occasion, the birth of our first grandchild Gemma. In the meantime, we spent time enjoying our life near the coast in Los Angeles, meaning pleasant winter weather, bike rides near the ocean, and of course, eating and drinking.
One Friday night we ventured out with our neighbors Marilyn and Jason to El Segundo for restaurant week, kicking off the night with a stop at El Segundo Brewing, a popular joint on Main Street with the informal vibe one has come to expect from many tap rooms, the bar and seating area formed out of the brewhouse and a semi-permanent food truck stationed out back.
After a beer apiece we walked a block down the street to the newly opened Brewport Tap House, an interesting concept like we’ve experienced at Vapiano for dining and Duckworth’s in Charlotte for some beer drinking. That is, one is given a card, or in the case of Brewport, a wrist band, that is swiped each time a food item or beer is ordered or drawn.
In this case we sampled a number of beers from the extensive tap wall and then crossed the street for dinner at Sausal, serving early California Spanish and Mexican Rancho wood fire, smoke, and slow-roasting comfort food. I didn’t record what we consumed that night but do recall that it was all quite good.
One of our final outings was to the Daily Pint, a bar I’ve spent considerable time and money in and shared many memorable moments with folks I like. I’ve reported on the Pint in the past (https://3jmann.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2248&action=edit) and each return reminds me of the softball I played at the time on the Bru-Crew (or Brew Crew), a great group of guys that would play competitively for close to a decade or more. The Daily Pint sponsored us and every week for quite a few years we’d show up there after our games, after Sunday afternoon practices, whenever the mood suited; it truly became our bar.
We’d come for a event devoted to special offerings from Lagunitas, as many know a favorite brewery for us. On a crowded night we sat at the bar enjoying among others an Imperial Red Ale and a blow your socks off 13.5% Rum Barrel Aged Strong Ale. We relaxed in the pleasant anticipation that a day later we’d be driving back north to Oakland to welcome Gemma, an uncertainty at the time but looking in the rear-view mirror now, a great day we will always remember.
US Army Corps of Engineers Bay Model Visitor Center: https://www.spn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Bay-Model-Visitor-Center/
The Reber Plan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reber_Plan
El Segundo Brewing: https://www.elsegundobrewing.com/
Brewport Tap House: https://www.brewporttaphouse.com/
The Daily Pint: https://thedailypint.net/