After Colusa, the character of the river changed. The levees moved right up near the river and most of the banks were rocked creating a channel walled from the adjacent fields by a thin scrim of trees. In many places, roads ran atop the levees so drivers were startled to see what appeared to be a chicken coop loose on the river.
We stopped in the dustbowl town of Grimes to meet some friends, Briana and Nate and our old shipmate, Jeremiah, returning for his third visit.
There was a tiny store in Grimes that looks like they mostly sold beer to locals but had a few basics. The proprietor was from Yemen. We had a chance to talk to his son who helped run the store. I wondered what it was like to be Muslim in a tiny Central Valley rural town (for instance his girlfriend wore a hijab). He told us that the locals treat him like anybody else, but when he goes out of town, people are more likely to give him a hard time.
I wanted to interview him, but didn’t get the chance. His father showed up at the store and he got less conversational and immediately went back to work.
We had a late night of excited conversation, catching up with friends, playing cards, and drinking whiskey.
Overnight, Benzy caught a huge catfish (huge for us). Despite various methods, this tough sumbitch took forever to die which was a little too real for some of our audience.
No one (except our vegetarian Jeremiah) was shy digging into the huge feast we had that night camped out on a sandy bank along the river.
On any old whim, we stopped and swam, dropping anchor or beaching.
The Goodmans hung out with us for a long weekend, staying with us all the way to Knights Landing. We were told that we had to stop at Stingrayz, one of the few remaining river culture places on the river, and so we did.
We celebrated with too many beers at Stingrayz where Keith Turley was the proprietor. Benzy made a drawing of our shantyboat beside the houseboats permanently docked there.
I had the chance to interview Keith about his 17 years at Stringrayz on the Sacramento River.
At one of our beaches, I tried to capture the shantyboat with all of its oil lamps lit under the stars.