Give thanks for those lovely destinations, so close to home!

This Thanksgiving, explore those lovely destinations, so close to home!

With the relative explosion of recent COVID19 cases, 41 of 58 California counties are back into the “purple, widespread outbreak” category, and the state and our counties are asking for residents to cut all unnecessary travel. With that in mind, and with rising cases in 49 of 50 states – and the holidays and flu season upon us – we have even more reason to be thoughtful and stay at home.

For Thanksgiving, 2020, let’s appreciate the beauty around us! Give thanks for California’s generally lovely weather and all our state and county’s blessings…close to home! Hence, today, an article to inspire you and family to consider what is generally nearby your home, and, generally, free, no charge.

A winter sunrise over Stockton’s Meadow Lake.

Take the time to give thanks for the flora and fauna in your own backyard, your neighborhood, or, within a mile or two from your home. The county is a rich tapestry of city and county parks, sloughs that connect to the Delta just west; in this time of the year thousands of migrating waterfowl offer marvelous birding opportunities; grab your binoculars, camera and take a short walk, bike ride or a pleasant drive. Consider those nearby parks, levees and sloughs that are just blocks or a few miles away.

For north county residents, find the annual migration of Sandhill Cranes at Woodbridge Ecological Area, on W. Woodbridge Road just a mile west of Interstate 5. Note the fauna at Cosumnes River Preserve, two miles north of Thornton and throughout much of the Delta just to the west. Lodi Lake Park and Micke Grove Park present additional oases of tranquility and wildlife; many nearby sloughs and Lodi-Woodbridge wine country offer plenty of exploration opportunities.

Captain Weber’s Cottage now resides on the grounds of the San Joaquin Historical Society
at Micke Grove Park just south of Lodi.

Stockton and the central county offers Oak Grove Regional Park, Oak Park, the downtown Deepwater Channel outlined with the Joan Darrah Promenade and the San Joaquin River levee behind the old Van Buskirk Golf Course. A variety of walkable levee trails present themselves, leading with the Calaveras Bike Trail, the Bear Creek Trail and accessible delta levee hikes, or bike rides, along Shima Tract levee at the west end of Hammer Lane and additional levee access west of Bear Creek and Brookside. Grab your mobile device and check Google maps for a wealth of possibilities.

An egret comes in for a landing near a pelican at Cosumnes River Preserve
(photo courtesy of Chuck Higgs)

For south county, plenty of walkable levee trails follow the San Joaquin River, and parks like Dos Reis County Park in Lathrop or Caswell Memorial State Park, just south of Ripon, offer chances to see Great white egrets, Sandhill Cranes, the occasional eagle, buzzards, waterfowl of every stripe, coyotes, red foxes, river otters and more.

As you travel, also consider the historic sites near at hand. They may be centered in or near historic downtowns in the county, anchored by such gems as the Hotel Stockton or Fox California/Bob Hope Theatre in Stockton, or the Weber cottage and Julia Weber home at the San Joaquin Historic Museum in Micke Grove Park. Lodi, Manteca, French Camp, Tracy and other cities offer historic sites and a rich history of their own.

The Bank of Stockton is one of many historic structures in Stockton’s old downtown.
See the historic IOOF Hall in Woodbridge, along the route of the Lincoln Highway.

Do a Google search for “Lincoln Highway” and check out some of the history still extant on that national highway that wound its way through the county, north to south, in the 1920s and beyond. Scout out and trace the route that winds through your town.

If you are having visiting family, stress pandemic precautions; then get them involved in seeing the sights close to your home. With the wonderful attractions that California presents to us (many just outside our door), jointly plan for short or long walks, bike rides or short auto trips to see that which often is so near, but, all-too-often, not thought about.

For your travel in pandemic times, follow the Center for Disease Control recommendations, packing a supply of facemasks, latex gloves and hand sanitizer. Practice physical distancing and avoid crowded spaces.

In your travels, take a goodly supply of face masks and hand sanitizer; practice routine pandemic precautions to keep you, family and others safe.

Despite the promise of several vaccines coming as early as December, it will be months longer before the vaccine is widely available to US citizens and those citizens actually getting vaccinated. Even after a large percentage of the US is vaccinated, we will still have the virus to deal with.

Hence, will a holiday walk, bike ride or short drive take you to nearby gems? Think about it, scan a map, and plan a safe and thankful Thanksgiving!

Contact Tim at, follow him at, and travel, safe!

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