Don Fleming scheduled a trip from Vallejo to Benicia and I wanted to come along. It turned out everyone else liked the sound of this trip and over 20 BASK kayakers showed up at Binkman's Marine to unload their boats. We shuttled a bunch of cars up to a park in Benicia and started out. Our trip leader, Don, was in a double sit-on-top kayak with Geoffrey Smart and they headed across the Napa River to go down the far shore. I figured Don knew the best way and followed him. Sure enough Don and those of us smart enough to follow him got to where the Napa River ended in the Carquinez Strait long before the group that stayed on the other side. We waited for everyone to group up again because the Carquinez Strait is a major shipping channel and we didn't want to block it by straggling across. We grouped up just north of the Carquinez Bridge, with the traffic noise of Highway 80 way over our heads.
A brown gopher snake swam out and between the kayaks, heading across the strait in the same direction we were going to cross. It reacted to the kayaks around it, pulling back when one of us crossed it's path. But when given a choice it always turned towards the channel and the long distance across to the other side. We feared that the poor snake would not make the crossing. Joel Denney took pity on the animal and parked his kayak in front of it. The snake tried to climb onto the kayak but could not make it up the slippery slides, so Joel helped it up with his paddle. The snake curled up around the deck bag strapped on the deck of the kayak and was content to be carried across.
Once on the other side of the strait the snake did not immediately disembark. When Joel untangled it from the deck bag, the snake rewarded him by striking him several times and leaving small red bite marks on Joel's hand. There was a lot of joking about this afterwards. Joel was forced to make a public announcement later that the rumors about the snake dying were completely untrue. However, the snake is rumored to have suddenly developed a taste for red wine with chocolate and has also started to develop a reputation for talking too much.
We stopped at a public park on the far side of the strait for lunch. We had to cross the railroad tracks to get from the water to the park, and one of the kayakers placed an old soggy PowerBar on the track. While we ate lunch a train came by and we examined the results with interest. We picked up the wrapper and added it to our trash. Most of the "performance food" had squeezed out. The same perpetrator who put the PowerBar there scooped this up, rolled it into a ball and placed it back on the track. A passer-by saw this and started berating us about how dangerous it is to put ANYTHING on a railroad track. He followed us down to the kayaks haranguing us over and over again. Telling us you should NEVER do this. When we left him behind by launching into the water, he walked back up and kicked the remaining PowerBar material off the track. Whew! Saved from our own foolishness at last!
Our next stop was to paddle a few miles up the strait to the town of Port Costa, where we could stop at The Warehouse, a bar where nobody notices that we all walked in wearing wetsuits and PFD's. They also serve 100's of brands of beer and led into the walk-in refrigerator to choose our own. I don't drink beer, but they also had my favorite brand of hard cider. Then from the bar it was a short trip across the strait again to Benicia and our take out.