Sitting quietly at the end of the Lewis Eaton Trail is the prize of the San Joaquin River Trust and Conservancy in the form of the River Center. The people of FresYes drive up and down Friant road day after day with many not even knowing that with just a glance out the window they would find one of the most important outdoor destinations in the valley. No matter if you walk the trail or drive you will find waiting for you a living history lesson of the valley and the mighty San Joaquin brought to you by one or several of the volunteers. The more you walk around the more you are gently pulled into a place of peace and best yet its free to visit.
The River Center hosts events most weekends so this past Saturday I surprised my wife with a morning trip for a guided hike to Owl Hollow and a little pre walk pancake breakfast. Considering how yummy it was lets talk the food first. I had seen posted on Facebook that before the walk there was a $5 pancake breakfast and being a man who loves a good pancake I planed to have us out there a little early. Standing in line smelling the sausage and cakes being grilled outdoors on a fire made me wish I had left earlier to put it plainly. I would have gladly if we had the time paid the $5 2 or 3 times more to keep the pancakes going but as it was we only had time for one serving and a cup of coffee before we had to sign in for the walk. Pro tip for the pancake feed = show up as soon as it opens for mass carbo feeding.
Bellies full we walked to the meeting point to find our guide had already located a Bald Eagle to share with us and we hadn’t even started the trip yet. This was looking good. As a less than beginner bird watcher it was fun to have someone who was an expert so excitedly teach us the ins and outs of our flying friends on this hike.
My wife as usual made a quick friend in the form of a retired teacher who in his spare time does presentations as John Muir and conversations about the high mountains, Yosemite and the river took over as we casually walked through the easement on the Vulcan property to Owl Hollow.
Owl Hollow itself is a river oasis only accessed via the water or during a guided event from the river center due to its being land locked by private property and because of that its the perfect resting spot. It was fun to just stand in the sun talking to our new friend about days gone by while secretly watching the other members of our hike explore this river hideaway. Families played, children looked for clues to what animals may be living close by and everyone enjoyed the cool breeze.
During the walk back to the River Center I stopped and pointed out some trees to my wife up on the bluff.
“You see those 4 trees” I said “that’s where we live”
We both grinned at the idea of having this amazing outdoor resource within walking distance of our home, one that many families share but only a few explore.
We finished our time at the River Center with a tour of the home, a little shopping in the gift shop and picking though all the pamphlets of upcoming events before leaving the peace and quiet and heading to Clovis for Big Hat Days and a completely different experience.
While most people don’t realize it FresYes is in fact a river city and The River Center is open and ready to teach you all about it.