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Tracing Tracy Territory

Road trip leads to tour of U.C. Davis, thriving downtown

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It wasn’t long ago that I reported visiting the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, where we stayed at the on-campus hotel that incorporates the universty’s conference center.

Well, not to ignore a UC campus closer to home, I went to Davis over the last weekend, and yes, I stayed at the UC Davis on-campus hotel.

Where the UCLA Luskin Conference Center was rated a four-star hotel with extensive conference facilities, the Davis equivalent, the Hyatt Place, has three stars as a hotel but no conference facilities. It’s not as fancy as its Bruin cousin, but it is a first-class facility, with a free breakfast, and only a few minutes-walk to the UCD Conference Center and the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.

The impressive Manetti-Shrem Museum of Art is also nearby. It holds a number of Wayne Thiebau paintings displayed among works of students influenced by Thiebau.

I had two principal reasons to go to Davis. One was that granddaughter Carolina is a UC Davis undergraduate living in an apartment in a new student residence complex on the western edge of the campus. We wanted to see what the new six-person apartment was like, and were impressed.

Secondly I wanted to see Jack Pflugrath, younger brother of my late wife, Joan. He had been a psychologist at the UCD Counseling Center for 35 years before retiring. I hadn’t seen Jack for several years and wanted to see how he was doing in a rest home. I found out he was doing quite well, even better than I had anticipated.

An auto tour of the campus showed me how Putah Creek runs through the campus, providing a flowing stream and tree-lined banks to the landscaping. I also took in a look at the nation’s top-rated veterinary school and a number of agricultural-research plots and facilities.

An evening visit to Davis’s downtown took us to G Street, a fully closed block where food and drinks were served by a variety of businesses. We also drove by the Yoloberry yogurt shop run by nephew Lee Plugrath and his wife Laura.

I know Lee isn’t interested in moving out of Davis, but someone should be thinking about establishing an ice cream and/or yogurt shop in downtown Tracy. It would be a great draw, especially on balmy summer evenings.

Keeping Brent’s memory alive

Several balloonists have responded to learning of the death of Brent Stockwell by making a suggestion: name the annual Tracy Fourth of July balloon lift-off the Brent Stockwell Annual Fourth of July Balloon Lift-off.

Brent was a pioneer balloonist, well known not only in Northern California but throughout the world. They feel it would be fitting that Brent’s name be part of the annual lift-off at Lincoln Park, so balloonists and Tracyites alike can remember his contributions not only to ballooning, but also to the Tracy Fourth of July celebration.

My reaction is that it would be entirely appropriate to add Brent’s name to the lift-off as long as the Tracy Fourth of July Celebration was included in the name. The name would benefit both the balloon world in honoring one of its pioneers and great supporters, but it would also help the Tracy Fourth of July Celebration by attracting balloonists who would want to honor Brent. At a time when the sport of balloon-flying has declined in popularity, something to bring more balloons to Lincoln Park on Fourth of July morning on a continuing basis would be a real plus.

Anyway, the idea of a Brent Stockwell Memorial Balloon Lift-off is well worth considering. I’m sure both balloonists and spectators at Lincoln Park this coming Fourth of July will have some thoughts to share on the topic. I’ll be among those listening.

• Sam Matthews, publisher emeritus of the Tracy Press, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at shm@tracypress.com.

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