Port Costa Post Office, ink and watercolor, 5x7"

Port Costa Post Office, ink and watercolor, 5x7"

Port Costa is a strange, tiny, rundown town and a popular destination for motorcyclists out riding the winding roads in herds on noisy Harleys. At the end of  town, by the railroad tracks and behind their cracked and crumbling Post Office I sketched above, is the Warehouse Cafe, a seedy bar in a ramshackle warehouse with cheap, stiff drinks, a funky outdoor deck, and a surly female bartender (perfectly described in this collection of hilarious Yelp reviews).

Port Costa Bikers Saddling Up

Port Costa Bikers Saddling Up in Front of Post Office

The bikers roar into town, have themselves a breakfast beer or two and ride out. While they seemed like a bunch of  tough, old burn-out guys with beer guts and women who looked “rode hard and put away wet,” they were very polite when I asked them questions about their (very expensive) bikes.

Bikers Lining up to Leave (Arrow is where I was sitting to sketch)

Bikers Lining up to Leave (Arrow is where I was sitting to sketch)

It turned out that the corner where I was sketching (red arrow in photo) is where they line up before tearing out of town in a caravan of ear-splitting noise, leaving behind a cloud of flying dust and gravel from the barely paved road. I had to pull my sweatshirt over my face and plug my ears every time a group tore off. My friend Beth Bourland posted some great pics of the day here including one of me so focused sketching I didn’t even know she took the picture.

Besides the bikers, it’s a fun place to paint so my plein air group meets there once a year. And then same thing always happens: we set up for our critique on the patio at the Warehouse Bar and just as we start to talk about the day’s work, they crank up the music on the outdoor speakers so loud that we can’t hear a thing and have to move all our stuff down the street to a quieter spot. Is it a coincidence? Does their music always go full blast at 1:15? Or are they trying to keep away the wrong sort of customers (us)?

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Category:
Building, Drawing, Ink and watercolor wash, Landscape, Life in general, Painting, Photos, Places, Sketchbook Pages
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Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. Jana, I think this rates as one of your better posts(there are quite a few!) and I’m going to send the URL to my bikey brother!

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    • Thanks Diane! I hope your brother doesn’t find it offensive. I worried a little about offending people when I wrote it but I’m glad you enjoyed it! Jana

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  2. Priceless Jana!!!
    I’m forwarding it to an old biker friend….who may have been there back in the day!!!
    The reviews at Yelp are hilarious…:)

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    • Thanks Louise! I’m so glad you read the reviews. They were just so perfect! I’d love to hear from your biker friend (if he’s not offended by my descriptions).

      The truth is, while I was annoyed by the noise and all, and if it wasn’t for the danger, I thought it looked like a lot of fun to go tearing around the countryside on big ole Harleys with a gang of friends. One of my sons is a motorcyclist but he rarely street rides (thank goodness) and mostly rides on the track where he also teaches people how to do that kind of race riding. So far his only accidents and injuries have been from his mountain bicycle riding/racing but eek, I wish he had a nice safe hobby instead. I had a small motorcycle when I was in college and the best thing that ever happened to me was that it got stolen. I was such a daredevil then (doing stupid stuff like riding my bike along LA’s sandy, slippery Pacific Coast Highway in a bikini, no helmet–I’m lucky to be alive ’cause I wasn’t all that great of a driver!). Jana

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  3. A delightful sketch, Jana – lots to see in it and that makes me happy. Had to smile at your tale of the bikers on Harleys. Here in Mid-Wales we get them roaring past our house (its the quiet roads they like – ironic huh?) and they make a lot of noise – most of them are over 50 too!

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    • Hah! That’s funny to hear that even in such a lovely serene spot as Mid-Wales you get those over 50 “Hells Angels” too. You’re right about the “lots to see in it” — that’s the thing I love most about sketching. You start with one thing and just keep noticing more and more stuff that normally goes without any awareness of seeing it until you draw it. Jana

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  4. Jana
    I have commented before, but having lived in Pinole for many years, now in Texas, I really enjoy your sketches of areas we used to visit so often. Port Costa is such a strange little spot and you capture it well. Thanks !!!

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    • Thanks Julie, My son lives in Pinole. I wonder if except for the hills it’s anything like Texas? Pinole is so close to Berkeley, and yet so different! Jana

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  5. Nice picture of the post office! Yes, some of those bikes cost a lot!

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  6. What a neat motif — too bad about the loud music! Your comment about its not being an exactly earthquake proof building reminds me of our “recent” earthquake (in late August). T’was nothing by California standards, but it sure got our attention here in the Washington DC area where stuff like that “never” happens! Was something I’ll never forget, that’s for sure ….

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    • Yeah, I guess we’re a little more used to earthquakes–just had one an hour ago while I was painting. Only a 3. 5–just a little rumble. But we’re expecting “the big one” that scientists keep predicting that is likely to completely destroy the area–sometime in the next 30 years … except they’ve been saying that for about 10 years already. That reminds me that I have a big earthquake kit I need to restock with fresh food and water. Jana

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