The tiny town of Isleton, California, is known for its crawdad and pear festivals, which have not taken place in the last couple of years due to COVID. Elke and I secured a tiny home through AirBnB to use as our base of operations while exploring the area. It also gets us close to the Grand Island Mansion, where we plan to have brunch this afternoon.
Old Town Isleton is a single street with old buildings on both sides. One of the first things you will notice is how old the town feels. Many of these buildings would not meet current day California building codes. Many are boarded up.
I would estimate that 75% of the buildings are not open. As with many of these small, decaying towns, you will find antique shops. I wonder how much of the antique business is the cannibalism of the town itself. It seems tragic that history bleeds out in this way, but life is for the living, and we met several people who are enthusiastic about the future of Isleton.
The first building that Elke and I walked into held an open house event being catered by a woman who had purchased the building and renovated it. In the 60s, she lived in the Bay Area and dated a man who brought her to visit his family in Isleton. She fell in love with the area and decided that she wanted to make it her home. She bought a building next door, repaired its extensive damage, and renovated the inside. She lives on the second floor and leased the first floor to a bakery.
Recently, the tenant of the woman’s second building passed away. The open house was meant to show off the available property for lease. Elke and I were treated to food from the Pineapple Chinese Restaurant and the McBoodery Bakery next door. Elke recommends that the brownies that came from the McBoodery Bakery were some of the best she’s ever had.
Exiting the open house, we walked down the street to the Isleton Museum, which has been beautifully restored. This museum is loaded with neat, well organized content by curators who obviously hold great love and pride for the history of this area. The second floor has a nice balcony where you can get an overhead view of Main Street.
After the exploring the museum, we dropped into the Mei Wah Beer Room, which advertises, “24 Curated Taps of Predominantly Local Craft Beer, Kombucha, Cider, Seltzer, and Nitro Coffee.” I wish the Mei Wah were closer to me. I would love to try all of their interesting flavors.