25 waterfront 1

Rick McKinney standup paddleboards with his dog Joey along the Suisun City Waterfront, Wednesday. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)


On the waterfront: Suisun promenade a draw for many reasons

By From page D1 | May 25, 2014

SUISUN CITY — If the weather is just right, visitors to the Suisun City waterfront may find 76-year-old Jim West on a bench in the shade, strumming his acoustic guitar and singing.

If he’s not there, one might find Warren Butler on the concrete, sitting on his folding stool in search of striper and catfish.

In the water, standup paddleboarders, and Armijo High School teachers Rick McKinney and Travis Droessler might be merrily paddling where Butler is fishing.

All four made their way Wednesday afternoon to the Suisun City waterfront area, for different reasons.

West, who has lived in Suisun City for about a decade, learned to play guitar while serving his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mexico.

“I picked up a few songs there,” he said.

The Spanish culture hooked him. The retired teacher has translated some of his favorite tunes into Spanish and recorded them on a CD.

West plays once a month, more if needed, at the Greenfield Care Center in Fairfield. He also gladly steps up to help at worship services at church.

The park-like setting is the perfect spot for him to find his voice, he said. At the same time, he’s doing his best to keep his mind active, West said.

He tries to learn a new song each week. He played the most recent, “Granada,” on Wednesday.

The self-taught guitarist prefers to play “dinner music” that calms the nerves. Some of his favorite musicians, such as Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, fit the niche.

West has penned about 50 songs.

He doesn’t keep his guitar case open in search of tips.

“If they like it (the music), that’s the main thing,” West said.

Butler makes his way from Fairfield to the waterfront, usually after a day of hard work. He sees it as a reward, as well as a time to relax. He usually spends 60 to 90 minutes fishing.

The New Jersey native’s first fishing trip was with his grandmother at West Side Park in Newark, N.J. He caught a goldfish.

Retired from the Solano County District Attorney’s Office and the United States Air Force, Butler said the cool breezes provide him the opportunity to enjoy solitude without the heat and to think about the state of the world.

One conclusion he’s drawn: “People should respect each other more,” West said.

With school winding down for the year, McKinney and Droessler hope to get in more standup paddleboarding over the summer. On Wednesday, McKinney’s Australian cattle dog, Joey, made her maiden voyage with the pair.

McKinney, who grew up in Fairfield and graduated from Armijo High School, took up wind and kite surfing in the 1980s, he said. He recently kayaked from the waterfront to Rush Ranch.

Neighboring businesses also bring people to the waterfront, among them the aptly named Waterfront Comics.

The Miller family from Napa searched for Infinite Crisis comic books and a “Dungeons and Dragon” novel.

Mom Jessica Miller entertained 2-year-old daughter Elayne Miller, while her husband Jordan Miller shopped.

When he was done, they swapped child-care duties so she could find her book. Time permitting, the family often walks around the waterfront.

“It’s really pretty,” Jessica Miller said. “It’s well taken care of.”

Every Wednesday, Natalie Buer’s husband orders a stash of new comics from the store. Since she works down the street, it’s her duty to pick them up after work.

She enjoys the waterfront a couple of times each week, walking it with a co-worker on their lunch break.

West may find solitude a little harder to come by as the waterfront is gearing up for the return of family movie nights on Saturday, jazz on Sunday afternoon and Independence Day activities, to name a few.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

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