OUT THERE A stroll through Stoneman is food for the soul

What, you wonder, would the soundtrack of your life be? Some songs forever link themselves to incidents in our lives. The association can be pure happenstance, the melody churning in the background during a significant moment. Sometimes, it’s an inexplicable, momentary obsession with a tune, and its lyrical wisdom somehow sums up your current state of being.

In some cases, it’s destiny pounding the same note over and over, like Ivan Pavlov ringing his bell for a hungry dog. Why else, on my way to Stoneman Park in Pittsburg, did a Donna Summer song pop up every time I pressed “seek” on my car radio? Not just the retread “Last Dance, ” but the less overplayed “Dim All the Lights” came on just as I pulled into the parking lot. As for meaningful associations, Donna’s mother taught sewing to my third-grade class in Boston the year before daughter Donna schlepped her off to a shiny new California home and disco began.

Then again, sometimes it’s just coincidence.

While it lacks flashing strobes or mirrored balls, Stoneman Park abounds with leisure opportunities. On one side are basketball courts and three playgrounds. Across the street in the area called Stoneman Park North, straw-gold hills cast shadows that shift with every step you take. In the background, misty delta waters shimmer and white smoke from refineries curls up into cloud-spotted blue skies. The rolling territory bestows a sense of broad, open space and isolation. It makes you want to run up a hill, spread your arms and start singing “Hot Stuff.”

Cowpatty cake: While Stoneman Park lets you play, Stoneman Park North gives you tranquillity. A quarter-mile paved walkway leads to a gate. Past that, a half-mile, wide gravel trail allows wet-weather tramps past the ruminating cow herds. Further in is the old rifle range where the police aimed and fired before they moved their practice to the Concord facility.

Naturally, the bovine presence makes itself felt, even when the herd has long gone home. Admiring the lights and shadows slipping over the hills must be done with one eye on the gravel path before you. There are plans to develop more hiking trails when finances allow.

Greens on the other side: For once, it’s not a case of coveting the neighbor’s lawn: The grass is indeed greener at the Delta View Golf Course next to Stoneman Park North. If you must know, the yards are 6,455-5,396, rating is 69.2, par is 71 and the slope is 124. The expanded nine holes took about one-third of the original 300 park acres.

Shoe-in: At Stoneman Park North, build up an appetite while waiting for the hot dogs and corn to grill on the available barbecue pits by pitching horseshoes in the horseshoe pit. A tented table accommodates larger parties, while bench picnic tables oblige smaller spreads. Across the street, more facilities provide the outdoor dining experience. Leashed dogs are allowed.

Getting there: Take BART to the last Pittsburg stop and catch the Delta Transit 388 weekdays only; otherwise, it’s a good, long walk on weekends. If on bicycle, get on Bailey Road south and turn left on West Leland Drive. Stoneman Park is to the left and Stoneman Park North is a quarter-mile up John Henry Johnson Parkway to the right. Drivers can exit on Bailey Road and follow the same route. For park questions, call 925-439-4842.

This article originally appeared in the Contra Costa Times

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