SNUG HARBOR - As John Broughton hosed the mud from his driveway earlier this month, his wife, Grace, said the recent flooding hadn't dampened the couple's enthusiasm for living on an island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
"It's like going back in time to the '50s or '60s," Grace Broughton, 66, said. "It's quiet, peaceful. You don't have to put your dogs on a leash. Everyone looks out for each other."
The Broughtons and their neighbors live at Snug Harbor, a small community along Steamboat Slough near Rio Vista that consists of private homes and an RV vacation park with fishing cabins.
For the first two weeks of January - because of the rains, dam releases and high tides - the Ryer Island community was partially submerged under the rising waters of the slough.
Yet those who live in places such as Snug Harbor, on low-lying islands in the Delta, have opted for the simple pleasures of boating, fishing and country life despite the dangers and headaches of winter flooding.
Some are retired, but many make the long trek to Sacramento, or the San Francisco Bay Area for work.
As the waters have risen, John Broughton, 68, has continued to drive to Concord where he works as a contractor. With the ferries to Ryer Island down because of the swift-flowing waters, he has had to drive far out of his way across the island's only bridge.
The Broughtons moved to Snug Harbor 14 years ago from a Fairfield subdivision. During the floods of 1997, they said, they had 18 inches of water in their island house.
"It felt like 18 feet," said Grace Broughton.
They raised the house 8 feet, leaving a 2-foot clearance under the bottom floor for water to flow from Steamboat Slough to a smaller channel behind their property.
During the recent deluge, which was minor by 1997 standards, the Broughtons and their neighbors have helped each other with trips to the grocery store and the Walnut Grove post office and with various problems associated with flooded yards and garages.
"You don't find that kind of living in the city," said John Broughton.
Vicki Vann, 52, and her husband, Gene Henderson, 41, work at Snug Harbor Resort, with Vann as the manager and Henderson as the handyman.
They moved from Sacramento eight years ago after vacationing on the island for two years.
Making mortgage payments on their Sacramento home and holding down more traditional jobs - Vann in the corporate world and Henderson in the construction business - just weren't fulfilling anymore, they said.
Instead, the couple wanted to live where they vacationed.
"We were working to support our house and ran away here whenever we could," Vann said.
Offered jobs at the resort by the Napa couple who own the RV park and rental cabins, Vann and Henderson decided to sell their house and move to the island. Both seem delighted with their decision.
"It's like another planet," Vann said. "The people are so friendly. It's a slower pace of life."
Doctors, lawyers, firefighters and police officers all call Snug Harbor Drive home, she said.
"People will jump a lot faster to help you," Henderson said. "If you need a hand, the people up the road are on it."
Henderson himself is regarded by his neighbors as one of the most helpful people in the Delta. During the floods he secured propane tanks so they wouldn't float away and has been struggling to clear the roadway of water.
A week after the New Year's storms, he drove to the home of a neighbor and carried her young daughter over his shoulder through the floodwaters so she could visit his house to watch TV.
Though he seems to love his work, Henderson's eyes light up even more when the talk turns to fishing.
Many people ask his advice on where to catch the big ones, but Henderson said his favorite fishing spot is the slough right near his house.
"I figure I live right here," he said. "I can just cast out."
Ken Fischer, 62, said he too had an RV at Snug Harbor. He moved from Lincoln last year to be able to boat and fish as much as possible.
"I always wanted to be on the water and fish," he said. "I just go for long boat rides.
"It's peaceful here," he said. "There are otters playing in the backyard and lots of bird life."