Locke, California

Locke, California

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Even in a place as sunny and awesome as the San Francisco Bay Area, one can get cabin fever in the sunny winter months.  I sure did.  Needing a road trip really bad, I contacted my buddy Mike D. to see if he’d care to join me in a photo adventure.  We share a common love for ghost towns, abandoned buildings and photography, so of course he said yes.

Given only enough time for a day trip, we journeyed to Locke, an old Chinese fishing village roughly an hour and a half northeast from where we lived.  The reason why I had picked to visit the town of Locke was because my grandfather had been borne there in 1920, a scant year after the founding of the village.  During our exploration, we chatted with Martha, the owner of The Shack and a local artist.  Astoundingly, she had copies of the original 1930 U.S. Census, and graciously allowed me to peruse them to see if I could find my family on it.  Alas, I was not able to, so am guessing that they had moved away from the town prior to 1930.

We also wandered through the gambling museum there, and finished up with a beer at the local pub – Al the Wops.  Times may have changed, along with the main clientele of the bar, but the look and feel of the tiny village certainly brings you back to another time and place.  After visiting Locke, we grabbed a quick bite at Tony’s Place in Walnut Grove, one of the only places in the area open on a Monday afternoon. I highly recommend stopping by if you’re in the area. The food’s good, there’s a jukebox and TV if you’re bored, and the owner and bartender crack jokes to help pass the time.

After our late lunch, we ended up getting lost amongst the islands in the delta, crossing over the river on a “cable ferry” twice, almost ran over a pack of wild turkeys crossing the road (and they tried to start a fight with us, too), and discovered where Humphrey the Hunchback Whale ended up at back in 1985 – all for the sake of making it to Rio Vista to grab a pint at the taxidermy bar called Foster’s Bighorn.

It was a very memorable trip, one that I’d been wanting to take for many years now.  My grandfather passed away several years ago, but I know he’s happy that I finally went to see his birthplace.


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