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May 19, 2009
As featured on KGO Radio! Lockeford to Stockton

Today Russell walked 15.25 miles!
Total traveled so far = 58.78 miles

“Are we having fun yet?”
– Zippy the Pinhead

Lockeford is named after a ford (crossing) that Dr. Dean Hewett Locke built across the Mokelumne River. Dr. Locke had left Boston in 1849 for the California gold rush, but ultimately derived more satisfaction from owning and farming land.

His home, Locke House, remained in the family for generations until it was taken over by Richard and Lani Ecklund (friends of the Locke family) in 1992. Richard was a retired aeronautical engineer; Lani was a retired high school teacher. Together, they worked with the Locke family to completely restore the house from an almost ruinous condition.

The result of their renovations, now a bed and breakfast called “The Inn at Locke House,” has been named as one of “The Country’s Top 15 B&Bs for historical charm.” Richard, Lani and their daughter Kerri have been named “Friendliest Staff” by Inn Traveler Magazine. They have been featured in HGTV’s “Restore America” and “If Walls Could Talk.”

I was particularly looking forward to staying here, as it is the only true bed and breakfast that I will see during my entire walk. I was actually disappointed that Gail would not be able to join me in this historic house filled with antiques. Of course, as it turns out, she was! (I see that my clever stratagem of feigning borderline kidney failure paid off once again.)

We stayed in the Langdon Room because it has a huge bathtub (which I didn't use, except to shower). Photo montage from the inn's website.

Lani impressed me from the moment I first made my reservation by phone. (“No eggs. Got it.”) When I showed up yesterday with a medical condition, she offered to drive me to the Urgent Care facility in Lodi.

Lani was perfectly happy to add Gail to the room reservation. At our 8:00 breakfast this morning, we were treated to fresh fruit and French toast with gourmet sausage from nearby Locke Meats. Gail and Lani got along wonderfully with their shared loves of antiques, history, gardening and home restoration.

Gail and Russell with Lani and Richard Ecklund

In hindsight, I wish we had booked a second night at the Inn. It is furnished with books, music, boardgames, television programs and – of course – history. In addition, I am coming to the realization that I should generally have booked rest days after every two or three days of walking. Oh well, next time. (You didn’t hear that, Gail.)

As it was, I said goodbye to Gail one more time and set off down the road at 9:30. As a result of yesterday’s mishap, I have made a couple of changes. I offloaded additional gear to Gail, including my jacket (unused so far) and folding chair (increasingly cumbersome). I am now wearing my fanny pack on my fanny. In addition to reducing possible stress on my bladder and groin, it also acts as a hip belt for my daypack. My first stop this morning was to purchase a gallon jug of cranberry juice to help me stay hydrated. Finally, I am now wearing long pants due to the rather severe sunburn I picked up yesterday.

Russell's new look includes wearing his fanny pack on his actual fanny

As a result of yesterday’s mishap, I also find myself wondering at what point – if any – I would interrupt or cancel this trip. As I recounted previously, I aborted a mountain climb of Mt. Shasta when I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have what it would take to reach the summit. As it turned out, I ended up needing to be airlifted from the mountain. Yesterday, I allowed someone to drive me from Clements to Lockeford because I wasn’t sure if I should still be walking.

I did not know until after midnight last night whether I would be walking at all today. I actually toyed with the idea of having Gail simply drive me to my next accommodation in Stockton, so I could have a “down” day. It was Gail who declared, “That would be cheating!”

And so, today I continued my walk. I honestly can’t say what would make me do otherwise. The backs of my legs are sunburned. I am sore all over, especially in my shoulders from carrying the 14.5-pound pack. I may have damaged my kidneys. My right eye is becoming more bloodshot every day – it is now almost completely red. Still, today was actually a rather enjoyable walk.

The weather was in the mid-80s, a good 20 degrees cooler than two days ago. There is more traffic on Highway 88, and more large freight trucks. Between the force of their wind as they approach and the draft five seconds after they’ve passed, my hat flew off of my head twice. I ended up having to hold it to my head every time a truck went by.

The worst thing about today’s walk was that there were literally only two road curves along the entire length of Highway 88. The rest of the time it was straight and flat. I could see down the road for miles, which constantly let me know that I still had a long way to go.

Today’s terrain: lots of long, flat, straight roads – and lots of big trucks

Once more as a result of yesterday’s mishap, I never got to finish yesterday’s music selection of the complete symphonic score of ‘The Lord of the Rings.” Today I listened to “The Return of the King.”

At 11:15 I arrived at the first of only two locations with food, the gas station at Kettleman Road, where I stopped to down a quart of cranberry juice. At 2:00, just as Frodo threw the one ring into Mt. Doom (hope I didn’t give anything away), I entered the town of Waterloo (population 298) marking the approximate halfway point in today’s walk.

Waterloo, established in 1861

At 2:45, just as Annie Lennox began singing “Into the West,” I arrived at the second food location, the Fruit Bowl. I stopped here for lunch (Caesar salad) and a chance to put my feet up. I ended up staying for more than an hour (someone had kindly left a newspaper behind, giving me a chance to complete both a crossword puzzle and a Sudoku).

The Fruit Bowl, established in 1947

At 4:00 I started again for the final 2.5 miles, arriving at the Clarion Motel at 5:30. It then took me more than half an hour to check in. The motel’s registration system declined my only credit/debit card. I telephoned my credit union, who forwarded me to their security agency. The security agency told me I needed to talk to my credit union. As it went around and around, the registration clerk tried running a lower total, and it went through. It cost me a half-hour, but at least I got the corporate rate.

It was disconcerting to walk up to the Clarion and find the parking lot not only empty, but deserted. Fortunately, I had only come in the back way.

As Gail mentioned in her last letter, we were featured on KGO 810 newstalk radio in San Francisco yesterday afternoon! Ironically, reporter Jennifer Hodges had telephoned my yesterday in Burson at 9:00. Right after the interview, I went into the restroom and discovered blood in my urine. If Jennifer had called me five minutes later, it would have been a completely different interview.

In any event, you can download the one-minute mp3 audio file here.

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