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The Inn at Locke House
A Great Break and Breakfast Inn Near Lodi and Sacramento

by
Sherwin Keak

The Experience

Imagine yourself in the midst of a lush and serene country garden with a view of the Sierra Foothills in the near distance.  From this part of the garden, you can see a gorgeous countryside filled with a myriad of vineyards, orchards and horses.  If it gets too warm or cool outside, you can always go inside the Victorian country house for an ice-cold glass of lemonade or just go in to chat with others in the old- fashioned parlor.  Does this sound too good to be true?  There is such a place! 

This charming inn which was named The 2003 Bed & Breakfast with the "Most Historical Charm" by Arrington's Bed & Breakfast Journal, is located in the town of Lockeford, which is not too far a drive from Stockton.  After having dinner in Stockton and doing a little scouting around, my friend and I took a twenty-minute drive north of Stockton to get to the town of Lockeford. 

Even in near complete darkness with just one light on, you can see outline of the enormous neo-Georgian style house.  One of The Innkeepers, Lani Eklund, came out to warmly greet us.  We were invited to sign in their visitor’s logbook.  Because of the late hour, we were given a short tour of the house.  After a brief look around, we were shown to our room, the cream colored Abington, which we immediately fell in love with.  Within a few minutes some refreshments came.  After making sure we didn’t need anything else, Lani promised a full tour in the morning, and wished us a pleasant evening, and excused herself. 

We visited The Inn at Lock House on one of the hottest days of the year, and even with the fan on, it was still a little warm.  The iced water that Lani brought us helped refresh us.  There was an interesting mix of the past and the future in the rooms. 

The Abington where I stayed was nearly completely furnished with furniture that seemed to have dated back a century or so ago, but there was a modern electric ceiling fan, a compact disc player (present in all the guest rooms) on the bed stand that is next to one side of the king sized four post pine bed, a phone in each room and data ports for travelers.  But besides those four modern features, the rest of the entire room was decorated in such a way that I seemed to be magically transported back in time.  As I saw my surroundings: the room, the antique dresser, and the old fashioned fireplace, a sense of wonderment of how things were back then overcame me.  This feeling of being on a journey back in time while on a trip to a historic landmark was a very different feeling.  I didn’t have to go any other location to be sent back in time just by the surroundings.  And just thinking about the fact that I am sleeping in a room where a person a hundred or so years ago slept in, who had the same boudoir, fireplace, and chamber pot (used as nightstand) near the bed left me in awe.  Just the over all feeling from the old furniture that dated back to the dawn of the last century was overwhelming.  Each of the closets in the bedrooms of the main house was actually used by the local militia as armoires during the Civil War.  The closet still shows the numbers near each of the jacket hooks that the militia had used.  It was like I was spending the night in a history book!   

Each of the four guest rooms has their own bathrooms.  Each bathroom has its own unique character that correlates in color scheme with the bedroom.  Each bathroom also has its own bathtub or shower.  If you prefer a bath over a shower or vice versa, it would be wise to inform The Innkeepers ahead of time.  There were even luxuriously soft bathrobes provided that are also available for sale — as a keepsake of your stay in The Inn at Locke House. 

Upon returning to the room after a nice refreshing shower, I discovered that there was also some reading material in one of the bed stands that pertained to the room.  The Abington was the room in which the original lady of the house stayed.  I also saw that there was some information about the surrounding area.  There was a magazine about the wine trail in the nearby town of Lodi.  If you like to play it by ear when it comes to traveling or if you didn’t have time or energy to make all your plans in advance, The Innkeepers have a lot of resources available to give you information about what to do in the area. 

On the other side of the bed, there is a journal with past guest comments is available for perusal.  We then wrote about our stay and our thoughts of the place.  I noticed that many of the people that had stayed in this same room were newlyweds.  Some of them were visitors who had been staying over on their way to another destination.  In any case, they all seemed to have fallen in love with the magic of the In at Locke House, and after visiting there I can’t say I don’t blame them. 

After a good night’s rest, we woke up and got ready for breakfast.  Upon entering the dining area, I smelled something good being cooked and smiled back as I saw Lani’s smiling face.  We then met Richard, her husband, who is the other innkeeper.  I finally took a closer look at the dining area.  The sun shone in the room, giving it very warm and inviting atmosphere.  There was an antique icebox on one side of the room, while the other side had a counter full of what seemed like every type of tea imaginable and some cookies.  We were first served fresh fruits from one of the local farms in the area.  I think the fact that the fruits were freshly picked from one of the farms added to its robust flavor.  We were also given some English muffins and some freshly made berry preserves.  We were then served some eggs that Lani had cooked just right.  The menu of the day is posted on a board by the very modern looking and fully equipped kitchen.  Also, Lani, who makes all the meals, caters to the food preferences of the guests.  If you have any allergies to specific foods, and other dietary requirements, you can just inform Lani so that she may cater to your needs. 

After the breakfast we were given a more thorough tour of the magnificent house.  The pink colored parlors had some games and a piano and a small pump organ for the enjoyment of the guests.  There were also paintings on the walls of the Lockes, (the family who originally built and lived in the house).  One can sit on the antique chairs and read or converse with other guests who are staying the weekend.  If solitude is what you want, there are other parts of the Inn that you can spend time in, like a secluded spot in the garden, or some other room.  What I noticed was that there were no television sets in the guest areas.  I thought that this was good, because it would be a mistake to come to this haven from all the hustle and bustle of the city and vegetate in front of the boob tube.   

After exploring the parlor, we toured the other three guest rooms in the main house. 

The Bridgewater has a rich blue, white and pewter color and a fireplace.  It has a cherry queen spool bed with a private bath and a telephone shower. 

The Berkshire has a cream white queen sized wrought iron bed.  The room has soft yellows and delicate floral patterns and cozy fireplace.  This is one of the two rooms with an adjoining private bath in yellows and greens with a shower for two.   

The Langdon has variations of green as its over all color.  There is a fireplace and an adjoining private bathroom in green and white tile.  This is the other of the two rooms with an adjoining private bathroom.  This bathroom has an antique claw foot tub and a telephone shower. 

The Water Tower Suite was our next stop of the tour.  The pictures on the website simply did not do this spectacular room justice!  There is a private entrance to the water tower with a little balcony.  This room is usually for the guests who want to have a little more privacy.  This room seemed to be decorated to be the most modern of the guest rooms.  It is a warm cream-colored room with a fireplace and many beautiful decorations of stars and picture frames scattered throughout the room.  There is also a spiraling staircase that leads up the water tower to a small nook with a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside.  

We were then shown the garden.  The different plants in the garden change depending upon the season.  There were also some changes afoot when we visited.  The Eklunds had recently taken out a large tree that gave shade to many smaller plants, and they were in the process of doing some planting and replanting around the garden and the rest of the yard.  In addition to the on-going planting, Richard has just finished building a large brick patio out into the garden for dining and relaxing. From parts of the garden you can see the adjacent ranches and orchards as well as the Sierra foothills in the distance.  There are places of shade where one can sit on the lawn chairs and relax with a good book, or just lay back, close your eyes, and take in the fresh air and relax. 

About the Locke House

Dr. Dean Jewett Locke of New Hampshire and his wide Delia Hammond of Massachussetts built the Locke House in 1862.  It first consisted of a small frame house, which was soon replaced by a three-story brick building in 1862-1865.  The water tower was added in 1881 with a two-story addition in 1882.  The Locke House had to house the thirteen Locke children, relatives, and sometimes the patients.

During the Civil War The Inn at Locke House’s barn was the headquarters for the local militia, the Mokelumne Light Dragoons.

The Locke House is now a 22 room all brick neo-Georgian style farmhouse.  Both the house and the barn became the center for the pioneer community of Lockeford, which Dr. Jewett generously supported until his death.  Dr. Locke donated lands to establish churches and schools.  He also donated property to build a railroad depot site as well as financing the purchase of some railroad cars to establish Lockeford as a major stop on the San Joaquin and Sierra Nevada Railroad. 

The Locke House was apportioned to Theresa Locke, one of the Locke children and wife of Assemblyman James Thorpe, upon the death of Mrs. Locke.  John Thorpe, Theresa’s son began the rehabilitation of the property in 1975.  In 1992, at the invitation of John’s widow, Richard and Lani Eklund (the present innkeepers) along with their daughter Kerri moved from Virginia to continue the restoration and renovation of the entire property.

About The Innkeepers

Richard is an electrical and mechanical engineer with a passion for aeronautics.  When he isn’t out gardening or welcoming the guests, he is usually working on the Thorp T-18 or one of Mr. Thorpe’s aircraft designs. 

Lani is an accomplished chef.  She has Creole roots and has perfected an eclectic blend of cooking.  She also has been cooking for a long time.  She grew up with many brothers and sisters and had cooked for them when they were younger.  As a person who has tasted her cooking, I can vouch that she is well versed in the culinary arts.  Lani and her daughter, Kerri, designed the guest rooms for the renovation.  The whole family loves taking care of the garden and yard that encircles the entire house. 

Attractions

Lockeford is a quaint little town located northeast of San Francisco by about 100 miles, and north of Stockton by about 30 miles. The nearby city of Lodi (which has an airport) is situated just 13 miles west of Lockeford. 

There are many boutiques and restaurants just down the road from The Inn.  The Innkeepers have numbers to the restaurants and brochures for local attractions in case you are looking for ideas about places to go, things to do, dining ideas, etc.  You can canoe in the Mokelumne River, which is in walking distance from The Inn. 

If you want to go on a nice picnic or go bird watching, The Innkeepers can pack you a nice picnic basket for your excursion.  Many birds come to the California Central Valley from places like Alaska and Canada to avoid the freeze of winter.  There are many wetland environments for birds like ducks, cranes and geese and swans to stay at for the winter near Lockeford. 

You can go golfing at the Lockeford Springs Golf Course, which is just two miles away from The Inn. 

You can also go to the nearby city of Lodi to skydive or fly an ultra-light flight from the Lodi Airport.  There are also places to shop in Lodi, not to mention wine tasting in the nearby wineries and vineyards.  There are at least two dozen wineries and vineyards to choose from.   

The Inn at Locke House is a great place for baby showers, honeymoons, romantic getaways or a stop over stay on the way to Lake Tahoe or Yosemite.  It is also an ideal place for people who want to want to go bird watching or to go to the Lodi wine country.  It is also ideal for those who just want to go to relax and get away from the noise of the city.   For those who have never experienced what a stay at a Bed and Breakfast Inn stay is like, make your first experience at The Inn at Locke House.  And for those who have been to a bed and breakfast inn, experience what it is like to stay at a historic bed and breakfast inn.  The Innkeepers are bright, friendly and cheerful.  Lani Eklund is a magnificent chef and will cater to your tastes when she makes her meals especially for you.  For those who have been to other Bed and Breakfast Inns, The Inn at Locke House sets a new standard in excellence. 

Rates

Rates are $120 a night for the main house rooms.  The Water Tower Suite is $185.  The Inn accepts all major credit cards.  All the rates include breakfast, welcoming refreshments, beverages, and the cookie of the day.  Check in at 3:30 p.m. and Check out at 11:00 a.m.  For more information, visit the website: www.theinnatlockehouse.com

The following are a few contact numbers for places mentioned in the story.  If you have any questions about the surrounding area, Lani and Richard said that they would be more than happy to help you. 

Travel Watch gives the Locke House an overall rating of four and a half stars.

The Inn at Locke House
19960 North Elliot Road
P.O. Box 1510
Lockeford, CA 95237

Phone: 209-727-5715

Web: http://www.theinnatlockehouse.com

Lodi Wine and Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road
Lodi, CA 95242

Phone: 209-365-0621

Open daily 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission
2545 West Turner Road
Lodi, CA 95242

Phone: 209-367-4727

Lodi Appellation Winery Association
P.O. Box 2052
Lodi, CA 95241-2052

Phone: 888-700-LODI

Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi
5950 E. Woodbridge Road
Acampo, CA 95220

Phone: 209-365-2839

Tasting and retail sales Tuesday- Sunday
10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Tours Tuesday- Sunday
9:30 a.m. or by appointment


Vino Piazza at the Olde Lockeford Winery
12470 Locke Road
Lockeford, CA 95237

(Please call ahead for tasting and visiting)

- Olde Lockeford Winery: 209-727-9770

- Peters Family Winery: 209-337-6111

- Crystal Valley Cellars: 800-764-1220

Lodi Airport
23987 North Highway 99
Acampo, CA 95220-9538

Phone: 209-369-9126

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About the Author

Sherwin Keak writes about snow and water sports, travel, and dining when he is not studying social ecology and communications at the University of California, Irvine.   Sherwin is on the swim team and is an avid polo player and alpine skier.  Although  English is his first language, Sherwin is also fluent in Fukienese Chinese, and Tagalog.  He doesn't have much free time because of school and work, so when he does have some free time he makes the best use of it he can.  You can reach Sherwin at:  sherwin@travel-watch.com.

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