The Lockwoods return

Al and Sunny Lockwood return to the Mother Lode on June 9.

Travel authors Al and Sunny Lockwood return to the Mother Lode to share the challenges of writing about and the health benefits of travel and the adventures they have experienced on their journeys. They arrive at 3 p.m. June 9 at the Manzanita Arts Emporium in Angels Camp. The presentation is one in a series of Manzanita’s free Sunday Afternoon Lectures.

The Lockwoods made their home in Calaveras County for many years. Al designed and built homes, including the home he shared with Sunny. In his spare time, he photographed the rich and colorful world of wildflowers across the Sierra Nevada. His wildflower columns ran for years in the West Point News and Sierra Seasons magazine, and he produced a colorful and informative DVD that featured the wildflowers of our own Mother Lode area and the western Sierra.

Al came to the my home to photograph the yellow mariposa lilies (Calochortus) and blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium) that bloom so briefly in the spring. He laid down a small piece of carpet, then set up his tripod and camera. Any tiny whisper of a breeze made a photo imperfect and thus unusable to him. He patiently took hundreds of photos, eventually selecting just a few to reproduce and share.

Sunny was a reporter and became a columnist for the Union Democrat newspaper in Sonora. Her work earned awards from the National Federation of Press Women and the California Newspaper Publishers Association. She also worked as a programmer for the Calaveras County Public Access TV Studio.

When a texting driver slammed into their vehicle in 2012 as they waited at a red light, their lives changed dramatically. Bruised and shaken, they began to think differently about their lives and how they wanted to live them.

“We’d been workaholics, putting off our dreams for someday later in life, but the wreck showed us how quickly our lives could be snuffed out,” Sunny said.

Most of their dreams were related to travel. Their first dream trip was a cruise through the Panama Canal. They found the cruise so fascinating, they wrote a book about it called “Cruising Panama’s Canal: Savoring 5,000 nautical miles and 500,000 decadent calories.” The book was well-received, named an Amazon bestseller in senior travel.

Since that first cruise, the Lockwoods have visited more than 30 countries both by ship and on their own. They’ve crossed the Atlantic twice by ship and cruised the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Memphis.

They’ve written three more award-winning travel memoirs, and a new book about their Mississippi River cruise is due out this fall from Gatekeeper Press.

“We aren’t wealthy, and we have medical issues, but we planned carefully and have been able to visit these great European cities at our own pace and without breaking the bank,” Sunny said. “We rode the choppy green waters of Venice’s Grand Canal, worshipped in Florence’s mammoth Duomo, walked where Colosseum gladiators once battled for their lives, and were awed by the architecture of Barcelona’s famous church, Sagrada Familia. And we did it all on our own. We weren’t with a group or tour.”

“We took advantage of hop-on, hop-off buses where we could,” Al added. “We used Airbnb for affordable lodging. We didn’t push ourselves, and we’ve had the time of our lives.”

“Cruising the Mediterranean” takes readers along the canals of Amsterdam and Venice to the top of St. Mark’s Bell Tower, the tallest structure in Venice, and through the oldest neighborhood in Athens. From the stunning mosaics of Istanbul’s Blue Mosque to a moonlight dinner cruise along the Bosphorus Strait, readers share the wonder and fascination of the world’s only city to straddle two continents, Europe and Asia.

All of these beautiful and fascinating places are photographed with Al’s fine eye for a good shot. Their Powerpoint presentation at Manzanita on June 9 attests to Sunny’s ability to relate their most cherished experiences and useful information for would-be travelers. Al’s photography skills, coupled with their innate and growing interest in local color, will allow the Manzanita audience to learn and travel right along with them.

“We write to share the fun and enchantment of our journeys and to encourage others to step out of the ordinary and take the travel plunge,” Sunny said. “Do something you dream of doing.”

“Do it now, while you can,” Al added. “You’re never too old. And it’s never too late.”

“Readers of our books discover that travel is good for everyone, no matter what your age,” Sunny said. “Travel renews you. It energizes you, and it gives you lots of good stories to share with friends.”

Now residing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the Lockwoods return to the foothills to bring their free talk, slideshow and book signing to the Angels Camp gallery. The event is free, but reserve a space by calling 728-6171.


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