Town Crier: For these octogenarians, it’s never too late to hike


MONTCLARION: December 23, 2016

It’s never too late for the adventure of a lifetime. Just ask longtime Montclarions and octogenarians Paul Slakey and JP Jones. Together, they hiked the completed part of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

“That’s more than 330 miles,” Paul’s wife, Margaret, exclaimed in an email — clearly proud of her hubby’s achievement.

The men were looking for a way to stay active in their 80s, and boy did they pick a doozy. It took six years to make 58 day hikes, averaging 6 miles a segment.

“The bay is so much bigger than I ever imagined,” Slakey says, “going all the way up into Napa. We took two cars and would leave one at the end point for that particular day. We also used other modes of transportation when it made sense including BART, the ferry, SamTrans and San Francisco Muni.”

The buddies began each day by fueling up at the Starbucks or Peet’s closest to their starting point. With a nod to the number of calories they burned, the men wrapped up their hike at the nearest McDonald’s or anyplace they could get a chocolate shake.

The biggest challenge? Following a trail that’s still unfinished in spots. “We had to wing it,” Slakey says, “using city streets and in some cases walking railroad tracks.”

On one set of tracks, they walked across the Petaluma River on a draw bridge.

“Just as we got across, it started to swing back to its normal open position … we would have been stranded on it until the next train came through,” he said.

Would you like to have this big adventure? No camping is required and you can find maps and other information at

Around town: Hair stylist and entrepreneur Eryn Harrison has done it again. The owner of Piedmont Avenue establishment Calm, A Salon has just opened Harrison’s Barber Salon, The Gentlemen’s Solution at 4429 Piedmont Ave. Harrison calls it “classic barbering” with plush, oversized barbering chairs, a giant flat screen TV, darts and shuffleboard and even libations like beer and the “whiskey of the month.” I like Erin’s style!

Bah humbug: ’Tis the time of year for good cheer, which makes the note pinned on reader Carol Canter’s gray bin even more curious. It admonished her for recycling a slightly soiled pizza box, hinting that if she ever committed this egregious infraction again, the bin might be left by the curb — untouched. Horrors! Just when you thought you were helping the environment.

Back in time: Getting gas hasn’t been this fun since the 1960s. There’s an old-fashioned station in Orinda where they pump your gas and check your tires and oil — for free! Flying A is right by the onramp to eastbound Highway 24 and a lifesaver for busy motorists. I asked young attendant Carson Reid if he’d heard of the most famous service station attendant — Gomer Pyle — and he hadn’t. But he did remember two episodes of “The Three Stooges” that were set in a service station. Anyway, he found my car was a quart low on oil, and that’s no joke!

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at http://www.


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