About our website

We are the Gehlke family of Oakley, California, and this is our digital home on the Internet. We're glad you stopped by today and hope you will spend some time with us as we share with you stories and photos of our varied hobbies and activities.

The Gehlke Gazette, formerly known as the Gehlke Family Home Page, was born on Sept. 2, 1998, during the golden years of the World Wide Web before the dawn of social media and before it became the commercial playground of Google, Facebook and Twitter. We wanted a simple way to share our photos and news of our activities with our family, and having our own website seemed like the way to go.

We'd lived in Oakley for seven years already and had recently purchased the house we had rented for the first six years we were in town. Our son Benjamin arrived in 1994, and by the time the idea for the website came along, he was 4 years old and very interested in trains. Hardly a weekend went by that we weren't involved in some home improvement project or on the road to someplace fun to watch trains or explore with Ben. We decided to start a monthly newsletter devoted to our activities.

We didn't expect the newsletter to last more than a handful of issues, but over time it grew. At first it was a text-only production. Then we started using our bulky flatbed scanner to add a photo or two that we scanned from film prints. (This was before the age of digital cameras — at least for us.) When we purchased our first digital camera in 2002, that's when things started to take off. The newsletters grew more visual and became longer. Now, more than 15 years after that first edition, we continue to produce a newsletter a month and haven't missed a beat.

Although the website has been in existence continuously since 1998, it didn't get its first serious facelift until 2001, and then not again until 2014. Learning a little HTML was easy, but mastering CSS, javascript and Dreamweaver was a more daunting task we didn't have the energy to pursue for what was basically a hobby. If not for the availability of predesigned free templates that we finally availed ourselves of, the site you are now seeing probably would have remained on the to-do list... someday.

Time marches on, and our little family has grown up since those early years of railfan excursions. We passed through the Pokémon craze, and have since dabbled in anime, manga and romance book conventions. We've watched dirt track races at the Antioch Speedway, participated in a decade of NaNoWriMo novel writing, and discovered the charm and serenity of the California Delta. We've learned how to grow rice. We've built walls and fences and landscaped our yards. We've taken some great trips to Texas and New England and Seattle. We even weathered the Great Recession.

Now, as the Gehlke Gazette enters the latest phase of its existence, we've also got our own webcam. We don't know what the years ahead will bring, but hopefully we'll be able to find other new and interesting ways to share with you what we're up to.

For those who might not be familiar with our hometown, Oakley is a small suburb of about 35,000 people located 55 miles east of San Francisco. It sits along the south bank of the San Joaquin River in California's famous Delta region. The city incorporated in 1999, but it has been in existence since at least 1897. We have called this area home since 1991.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions we invite you to email us, even if it is just to say hello and to let us know you stopped by.

Have a great day, and thank you for being our guest.

Glenn, Roni and Ben