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Walt & Monica
Land Park Living Suits This Active Media Mom and Dad
By Elena M. Macaluso
ABC10’s Monica Woods and Walt Gray may be longtime local media personalities, but to their kids, they’re also coach, cook, mom and dad.
“The kids don’t know anything different. We’ve always had media jobs,” says Woods of Abby, 16, Kelly, 13, and Joseph, 11.
The family lives in Land Park along with Maltese poodle Rhody, named in honor of Gray’s stomping grounds, Rhode Island. They moved from Elk Grove into their current digs in 2007. The couple admits they got a good deal on the house—which, built in 1938, had its original stove and no air conditioning—but it needed a lot of work. They’ve redone pipes, added insulation, installed a new kitchen and added on two bedrooms. “Every time we took down a wall, we’d find a monster in it,” says Gray, referring to the numerous surprises that
popped up along the way. Despite all the work it took to make their house a home, it’s safe to say living in Land Park suits this active family. Abby, Kelly and Joseph go to schools in the area and are involved with Little League, soccer, swimming, tennis, basketball and debate. “All three of the schools are walkable and that really helps with them getting to after-school activities,” says Gray. And for Mom and Dad? Well, with a five-minute commute to ABC10’s Broadway studios, it doesn’t get much easier. “If my car broke down I could walk,” says Gray.
These days the couple, who met in 1997 and married in 2000, share the same employer. But that was not always the case. Gray worked for nearly 25 years at KCRA-TV, first as sports director, then morning/noon anchor and finally evening anchor. He left TV briefly to host his own radio show on KSEG “The Eagle,” but returned to television in 2013 at ABC10. These days he anchors “The Morning Blend” from 4:30 to 7 a.m. on weekdays.
Woods, a member of the National Weather Association, has been at the station since 2001 moving up the ranks from weekend meteorologist to her current role as chief meteorologist. If you want to know whether to wear a summer dress or a sweater on your date tonight, or to school or work tomorrow, you can catch her weather reports weeknights during the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts.
Though kids and careers keep them busy, Woods and Gray manage to squeeze in a few outside activities. Woods serves as vice president of the Board of Directors for Solar Cookers International, a nonprofit organization that promotes solar-cooking awareness and skills worldwide. (The family enjoys solar-cooked meals four nights a week.) She’s also an avid open-water swimmer—she made the swim from Alcatraz Island in 2015. Gray has enjoyed coaching Joseph’s Little League and soccer teams, as well as Joseph’s and Kelly’s basketball teams throughout the years. “Being on a morning shift allows for that,” he says. But with his early-morning schedule (he’s up by 2:30 a.m. on weekdays), he’s more apt to take a pass on workouts. “If I have the option of catching an hour of sleep or working out like I should, I catch the nap,” he admits.
Myriad separate activities and opposite work schedules aside, the family makes sure to enjoy the neighborhood amenities together. Favorite spots include Sprouts Farmers Market for fresh fruits, veggies and deli sandwiches; Riverside Clubhouse for a special brunch; Vic’s Ice Cream for “everything”; and, says the primarily vegan Woods (she will eat fish on occasion), “Masullo salads rock!”
Traveling is another favorite family activity. This past spring, they made a trip to India—Gray once lived in New Delhi—and Singapore. They make annual trips to Rhode Island to visit Gray’s family and Indiana to visit Wood’s family. In between, they do a lot of RV camping. “That’s my happy place,” says Gray.” Adds Woods, “We love heading out in our trailer and finding fun spots to set up shop. We’ve gone surfing, white-water rafting, tubing, etc., then head back to the park and chill for the night.” Destinations include Santa Cruz, Petaluma, Bodega Bay, Placerville and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park. The family even camps on holidays. “Thanksgiving is in Half Moon Bay,” says Gray.
Sacramento may be a long way geographically from their respective hometowns, but for Gray and Woods, there are many similarities. “Land Park reminds me a lot of Rhode Island with the trees and the homes. Each street and home is different,” says Gray. “It has a very Midwestern feel,” adds Woods. The history of the neighborhood is another draw. “There are so many multi-generation families,” says Woods. “We’ve met so many people who knew the neighborhood ‘the way it was.’ It’s so fun to hear the history from our friends’ parents and even their grandparents.”