Enjoying the clean air a few more days

Monday (Aug 9)

Another non-smoky day. In our modern environmental hellscape, every summer day without wildfire smoke is a blessing.

I hung around my trashy campsite until almost 1 pm, then it was time to hit the road. Garberville is the closest place with restaurants. I drove the length of the town to eyeball all the possibilities and ended up at Woodrose Cafe, the very first one, which was the most crowded and kind of annoying as it turns out. I am noticing a trend where every place seems understaffed. A COVID thing I think. Anyway, the head waitress was kind of a bitch, but the dude who did all the work behind her majesty was very good. My sandwich was good, the soup was some kind of curry thing which was VERY good. Coffee cost $3.65 and wasn’t very good, so all in all, … I will try someplace else next time. They overall seem to be coasting on their laurels rather than trying.

Because I am at leisure today I drove the entire Avenue of the Giants, which is a nice way to turn a 30 minute highway drive into a hour and a half drive through the forest. I stopped a few times just to soak up the awesomeness of the redwoods.

Got to Eureka 3:30-ish, texted Katie and got no answer, so allowed my muscle memory of Eureka to take over, and ended up down by the bay in the Adorno Center parking lot. As luck would have it, I again nailed the cherished edge of the parking lot spot, where I could open the van door, sit on my sofa and look at the bay. While killing time internet browsing I see that the Warriors are playing a preseason game TODAY, in half an hour!

This changes everything! I am no longer just killing time, I am looking for a sports bar in Eureka. First thought was Lost Coast Brewery, which I don’t like a lot but is very close. They did me a favor by being closed, because it made me delve further into my muscle memory of Eureka and come up with good ole Dave’s, the diviest of dive bars in the near suburbs.

I head straight there and invest in a couple of good IPAs. Upon request, the bartender put the Warriors game on the bar tv, which was very nice of her, but the bar was quite crowded so I couldn’t get too close to it. By paying close attention I was able to figure out who the rookies were. Vert exciting for me. Life is good!

Katie finally texted. She’s been home the whole time. so I coulda gone straight there – duh. But if I had done that I wouldn’t have had the dave’s experience and seen my ballgame, si I guess it worked out for the best in the best of all possible worlds. :)

Very nice to see ole Katie. We sit at the huge old dining room table in her quite distinguished wood-panelled dining room and yak about everything in the world for a few hours, then I brush my teeth and head out to the van for the night.


She gets up even later than me. A quick Yelp survey showed and actual donut shop very close, about 300 yards away on 101 as it turns out. The donuts were good, the coffee was good, and they had Chronicle ports pages from a couple of days hanging out on the tables, so it was a good find!

Katie’s idea was that we would visit her mom Betty, who lives here also. I guess that’s reversed the Hennessey sisters all live here because their mom moved the family here somewhere in the 90’s(?). Anyway, I go back with Betty as a far as I do Katie (duh), which is to the mid 80’s(!). It was very nice catching up.

Then it was time to take up my mission for the day, which is to see what’s it’s like to stay in the casino parking lot in a super nice place!

It was just excellent to stay here. The fact that there was some drama to get to let me stay is kind of a bummer. It will make it less likely that I will try again, which is too bad (for me :). I snagged an edge spot, as I love to do. The “ocean view through the trees” edge was occupied, so I went for the “next to a steep hillside overlooking the canyon” spot, which turned out to be just my cup of tea.

The weather was perfect for sitting in my chair beside the van, far enough away from the other campers to play some music. I had a proper party with myself!


As noted in the inset, the $20 gets you three nights here, which with proper planning, could be awesome. Great coastal hikes, Moonstone Beach is a half mile away. There’s a couple of good restaurants.

I left around 11-ish and headed south to McKinleyville to get my morning coffee and what turned out to be a bearclaw at the newest Ramone’s. The original downtown Ramone’s is awfuly stuck up, but the other two are pretty mellow, and they sure have good pastries. En route Martha texted and said she would be available to meet.

Then Martha actually called we made a plan and I drove back to Trinidad to meet her for breakfast at the SeaScape, which was really cool!

Hangtown Fry for me.

Then because I have nothing better to do, I got off at Arcata and drove the long way around to the peninsula that defines Arcata Bay (does that peninsula have a name?). The road has a number: State Route 255 according to my map. It circles Arcata Bay, then the Samoa Bridge to Eureka, then ends I guess.

Anyway, I took a nap in the van by Samoa Beach, then wandered over the dune to wade in the surf a bit. The water sure is cold! It was low tide and almost no surf. The waves burning their energy about 40 feet out.

Then, exactly like I did two days ago, I drove to Dave’s for Warriors preseason basketball, got a couple of quality IPAs then drove to Katie’s, talked to here a coupla hours and went back out to the van. The Dave’s bartender put my game on a better TV this time so I could actually see the new players I wanted to see..

Lucky me, the city has ripped up the street outside Katie’s front door do gas line repair.  It was loud and their super bright lights shone in the window. But it turned out to be no big deal anyway. I moved the van 30′ down the side street out of the line of sight of the klieg lights. Then it was dark and quiet and I slept just fine.


Katie was still asleep, so I had the house to myself. I snuck in a much needed shower while the house was quiet.

I failed to resist the lure of the donut shop again. When I got back Katie was up. We yakked for a while then I left.

Straight to the Los Bagels for a lox and bagel, then straight out of town.

The US 101 grind much nicer drive when you break it into pieces. The 100-odd miles to Leggett is quite a pretty, even relaxing drive in you’re not stressed about another even longer chunk of miles or so more to get to Petaluma. The yummy lox and bagel and coffee and donuts got me all the way through to tonight’s destination just fine.

It’s hot and humid here in the oak and pine trees at Standish-Hickey. There’s redwoods down the road, but not here. The far site of my loop is the quietest, but all the good sites were taken, so I ended up at the end of the loop in a site that was big and level and private but not quie. Sadly I could watch the trucks zoom past across the little gully that separated me from the road.


I was chillin and enjoying what I thought was my last hour in my pretty spot in the woods, when the kinda cute punker ranger woman that checked me in last night drove past and told me that my last hour in the woods had expired ten minutes ago! Check-out time is noon instead of the usual 1 pm. Who knew!

No big deal really, I had done everything I needed to do anyway. But she was kinda bitchy about it and it left a bad taste.

I did a drive by on the breakfast place listed in Laytonville. It was disappointing. It appeared to be a deli counter in a liquor store. Sometimes those unlikely places can be the best, but I did not feel like stopping and taking the chance today.

It’s only 20-ish more miles to Willits, so why not press on to the Mariposa Market to try those pastries which looked really good last Sunday. But today, at 1 pm on Friday the pastry selection was really sad. In fact the whole place it did not seem as inviting as it had then (was it just 6 days ago?)so I punted that and moved on down the road to what worked so well last time, to the run-down little strip mall with Happy Donuts. I’ve had donuts way, way too many times this week, but boy they sure were good again!

Filled up on diesel at Coyote Casino, right before CA 20 East leaves 101. Drive past Lake Mendocino, which is in TERRIBLE shape!  About a third of the lake was exposed sand flats. Away from the coast, most of California has a really apocalyptic feel to it.  pretty depressing!

The Blue Lakes – the long skinny lakes right along 20 – and Clear Lake were both a little low but basically normal looking, not the really sad disaster that Lake Mendocino was. I ate at a place called the Country Kitchen in a little strip mall in Clearlake Oaks. I wouldn’t call it fine dining, but waitress was easy on the eyes and my chorizo con huevos was good.

At the northeast corner of the lake the route becomes one I’ve driven 2 or 3 or 4 times a year for most of the last 15 years. It’s the road to Harbin Hot Springs and it’s the “no freeways” route to Martha’s house.

Other than donuts, the theme of the last few days is trying to catch the Warriors summer league games. Today I just so happen to be driving past Granzella’s exactly when penultimate game. I absorb one of their not too awesome IPAs and watch the second half. I hang out in the van for a while and watch the comings and goings at the 6-8 electric vehicle charging stations that now occupy the row of parking spaces at the edge of the RV parking area. I’m kinda just killing time anywhere nicer than the casino parking lot, which is almost anywhere.

Drove out to the Colusa Wildlife Refuge, but just was not feeling the Auto Tour or the Nature Walk for that matter. It’s fucking hot and a really dull time of year for wildlife, so I’ll taking a pass today. I did chill for an hour or so in town, sweating it up in the shade beside the City Park for a while, then driving over to the levee and hanging out by the river for a while. I  quite enjoyed the latter part. i even did a drive-through on the State Park, now that the new me is willing to pay for state parks, I’ll see if it looks any more inviting.

Even with all that dillying and dallying around town I still got to the casino with a bit of daylight left. I’m pretty full from the chorizo con huevos, so going inside has no appeal. I post up in my beloved chair in the shade and try to pretend I’m not in a gravel parking lot. Even after dark it’s still f—ing hot.

I feel little bugs biting me, but I can’t see them and it’s so unpleasantly hot that I slept with the door open most of the night anyway. They were real though, on Sunday night back at home I noticed my legs were spotted with little red dots, which is so gross looking it’s kinda cool. :)


The sun woke me up pretty early, so I was on the road by 11-ish. I took the super fun and super scenic back way from Colusa to Yuba City. When CA 20 turns south, I turn north and take the bridge across the Sacramento River. Turn right and follow the levee road for a few miles to Pass Road, which skirts right under the edge of the Sutter Buttes. Really cool!

I’m pretty tired of the fussy little breakfast in Colusa, so I’m gonna try a place in Yuba City called the Lambert House Cafe. It was kinda hard to find down on what used to be the Feather River waterfront, but it was very nice. There was a set of angry signs about government regulations taped to the door, which concerned me. But the servers wore masks and the customers didn’t have that angry white Trumper vibe, so I stayed and it was great. I sat outside. The food was good!

Fed and caffeinated, the drive home was easy. I even stopped at the Safeway, and still got home in time to invite my friend Ed over to e\watch the first Niners preseason game.