Back for Chad’s Birthday

I can’t quit Eureka it seems! Chad’s family and lifelong roots are still there, so he and the entire crew are returning this weekend for his birthday. For my part, after six straight weeks of 90°-105° days, I am more than ready to escape and get the f— outta Reno. I have rented a two-bed room in the Eureka Inn for two days for all 6 of us (!) and we are gonna party!

Wednesday (Aug 9)

Pick up a Newman’s Italian sub, return library books, stop at See See for coffee then off I go! The normal leaving routine.

I got a scare as I was bopping up 395 around Doyle at 74 mph when my oil pressure warning went off and “HI” appeared where my mileage should be. I slowed down ten miles/hour and it went away. That happened once before when they slightly over-filled the oil at the 10K service, but it’s still scary. Because I love the back roads, I will to very little over 70 driving after Susanville, so I’m hoping I won’t see this again.

After Susanville, Route 44 is such a beautiful drive. It started raining pretty hard right before I got to my campground.

Bridge Picnic Area and Campground:  

Three miles north of Old Station. There is a perfectly idyllic picnic area on the east side of the road and a campground on the west.

The campground has no water so it's a little cheaper than Cave and Hat Creek.

Even better, the big RVs don't come here, so it's more mellow - a win-win for me!


back again! Site 20 is probably the best of them all. It's a pull-through site just past the parking area, with nothing between you and Hat Creek, 40' away. It's close enough to the highway that you can see passing trucks through the trees, but the creek is noisy enough to mostly mask the sound, which is perfect.

The rain stopped soon after I pulled in. It smelled spectacular, like a wet cedar chest!

I’m still kind of gimpy. Without going into the ugly details, my left elbow is fucked up, can’t put any pressure on it, but my left hand and wrist are just fine. Right arm is the opposite, elbow is fine, but right wrist is fucked. I can now weakly grip things (progress!) but any kind of rotational torque is very painful. Typing is in fact painful because the wrist must rotate. It was a fall, which I broke with my left elbow and right wrist, so there you are. I sorta did the splits also, so left groin is fucked. Us old folks usually have to push off to get up out of a chair, and I can’t use my right wrist. In other words I am a mess … but improving!

Living in the van exposes a whole new set of formerly easy actions which now are inconvenient in new ways. I fucking hate the whole thing. But it’s so awesome to be out and on the road again anyway!


Cloudy morning, so the van doesn’t get too hot. I hang out in bed then bestir myself to take my chair and hobble over to read by the creek for a while. Very, very pleasant.

Then drive six miles to a great meal at JJ’s Diner. What a gem that place is. Such high quality in every way. This time I put together why there are often backpackers hanging out here – the Pacific Coast Trail runs right behind the restaurant!

Fortified by my excellent sausage, eggs, and pancake, it was a pleasant drive to Redding, which was its usual uncomfortable self. I picked up today’s sando, got diesel and ice (fridge is still broken), chilled at Brew with a decaf Americano. Then it was time for the familiar 299 run to Pigeon Point. I am late enough in the day that the road construction has shut down = no stoppages! An extreme rarity on 299.

Pigeon Point Campground:  

On a bend in the Trinity River, next to a boat ramp ==> lots of partying rafters, but a couple of great sites!

Busy Route 299 is only 40' up and 90' over, so when a truck passes you hear it. Fortunately, the road is not busy after dark.

Not quite as torrid as Redding, but still pretty darned hot until the sun goes down.


Never know what'll be happening here. Today there is a whole dude posse, three cars worth at #6, using the campground as an improvised frisbee golf course of all things! Good for them.

Site 5 parking is next to the biggest site (three picnic tables!). That is where I am hanging out and typing this.

There are also people in the group camping area on the other side of the parking lot - never seen that being used before.

The dude posse frisbee game was pretty funny. They went back and forth across the length of the campground 2-3 times, aiming at a campsite post or information sign or whatever struck their fancy as target. I think drinking is involved. The most endearing part is that they are using just regular heavy throwing frisbees, not a collection of multiple sizes of specialized frisbees like your serious “golfer”.  Wasn’t too sure those dorks when I got here, but now I’m glad they’re here, they’re nice guys just having a stupid good time.

Friday – Saturday 

Pretty darned hot here in the morning, so I bestirred myself to drive across the parking lot to shade, then a pleasant morning reading and contemplating the river. Around noon bestir myself to move down the road six miles to read and contemplate the river from the Strawhouse patio with coffee and coffeecake! Life is good. The goldfinches are back (did they ever leave?), mobbing their particular bird feeders. Not much happening at the hummingbird feeders and the bigger feeders, whoever they are for.

No traffic stops yesterday, so I pay for it today. I was the first person in line at the huge landslide stoppage, therefore I had the longest wait. It was quite long. The work they are doing is amazing. It seems that they’ve decided that can’t stop that mountainside from collapsing every now and then, so they’ve removed an enormous amount of rock, effectively moving the hill back about 50′ and are scooping out a deep ditch between it and the road. Deep enough to hold the next landslide. Engineers are amazing. Give them enough time and equipment, and they WILL solve the problem.

Rested a while in Willow Creek, then on to the Eureka Inn!

Eureka Inn:  

Historic hotel in the heart of downtown. Cool place with a cool bar with frequent live music. The downstairs areas are large and very grand, and you can feel the history, which would merit my "fancy" designation. The actual rooms however are pretty shabby with not much space and few amenities, hence the "plain" designation.Three blocks away from the heart of Old Town, with all it's eating, drinking, and shopping opportunities.


Stayed two nights. Local bands both nights in the bar, one of the bands was very good.

They raised the room prices $25 (with CA room taxes, more like $40) in the two years since my last s and servicetay, and the rooms are improved not a bit. Not cool.

I register, get settled in, drink a beer, watch tv, fall asleep, then around 7 the family appears, all six(!) of them. If you’re been paying attention you know that there are only five of them, but they picked up Tyler’s friend Dylan. So that’s Martha + toddlers on one bed, John and Chad on the other, Tyler and Dylan on the floor – whew!

There are live bands downstairs tonight! Chad went straight down to heck ’em out. I escaped downstairs to read in the lobby for an hour or so, but caught most of the second band – The Trouble. They were very good, in a 90’s Pavement-y kind of way.


Everybody went their separate ways. Ty went to a Monster Truck rally with his friend (lol). Grandma Gale took the toddlers so Martha and Chad could have a birthday date! I walked downtown for coffee, came back for a while, then walked down to a nice restaurant I passed, then came back and basically luxuriated in having the room to myself till they returned at 9-ish.

The Big Event tonight is Chad has invited all of Eureka to come and have a birthday drink with him at the downstairs bar. Within minutes he got a text that Cliff Dallas – namesake of their former band – was downstairs, so he disappeared to get the party started! A night of making conversation with people I don’t know very well is kind of wearying to me so I hung out in the chaos of the hotel room, because at least I’m not talking to strangers :)

When I did go down, it was very nice. I do know most of the people, James and Josh who helped Chad pack the moving van, Cliff and Zack – singer and drummer for the band, Chad’s sisters Page and Ariel. It was fun! There was a band again – a pretty average power trio cover band, so we adjourned to the back room and played pool and power rock on the jukebox (not my choice …).

A little after midnight I checked out and went back to the room. I was done, but I also wanted to spread out in that teeny bed by myself for a while before Chad returns and plants his wide-body on the other side!


Not nearly enough sleep. Did I mention that the beds are true doubles, not the ubiquitious queen-size one expects? I am here to tell you that two full-grown men don’t have much room to spread out on a double bed.

Check out time is 11:00, so we had to suck it up and mobilize, well-rested or not. They and I go our separate ways. I go straight to Safeway to snag a Sunday Chronicle (success!), beer, ice (broken fridge, remember?), and “sundries”. Then I make my pilgrimage to Because Coffee, to support Katie and because the spectacular Haven is working. I walk around the block to lox and bagel at Los Bagels. Just water at this stop, I aleady had my coffee elsewhere.

The Petaluma school Martha decided on for Tyler to attend does not start tomorrow as to the others, so they are able to stay over one more night at Grandma Gale’s. It’s about nap time, so they are there trying to make that happen. I know Chad is ready for a nap, but he’s having trouble getting Rylan to buy into the concept. Anyway, I go over for one more dose of family togetherness before I hit the road. The two toddlers in matching diapers and nothing else are particularly touching to me today. Being with them minute to minute is kind of a strain sometimes, but looking back or looking forward, it’s what life is all about and I try to take the time to treasure it.

I catch up on my sleep with little nap at Big Lagoon.

There actually were Roosevelt elks in the official viewing meadow! So there was a bit of a traffic kerfluffle but I did not join. On to the multiple traffic stoppages between here and Crescent City. I almost always take the long way through CC. The zig-zagging residential street that hugs the coast is really quite beautiful. I am struck yet again at how pretty the setting is versus what a crappy little town it is.

I’ve got time to kill so I take the Pelican Bay route. It always kind of amazes me; it does not look like a happy place, but there’s no hint of the awfulness inside.

Lucky 7 Casino:  

This place is super user-friendly. There is an RV parking area at the back of the lot, and another across the road behind the reservation gas station. The second one is more level but seemed a little sketchy. I am going for the first. Glad to be here!

Wifi was dead for most of the evening, but when it came back it was pretty good. There are a couple of stations in the casino with free coffee and even a cappuccino machine!

You can hear the surf at night when the traffic is gone. The ocean is right across the highway, complete with a bench on the bluffs to watch sunset. Sweet little fountain with colored lights to entertain your inner stoner. Nice, friendly place.


Not crowded this time. I got the edge spot in the parking row so my van door faces onto the grass. As much privacy as you're gonna get here. Only drawback is that there is no good angle to avoid the strong security lights.

I’m such a veteran of this place by now, I know how to work it. Hang out in the van till near subset, the walk down to the bluffs for the actual event. Bring my book so I have something to do when I stop in the casino bar on the way back.

As it turns out I didn’t need the book to pass the time, the Niners preseason game was being rerun on the TV. I usually follow the Niners pretty closely til the season starts. Then they are terrible and I remember how long a whole football games is and I go back to waiting for basketball to start. Anyway, I payed rapt attention, my first glimpse of all the promising rookies I’ve been reading about.