Nostalgic Eureka Visit

Monday (Sep 2) 

Leaving Day! So sad.

Gettin ready to leave on Monday

Checkout is 11 am, so I expected quite a lot of drama and traffic leaving, but there wasn’t really. All of my campmates were gone by 9:30.  Martha & family taking a right on 101 heading south back to Petaluma. The MacDonalds taking a left on 101 to Eureka, as I will be doing also in a couple of hours. So I was able to bracket my first night alone here with a last hour or so alone. Excellent!

Trees are so tall it's tough to get a pic of the campground and the tops of the trees

I re-strung in the hammock and laid in it for a while. I watched the big rigs across the way break down their campsites and get their giant trailers travel-ready. It’s a lot of work. Took one final shower since I may not have that opportunity for a few days. Tidied up my little living space to get it travel-ready. Finally, a little before 11 I unplugged from campground power and stowed all my stuff, and I’m ready to roll.

I missed my chance to boil water before they took down the stove this morning, so I am coffee-less when I head out. There really aren’t that many good places on this stretch of 101. Today I tried a different place I’d never been to, and it also is NOT good, sigh… It looked good on Yelp, family restaurant on the Avenue of the Giants. I had missed breakfast (of course), so I got some kind of cheese steak thing and coffee, and boy was it not good. They did have phone reception and wifi though.

Starting out the day I thought I was going to stay at a friend’s house or camp tonight. But texting from my bad meal I learned that my friend is herself not in town, so that leaves camping. But I am just not feeling it. Being utterly deprived of any outside connection for four days has left me with a pretty deep desire to be online. So I also googled motel prices in Eureka.

When it came right down to it, what I wanted way more than a nature experience tonight was to lay in bed at watch tv and catch up on twitter and sports.

Travelodge:  

Not actually fancy despite my designation, but very very user friendly! Fridge, microwave, good wifi.At the southern end of the 4th Ave (US 101) straightaway, so only a few blocks from downtown Eureka, such as it is,

tonight:

This place really hit the spot for me tonight.

I was able to back the van up to the door of room 135 so everything was three steps away.

I hung out for a short while, then drove to the local Safeway to stock up for the trip home. I made a little nostalgia tour out of it, drove down the cul-de-sac where the family lived for a couple of years, check out some other local landmarks. Quite fun. Straight back to the room where I ate leftovers and wifi-ed all night,

I loved my Travelodge night!

Tuesday

From visiting Martha so frequently during their three years living in Eureka I have pretty clear ideas on how to live my best life for half a day here. I gotta say that I impressed even myself in the thoroughness of my execution:

  • Awaken, make it to the Travelodge complimentary breakfast in time to snag a bagel and a coupla cream cheese packets, to use with the lox I scored from Martha over the weekend. My only regret is that I didn’t snag two bagels.
  • Leave behind nothing but memories of my excellent night at the Travelodge. Check out, and drive about four blocks to park and have coffee and an excellent almond croissant at Ramone’s. Kind of stuck-up service and an old lady vibe, but GREAT pastries.
  • Call ahead to the Hole in the Wall Deli, Eureka branch for a couple of sandos to make sure I don’t starve to death on the road. Drive the 15 blocks or so to pick up the order.
  • Drive 20 or so blocks past where I just was to the Humboldt County Public Library, Eureka branch. What happens next is the crown jewel of the day! In some odd psychological sense, a top ten event of the last few months (weird but true). When I took my epic three month plus road trip last summer I missed 14 or so Sunday Chronicle pink pages, the print vehicle of my beloved puzzles. When the end was in sight I figured I could ask Chad to pick them up for me without being too much of an asshole. I know that family life for them at home includes an almost guaranteed trip to the market on Sunday for something. At the very least he will go out for a coffee. So when I returned he presented me with a nice fat stack of five Sunday Chronicles. This meant that there were nine sets of puzzles floating out there in the ether that I did not possess. Weirdly, this matters to me.
    Going to the Petaluma Library was a giant FAIL. They now have a puzzle thief (the horror!!!) and besides they only keep a month’s worth. Reno was also a fail by the time I got around to looking. So since I’m in the neighborhood I called ahead to the Eureka library (Humboldt County), and bless them, they keep a years worth of papers right there in the stacks accessible to anyone. It is now the first week of September, and praise be to all the powers of the Universe, the oldest paper they had in their stacks was exactly the FIRST paper of my missing list. So I spent the next hour or so in the deeply satisfying work of making the required 5 copies out of each of nine papers – 1. Quote Acrostic + 16×16 Sudoko 2. Jumble + Cryptogram + Number thing 3. Easy crossword 4. Hard crossword 5. Anser page. I was quite happy aboput the whole thing.
  • Drive four blocks back downtown to eat at a place called Bims. My fish ‘n chips was really very good, but the service was a fucking mess. Now that I think about it, that’s a familiar story at Eureka restaurants. Martha would discover a great place, but by the second visit the service had pissed everybody off so much we were again looking for a new place.
  • I don’t have enough fuel to make it to Redding, and Gas Buddy tells me that the prices here are as good as it’s gonna get, so grab a tank full at the Shell on 101 heading out of town.

Finally, on my way out of Eureka with ALL puzzle pages of the last three years accounted for!

It’s about 4:30 and I’m ten minutes from my destination, but for old times sake I stopped at the Strawhouse for a decaf Americano. It was not a really successful stop. The afternoon sun was hot, and coming in underneath all their lovely trees and shade structures, then my paper coffee cup decided to collapes in my hand to create a little mini-disaster at my table. My current puzzle page got all fucked up. Very annoying. But it was pretty and quiet there, so all in all, an enjoyable stop I guess …

I was wrong about that ten minutes away stuff, it was more like 25 minutes, because in that short 6 miles between the Strawhouse and Pigeon Point I finally got the road repair traffic stop that I KNEW I MUST get somewhere on this stretch of 299! It’s an iron-clad rule of CalDOT that there is ALWAYS a road repair traffic stop or three, no matter the time or season. This was a good one, and by good I mean bad – a full 9 minutes of waiting plus the drive-thru at 5 mph.

A few mlles west of Big Bar I had driven under the very dramatic road-cut stabilization project of three years ago. That hillside is all good now, and as I drove past I noted with gear interest what an epic undertaking it was. They seem to have shaved something like 30′ of hillside completely away, so that it’s now 30′ from the road, and coated it with something. There is a barrier next to the road, so that even a pretty substantial landslide will just fall into that 30′ wide space and fill it up without impacting travel on the road.

They seem to be doing the same treatment to the hillside here. Off to the left, going up the hill they’ve hacked out a “road” at about a 40° angle(!!) to get heavy equipment to the top, and they busy as little bees up there. It’s interesting, but also very annoying – I want to get to my camping spot.

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.

tonight:

One more time! The Tuesday after Labor Day, the campground is deserted. I am therefore enjoying the qualities of the primo site, #6. Still very hot, 91° at 7 pm.

Pigeon Point was the same little nugget of goodness it always has been. There’s nobody in the campground so I set myself up at the primo spot on the river, Site 6. Had the place to myself, and it was excellent. It’s still quite hot, and towards sunset a stiff wind came up, blowing downriver. The usual summer dynamic is blowing upriver, I believe. Not sure what that means… but I did get sprinkles of rain the next night.

Wednesday 

Just enough awning to keep the sun off the floor makes a huge difference.

The van is angled with great view of the Trinity River, and it was so darned pleasant last night that I slept with the door wide open. How utterly awesome to turn over in the middle of the night and hear the river and look over and see nature (and no bugs!).

I still had the place all to myself this morning so I hung out till noon. Judicious use of the awning kept the van pretty cool inside.

There was another very long road repair stop on the big hill east of Weaverville, because of course there has to be another one. There are depressing wildfire scars all along 299, but the devastation driving long the edge of Whiskeytown Lake is the most depressing of all/ It burned right up to the edge of Oak Bottom Marina. Up the positive side, there is a little collection of historical building called Shasta a few miles east that I remember were threatened by the fire, I thought they were lost, but happily they seemed unscathed.

Late breakfast at Corbetts, one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. They have breakfast all day until they close at 4. Nice comfortable booths, big tables, good wifi, and the meals are very good!