We had planned to visit northern California before Sara got a job at Humboldt State University, but it was a happy happenstance that she did, because we got to meet up.
We first visited McKinleyville, where Sara and Shawn are living temporarily while they get settled. It is a house full of boxes at this point because the moving company absconded with their stuff for many weeks before finally delivering it.
After picking up Shawn, we met up with Sara in Arcadia, had dinner and walked to campus so we could see her new working environment including her office.
Sara told us that HSU, Humboldt’s initials are sometimes translated as, “hills, stairs and umbrellas.” While we had clear skies, we did climb a lot of stairs on those hills while walking around.
Including all the stairs to get to this building, the oldest on campus.
Post-beach walk, we headed into Arcadia’s downtown area. First we stopped for a cupcake.
Downtown is bustling and includes enough bookstores that I could take a picture of two at once. The one on the left, (Northtown Books) plus the light blue building with the red awnings in the middle of the picture. (Tin Can Mailman)
We used Google Maps for directions on this trip and every time we entered our hotel address in Eureka, Maps always first suggested the same address, but in Arcadia. So we went to find it. It turned out to not actually exist, so I’m not sure what Google Maps was thinking. The closest thing to it was this barber shop.
Here’s the front entrance. Inside is a small coffee shop.
Through the back door of the coffee shop is this lovely oasis which leads to little cabins with hot tubs or saunas.
Here was our changing room and tub.
The design is very efficient. At your appointment time, you change in the changing room, then soak. When you are done, you go into a different changing room which allows you to change while the tub is being cleaned and reset for the next guest.
It was very relaxing and if I lived in Arcadia, I would probably make time for this spa often.
It turns out Eureka has an escape room and you can go there at nine in the morning. We did so!
The owner said that for the early morning slots, he mostly got tourists doing one last thing before they got out of town.
It was just the two of us, which was nice, as doing escape rooms with strangers is awkward. We escaped, and I enjoyed the variety of puzzles. The clues given came at just the right time.
We also happened upon the Wooden Sculpture Garden of Romano Gabriel, which is kept safe inside in a building downtown.
There was a lot to look at.
And I got my fortune told!
Dispatch from six months later: I do not believe I have yet received a letter that has changed the course of my life. Also, I think I’m hardwired already to avoid the flatterers. And I do wonder if I had played again, as the fortune teller commands me to do, would the next fortune have contradicted this one?
Advantage to staying in Eureka instead of Crescent City? The Humbolt County Fair coincided with our visit. The Del Norte County Fair was the previous weekend.
To the fair we went!
After our hike and drive through the Avenue of the Giants, we started with some fair food. Matt got some Pad Thai and I got a street hot dog which I had to eat quickly because the stuff on it was making the bun get soggy, but it was quite delicious!
I love a good “any other vegetable” category
Waiting for the start of the Ukel Aliens concert.
The Ukel Aliens turned out to be rad. Someday I’m going to have enough time to be in a community band that plays and sings songs from my younger years.
Look at how much fun they are having! They sounded great too. The woman on the right is Spanky McFarlane who sang, among other things “Sunday Will Never be the Same” with Spanky and Our Gang. She was a guest singer.
Having enjoyed the Ukle Aliens, we headed into the 4-H barn to watch a bit of the pig judging. I love their 4-H uniforms.
This girl eventually sensed I was taking photos.
A picture of a cow is required for all fair visits with livestock shows. I love how pretty the animals look at the fair. And I know they do not look like that on a day-to-day basis.
Into the handmade goods, I found this quilt, which should probably be the eighth wonder of the world.
I’m quite curious as to how it’s maker came by all the crown royal bags. Just the 15 in the bottom row would be more than a lifetime’s consumption of the blended whisky for me. I stand in awe of this quilt.
Some good race car driving.
Then we discovered the Willamette Pie company, which is from our neck of the woods, but which we could not resist.
I got Marionberry pie a la mode, and Matt got an ice cream sandwich. I would have liked smaller portions. However, both items were delicious!
We attended a performance of Special Head. His website says that Special Head “is an Entertainer, specializing in Magic, Levitation, Music, and Performance art. ” (I question the capitalization in that sentence.)
We didn’t know who Special Head (the guy on the right) was, but free shows are fun. Partway through his act an “audience member” started heckling Special Head and eventually joined him on stage.
And eventually showed off his cowboy skills.
Special Head’s act was hampered by a light rain. A few tricks didn’t work because of it, but both performers played off the hitches in their routine as best they could, which made the comedy even funnier.
Although at one point, Special Head said to the cowboy guy, well, at least your mother thinks you are doing well.” And by “your mother” he meant me. Which was not exactly how I was picturing our age demographic breakdown.
Special Head eventually convinces the cowboy to help out with the routine and we get the head in a box.
Plus, this full-on levitation.
Because we arrived early to the Uke Aliens show, we had time to people watch. The girl on the left in the picture above, and her brother were talking with the cowboy about tricks. They both demonstrated to him that they new how to make a pebble disappear from their hand by tossing it behind them.
“Well, there’s a little more nuance than that, but that’s essentially it,” he told them.
Matt and I debated if the kids were also audience plants, or just people who glommed onto the show. I was on the glomming side, Matt was on the plant side.
Special Head and his cowboy friend were a great part of the Humboldt County Fair.
I love starting a hike when we are the only car in the parking lot.
Our map. We didn’t make it terribly far on this trail. There was so much to do today!
Red Alders on the trail.
This sign is the reason I know the above are red alders. I really appreciated the signage on this trail.
Here’s a picture of an interpretive sign with a banana slug adding something extra to observe.
No salmon spawning today.
Matt on the trail.
Investigating in a big tree.
Disappearing into a big tree.
Climbing up into a big tree.
While my anemic lens cover retraction is mostly annoying, I kind of like how it all lined up here for this photo. (Also, am I even looking at the screen before I take the picture anymore? I really need to concentrate on taking a good photo.)
Our turnaround point.
This trail winds through a ghost town. This sign leads you off the trail to the site of the caretaker’s cottage. There’s a foundation, and the yew trees, but not much else.
I love this photo!
What a great hike! I’m glad there was a general hue and cry in the past and this site was preserved.
Having finished our hike, we headed south for the Avenue of the Giants. Also known as the World-Famous Avenue of the Giants.
The Avenue of the Giants is a scenic-type drive which used to be Highway 101, but now lives on as State Route 254. We started at the north end of the drive, which seems to be the backward way to do the drive. I assume most people are driving north from San Francisco.
This is where we started.
I liked a few things about the Avenue of the Giants. First of all, though we were there in peak season (albeit on a weekday) it was not at all crowded. Secondly, it had a variety of short hikes or wanderings you could pull off the road to take part in. This could easily be a full day trip. Third, the trees are amazing and the road is narrow, so it’s a very fun drive. And last but not least there are kitschy tourist opportunities galore. I love me a roadside tourist attraction.
A big tree. How big, do you ask?
Here we are inside a tree.
And here’s Matt inside a tree.
This was a clever monument to two preservationists. The marker celebrating their efforts to preserve the redwoods was located far off the main road, so to see it, you had to walk through the redwoods they preserved.
More tall trees.
More of Matt in trees.
Hark! We found the sign. The sign says: Laura Perrott Mahan 1867–1937, James P. Mahan 1867–1937. Pioneers in the Save-the-Redwoods League. The California State Park Commission has dedicated to their memory this site where on Nov-19-1924 Mr. and Mrs. Mahan discovered that logging had begun and led the moment that resulted in the saving of this grove.
No matter how he stretches, Matt cannot reach the high water mark from 1964.
Some history of early preservationists.
Some information about the people who were there first.
Including a closeup of the photo. I love the grin on “child’s” face.
We drove through a tree! This is not us, because we were in our car. But unless your car is small, it’s wise to have a guide through the tree. We scraped the passenger side mirror. Not too badly. Before we left, we ran through the tree and that was even more fun.
That same site had some tree houses for children to play in.
Which gave us an opportunity to pose.
Also the children could step through a tree.
The view from inside.
The Avenue of Giants was a great way to see the redwoods and to get my fill of tourist trap stuff. Having now hiked and hit a major tourist marker, we moved on to our next activity: the Humbolt County Fair!
Due to the fact we were staying 90 minutes away from the place we thought we were staying, we cancelled one other planned activity, but we decided to still do the half-day kayak trip.
This meant getting out the door at six a.m. and retracing our tracks from where we had been. But we did it.
We were picked up at a gas station and taken to our launch point. First, we picked out jackets and life jackets. Matt is excited.
We kayaked for a spell. It was the first time either of us had done so. Aside from our guide, our group consisted of a father and daughter who had experience kayaking in bays. The woman was from Portland.
The day was nice and the river was low, so it was a leisurely trip. Halfway in, we got out to do a short walk through the redwoods.
Our guide grew up on the Smith River, which is the only free-flowing river in California. He showed us the rock where he got married that summer, and the house he grew up in, which overlooked the river. The next day, he was starting back as an eighth grade English teacher.
He was a great guide and gave us lots of good information about the trees.
It was very cool how the redwoods loomed.
This platform was built to protect the tree’s root structure. It’s fairly shallow.
Since Redwoods don’t have a tap root, they can keep growing even when their center rots out. Hence the ability to drive through trees.
Or stand inside a still-growing tree.
After that, it was back in the water. I enjoyed kayaking and would like to do it again someday.