Pacific Ocean Lifts My Heart

IMG_6907The Pacific Ocean is such large and magnificent and I’ve lived within a few hours of the ocean my entire life. It has always been a balm to my stress. This visit to Clam Beach met my need for my molecules to be reorganized and synced to the rhythm of the waves.

IMG_6915Taking @DozertheDozerian and Lulu along to enjoy the open space and fresh air made it more fun. Clam Beach allows dogs to run off leash on the wet sand for a limited time in the winter.

IMG_6902Of course the point of my visit was to spend more time with the Watlove family. We learned to play a new board game, Fuse. We ate at our favorite restaurants and cooked at home. Nora baked wonderful lava cakes.

IMG_6916I have traveled to Humboldt County about once a year since my best friend Harriet moved up to Arcata to attend HSU. Now her children are in their 20s and the youngest daughter attends UC Davis, so the Watloves visit the Sacramento area often. I can’t remember the last time I made the 6 hour trek to Humboldt County.  There have been changes to the route. The Willits bypass is completed. It makes stopping for lunch or a bathroom stop so much easier and more pleasant.

IMG_6926The weather was the wildest I’ve experienced driving up with snow in Lake County and in Mendocino near Laytonville. It is always good to check CalTrans to confirm roads are open.

Some other changes include legalization of marijuana, so there are more dispensaries now. Also the price of marijuana has dropped so the local economy is feeling the beginning of the pinch. Nora says that most people in Humboldt County also resent the portrayal of southern Humboldt in the Netflix “documentary” as exaggerating the danger for entertainment.

Some of our favorite restaurants:

Ramone’s Bakery, 1555 City Center Road, McKinleyville, CA; I did a pastry run for the sleepyheads and picked 7 different pastries then cut them up for more tastes. Everything was delicious!

Lighthouse Grill, 355 Main Street, Trinidad, CA; known for mashed potato cone and grass-fed beef burgers; our fav’s this trip included fish and chips and a tuna melt.

The Alibi, 744 9th Street, Arcata, CA; this is a dive bar on the Arcata Plaza that also happens to serve a wonderful breakfast.

Postcard: Awesome Arcata!

I love Arcata because I love spending time with my oldest, dearest friend Harriet. She lives in McKinleyville, but we always spend time in adjacent Arcata.

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So many great places to eat… Scoops is a regular stop for organic ice cream. Yum. This trip we also had a super breakfast at The Alibi on Arcata square (yes, the dive bar). I bought an amazing sandwich at the McIntosh Farm Country Store. We also enjoyed very good sushi at the Sushi Spot in McKinleyville.

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Tevis and I drove up to celebrate Nora’s high school graduation and we took the dogs with us. We stayed at the pet friendly Days Inn in Arcata. It was great for people and pets, though the noise from the trolls who lodged above us kept us up most of the first night. We love how many dog friendly beaches we can find in Humboldt County.

20160617_094041For a number of years we have gone to Arcata to celebrate Independence Day the old fashioned way: with a Crabs baseball game, hot dogs, and fireworks at Steph and Jodie’s.

Wherever you are enjoying the July 4th holiday: be safe and have fun.

Something Interesting Always Going on in Arcata, CA

The Alibi on the Arcata Plaza serves a great breakfast.
The Alibi on the Arcata Plaza serves a great breakfast.

Unless you have a friend or family member associated with Humboldt State University, you may be among the many Californians who confuse Arcata in NorCal with Arcadia in SoCal. The towns could not be more different. Over 30 years ago my best friend started University at HSU and I began visiting the area. Everytime I visit it seems like I experience something new: Kube, saunas, Samoa Cookhouse, geocaching in the Arcata Marsh, organic ice cream, Crabs baseball, farmers markets and more.

This last visit was over Halloween weekend so it offered a few new surprises. I started my Saturday at Harriet and Brian’s where we determined the best place to eat breakfast and watch the Rugby World Cup championship game was at the Alibi on the Arcata plaza. The farmers market was going full steam so we parked a couple of blocks away and walked. The Alibi is an institution–mainly a popular bar but known for a great breakfast. They had just opened a much larger dining area and there were a few bumps for the wait staff. We had the same great service but they looked a little frazzled.

Watching championship World Cup Rugby game at The Alibi
Watching championship World Cup Rugby game at The Alibi

I was a little nervous about the rugby match actually being on NBC since the station was showing cartoons until 9:00 a.m. Brian’s information was correct and we were soon watching the All Blacks Haka. At first we were the only ones in the bar interested in the game. Harriet and Brian were also unfamiliar with the sport. Soon quite a few people were enjoying this very competitive game. For those of you who watched you know that the Kiwis had some breathing room in the first half and then the Wallabies came roaring back. The announcers were proclaiming the momentum with Australia. Then the Man of the Match Dan Carter kicked a goal and you could almost watch the air go out of the Aussie balloon. Soon I could relax a little and enjoy the game again.

If you are interested in checking out a rugby match, many of the World Cup matches are on YouTube. Definitely recommend the Japan VS South Africa, New Zealand VS France, and the final between New Zealand and Australia.

Pumpkin skeleton on Arcata Plaza
Pumpkin skeleton on Arcata Plaza

We did a bit of shopping at my favorite plaza shops: the Garden Gate and Top Knots.  Later in the day we returned to the Plaza at the end of the trick or treat event where merchants hand out candy to smaller children on the Plaza. We saw some great costumes including an adorable Scooby-Doo. My favorite was a Curious George whose Dad dressed up as the man in the yellow hat. Brilliant.

It was not hard to convince me to go for pie for dinner. There is a new restaurant called BitterSweet that is a shared space for the Slice of Humboldt Pie and The Local Cider Bar.  We enjoyed meat pies for dinner and apple pie a la mode for dessert. I enjoyed the pumpkin cider. I hope this idea of shared spaces catches on in the same way the organic ice cream has become popular.

The Local Cider Company in BitterSweet
The Local Cider Company in BitterSweet

3 Favorite Beaches of Humboldt County

Trinidad, California
Trinidad, California

On this Throwback Thursday I am reminiscing about the beaches I have enjoyed in my annual trips to Humboldt County. My BFF lives in McKinleyville and I have made many trips over the last 30 years. I would make more if it was not a 6 hour drive one-way.

I just returned from my first adventure with Lulu where she had her first exposure to the ocean. She still smells like the weird stuff she rolled in!

Beach at Trinidad, California
Beach at Trinidad, California

The best beach has got to be Patrick’s Point. We have spent many happy hours here with our children. There is a creek that provides lots of opportunities to play Army Corp of Engineers. It is north of Eureka and Arcata and also can be a launching point for hiking.

Radar smelling the mysteries of Trinidad beach.
Radar smelling the mysteries of Trinidad beach.

There are other great beaches like Moonstone, and my next favorite is the beach at Trinidad. This is where Radar and I spent a very happy Christmas break.  Harriet brought her dog Ted almost everyday to walk with us.

Ted loves the beach too.
Ted loves the beach too.

This weekend I introduced Lulu to sand and ocean waves at Clam Beach in McKinleyville. She loved it! She chased her friend Ted through waves and along the shore, only momentarily distracted by birds.

Lulu at Clam Beach
Lulu at Clam Beach

Humboldt County beaches are colder than SoCal beaches. The ones we go to do not offer waves for surfing–they are generally too wild and rocky. They are unsurpassed for beauty, rarely crowded and great for cleansing your mind of clutter and stress.

Even though Lulu got carsick on the way up, I am thinking about when we can go back and chill with our friends on the beach.

My Travels with Radar

On Christmas Day I loaded up the car with my luggage, writing projects, computer, and coaxed Radar into the backseat of the Passat. We had a 6 hour trip ahead of us and I wanted to get to our rental property in Trinidad, California before dark. I packed for various contingencies because I was not sure if anyplace would be open. The weather was cold but dry. I tuned the radio to public radio and hit the road.

Radar in the backseat of Passat
Radar in the backseat of Passat

I have not traveled much with my old dog Radar. He’s a 13 year old German shepherd mix that we adopted when he was 11 months old. He was untrained and full of neuroses. He can handle new experiences more gracefully now; however, he struggles to jump into the car and won’t use the ramp we tried. Still I did not want to be away from him for 10 days and who knows how many road trips I might be able to take with him.

Putting his bed and a blanket on the back seat increased his comfort and when I looked back as we approached Williams on I-5 he seemed to be snoozing. Whenever I slowed down he sat up and looked around to see if he could tell where we were. McDonalds IS open on Christmas, and most gas stations. I stopped to get a diet Coke and a cup of water for Radar. I only wanted to let him out once in Willits so I could keep his struggles to jump into the car to a minimum. Heading towards Clear Lake on Highway 20 the road is windy and when I looked in the rearview mirror I thought Radar might be getting a little carsick. I cracked the window and he immediately moved to that side and began sucking in the air.  Fortunately that was enough to revive him.

Eventually Highway 20 straightens out and joins Highway 101. Lots of CalTrans projects over the years has made this road safer and faster. We stopped in Willits at the Safeway and then the park near the Skunk Train depot.  Radar hopped out and sniffed many blades of grass before drinking a little water.  I was able to park right next to the curb and this made it easier for him to reenter the Passat.

The last bit of our trip was beautiful as we wound through redwood groves. The main challenge was the setting sun right above the tree line. I shoved my sunglasses onto the top of my head when we went into the shade and then suddenly the sun was blinding and I would grab my glasses and return them to the bridge of my nose.  As we reached Eureka I began to get nervous that we would not make it to Trinidad and the lock box before the sun went down. We pushed on and pulled into the driveway just as darkness fell.

I used my cell phone to read the lock box code and then could not find the lock box. I did not want to disturb the property managers but I did not know what else to do. Just as the manager answered the phone I spotted the lock box on a one of the porch pillars. Relief. I apologized for disturbing them unnecessarily and opened up the house.

I unloaded Radar and he explored the yard while I unloaded the car.  We settled in and I started a fire in the wood burning stove and found HGTV cable station on the television.  I ate a bowl of soup and relaxed for a bit, then Radar indicated he wanted to go out. I grabbed my coat and his leash and we went out the front door. He took care of business and we returned to the porch. I tried the door. Unfortunately It was locked. I thought I was only using the deadbolt and did not grab the keys. No keys, no phone. I felt so foolish. We checked all of the doors and windows and learned that this rental is locked up tight.

Unfortunately I did not have the property manager’s phone numbers–I could see the paperwork and the keys through the glass slider. I needed to get back to the village and hope that the gas station was still open so I could use their phone. It is less than a 10 minute walk but seemed longer in my anxiety and in the pitch black. I kept hoping that Radar’s eyesight was better than mine in the dark. I was never so thankful to see an open Chevron station in my life.

Unfortunately The mini-mart clerk was not excited to see me and Radar. He let me use the phone (had to remember how to use a landline) and phonebook (maybe they are not relics afterall), but he made it clear that he wanted Radar out as fast as possible. There was nowhere to tie Radar up near the door, so I hurried.  Unfortunately Trinidad Retreats had their phone switched to fax. The loud beep raised my anxiety. What next? Fortunately I have friends in nearby McKinleyville and Arcata.  I called Brian and Harriet; unfortunately I got their answering machine. Next I tried the Bickfords where either Brian and Harriet were celebrating Christmas or Michael and Deb could help. Fortunately Kate Bickford answered and was able to catch Harriet and Brian as they were leaving. Brian jumped on the Bickford’s computer and found a better number and fortunately reached Reed the property manager.

Radar and I hot footed it back to the rental to meet Reed. I was feeling sheepish and apologized profusely for making Reed come out to rescue us on Christmas night. Fortunately he was very gracious about it and told me a funny story about a couple that locked themselves out whilst stark naked!  I gave silent thanks to God that I was clothed with a jacket and shoes.

After all that excitement, Radar slept soundly. In the daylight I discovered the rental has a fully enclosed dog friendly yard when you close the driveway gate, which is terrific for Radar’s calls of nature. He has settled in and likes going to the beach a short walk from the house and playing with Harriet’s dog Ted. It is totally worth the effort to bring Radar along.