Loving Dick Taylor Chocolate

Dick Taylor Chocolate at 4 West 4th Street

Funny coincidences happen. I was preparing for a trip to the north coast near Eureka, California and I listened to an episode of Teaching Your Brain to Knit podcast and they extolled the enjoyment of touring the Dick Taylor chocolate factory in Eureka. Then I checked in with my friends the Watloves as to any plans, and Harriet mentioned that Brian wanted to take us all to tour of Dick Taylor Chocolate. A few days later we found ourselves at said premises. There were no tours available but plenty of chocolate to taste.

IMG_1166.jpegWe tried the drinking chocolate, which was so rich that the sample quite satisfied. One of the salespeople gave us an extensive explanation of how chocolate is produced. I’ve been to the Cadbury factory in Dunedin, NZ and the process is very similar. The main difference is one of scale. As a chocoholic I didn’t mind listening to the magic of how the humble cocoa bean becomes delicious.

All that was left was to shop. They ship for free to anywhere in the USA if you purchase $25 or more of chocolate.

Arts and Drafts lounge at 422 First Street, Eureka, California

We were in Old Town Eureka so it was easy to proceed to Arts and Drafts where you can do crafts while you enjoy a beer. Or to my favorite print shop and stationary store, Just My Type Letterpress.

Old Town Eureka mural

Eureka Zoo a Delightful Surprise

Entrance to the petting zoo where we saw a tame skunk!


I enjoyed learning more about Eureka, California on my last visit to Humboldt County. My friend teaches at a school near the zoo, so after we dropped some supplies off at her classroom we circled back to Sequoia Park Zoo. Harriet mentioned that they have an award winning otter exhibit and I was ready to faff around the zoo for an hour or two.


The zoo is about the size of the Sacramento Zoo, and a fraction the size of the San Diego Zoo, but still maintains a good variety of animals and does an exceptional job with the enclosures and displays.

We had fun and I’d go again, perhaps when I am not so tired.

Thank you WatLovs for making my weekend getaway so much fun!


Relaxing Stay in Eureka with Lulu

Rowing at the Eureka wharf.
Rowing at the Eureka wharf.

There is something about Humboldt County that equals relaxation for me. Somewhere past Willits the cares of the day fall away and I am breathing more deeply and slowing my pace. And no it is not aided by medicinal marijuana–although if you are into that sort of thing I am pretty sure by the smell that you can pick some up if you make a pitstop in Garberville.

The private Ingomar Club in the Carson mansion anchors Old Eureka.
The private Ingomar Club in the Carson mansion anchors Old Eureka.

I decided at the last minute to get out of town. Saturday nights are noisy in my neighborhood–add Halloween and daylight savings so bars can stay open until 3 a.m. and I knew my dog Lulu and I had to scamper. I jumped on the Internet and searched Google for “Pet Friendly Hotels in Eureka.” There were quite a few to choose from and they are all located along 4th or 5th Streets where Highway 101 splits into one-way avenues through town.

I chose the Quality Inn and it was sufficient. I will probably not stay there again but for this weekend Lulu and I enjoyed walking past the private Ingomar Club at the Carson Mansion, along the wharf, and past the other victorian houses in the upper end of Old Town Eureka. One challenge of traveling with a dog is that you cannot leave them in your hotel room. Fortunately Eureka is almost always cool enough to leave your dog for short periods in the car wtih the windows well cracked.

The Pink Lady is across the street from the Carson Mansion.
The Pink Lady is across the street from the Carson Mansion.

Lulu and I unwound and enjoyed the time away in the relative quiet. Most of it was spent further north in Arcata and Clam Beach in McKinleyville. Sunday morning before we left we met Harriet and Brian to check out a new restaurant for breakfast. The Greene Lily is named for the proprietor’s grandmother. The menu is focused on breakfast and lunch and inventive with a bacon stuffed waffle, omelettes and lots of “Bennies” or variations on Eggs Benedict. It’s Humboldt County so Brian knew the person at the next table. As I asked him how he liked his crab bennie I realized he had almost licked his plate and the answer was fairly obvious. He said the foundation crab cakes were especially good. It was also a bit pricey at $18.95. We did not try the Candy Bar Waffle–next time.

Romano Gabriel's sculptures are preserved in Old Town Eureka.
Romano Gabriel’s sculptures are preserved in Old Town Eureka.

The Greene Lily is also adjacent to the Romano Gabriel sculptures. They are like a two dimensional version of Disney’s Small World ride. The paint is faded but it is still impressive. He originally had it in his Eureka house garden. Apparently not all of his neighbors appreciated it. But then it was illegal for Italian immigrants to go close to the Eureka coastline during World War II. Fortunately, it was preserved.

It is a six hour drive from San Francisco or Sacramento–a real damper on tourism. With Ferndale and the Redwood National Park it is worth the drive.

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.