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.


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.


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.

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.

Ah, Trinidad (California)

Is there a more beautiful coastline than Northern California? I think not. Walking to the beach everyday is such a luxurious way to bring in the New Year.

View of Trinidad Head from Memorial Lighthouse
View of Trinidad Head from Memorial Lighthouse

Pinch me. A large variety of hikes in the redwoods and on beaches, miles of paved road to ride on Black Beauty, and several terrific restaurants makes Trinidad a great vacation destination. High speed internet at the rental makes it possible to get some work done.  I have even done some baking–both macaroni and cheese and slab apple pie to take to holiday parties.

Trinidad is just 20 minutes from Eureka on Highway 101 and even closer from the Arcata airport (located in north McKinleyville). Alas it is a long drive from San Francisco and Sacramento–between 5 and 6 hours, so I do not visit as often as I would like.

I love Trinidad, California in Humboldt County. Over the years I have visited often for a meal or for a beach day at Patrick’s Point. Back in the day the kids and I stayed in one of the Trinidad motels on an overnight but it was musty and lacked charm. I am splurging on a vacation rental for 10 days. It is a combined writing retreat, vacation break and visit with my oldest friend Harriet and her family, I searched the internet for rentals a few months ago in search of a 2 bedroom, pet friendly place. Trinidad Retreats offered just what I was looking for on Parker Creek Road. My home away from home is right at the trailhead to the beach. It is a 5 minute walk to a beautiful beach called “Old Home Beach” on the official Trinidad’s Coastal Treks map.  I am not paying extra for an ocean view; however, Radar has a large fenced yard to roam in and it feels secluded with the beach very close by.

Old Home Beach in Trinidad, California
Old Home Beach in Trinidad, California

Trinidad is the home of the Humboldt State University Marine Lab and has a small, quiet bay. Each day you can watch people launch kayaks from the Old Home Beach. Radar and I have walked the 80 or so steps down to the Old Home Beach from the Memorial Lighthouse (watch out, the steps are falling apart at the bottom) or to same beach from the Parker Creek trail (fewer steps and easier on Radar’s old joints). Yesterday we checked out the Trinidad State Beach with Harriet and her dog Ted. It is also a few minutes walk to the other side of the village and down to the beach.

Parker Creek Cottage managed by Trinity Retreats
Parker Creek Cottage managed by Trinity Retreats

I have had several days when I have not used the automobile at all. I can walk to Murphy’s Market for groceries and firewood; or to the post office or library just 2 blocks away from my place. I attended the a lovely, intimate Episcopal worship service on Sunday at the Saints Martha and Mary Mission on Trinity Street. Check out the beautiful religious paintings by Kathrin Burleson. (She typically does watercolors, whereas her religious paintings are more like traditional icons.)

Check out the Trinidad Museum in a historic home across from Murphy’s Market. The hours are limited to afternoons as it is staffed by volunteers, and offers a glimpse into how the Yurok tribe lived in Trinidad before the Spanish “discovered” it. Like much of California, Trinidad’s modern history is shaped by efforts to find access to mining fields–in this case, an easy route to Trinity County. A more sustainable economy was established around logging. Today it is a quiet village that caters to full time residents who work in Arcata and visitors staying in rental homes or Bed and Breakfasts. It is an incorporated city that feels like a village and a perfect spot for a retreat.

Oh, and if you plan to be here to ring in the new year, do not be alarmed when they fire the cannon off at midnight!  Happy New Year.

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.