A Night Away from Home – Part 2 of 2

30 January 2012 in Reviews, Trails/Hiking, Traveling


Monkey Loves a Cold OnePicking up where we left off in the last entry we were in route to Arcata after spending the late afternoon and part of the evening exploring Eureka. We have been through Arcata twice now, but only to stop at the Coop and do a little grocery shopping. Pulling into town the activity seemed concentrated around the town square. Here four large city blocks surrounded a nice little park with a statue at it’s center. We parked a few blocks off and went for a stroll. While the square was bustling with people and lights stepping a few strides off of the main square you found yourself in a ghost town. There was literally nothing off of the main square besides a movie theater and one bar. The other peculiar feature was that all of the bars—excluding the previously mentioned outlier—were on a single block, all in a row. Starting from the corner you had a liquor store, a bar, another bar, then a bar, another bar, and one more bar. The rest of the square was shops and restaurants. Besides being all in a row the bars all had a similar facades. They seemed to have been built in the sixties, each looked to be a dive and they all had equally amazing neon signs.

After wandering the small square twice and spending a little time people watching in the park we began to feel a chill and a thirst from more than the red wine we had discretely been sipping from an aluminum water bottle. So we wandered into the first bar in the stretch of five. Inside we found an cozy neighborhood style bar with a backwoods flare. The walls were covered in taxidermy. Mostly deer and elk, but mixed in were a few wild cats and a buffalo. They had PBR for $2 a bottle and PBR’s western equivalent Olympia tallboys for $2.50. I’ll be honest initially we ordered PBRs, but after I calculated the per ounce cost of each we switched to Olympia and saved one cent on each ounce we consumed.

It was a nice little bar with two older ladies bartending. For any reader in Madison it kind of reminded us of an enlarged Caribou. Initially it was pretty slow. The long bar was filled, but not overflowing. As the night progressed the few empty seats were filled and then crowds spilled into the open space between the bar and the booths lining the wall. At these capacities, for me, a bar becomes a burden. If you are “lucky” enough to land a few seats at the bar you then have the unlucky ones squeezing into your personal space to order a drink. If you don’t find a seat you’re forced to be the prick that slides into any empty space to order. Our once comfortable seats were now crowded. But it was getting late so we retired to our bed in the back of the truck.

Here I would spend the next four hours tossing and turning. Every sound sent me into panic. Some drunk would vandalize our truck or side swipe us as they drove by. On top of this paranoia and hypersensitivity I was freezing. I had given Lindsay the warmer sleeping bag believing I would be fine and it wouldn’t get that cold. But I was wrong. Eventually the streets were silent and I was exhausted. I slept from four in the morning until seven when the urge to use the restroom woke me. Unfortunately the Coop we were parked near didn’t open until eight so I sat uncomfortable and red eyed for the next hour.

Eventually after using the bathroom and having a small bite to eat I was ready for the day. We were planning a visit to Agate Beach in Patrick’s Point State Park and a walk through the Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Prairie Creek State Park.

Foggy CoastArriving at Agate Beach we parked and descended a steep trail down to the beach. The last stretch appeared to have suffered from a flash flood or something. A string of logs something akin to a giant rope ladder was embedded in the top portion forming stairs, but towards the bottom had been ripped from the ground and dangled uselessly over a steep, muddy bank. This seemed to be a hazard in need of immediate attention, but there was nothing leading us to believe it would be fixed any time soon. On the beach we lucked into arriving at low tide and explored the south end first. Here amongst the craggy rocks were tide pools and mounds, upon mounds of driftwood. My explorations were not as fruitful as they had been in other areas during low tide, but I did see a few starfish clung to rock walls. I also discovered the severed arm of an octopus along the shore. It was about two feet long and while morbid and gross it was still kind of neat to see. Later Lindsay would spot a sea otter trolling along a curl of waves.

After going as far south as I could I returned back towards where I had left Lindsay. Quite literally. I had been gone for probably a half an hour and she was still in the same spot I left her sifting through the vast collection of sea tumbled stones and driftwood. This is how we would spend the next hour or two blissfully strolling the shore picking up wonderfully colorful rocks smoothed to a glass like shine by the crashing waves. As the sun crested the cliff behind us we felt an inner peace and warmth. We both agreed we could have spent the entire day there, but our tummies were grumbling and we had other places to explore.

Yurok VillageAfter a lunch of leftovers from dinner the night before we drove to the southern half of the park. Here we discovered a small village of traditional Yurok shelters and ceremonial structures that were still maintained and used by the tribe. They were very strange in appearance. Built partially into the ground they’re low roofs lay just above ground level and their entrances were round holes set just above the ground. Entrance required you to crawl and inside the ceremonial buildings were large, square pits dug down into the floor each contained a fire ring.

Patrick Point State ParkNext we went to two points along the coastal boundary of the park. The first one’s name is evading our memory, but it provided access to a beautiful portion of rocky coast. Here we scaled a large rock and sat watching the sea pummel the shore. Waves crashed into rocks the size of houses and exploded upward upon impact sending a spray of water upwards of a hundred feet into the air. I remarked on how crazy this area must look during the high winds of a storm.

The next point was Patrick’s Point, the park’s namesake. Here a trail led out to a large rock peninsula jetting out into the sea. We basked in the sun here for some time taking in the salty air and the warming rays of afternoon sun. On days like this it’s easy to loose track of time and fall into a zen like haze. All inner thoughts are drown out by the roar of the waves. The body is warmed by the gentle, comforting rays of the sun and everything feels at peace.

Dan in the TreeOur last stop of the day was the Lady Bird Johnson Grove. This was a self-guided trail with a brochure provided at the trailhead. Walking through there are numbered posts that correspond with the brochure providing facts about the plant life and the history of the area. At one point you’re directed to a visible dividing line between a protected area and a logged area. The contrast is stark and disheartening. What greedy beasts could look at these majestic forests and only think of profit? Lindsay and I often ponder what this area looked like before Europeans arrived. I think it’s either 97% or 98% of the original old growth was cut down. What giants, what natural wonders of unimaginable size and age fell by the hand of man? It’s sad to see what we are capable of. The seemingly limitless tragedy and destruction we can perpetuate. But standing in this grove we were also reminded of the good we can accomplish. Through the effort and funding of many a portion of this national treasure was saved and preserved for future enjoyment.

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30 January 2012 Reviews, Trails/Hiking, Traveling

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