Caspar Institute logoitinerary   < 17 September to Crescent City   20 September Caspar >

Going Home 18 September 2019


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After our salad last evening we walked to the beach through the wind; this must be the windiest place to live in California, and it was chilly. This morning, after  our night in the Angel Room in Helen's House, we drove out the same way, and saw that the weather was beginning to break. Still windy ...so we went to Vita Cucina Deli and Bakery and got the best ham and cheese croissant ever.


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Threatening sky and fog among the Redwoods as we climbed over the promontory that constitutes the south edge of Crescent City's half-moon bay. 

As usual, I opted for the Newton B Drury Parkway alternative to the fancy new freeway that circumvents the best of the Redwoods. Even with the treetops vanishing into clouds and sporadic rain, it's staggeringly tall and beautiful.

 

 

One of the things I love most about this bit of "tree theater" is how it imposes an awed awareness on all who take the time to drive through. Gone suddenly is the urge to speed. Instead, drivers dawdle, stop in their traffic lanes to wonder, then awaken to the fact that they've stopped right on the highway and pull over.

 

 

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Just south, on the northern edge of Yorick [LOL at myself, and leaving this mistake in place. The town is Orick, and we have always joked about its forlorn isolation by quoting Hamlet] a gigantic Roosevelt Elk bull, with a rack at least six feet across, with swamp foliage draped from the horns, was ambling slowly across the road. Of course by the time Rochelle got her camera out, all we got was a picture of Elk Butt ... but that's what you'll see below. In among the trees beside the road I could see a large harem of lady Elks in their midday lie-down. But with an 18-wheeler on MY butt, we had to keep moving.



mouseover to highlight this gorgeous bull's rack

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Arriving in Arcata, and running early, we had time, and, for the moment. the weather was conducive, for a visit to the Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary, an exemplary new age sewage treatment plant – if you're interested, check their story out; it's impressive.

The nice lady at the interpretive center suggested a walk, and we took it, out to the edge of Humboldt Bay, where all sorts of waders were feeding at low tide.

That's the very cool Interpretive Center in the background. You can barely see the photovoltaic panels on the roof, but they're there; this building is as close to carbon neutral as it can be made in this often cloudy climate. Kudos to the City of Arcata for being so far ahead of their time, and in tune with the Planet!

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The wildlife around here is rich primarily because it's an intensely regenerative system of mud flats and salt marshes ...but it's augmented by the processed waste of the City of Arcata (carefully monitored of course.) These "constructed wetlands" are on land that was originally "reclaimed" for commercial purposes, a railroad, a plywood mill. This restoration project, the first in California, and the largest "green sewage treatment facility," I believe, in the world. The plants and birds sure do approve.

 

Here on the western edge of the Great Pacific Flyway, this is one of the seasons when the bird migrations are at their height. There were "Big Listers" here today, looking for birds they'd never been able to see before.


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<p>the display that greets you upon entering the Interpretive Center</p>

the display that greets you upon entering the Interpretive Center

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Lunch at our reigning favorite in Arcata, Renata's Crêperie; two specials, one with avocado and ham, the other with pear and berries: yum. Beats the pie place all hollow. Inventive combinations, admirable service. No website, though. G street. Worth the trip.

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Leaving Eureka a couple of hours (and a 20k mile car service) we saw a poster on a building: "There is no Planet B".

Just south of Benbow, at the top of the hill before the freeway ends, we saw a pair of bikers with camping gear stopped beside the road and obviously discussing what they saw ahead. Rochelle took a picture, and I said "Looks like we're headed into a squall."

Was I right! Turn the wipers up to high. At peak downpour we were running behind a couple on a motorcycle. "Doesn't look like they're having fun," opined Rochelle. 


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Today was what we sometimes call a "strobe light day" with bursts of sunshine, intense rain squalls (sometimes at the same time; look for rainbows!) and, finally, just south of Cape Vizcaino, Highway 1 breaks out onto the coast, and there's our blessed home ocean through the (invasive) buffalo grass.

 

On this day, there were several two-lane sections where we once again had time to wonder about the selfish souls who drive RVs. Is this the grown-up equivalent of a blankie, without which they are uncomfortable venturing out into the cruel, unfriendly world, poor things? 

The importance of the driver in car #2 of a parade was also brought into focus. Of course a driver from Illinois is going to be intimidated by our twisty, steep mountain roads, and the stretch from Leggett to Westport is the poster child for this kind of road. Luckily, most visiting drivers get that locals may actually need to get somewhere on time, and use the pullouts.

And then there are selfish locals. For twenty slow miles we drove behind a fisherman in a pickup with a big trailer stacked high with brand new crab traps, probably doing the best he could, but completely unwilling to pull over despite multiple opportunities. "I may be slow, but I'm ahead of YOU!" Finally, at the first legal passing straight-away I sped past him, and being passed apparently made his penis shrivel so badly that he called the highway patrol to report a "crazy driver." Just north of Cleone, a Highway Patrol car pulled out of hiding and tailed me to Ward Avenue, where he flashed his lights and I pulled over. A complete professional, and aware that this was a nonsense stop, we discussed tourists, pullouts, hairpin turns, and selfish locals. "I have his phone number; I'll talk to him," was where we left it.

Again, interestingly (and fortunately; I no longer have to knock on wood) we saw no accidents and had no unpleasant direct encounters. Everyone we met was friendly, welcoming if local, curious if visiting; respectful of the wonders we had all come to see. All in all, a very satisfactory adventure.  

 

Ten miles after our visit with The Law (and a quick stop at our wonderful farmers market for supplies) we rolled into Caspar. As you can see below (and I don't mean to boast), we made 70.1 miles per gallon on this trip of 2,500+ miles.

Now, safely at home and with Pi-cat sleeping nearby, I am glad to have no more long-distance driving in the rain in my future. Maybe a divergence is taking place for me: the highways and byways are becoming more crowded and less enticing while I'm getting older and slower. I am very thankful to be home safe and in one piece, with the richness of this trip firmly in my mind.

 

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<p><strong>We’re HOME!</strong></p>

We’re HOME!

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Also worth noting: in 23 days on the road we walked 83 miles, an average of 3.6 miles every day – I guess that would be “total vehicle mileage” of 166, 7.2 miles per day considering it was the two of us walking. Indeed, there were some days we didn't walk much, but on others we made up for it! Assuming our fuel to be hard cider, something we enjoyed responsibly but assiduously throughout the trip, I would say that individually we got about 84 miles per gallon.

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