13 Aug 2012

The road to Eureka

From Mendocino to Eureka, the road dips in and out of the mist according to the whims of the weather and the topography. The ocean, when it decides to reveal itself, lifting its misty skirts in a constant game of "now you see me, now you don't", is spectacular and the coastline frequently indented, usually rocky and looking dangerous. 

The other natural glory of this part of the world is of course the redwood forests. As Highway 1 winds its spectacularly tortuous way inland to join up with 101 at the virtual village of Leggett, these forests become increasingly dominant. Many of them are now protected in a multiplicity of National and State parks. The cathedrals formed by the often giant trees make for impressive havens of peace while providing gloriously soft air. They are also totally litter-free (the fine for littering in California is 1000$), and very well set out for the visitor, who may be greeted by washbowls in redwood, as below.

Steinbeck got it pretty much right...

Inland one finds rivers and, in some parts, lakes. And so the opportunity for those on the road to polish off their bottle of Big House Red left over from yesterday's picnic and maybe fish a bit...

Further up on Highway 101, which forms a much faster route than the old and lovely Highway 1, one runs into Humbolt County and gradually closes in again on the Pacific. The port of Eureka lies at that junction, on the southern side of Arcata Bay with its counterpart, the rather over-hippy/hip Arcata, on the northern side. Taking a sidestep a block or two west of the 101 in Eureka one discovers a town that has retained its 19th century style in many ways. And with a few surprises as well in some shop windows.

And with no less than 3 theatres, including this one, curiously decked-out to look like the Arc de Triomphe and held up (perhaps literally) by a bank.

Eureka also boasts a wine bar, called Wine Sport, and an excellent, trendy and recently opened beer bar, called "The Local".

Check the beer list on skateboards. And most of the customers (90% male) seemed to be wearing beards. Local fashion I suppose. Good beers anyway.

And bikes? Tried really hard to see anything that was not a huge Harley, often fully decked-out with armchair seats and often trailors to go. Found this Buell, probably the only proper motorcycle ever produced by Harley! Of course the idiots in charge of the HD dinosoar factory have ceased production of the Buell.  

And so back to the (probably haunted) Eagle House Hotel, which has to be one of the strangest places in which I have ever spent a night. Interesting though.... thought I saw Anthony Perkins in a corridor.


  1. Fully agree with you about the Redwood forest. It was a time when I was still permitted access to US territory! Did not know of Steinbeck’s appreciation. Thank you for making me up-to-date with that one.
    Saw a Buell on its side-stand in front of the ... Fromagerie de Laguiole, last Saturday. But it had clearly suffered a tumble: exhaust dismantled (silencer not connected with exhaust pipe collector anymore, noise ?!?!), fuel tank bruised and many bits and pieces scraped.
    Also saw a Duke similar to yours, but all black & silver, in Perpignan town center. The alternator cover said LC4 or something similar. Almost rode away with it but .... I’m an honest chappy and it’s been a long time since I last fiddled about with a bike’s ignition and lock !!!!

  2. Luc, your powers of observation have not deserted you! LC4 designates KTM's 4-valve engines, such as the various versions of the Duke single.