Thursday, February 28, 2013

Eureka to Crescent City

Crescent City Harbor, Crescent City, California (via Wikipedia)

One place we walked past the night before is Eureka Old Town Coffee and Chocolates. Despite the touristy name, it serves a good cup of coffee (Colombia Supremo in my case) and blueberry scones, which Sandra and I split. With 320 miles ahead of us, we have only a few minutes to indulge.

But we do indulge, and so get a late start out of Eureka after filling our own gas tank one final time. Soon we will be in Oregon, with its incomprehensible ban on self-service.

Stephen Hillenburg, creator of SpongeBob SquarePants, attended Humboldt State, which we drive past before listening to him talk on a podcast about his unusual journey from marine biologist to creator of one of the most popular children's television series in history (which also is a blast for adults–even those without children; there is much to be said for not insulting the intelligence of one's audience).

We drive over the Klamath River, through redwood forest, and past a postcard beach south of Orick. Further up the road, traffic halts along the cliffs about 10 miles south of Crescent City due to the perpetual rebuilding of highway. Everything smells like what air freshener aspires to smell like.

Hillenburg's is a story of perseverance, luck, and the importance of following one's dreams. It is inspirational, as is listening to a chat with Susan Cain on another podcast called Accidental Creative. Cain's best-selling book, Quiet, celebrates the power of introversion and introverts in a society that doesn't always appreciate such qualities or the individuals who exhibit them.

In addition to a book, Cain has written a 16-point manifesto full of gems, including one that speaks to this particular writer:

Everyone shines, given the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.

After the rivers, trees, cliffs, traffic, and podcasts, we reach Crescent City. We wolf down “chicken sandwiches” at a fast-food joint that is trying hard to look like a cafĂ©. The colors are subdued, there is plenty of open space, and the lighting is soft and inviting.

You could hang out here for a while. You might even call it cool. But the food still tastes like shit.

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