|Humboldt Bay, Eureka, California|
After driving around the tree that you are supposed to drive through, we continue north. We drive through the hamlets of Garberville (not named, alas, after former Atlanta Braves reliever Gene Garber), Rio Dell, and Fortuna.
The highway snakes back to the coast, near the southern end of Humboldt Bay. Our destination of Eureka lies a little further up the road. With 27,000 residents, it is the largest town we've seen since San Francisco. By our current standards, it is a metropolis.
We check into a motel on 4th Street, which doubles as southbound US-101, across from Humboldt Correctional Facility. It is cheap, run down, and three blocks from Lost Coast Brewery.
The brewery is crowded this evening, and we are led to table near the rear entrance, where folks periodically pop in and pick up food to go. Beer posters adorn the walls. Sporting events play on high-definition televisions scattered throughout the room. A couple shoots pool.
You know, it's a pub. Nothing fancy, just comfortable. A welcome stop at day's end.
The food is like the building. Sandra's buffalo chicken salad will be forgotten soon after it is eaten. Same with my turkey sandwich and lemon pepper parmesan french fries.
We sample a variety of beers. Sandra has the Apricot Wheat, which is refreshing and not overbearing in its fruitiness. The Raspberry Brown doesn't work as well but is drinkable.
I have the Pale Ale and 8-Ball Stout. As usual, I prefer the stout. It isn't the best I've ever had, but it's a solid B-minus, a 55 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
After dinner we stroll past the closed shops of old town. We end up at Eureka Boardwalk on the bay, with its boats and hypnotic sunset. The sun doesn't cross the horizon until almost 9 p.m. at this time of year, making the evenings feel endless.
A stiff breeze blows in off the water, and the temperature has dropped from a pleasant 70 degrees on arrival in town to the mid-50s. Tattooed kids who laugh and point for reasons known only to them linger. Everyone else has gone, and we soon follow.
On our way back to the motel, we scout out potential breakfast spots for the next morning. Most places look touristy, but a few show promise. As long as they serve a decent cup of coffee, I'm happy.
The highway remains busy at this late hour. Some guy is sitting on the stairs leading to our room, which feels like it was outdated even in the '70s.
With 4th Street's drunkards and sirens below us, this will not be a restful night. But best not to think about that now, as we drift in and out of sleep before driving to Oregon.