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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Grandma Harper's ring


The best part of being in the Humboldt Bay Area is visiting with my cousin Barby, daughter of Aunt Zella, who I have written about earlier. Barby lives up in Westhaven above Trinidad and Moonstone Beach and usually has sun in her yard with the fog drifting down below. This year nobody escapes the gray mist unless they are several miles inland. It is thick and relentless. Yesterday at Pebble, where Zella's son Marc lives and where I grew up living next door, we had about 15 minutes of burn off from the East creating a false sense of summer only to have the fog not creep but blow in from the West to end all hopes of seeing a sunset off Castle Rock.
Anyway, I was at my cousin's and she gifted me with my Grandma Harper's ring that Aunt Zella had worn for many years. It was a rectangular black band with diamonds encrusted and it fit me nicely on my right ring finger. I was delighted to have a family heirloom. Mabel Harper grew up in Eastern Montana and I will be visiting that area later on in the trip.
From Barby's I headed for Crescent City in what I will simply label a Humboldt state of mind. I stopped at Dry Lagoon State Park near Orick because I had never been to that beach before and I have been trying to hit the beach at least once a day while I am on the coast. I pulled on a sweatshirt, grabbed my camera, took off my shoes and headed for the water. It proved to be a nice beach - pebbly, a lot of miner's lettuce which turns out to have a bloom like a petunia and Dry Lagoon was not necessarily dry. I tramped for awhile and then headed back to the car.
Back on Hwy 101 north, I noticed a very nice young man walking whom I had seen earlier before I had turned off so I stopped and offered him a ride which he was most happy to accept. He had a guitar on his back so he couldn't be too bad, eh? Turned out he was going to Crescent City and only a few blocks from my destination, the mother of the family he was visiting worked with my cousin's girlfriend, he was from Richmond, VA and we had a splendid time visiting along the way. Synchronistic, we both thought. Blessed was the word he used for the ride. Not many black men hitch the North Coast.
I was excited to get to 148 Pebble Beach Drive and to tell Marc and Connie about this adventure. However, in the middle of telling them I looked at my right hand and realized that the ring was gone. So gone. Tragedy! I went through all pockets and bags that I might have used, I looked around the car but I knew where the ring was. In the sand at Dry Lagoon, probably as I pulled that sweatshirt on or off. The ring was just loose enough that it fell off and I wasn't used to it being on my hand anyway and I did not notice until it was so too late. I am bereft and still have not told Barby. Did Grandma Harper deem me not worthy?
I am going to chase sun with my friend, Louise, today and see if that will cheer me up. I would rather have lost the key to the car, the iTouch, the phone (but definitely not the camera) than this beautiful ring. Woe is me.

Monday, August 2, 2010



I have just spent three nights in Eureka in a cottage in my friend's backyard. This is the second year I have stayed there and I guess I've been a good tenant because she gave me my own key this time to keep. It's so nice to have a kitchen and I can walk down to Old Town, where I seem to spend a lot of time. Eureka was a bustling lumber town when I was young and it was a very hip place to shop. Those days are gone as are all of the clothes and shoe stores that I haunted. Old Town, however, if full of interesting shops including some great used book and clothing stores. Yesterday I walked down at 9:30 and didn't get back to Vicki's until 4:00. I had halibut cakes and eggs at the Waterfront Grill where there was live jazz. I found a lightweight sweater because I was COLD in the jeans, turtleneck, socks and jacket that I had at the bottom of my suitcase for a month. Of course, as soon as I put the sweater on the fog burned off but it was back a few hours later.
On my way back I stopped at the Morris Graves Art Museum in what used to be the Eureka Public Library, a beautifully restored building up by the Eureka Inn. Morris Graves lived in Humboldt County during his final years. He donated a great deal of art to this organization, some of which was his contemporaries that he collected and some of his own. Two other exhibits were equally interesting and I came away with new list of artists to explore.
Hwy 101 north of Ukiah is a very fun ride: lots of hills and curves and it was probably built for a 75 speed limit originally before the energy crisis and all. The Jetta proved to be a great vehicle up and down and around. It was early evening so it was balmy from the afternoon sun and I had the sun roof open and the music playing. Every mile north I grow happier as I near the Humboldt County Line. I got a call from a friend just as I was coming out of Richardson's Grove so I pulled off at the Benbow Inn to have a good chat. Naturally, I hung out there for awhile to enjoy the surroundings. It has been restored since the 70's, when I might have stopped by before, and I was very impressed.
My first day in Eureka I drove over to Arcata and Trinidad to visit my cousin and stopped at two different beaches, Moonstone and the dunes at Manila. Both times I was in full sun, at least for awhile, and it was glorious. There are 4 dune areas between Eureka and Arcata on the coast that are being preserved. An incredible number of plants thrive there and several were in bloom. When I can't identify a plant I photograph it so Bill and tell me later. He has quite a collection to go through from this trip.
In Eureka I have had some good visits with dear friends and three times have sat down and showed them my pictures, which total almost 1,000 at this point. It has given me a chance to review where I've been, who I've seen, what I've done - I'm at the halfway point of my trip and I can only hope that the second half is as good as the first because this trip has been fantastic so far. In my sights are Eugene, Portland, Seattle, Spokane, Missoula, Harlowton MT (where my father grew up), Dayton and Sheridan WY (near where my grandmother and great uncle homesteaded), Minneapolis (where my mother grew up), Milwaukee and Columbus. And, don't you know, I sometimes wish I was on that last leg home to D.C. except, then I have to go back to work! We'll see if I can wash the road off and get back to it.
My photos are reversed from how I chose them this time. The top picture is at the dunes in Humboldt and you know where the other one is. As soon as I drove across the bridge I was in full sun and got off at Sausalito to explore houseboats and marinas. Bill...... I have a new place to share!