Arcata & Eureka: inspirational people & gorgeous scenery

11/2/21

OK, I’m slowly but surely getting caught up here!

Yesterday, the 1st, was a rainy day in Arcata, and I spent much of it in a hotel room, catching up on many “administrative” tasks, which helped me to feel more grounded. It’s nice to have some total solitude and privacy in hotels from time to time, since this is otherwise a very social trip, going from house to house every other day, or in some cases every day. I love meeting and connecting with such a variety of great people, but my introvert self does need some recharging from time to time.

I had spent the previous night in nearby Bayside, with an interesting Warmshowers couple. The wife, Wendy Ring, is a retired physician who is another perfect example of the kind of interesting people I’m excited to connect with on this trip. She told me how, years ago, she had founded a mobile health clinic for underserved populations in the Arcata area, such as undocumented immigrants and houseless people. She started very small, with a basic trailer behind a vehicle, and over the years built it up into a full-service clinic, with a well-equipped large RV. After 30 years of doing this work, she shifted her focus to another pressing social issue: climate change. She now hosts a podcast called Cool Solutions, interviewing people around the nation and the world who are actively working toward solutions for our climate-change crisis.

There are so many people doing great work in the world. It’s a privilege to meet them.

I arrived at their rural house (nestled in the trees, on a gravel driveway, with chickens outside) on Halloween evening, and the weather was very pleasant. (I took the opportunity to bike through an urban redwood park on the way over there from the co-op; see photos above.) As I expected, though, the rains came that night, and soaked the area for most of the next day. I biked only about seven miles to the hotel during that late morning, but arrived with thoroughly drenched feet since my “waterproof” shoes were 15 years old and had lost any semblance of water resistance years ago. (I swapped them out for a new pair today, in Eureka—fingers crossed that the new ones will indeed be waterproof, since I know I’ll need that functionality a lot this month, not to mention next spring on the East Coast.)

After a good night’s sleep at the hotel, I met up with a local Servas host for a brief hike around the Arcata marsh. She told me about some of the local indigenous history of the area (including the neighboring city of Eureka returning an island to tribal ownership two years ago) as well as some of the history of Servas, since she has been involved for many years. The US headquarters had moved from Manhattan to Arcata some years ago, so the local area has more Servas members than many other parts of the country.

After I returned to the hotel and checked out, I bicycled for about an hour and a half into Eureka. I was struck by how rural the trip was. Lots of agriculture and cattle farming, and beautiful views of the Humboldt Bay. It was another beautiful sunny day, which is unlikely to be reprised for the next week or so, so I wanted to take full advantage.

As soon as I arrived in Eureka, I headed straight for the outdoor store to trade in my soggy shoes, then biked over to the Eureka location of the co-op for provisions. Then it was time to head to the Greyhound stop, to catch my bus to Willits, just north of Ukiah, for a stay with another Servas couple. More details on that tomorrow. This journey is so rich and full of experiences!

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