Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Heading home

When I left Humboldt County, I knew how things would be when I came back. I'd bring a PhD and validation. People would know, I was all right. Plenty of material things, no worry about money. Take that...

Today, I'm talking to the manager of the Scotia Inn about lunch. The restaurant is closed; it has been closed every time I've come through. The market across the street is kinda workable, in a pinch, but not desirable. This nice man points me to a Mexican restaurant, an actual open restaurant, in Rio Dell. Right across the bridge.

Finding the place and eating the very average Mexican food (hey, the Bay Area has ruined me) and thinking, warm good food, gluten free. In the right spot. And I can pay the bill.

On Blue Slide Road, fueled for the journey. So good. The climbs are steep but at least I'm not hungry. That's something. The road is used by locals who don't seem bent on killing me with their cars; there's enough room when they pass.

In the flat roads along the bottoms, the Eel River delta outside of Ferndale, I take a creative turn, a shortcut. The road goes through but the farmer likes to let his cows roam. They're all over the road and more to the point, there's copious amounts of manure and it's been raining. I manage to not think too much about the organic matter all over the bike tires and maybe my clothes and who know what else. I hold my breath until a safe distance has passed.

After the big Loleta rollers, a new road, Tompkins Hill. It's gorgeous.

Get through Eureka without too much cursing, without getting lost. The sky is full of haze now, and the air has a cold bite.

It doesn't get dark until outside Clam Beach. OK, if you're a stickler, the last bit of light disappears on Scenic Drive. After barely a half-mile of 101. The whole afternoon on backroads. Scenic Drive runs along the cliffs above the ocean, and is kinda one lane with the middle section not really paved. I manage to keep the bike out of the deeper potholes.

Murphy's Market in Trinidad is still open. To carry stuff for dinner, I buy one of those reusable shopping bags and give myself permission to go for it. Buy whatever: smoked salmon, hummus, avocado, GF crackers, yogurt, and an apple. I can pay for it. The cashier is super nice - the kind of guy who's probably been there for 25 years, giving people their receipts and joking about it.

The people behind me in line are wide-eyed and hungry, high on meth. He knows it and doesn't treat me or them any different. Business as usual. I may not have a PhD, but I also don't have a meth problem.

Emerald Forest of Trinidad leaves the light on. Now affiliated with Rodeway Inn; this might be trouble. When I ask the person at the desk if I can shower for the day use fee, she says no. A shower is actually $7; the day use fee is $5. A hundred miles in, who cares about 2 dollars?  She hands over a clean towel, plus a bathmat for the floor.

Turns out you need the bathmat - it's impossible to keep the forest floor out of the bathroom. The water is hot, the soap and shampoo transcendent.

Clean and smelling good and almost dry, I ride in street clothes 300 yards to a driveway. Even in the dark it can be identified, the one at the top of the rise with the light-colored utility pole. The gate is not locked.

At the end of the long driveway, another gate. A border collie sounds the alarm. Then she gives two husky barks of welcome. Signaling to my worried dad, open the door. Everyone together, everyone in one piece.

Let the storm come.

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