Archive for the '2. Arcata to Hood River' Category

Day 8 – Laid Back Arcata; Smoke and Friends on the Trinity River

Wednesday August 13 (Muriel)

We left Eureka in the morning and headed up the coast to Arcata, where we wanted to see the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. The Marsh is famous for the innovative use of wetlands to clean wastewater while creating wildlife habitat.

We walked a path that loops around the wetlands, with opportunities to view Humboldt Bay from parts of the path. Despite the heavy overcast, bird viewing was excellent. We saw over 100 Marbled Godwits, many of which flew in as if arriving for a rest and feeding stop on their southerly migration. There was a variety of other sandpipers and other common water birds. New to our trip were Long-billed Curlew, avocets, Savannah Sparrows, a Northern Harrier, kingfisher, and Chestnut-backed Chickadee. After our walk, the woman staffing the Interpretive Center was very helpful identifying the plants we had noticed during our walk.

We drove around looking for central Arcata in search of lunch. Eventually we found a charming plaza, ringed with stores and restaurant and populated with an interesting medley of people. Despite this being August, there were many students from nearby Humboldt State University. We circled the plaza, checked out the stores and restaurants, admiring many statues and other representations of banana slugs. We had some sense of West Hollywood, Berkeley and perhaps even Venice with many stores featuring new wave life styles, Asian religions, and organic foods, some of which Allan photographed. Eventually we had lunch and then headed for the mountains on California 299. When, at lunch, I asked the waitress if she was a student she said that she had recently graduated Berkeley and that in seeking a less expensive and urbanized environment like that, she had chosen Arcata.

Arcata's Central Square
Arcata Central Square

Typical Storefronts of Arcata

We headed for the home of Gil and Mediha Saliba, who had left the comforts of Tarzana for the small town of Burnt Ranch in Trinity County a little less than six years ago. Along the way we stopped in Blue Lake to look for birds, but they were invisible in early afternoon on what was a very hot August day inland.

The Salibas’ directions were excellent, fortunately. We found their charming red “barn” house and had lots of time to catch up with the events of the last six years.

The Saliba's Barn House

The Saliba Barn House
Gil has retired from his medical practice in infectious diseases and become a cabinet maker and artist in wood products. He acted as their contractor’s assistant in building a two bedroom guest house on their property and has almost completed building and finishing a canoe. He and Mediha plan to take it out on a friend’s lake before the summer is over.

Mediha spends a great deal of time with her grandson Silas, while his mom (their daughter Mikayla) and her husband run the local bakery. Mikayla and family live next door, also on a large rural property. Mediha also finds time to write poetry, make their lovely home environmentally sustainable, garden and improve the landscape, while collaborating in community projects with Gil.

When Gil and Mediha arrived in the Burnt Ranch – Willow Glen area, an old arts non-profit named Studio 299 (as in the highway) was being revived as a community organization. The Salibas have contributed in a major way to Studio 299 becoming an amazing community resource. She is its president, he the treasurer. They support a weekly local farmers’ market and have developed a local annual wine-tasting festival into a major event.

The Salibas find their new lives extremely rewarding. They send greetings to all their SFVAS friends and Mediha’s former RCD naturalist colleagues.

We thoroughly enjoyed the visit, dinner and Mediha and Gil’s hospitality for the night. The only less than wonderful aspect of the visit was the smoke that began obscuring the views of the beautiful mountains as we drove into the coast ranges on the way to their home. There have been fires burning throughout the mountains since the dry lightening strikes much earlier this summer. When I followed Mediha upslope to her garden to harvest basil and tomatoes for dinner, we could see the burnt trees on the mountainside across the Trinity River. She described watching the fire and hearing trees crashing after the dry lightning storm that ignited over a thousand fires in California. The Salibas keep tabs on the fires that continue to burn, while continuing their busy and fruitful lives.

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Day 9 – Driving across Northern California – Visiting Lassen

Thursday August 14 (Muriel)

After breakfast with the Salibas, we drove east along Highway 299. As Gil suggested, we drove through the mountains with the air conditioning on and in recycle mode. For miles and miles we drove through smoke. At Junction City, a small town west of Weaverville, we saw a dozen fire trucks and a bunch of Forestry Service vehicles. Some of the fire trucks were staged at outlying homes, others waited at a staging area.

The smoke cleared somewhere between Weaverville and Redding. We had not felt threatened by fire, but saw extensive although fortunately patchy areas of burnt forest. The drive brought thoughts of apocalypse: climate change from human-caused release of greenhouse gases causing increase of fires causing increased release of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

After lunch in Redding, we drove through clear skies to Lassen National Park.

Lassen Peak from Lake Helen

Lassen Peak from Lake Helen

After stops at the Visitors Center and several interesting viewpoints, Bumpass Hell was our only major walk. Although only about a three mile walk, it felt like more, starting at over 8400 feet elevation in 90 degree plus temperatures. The trail took us up at least another 200 feet through green forest before descending into the “Hell.” There an extensive boardwalk took us past boiling pools of water and steaming vents. Near some we could feel blasts of hot air. Near others we smelled what seemed like 1000 rotten eggs.

A Part of "Hell" in the Midst of a Forest

A Part of "Hell" in the Midst of a ForestMuriel on Boardwalk in Hell

The Colors of "Hell"

The Colors of Hell
Fortunately there was more shade and the temperatures were cooling somewhat as we hiked back to the car. It was early evening. We drove to Susanville, where we spent the night in that small town.

Day 10 – Long Drive and Retro Restaurants

Friday, August 15 (Allan)

Before starting out we had a real breakfast at the same Black Bear Restaurant at which we had dinner the night before. This deserves comment for three reasons: (1) we did not have a so-called “continental” breakfast; (2) the Black Bear is an odd but interesting restaurant; and (3) this was otherwise a pretty dull day.

First of all, why is it that we ascribe to continental Europeans—whom we otherwise like and admire—the following odd characteristics: a preference for tasteless and usually cellophane wrapped pastries; often watery and frequently lukewarm coffee; awkwardly wrapped containers for butter, cheese, jelly, etc; occasional fruit; and, if you are lucky, small containers of yogurt? Apparently hotel marketing people deliberately confuse the absence of cooked-to-order foods for breakfast in many European countries with largely inedible prepackaged foods.

The Black Bear is a restaurant chain that is kind of culinary time travel with leatherette booths, lots of “comfort” food and bright lighting—think of Bob’s Big Boy crossed with Tiny Naylor’s with some kind of a cowboy country music flavor.

The rest of the day was spent driving just over 300 miles to the even smaller metropolis of Burns, Oregon, a thriving town of 3,000 which is the trading center of what was once a huge cattle raising area. On this occasion the town was over-run with motorcyclists in town for the “Seventh Annual Desert Dash Rally.”

The only notable part of the drive and my only photo was taken as we left California, not to return for over two months. We noted that neither Muriel or I had been away from California that long since 1962 when my work took us to Washington DC for six months.

The terrain was geologically interesting-sort of-with some beautiful dry lakes and Big Sagebrush prairie.

Dinner in Burns was at a another “interesting” restaurant called the “Meat Hook” which was distinguished first by the finest collection of cattle pictures and 4-H club prize ribbons I have ever seen, and second by the fact that it was the only AAA recommended place in town. It was a significantly better dining experience than the restaurant’s name suggests. There was even a “Moo-less” dinner on the menu.

Day 11- Visiting Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Saturday, August 16 (Allan)

As banal and almost boring Thursday was, Friday was in contrast a true delight. We spent the morning at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. We got an early start both because that is the best way to see birds and also because the weather was really hot with highs from 98-106 and the mornings stayed below 75 until about 11.

The Malheur Refuge is 100 years old this year having been designated by Teddy Roosevelt in 1908.

Lake Malheur is a sometime thing since this whole area is in a basin without outlets to the sea so that in wet years there are largish lakes and in drier years-such as the current one—they become ponds. In geologic times this was all a large inland lake and one can see remnants in various salt flats. The exciting thing for birders and naturalists is that, even in dry times, the presence of numerous wet and marsh areas in an otherwise dry environment creates significant concentration of wildlife.

A Malheur Pond in its Unusual Geologic Setting

A Malheur Pond in its Unusual Geologic Setting

Malheur in French means misfortune and was the name applied by an early explorer who came upon the place in hot muggy weather, found no furs or food but lots of biting bugs.

The birding and the setting were wonderful with numerous ponds along the road, a wonderful visitor center, and fascinating surrounding topography with long level buttes and mesas with occasional anomalous peaks. Special birds included Sandhill Cranes and White Faced Ibis.

Sandhill Cranes and Ibis

Sandhill Cranes and IbisA Parting Panorama View of Lake Malheur

By noon, temperatures were approaching 100 and we had a long drive to Hood River before we slept. So after an unexpectedly pleasant lunch at the local diner/RV park with my first and delightful taste of Buffalo Chili, we set out across much of Oregon to get to the Columbia Gorge.

Malheur is clearly a place to which we plan to return.

The road to the town of Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge was very scenic with mountain views and river crossings.

Day 12 – A Lazy Day on the River with Some Special Memories

Sunday, August 17 (Allan)

Today was spent in Hood River Oregon on the Columbia River about 60 miles east of Portland in the center of the beautiful Columbia Gorge. The day was special in several ways. First of all, this was the first time since leaving Monterey on day 3 that we stayed in the same hotel for two nights rather than one. We looked forward to breaking the cycle of packing and moving every morning and to a day without much driving.

Finally, this was another kind of time travel for me and, to a lesser extent, for Muriel. In 1979, the year before I started my first real consulting company, I and a former colleague, James Regan, undertook an economic study of potential tourist expansion for the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District. This six-month study required much travel and during July of that year the Kotin family rented an apartment for a month in the thriving town of Stevenson, Washington, a metropolis of some 4,000, which is also the seat of Skamania County. This was a brief but magical time for ourĀ­ young big city kids who know got to wander unsupervised to see streams with frogs and small town Americana. Bringing home tadpoles from their explorations was a wonderful experience for them.

One of our professional recommendations in 1980 was to set up a sternwheeler cruise steamboat as a formal tourist activity. Our report said that this could not only provide a useful activity for tourists who traversed the gorge to stop and spend but would also help knit together the various communities in the Gorge.

Therefore it was with special pleasure and considerable nostalgia that we took an afternoon cruise on the sternwheeler “Columbia Gorge” – which had just celebrated its 25th anniversary — and later drove through Stevenson. Stevenson has grown only a little since our stay there. The boat ride provided that rarest of pleasures for real estate and economic consultants who always consult at the front end, pre development stage of their projects and only very occasionally get to see what happened as a result of their work. Continue reading ‘Day 12 – A Lazy Day on the River with Some Special Memories’