Eureka

Eureka

A few weeks ago I was driving around the town of Eureka at night. It was the third night in a four day trip exploring Northern California. Everything just felt right that night. The sea air, the fog, the fact that Bob’s Used Car Lot kept it’s neon signs turned on even after everybody had left and gone home late on a Sunday night.

Sometimes you live life and it really feels like living. Earlier in the day I’d watched my four great children running up and down the beach. The joy of being 5, 6, 7 and 8 and slinging seaweed and feeling the water rush over your legs as the surf pulls in and out. Now they were back at the hotel fast asleep with the Mrs. and the night and the Buick were mine.

I found an old motel that had gone out of business. It was dark, the neon sign busted. Graffiti covered what used to be the motel’s plaza. Another neon sign flashed a giant ice cream cone on top of an establishment beckoning all who love the pleasure in life that is soft serve. I could only think how welcoming a sign that must be to the truly stoned.

I decided to drive back up North to Arcata. The fog was as thick as it gets on that little highway between Eureka and Arcata.

Arcata’s an interesting little place. I was hit up for money almost immediately. I snapped my first $2 portrait of the trip. The drunk was too drunk to even tell me what his name was. He tried to sell me a skateboard after I took his picture.

I dropped into a little college bar. The bar maid spent 30 seconds or so closely examining my driver’s license before she’d serve me. Something nice about being carded when you’re 41.

Driving out of Arcata I stopped to shoot some old liquor store. The proprietor came running out of the store and gave me a big "Hey, What do you think you’re doing?"

"The Sign," I said, pointing up to his sign. "The signs, I like the signs." He relaxed his demeanor a bit and nodded his head understandably and turned around and went back inside.

I’m not sure where I was exactly, but at some point that evening I decided that if I ever dropped out of life, Eureka is where I’d end up. Big enough to have one or two or three movie theaters, but small and cozy enough to still feel like home with a hell of a lot more little cafes than Starbucks and damn good radio to go with it.

All the radio in Eureka felt like really good radio. As I drove back South from Arcata Jackie Greene came on some station. I’d never heard Jackie Greene before.

"well maybe you’re wrong and maybe you’re right, and maybe we could sit here and argue all night, but maybe you just better turn out the lights, cause honey i’ve been thinking about you."

This photo isn’t from Eureka. I’m so horribly behind on my processing that those won’t be close to ready until maybe sometime after Fall next year. This photo is one I took yesterday at UC Berkeley — but I was thinking about Eureka when I shot it — all out of focus through this mammoth iron gate. Cal State Humbolt’s a long ways away from UC Berkeley, but somehow it all made sense at the time.

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5 Comments

  1. Clearlight says:

    Hawk, Jackie is a very talented Bay Area musician. He has his own band and also plays with Phil Lesh and Friends. You should keep an eye out for some of his local shows. I’ve seen him a number of times and have always enjoyed his work.

  2. Eureka says:

    […] 1 votes vote Eureka A few weeks ago I was driving around the town of Eureka at night. It was the third night in a […]

  3. Lou says:

    Jackie Green is crazy awesome. Born in Salinas, but he grew up and started his musical career here in Sacramento. Moved to Texas, and then came back a few years ago, if I remember correctly. Definitely puts on a great live show.

    I absolutely love Eureka. I grew up in Redding, ended up meeting this girl online who was from Fortuna. Years later after a friendship, we started dating, and I used to drive over the mountains out to Fortuna/Eureka. Absolutely in love with the whole area, and almost moved out there a few times. Last time I was there was to see Primus at the Eureka Municipal Auditorium. Interesting, to say the least lol… And on a related note, Arcata is an incredibly hippie-saturated town. Pretty interesting, actually.

    That being said, Sacramento is now my home, and I still miss the Lost Coast. And while the girl and I broke up, we’re still great friends.

  4. Bob Towery says:

    Great story, and the (unrelated!) image is beyond amazing. I enjoy your travel stories! I wouldn’t think of leaving the family like that and driving around. Nice photo opp! One thing about Eureka – I spent a week there one August. Never got over 55 degrees….

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