I love California, and this post is part of a California Extravaganza where we’re featuring writers from around California and the United States and even across the world who are all sharing their unique perspectives of California. Today, we welcome Rich Sasek, guest blogging about a mysteriously unknown part of California, north of Northern California but before you get to Oregon — Humboldt County.
There is a place, north of “Northern California;” before you get to the Oregon border (within what some refer to as the “State of Jefferson”), that is like no place that I have ever been. It is a land where “Organic”, “Natural” and “The Man” are common topics in day to day conversations. A man without a beard is more uncommon than a man with; those with Dreadlock hair out number Flattops 3-1 (no viable data, just something I pulled out of my a$$). It is Humboldt County. The first county that I have ever been to that has its own persona. Art is everywhere and being weird is normal.
Just to give you a taste… the annual local, three day, bicycle race — The Kinetic Grand Championship — is the culmination of many months of planning, gathering and creating. People dress up in odd, amazing, imaginatively wonderful costumes and many characters look like they came from ‘Steampunk Futura’, a strange land of gears, steam, metal and dirigibles. (I just made that place up. Cool, huh?) The human powered art bikes are “raced” across asphalt, sand, mud and water, (yes water – specifically the Humboldt Bay.) Participants, including our favorite artist Duane Flatmo, have to navigate through a course that is difficult and weird. There are awards for just about anything that you can do, even the best bribe — which is actually encouraged — bribe the judges, spectators and… “The Rutabaga Royalty.”
The list of attractions in Humboldt County is long. My top 13 loves in no particular order are:
- Trinidad, a former whaling community, is a beautiful destination for lunch and a walk around the Head. Pay attention to the tide for some amazing tide pooling available during the low tides.
- Humboldt State University (HSU – Arcata) has some of the most environmentally conscious students in the country. Stroll the campus, enjoy the art and music of the students, and be sure to visit the Telonicher Marine Lab while you are in Trinidad.
- Patrick’s Point State Park boasts more visitors than any other state park in California. You can go for a day or a week and still not see everything. Hike down to Agate Beach where you can find and keep gem quality Agates right from the water’s edge.
- Drive through massive trees; and drive on a few local beaches as well, if you’re brave or stupid enough to try (I am).The beaches are great! Clam Beach is one where you can take your 4×4 and drive in the surf zone. Moonstone Beach is ideal for family picnics as it is a beautiful flat beach. Manila Beach and Dunes are one of the many areas where you can feel like the only person around. It is an opportunity to touch nature (figuratively) and “get lost.”
- Food: Some of the best local organic grocery stores and restaurants that I have ever been to are in Humboldt. My favorite restaurant is the Café Nooner in Old Town Eureka.
- Speaking of Old Town Eureka, if you are a shopper then this is a great eclectic area to visit and experience. If you happen to be in town over the first Saturday of the month, Arts Alive in Old Town Eureka is a MUST!! (Note: Café Nooner is ONLY open for dinner for Arts Alive, so do take advantage of this once a month opportunity for an awesome dining experience! Oh, say “Hi!” to Owners Joe and Lorrena for us!)
- Arcata Community Forest is great for picnicking, hiking, exploring and even Geocaching — if you can get a signal. Where else can you find a real Redwood Forest in a city park?
- The Kinetic Grand Championship. Just the name sounds cool and the event is even cooler — as I shared above.
- Beer: There are several micro breweries that produce some really good tasty brews. For those beer snobs out there this is a place to taste!
- The local “wildlife” in Arcata is not only fun to watch but to interact with. Sit in the Arcata Square and experience firsthand those who “live” the wanderlust life that you dreamt about when you were younger. (Or was it just me?)
- Farmers markets can be found throughout the county on different days of the week. You can get locally grown Organic veggies and fruits that not only put to shame the conventional but cost less as well.
- The Victorian Village of Ferndale is a wonderful town that boasts the finish line of the Kinetic Grand Championship, the Ferndale Art and Cultural Center, The Humboldt County Fair, Americas Tallest Living Christmas Tree and many other celebrations throughout the year.
And… My #13… Inhale a deep breath now… HOLD it… There is a local phenomenon that has made Humboldt County “World Renown”; Hemp! There are stores that supply the area locals and tourists with clothes made from a plant that has been vilified for decades. It is a cousin to the “Evil Devil’s Weed” known as “Pot”, “Ganja”, “Green”, “Smoke”, “Weed”, “Marijuana”, “Wacky Weed”, “Funny Stuff”, “Doobie”, “MaryJane”, “Bud”, “Thirteen” or whatever you want to call it… There are dispensaries where you can get your favorite Cannabinoid meds for those who fall under the Health and Safety Code Proposition 215 Section 11362.5 for the State of California because we want to be sure and be legal.
Now relating to all this, there is a celebration that happens every year on April 20th in Honor of the medicinal plant. Thousands of patients show up at Redwood Park every year and share in the tradition. At 4:20 on 4/20 revelers, I mean patients, light up their 4-20 in unison. Unfortunately Guinness World Records does not recognize this or their recorder gets lost in the Humboldt “fog” on this day. Not sure which.
That is my 13.Why 13? Because it’s my favorite number. If I missed one of your favorite Humboldt attractions, tough! It’s MY list so “Neener!”
For more in our California Extravaganza series check out our California Extravaganza Tag Page.
Rich Sasek and his wife are Nomadic travelers who shun stereotypes. If you have a need to label them then references to: hippie, redneck, granola eating, tree hugging, sailing, scuba diving parent/grandparents who love diversity and embrace the odd, unique and eclectic — are a good place to start.
Rich notes that they have family and friends who agree with their lifestyle and outlook, and some who don’t. But they believe “That’s what keeps life interesting! As it would be boring if we were all the same, don’t ya think?“ The Sasek’s agree that they don’t expect everyone to love them, or even like them; they do believe, though, that they are special, just the way that the Good Lord made them and that by His grace they’ll learn to make the most of the gifts that He’s given them while they’re here.
Though they now call Texas their home state – The Sasek’s spent several years in Humboldt County while Rich was attending HSU. In 2008 they enjoyed the opportunity to be Camp Hosts at Patrick’s Point State Park for six months. It was a unique opportunity that changed the way that they look at, and embrace, the world! Their Nomadic spirits find them going to see what is around the next bend in the road.
They’re great people! Check out their blog Nomadic Jesters.
http://kineticgrandchampionship.com/ ~ “The Triathlon of the Art World”
Hi, I’m Clark. My wife Monica and I run this blog and we can’t thank Rich enough for contributing this piece. If we’ve not met before, let me introduce myself. I live in Lake Tahoe and along with my wife and kids I’m on a quest to work less, live more, and travel the world. After losing everything — my money that is — and moving into my in-laws garage, my wife and I began the exciting process of reinventing our lives. As J.K. Rolwing said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation from which I re-built my life.” My wife Monica and I have 3 kids and when we’re not traveling we call Tahoe home, where I ski 50+ days a year. You can check us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.