Traveling High and Low - Another Toe in the Ocean
Waking up, the first thing was groceries and a hike if I could find it. I figure that’ll give us time to sort through our plan, maybe find some wifi, and get set up. Set up. Looking around the inside of the civic things looked pretty set up, so I defcided to start with the walk. That’d let me figure the rest out and start to see the area. Plus work up an appetite for that day’s cold meals.
I was eager to see the new digs, and I had some granola bars and cruisers for breakfast so I headed out with to look around after I arrived in town that morning. I took a short waterfront trail that was about 6 miles long all told once I’d done it all, and was a fun jaunt. I took a great stroll along the Arcata-Eureka Waterfront, seeing many people living out of their cars under the bridge, a beautiful marsh landscape, and a new familiarity with Humboldt County in a different location.
The brackish marshes held a teeming supply of cranes, marsh creatures, and abandoned structures. Some, crumbling into the marsh, bridges and outbuildilngs of a discarded railroad, and some recently refurbished. The informational signs along the path looked as though they may start to fall into the water at points as well. The back alley of a beautiful sort of nature. Between the dilapidation and the dreary grey winds, the landscape came vibrantly alive. Not in a loud, busy street way, but in it’s own fashion.
The marsh itself was mostly quiet, as were those I passed, walking by themselves to a new home for the night, among a strange mixture of mostly middle-aged wealthy bikers and joggers.
That first day, I soaked in the beautiful storm that rolled in a stone’s throw from the ocean, but decided to wait until the next day to keep poking around. The important part of course being that I’m able to access the wifi to update the accounts. The internet feed is as important as the caffeine drip. A small black cup of coffee and 3-4 hours of high speed wifi. Good thing I did too, as soon as I got back to my car and refilled my water bottle, the drops began to tap on the windshield as my fingers typed directions into the nearest discount grocery.
I was getting hungry. Granola bars for breakfast, and the last of some snacks for lunch provided the necessary impetus to get some more food. Now in travelling, 20.00$ is usually what I spend at the grocery store for a few days. Living in such a small space, stocked pantries aren’t exactly an affordable luxury, but that doesen’t mean you’re out of reach of sustenance. Living on the road, it becomes susprisigly easy to eat.
I’ll caveat this by saying, some people might disagree with my definition of “eat”. If you’re down with a cold rice meal and hot sauce, a can of fish on corn tortillas, also cold, or anything else, than dirtbagging may be for you. Really though, the food itself isn’t bad, it’s simply a change of perspective. You need fuel, and the bar of “Delicious” drops precipitously. Or maybe you appreciate the simpler comforts that come along. Heck many people find this camping or backpacking, but it’s not actually bad.
Though it may be alien, it’s easier to wake up and dip freshly cut apple slices into a jar of peanut butter than it is to scramble bacon and eggs, or boil water for oatmeal. Propane stoves exist of course, but to use one also takes space and interestingly enough, draws attention. A stove to others can be a signal that you’re trying to camp which draws attention or can be enough to make a rest stop worker ask you to head on out.
Somehow, the more different from other people you are, the less likely they are to interfere with you through some strange mixture of pity, misunderstanding, and focus on their own way of moving.
But I stopped by the grocery to stock up and seal away my food, and headed out to find some wifi, settling on the all powerful coffee shop.
As I sat in a local Starbucks hogging bandwidth and trying to find a few trails, I saw one for Hamilton Trail up to Clam Beach in Northern Arcata/Eureka, A chance to actually dip my toe in the ocean!
My goal right now is to learn the area as well as I can. The wind, the rain, the water, and absorb as much as I can. The variety of landscapes within such a short range is quite incredible from desert hills, to foggy redwood ocean forests, to snowy mountains higher up, to flat areas of grassland and prairie punctuating every so often. First though, the fierce ocean.
The predawn silence was wonderful as most people hadn’t woken yet when I got started. The private neighborhood houses that lined small sections of the walkway, every so often produced a slightly unhappy to see me looking elderly person. After a while however, the short stretch of road became a trail again and curved towards the ocean.
I walked along the trail, watching the glimpses through the foliage, and when I got to clam beach I was ready to be in, instead of next to the water. About as much as a foot though on this one. October waters on the pacific coast almost into Oregon are not the warmest. I put my right foot in, I took my right foot out, and that’s about all I was about for the moment. I continued on and explored the beach finding the standard jellyfish, broken shells, and seagulls, but what made it special was the serenity. On my time at the beach, not enough people had broken into their morning jogs yet, but there were maybe one or two other people there.
Walking along there were 3 or 4 driftwood huts assembled every few hundred yards or so. Some of them had wide pieces of wooden drift with fire pits in their bases. One rotted inward, seemed to support itself by sheer, intangible, salt stick and gravity. As I walked by, I had no desire to stay in them. With my budget though they looked like an affordable beachfront ocean one bedroom. Rental prices definitely informed why there had been so many others wandering around from the bridge the day before, to the beach, to wherever I went really. Humboldt definitely has a significant amount of people moving without houses.
I couldn’t help imagine staring out at the water from the safety of the drifted timbers, through the grey mist that enveloped the beach that morning, and simply smoking a joint from the warmth of a fire. Watch the salt water soaked timbers turn the flames other colors, lighting a joint from one of the carefully pulled glowing embers. Unfortunately as I’d find out they weren’t quite the safe haven they seemed. I had seens signs around for high water, and the marks on the side of the wood looked like they’d been recently washed.
Safety, but it definitely is on a list of things to make a hut out of driftwood somewhere this winter and get a nice campfire going in the grey. Somewhere with a beach significantly less prone to storm surge and without a regular tide that sweeps into the living room.
After practicing Crane Kicks on a huge chunk of redwood root I found on the beach, I turned around, seeing the sandbars I’d passed earlier, no longer existing. Definitely a signal that my walk on the beach had come to a close. I’d gotten a glimpse of the sky at dawn, and as I walked along the gusty coastline, it returned, warming up the landscape, and providing a boost of Vitamen D on the skin.
The other half of the hike was less incredible. Walking back over the hill brought me to the edges of the unincorporated parts of a town, and less scenic to be sure. A little under half a mile from the end the water washed over the trail, and the other end of the loop was too grown over from brambles. I walked back through the neighborhoods slightly disappointed, but making good time to keep a good pace.
Overall 12 Miles, in 6 Hours. Not bad but not great for so much flat. One step at a time, 1 into 2 into 12 into 20, and pretty soon a start to a new town, a new state, and another step on a cannabis journey. One that would keep me moving towards exactly the right people I would need to meet if I wanted to learn about growing the best natural cannabis possible, and understand the tastes on my tongue.