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The long, long RV trip, Week 24: EUREKA! Humboldt County adventures

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Thanks for sticking with me through the long, long RV trip. This week is our last travel entry as I am once again back in California, albeit at a different end of the state from where I started—Humboldt County in the heart of California’s “Emerald Triangle.”

I am staying here with dear friends who conveniently had moochdocking space in their driveway. However, campers and RVers will find no shortage of both public and private camping in Humboldt County.

I decided to end this series here as I covered some stops going up California’s 101 last year. And also because the remainder of my time before I head back to my home base of Baja California, Mexico, will be spent catching up with friends and family in California.

But before I wrap it up, I did want to talk about this very special place in Northern California where the redwoods meet the sea.

Beyond the stunning natural beauty of this primitive forested coast, Humboldt County has a unique vibe and personality unlike anywhere else in the country. It’s not for everyone, but for the right crowd, it’s a slice of heaven.

Comedian Billy Wayne Davis, in a standup set benefiting local Redwood Country radio station KMUD, the heart of this agricultural community, compared Humboldt County to New Orleans in terms of uniqueness. My jaw fell open as I had made the same comparison to my business partner about a week earlier. I guess great minds think alike.

Comedian Billy Wayne Davis
Comedian Billy Wayne Davis

It’s not that Humboldt County and New Orleans are anything alike, they’re really not similar at all. BUT, they both have personalities that are unlike any other place in this country or any other. Both leave no doubt as to where you are when you are there.

When it comes to similarities, Billy Wayne made another comparison in his stand-up set between Humboldt County and eastern Tennessee, where he grew up. That also hits close to home, as the underground cannabis subculture that thrived here, and to a lesser extent still does, is not unlike the moonshiner subculture that existed in Tennessee and Kentucky, and to a lesser extent still does.

Humboldt history

If you have been following along, you know that in addition to writing about travel and RVs, I am also a cannabis writer and advocate. And Humboldt County, especially at harvest time, is ground central.

The area was settled back in the ’70s by the remnants of the 1960s back-to-the-land movement. These rugged farmers lived off the grid and carved out a living for themselves and generations of families yet to come.

Generally speaking, the people are a contradictory mix of strong and fiercely independent mixed with love, compassion, and a whole lot of hippie wisdom.

Marijuana is simply a part of everyday life here. It defines this region of the country in tangible and also intangible ways. Something those visiting from more conservative states might need to get used to. There are dispensaries, consumption lounges, and 420-friendly hotels.

Everyone you meet likely is, or has been, involved with the plant at some stage.  Generations of people have lived in this area supported by growing cannabis, although many legacy farmers are having to pivot in the wake of corporate takeovers post-legalization. The whys behind it are a complicated and politically charged topic for another publication.

Tending the Garden in Arcata

humboldt county, arcata theater

The spirit of the ’60s never died, and the back-to-the-land movement remains strong in these parts. This was on proud display in the town of Arcata at a sneak-peak screening of the new documentary on regenerative farming, “Tending the Garden.”

The film was screened at the historic Arcata Theatre Lounge, which features both films and live events. It drew a full house from the hometown crowd, including a who’s who of the Emerald Triangle cannabis and regenerative farming scene.

The crowd’s reaction to the compelling locally filmed documentary was akin to watching an old town melodrama. Loud cheers erupted for the farmers profiled who take their stewardship of the land seriously. Conversely, boos erupted for the ecologically devastating indoor corporate cannabis that is now dominating the southern part of the state, and factory farming that dominates most of the country.

The movie will be making the festival circuit this year. Anyone interested in more sustainable forms of agriculture should definitely check it out. Find more information here.

Big laughs in Eureka

Chris Durant of Savage Henry
Owner Chris Durant of Savage Henry

Other than working most days, with an occasional break to hike along Eureka’s rugged shoreline, I spent several evenings at the Savage Henry Comedy Club. This small town is hardly the typical locale for such a club, but it works.

One of the hosts began the show by thanking the crowd for coming out, as he knows we all had so many choices for nightlife in Eureka. The crowd busted up.

To be sure, by the time the 9 p.m. shows starts, much of the rest of the town is in bed. But it’s worth staying up for.

Weekends bring headliners, such as the aforementioned Billy Wayne Davis, who killed it both nights. But Savage Henry has also nurtured local talent and they have a crew of regular house comedians who far exceeded this jaded LA girl’s expectations.

Owner Chris Durant is proud of the club’s ability to support up-and-coming talent and loves the direction his business is taking, although getting here was a struggle and making it as a comedy club in a small town is always a challenge.

The changing Humboldt County economy coupled with the pandemic almost put Durant under. Savage Henry started as an underground comedy print magazine. They will put out their final issue this year. However, the club with live entertainment will continue to live on, as will the annual Savage Henry Comedy Festival, which draws comedians and audiences from around the country.

If you are in the area, I highly recommend the shows at Savage Henry for a fun night out.

Art and about in Eureka

mural in Eureka, CA

This small coastal town also supports a thriving art scene. All you need to do to see it is take a short stroll. Street art and murals cover buildings everywhere. In fact, you can even take a self-guided Eureka Murals tour, where you’ll find murals covering a wide array of styles and subject matter.

Next Week: Takeaways and wrap-up of the long, long RV trip

Previously in Cheri’s long, long RV trip:

##RVT1079

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donna gibson
19 days ago

Last time my husband and I were vacationing there. We were inundated by too many homeless people roaming the city. This city is off our vacation list, until the Mayor and city council can correct the problem bye, bye Eureka.

Cheri Sicard
19 days ago
Reply to  donna gibson

There is a homeless problem for sure. Although it seemed a bit better now than when I was there a year ago. And FAR better than when I was there two years ago. But yes, it is still an issue.

Pat
20 days ago

Our son went to Humboldt State University in Arcata and we enjoyed several years at the North Country Fair. I loved the drums, the parade and the art fair. Great places to hike both wooded and along the shore. We were never at a loss for entertainment. We always stayed at the Hotel Arcata and had sushi almost every day at the Tomo Restaurant. I wouldn’t want to live there but it was a great place to visit!