Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Crescent City to Berkeley

Highway 101 coming out of Crescent City quickly became spectacular again Tuesday morning as my car got dwarfed by a forest of impossibly tall redwoods. I didn't make great time with all those hairpin turns on a two-lane road, but who cares?

I arrived in Eureka around 10:30am. While the outskirts of town appeared heavily industrialized, the old city center was abuzz with a farmer's market and a Joni Mitchell-like busker. Finding sparkling mineral water was no problem here. Good hydroponic equipment would've been easy to find, too, as Humboldt County is probably the foremost marijuana growing region in these United States. All of the local media outlets documented the hometown indignation with Monday's Supreme Court decision.

I really hadn't realized the degree to which California north of San Francisco had been colonized by so many progressive/peacenik/hippie types. Even smaller towns like Garberville seemed to have organic foods, tribal drum stores and left of the dial radio options. Oddly enough, the restaurant I had lunch in was incongruously showing Fox News.

Instead of taking 101 straight into San Francisco and crossing the Bay Bridge to Berkeley, I simply had to stop in Calistoga to see the California Old Faithful Geyser. It wasn't quite like Yellowstone, but it's not like Yellowstone's on the way to anyplace, either. After about 15 minutes of sitting through mini-eruptions the guy next to me compared to premature ejaculations, Old Faithful did its thing, shooting steaming water 40-50 feet in the air for two or three minutes. That may sound simple, but I got my seven bucks' worth from it. I don't know if I can say the same for the guy next to me, let alone his wife.

Calistoga is right in the middle of Wine Country, but it was after 5 and all the wineries had closed. Even if they were open, I wouldn't have known which ones to choose (they go on for miles) and I wouldn't have been able to handle driving on those curvy, two-lane roads very well. Frankly, I wasn't doing that great sober.

The last part of the drive was the hardest. I hit the Bay Area right around rush hour and drove through some of the most visually unappealing parts of East Bay before finally arriving in Berkeley around 7pm. My hosts Heather and Mike have a very comfortable upstairs duplex with a big kitchen overlooking downtown Berkeley. They thoughtfully handed me a glass of wine and I began to unwind from the 350-mile trek. After another glass or two (?), I was ready for bed.

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