We left Florence early Saturday morning and decided to try Seven Devils State Recreation Site, about 30 miles away, on our way to Aracata, CA where we would stay at yet another Best Western Inn. The morning was cloudy and windy, and the beach was completely deserted. Of course the dogs had another rompin’, stompin’ good time chasing the ball, seagulls, sticks, and anything else they could find.
Although the rock formations off the coast weren’t as spectacular as Haystack Rock, they weren’t too shabby either. Since the tide was out we were able to get close enough to explore some of their nooks, crannies, and tide pools. After about an hour we piled into the minivan and headed to Arcata.
The scenery was an odd mixture of overdeveloped tourist towns with several rundown, tired looking burgs huddled along the side of the road that had seen much better days, probably when the logging industry was booming. Now they are reduced to selling trinkets, pinwheels for your front yard, and burl carvings. Lots of burl carvings.
About an hour after we passed the California border we went to Redwoods State and National Park because it looked like it might have an off-leash beach. And it did. After driving a couple of miles off the main highway, we found several cars parked in front of a path on the way to yet another flat, long, off-leash beach. The path to the beach led past a Native American burial ground, so we kept the dogs on leash until we passed it.
Other than a family fishing, the beach was empty. The dogs had another ho-hum spectacular time running around, and while we were there we spotted 2 bald eagles – one adult and one juvenile flying through the scrabbly evergreen trees that bordered the beach. Having thoroughly worn the dogs out, we drove on, for another hour or so, to Arcata.
The Best Western Inn there was among a cluster or hotels and fast food restaurants just outside of Arcata, so other than having a big bathroom area for the dogs, it was nothing special. In fact, not much in Arcata and the towns around it seemed special. Lots of empty storefronts and run down buildings.
The one redeeming factor was that Arcata has a nice town square that has been somewhat renovated. We found a restaurant for dinner called Jambalaya, and although it looked like it catered primarily to beer drinking students from the local university, Humboldt State, the food was surprisingly good. And we got to watch the basketball playoffs on a huge screen â€“ all while the dogs slept in the car right outside the window.
The drive around town was entertaining as well because Humboldt State is more counter-culturally oriented than most schools. The student body has lots of hippies and hippie wannabes (think UC Berkeley north), so we saw lots of students in tie dye, flowing skirts, braids, and bandanas.
We didn’t hang around long, though, because we were worn out from the drive. So we headed back to the good ol’ Best Western Inn and our surprisingly comfortable bed for the rest of the night.