Saturday, August 23, 2014

Arcata and Eureka. People: Muriyah. Brooke. Darren and Dave. Brittney. Noelle. Russ.

After being in the redwoods and in relative solitude along the coast, it was quite a contrast to spend time in Arcata and Eureka but I had a great visit to both cities.  This stretch of the route has a particularly big gap between campgrounds, so stopping over in one of them helps keep each day manageable when cycling (some of the hardcore bicycle tourists would do a 90+ mile day to get to the next campground but I was not quite up for that).

Arcata is a major fixture in the Emerald Triangle - the pot (marijuana) growing area of California.  The pot culture seems to permeate everywhere I went in the city.  I have lived in many cities which are very heavy pot-using places but I had never seen anything to this extent.  It was also funny to me that I liked Arcata so much since I abstain from any type of intoxicant or mind-state altering substance (so smoking, drinking, drugs, caffeine, etc.) to the extreme point where I have never even had a whole cup of coffee in my life.  

I was glad that I was able to join the zen group in meditation in Arcata.  They had done a beautiful job of converting a garage into a lovely zendo.  After the meditation session, I checked if I could take a photo inside (I wanted to make sure it was not a sacred space that would be inappropriate to photograph).  A woman re-opened the zendo to allow me to take the photo - but interestingly, the photo of the inside of the zendo disappeared from my phone.  I’ll let you decide if that was coincidence or the result of some higher power. :)

I also went blues dancing in Arcata.  Most of my pictures from the dance didn’t come out well (just due to the low lighting, no metaphysical implications here) but I had a fun time there.  I had particularly fun dances with Brittney (who is interested in roller disco) and Noelle (who has ties to Santa Cruz).

My back started hurting again as I cycled out of Arcata and it hurt enough that I decided to stay in Eureka (was lucky to find a room at the last minute at a nice B&B - Cornelius Daly House).  Initially, I was just sore about being there due to the back pain.  Then I realized that I was in an interesting (and not that easy to understand) place and that I should simply appreciate it.

Eureka has some great murals:

It has quite a bit of contrast within the city - a well-preserved Victorian downtown with fancy shops and also some parts that look like they have seen better days.

I wandered around town a bit and ended up having a really cool night watching the band Scuba Mountain (see Russ below). 

In the end, the visit Arcata and Eureka had great conversations, music, meditation, and dancing.  I loved being in the redwoods and along the coast prior to getting to Arcata and Eureka, but the visit reminded me of the fun and intellectual/cultural stimulation of cities.


Muriyah.  I met Muriyah at the zen meditation session.  In mindfulness circles, I have heard some folks commenting how many of the conversations with other mindfulness practitioners are very similar - don't think that applies to Muriyah.  She is ultra-spontaneous and she was sharing with me some of her adventures. 

Muriyah once decided, with three days notice while visiting her sister in LA, to buy a one-way ticket to Peru and flew there without a clear plan of where to stay (or a job, for that matter).  Someone had told her it was easy to find work as an English teacher there, so she just bought a ticket and went.   Muriyah ended up living there several months in 2-3 different cities.  When one living situation would become problematic, somehow other ones materialized.  She ended up not being able to find work though, so she eventually moved back to the US when she ran out of money.  Muriyah has a far bigger risk appetite than I have - so much for my self-image as a free spirit. :)

The photo is in front of a high wall inside an old building that used to be an auto shop but is now a restaurant.  At the restaurant they were explaining that the wall was a firewall and was likely quite deep across.  It was a beautiful wall.  It made me think that folks were quite loose with how they used redwood though - too put such a massive and beautiful wall of probably old growth redwood inside an auto shop.

Brooke.  Brooke works at the Redwood Lily, a cool hostel I stayed at that has a bicyclist discount, and lives in a communal living set-up (outside of the hostel).  

Brooke and I had a fun conversation about Arcata, the pot industry, communal living, and a bunch of other topics.  She had a funny thing that she would do - she tried to guess if folks she didn’t know in Arcata were,  “townies, trimmers, tourists, transplants, transients, or students” and how it took some practice to be able to distinguish them given that everyone kind of dressed the same in Arcata.  I meant to get a photo of her boyfriend as he majored in computer science but makes a living doing construction for pot growers, but he headed out with his backpack to go out to a grow site for a few days.  

Based on our discussion on communal living, it occurred to me that I’d like to chat with some older folks (maybe in their 50’s and 60’s, or even better in their 70’s and 80’s) who have been doing the communal living thing for a long time - any referrals would be great.

Darren and Dave.  Darren offered to watch my bicycle while I was in the post office in Arcata.  He was waiting while Dave (holding the art he did of Eureka harbor) was in the post office and then they both watched my bike until I returned.  

Darren and Dave were telling me to be careful in Garberville because of rumors of a woman who is a serial killer of men in the area.   They were funny and sharing a bunch of stories and also giving me advice on safety.

Russ.  Russ is a professional saxophone player who is particularly articulate about the philosophy of music.  He went to the Berklee school of music and now plays in multiple bands in Eureka.


We had a great discussion about music shortly before the Scuba Mountain gig.  I really liked his descriptions on how playing music feels more and more like straight self-expression and allows him to communicate his ideas as his instrument becomes more of an extension of himself.

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