Humboldt County in Northern California is one of the more unique places in the United States. Well, it is to me. Though you may find some of these things in other locations, the combination is only here.
Thirteen Reasons I Love Where I Live
1. The Redwoods
I remember once, when I was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico (so my mother could care for my Grandmother. I was nine) my fourth grade teacher had us listen to a piece of classical music and draw a picture. I drew a picture of a Redwood grove with a deer and sunlight streaming through the branches.
I hadn’t even seen the redwoods yet. I’ve always believed there was magic in those trees.
2. The Pacific Ocean
I’ve seen the Pacific as it crashes into the shore at San Diego, Los Angelos, Monterey, San Francisco, Jenner Bay, Fort Bragg, CA., Gold Beach, Oregon and Coos Bay, Oregon. Every spot the Pacific touches is unique and special. But, to me, the Pacific is its most diverse and beautiful as it touches the Northcoast. From Petrolia to Trinidad, the ocean changes mood and direction like a woman in love. At the South Spit (Just south of Eureka) it slides into the shore with slow, strong waves until you reach the breakers and then it explodes and crashes against the rocks. On Humboldt bay, the currents run beneath the surface and create a soft lapping sound along the docks. In Trinidad, it churns and boils in dramatic flair that only the cold Northern California coastline seems to offer. (Though Oregon and Washington also have the crash and drama too).
3. The Population
Anywhere you go in the United States there is a flavor, a taste, that overwhelms an area. In Napa, there is the sharp taste of a good wine. In San Francisco, there is a mixture of liberal politics and fine dining. In Berkeley, there is the rich flavor of ethnic food and the musty smell of academics. In Humboldt County, there is the true melting pot of flavors. No one aspect of the county dominates. We have the environmentalists, the loggers, the University students, the fishermen, the long time residents who trace their roots to the Hoopa Indians and city people running away from the hustle and bustle of the San Francisco Bay Area. All of them add to our flavor. If there was one flavor that I think really says “Humboldt County” it’s probably Chicken Soup. Every one likes something a little different in their Chicken Soup, but it’s a cure all for what ails you.
4. The Fog
Some curse it but I love it. And every fog in an area has a different taste to it. If you’ve ever been in San Francisco and experienced that beautiful fog there and then seen fog elsewhere, you know it’s got its own feeling. Ours is like a warm blanket that rests over and through the trees. It’s very prevalent in the summer.
5. The Dress Code
There is no need to put on make up or even wear shoes when you run out to the grocery store. Slippers are acceptable footwear. There is no pressure to wear diamonds or pearls out to the “fine” restaurants here. Wranglers and boots are “dressing up” too. Casual is the word for our code and very little judgment. I like that here.
6. The Arts
For some reason, this area seems to inspire people. Here, in our county, there are painters, poets and singers and tons of places to show their stuff. It’s an inspirational place.
7. Close To The Mountains
I love the ocean, but I need the mountains. Only an hour away is some of the most beautiful country in California. Black Lassic, Mad River Rock, Blocksburg, Ruth Lake–all are gorgeous. And they’re healing places. I’ve seen the Redneck beat down by work, stressed by family and wrung out with grief but one trip to George’s Folly Camp and he is renewed. Like I said, I believe there’s magic here.
8. The Summers
I lived in Redding, California during the summer when it would reach 110 degrees. No. Thank. You. I love it here where 70 degrees is a heatwave. It rarely passes 68 degrees here and the cool ocean breeze keeps it nice. I love that.
9. The Winters
Where I live, there’s no snow. It rains (which I LOVE) but none of the white stuff. But snow isn’t far away. Drive a little ways up Highway 36 or Highway 299 and there’s snow to play in. No shoveling for me. LOL.
10. The Politics
As a political junkie, I enjoy the Yin and Yang of our local politics. I doubt there are many locations with the same balanced extremes. Though liberals often show more political savvy in these parts, they don’t run everything and the other side continues to stand up and keep things even. Politics here are heated, intelligent and continuous. Oh, there’s definitely a negative side to it, but I’d prefer to see some fire and spit than apathy. I’ve come to understand it’s what drew me to this area in the first place.
11. The Pace
I don’t like how this is changing, but our mode of life here has always been slower and more deliberate. I have a story to describe this. A friend of mine was in our local hardware store (don’t be fooled. The place is as big as a Lowes) and she was waiting in line. The cashier and a customer were “shootin’ the shit” and the chat was going on and on. My friend waited and waited. The customer finally leaves and the phone rings. The cashier answers the phone and chats. My friend waits. When he gets off the phone, the cashier smiles and says “How are you today?”
She answered with a little piss and vinegar. “Late.”
He frowns and says “You’re not from around here, are you?”
At that time, she’d lived here twenty years.
That’s Humboldt County for you. Don’t be in a hurry. You’ll be late.
12. It’s Isolated
The only ways to get here are Highway 101, Highway 36 and Highway 299. None of them are for people who get carsick. Trucks that are a certain size can’t travel up here. Every winter, Confusion Hill (a section of 101) shuts the highway down to to landslides and flooding. 299 and 36 get blocked by snow. We are our own little world. And it shows. Believe me.
13. The Rain
Though not as frequent as Seattle’s rainfall, Humboldt County gets a fair share of rain. I love the rain. The soft rain that makes no noise as it drifts down to kiss the ground. The driving rain that turns sideways to pound the windows. The slow, steady rain that soaks the grass and creates a beautiful, clean smell all over the world. It’s my favorite weather.
So, if you’ve made it this far, what do YOU love about where you live?