The North Coast doesn't really do seasons the way the rest of the world does. We don't believe in dividing the year into four neat periods, each with their own weather. Instead, mix up our rain and fog, darkness and light in varying quantities and distribute it in ever surprising ways throughout the seasons. Our spring could be balmy, stormy, busy or quiet. You may want to ease into it slowly or burst forth with a flurry of activity. Whatever your spring style, be open to its surprises.
Blue Creek Guide Service offers guided fishing and diving trips as well as scenic tours on the rivers of the North Coast. Blue Creek is run by Pergish Carlson, a member of the Yurok Tribe and an innovative fishing guide. He specializes in salmon and steelhead fishing trips but offers trips year-round in jet and drift boats. Blue Creek is based in Klamath, where the Klamath River is considered to have the best fishing for wild salmon and steelhead in all of California. Get your fishing license, dress in warm layers and book a trip by calling (707) 951-1284.
After a bit of rain, take a bit of a hike to Mill Creek Falls in McKinleyville. This surprisingly impressive spot is hidden just south of Mill Creek Marketplace. To see the falls, take Central Avenue to Turner Road and drive west until you see the gorge. Park and hike to the 20-foot falls. You will get muddy but you'll like it. The falls themselves are located on private property, so be nice.
If you've always wanted to shoot clay pigeons but don't know where to start, then Humboldt Trap and Skeet Club is for you. The club is incredibly welcoming to beginners. It's conveniently located near the California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport on expansive grounds with beautiful views all around. Drop-in hours for non-members are Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and the rates are very reasonable. Just let the Range officer know you're a beginner and he or she will get you all set you up. Bonus: The club has a perfect record of zero shooting accidents!
Kneeland Glenn Farmstand (5851 Myrtle Ave, Eureka CA 95503) is more magical fairyland than roadside farmstand. Housed in a tiny cottage surrounded by raised beds, the farmstand sells local produce, goat milk soap and creams, as well as other hand-crafted Humboldt products. The shelves are lined with vintage linens, dishware and toys that have been passed down through the Mullen family and are now for sale to farmstand visitors. On a recent visit, I scored a huge Pyrex mixing bowl and a few bags of locally-made Go Get It Granola while my kids played with the rabbits and chickens in the coops behind the stand. Perfect.
Warning: The Simmer Down Carribean Cafe food truck (located just off Arcata Plaza on G and Seventh streets) does not do greasy. Instead, it cooks up light, tasty vegan and vegetarian food that will please even the most committed carnivore. The jerk tofu and cashew burgers are satisfying and flavorful. And if you must eat an animal, the Escovitch fish will most certainly do. All meals come with delicious coconut rice, sauteed vegetables, plantains and a salad. You will not miss the grease.
Humboldt Honey Wine is Humboldt's only meadery. Paul and Heidi Leslie began making honey wine in 2015, selling it at the Arcata Farmer's Market and in select bars. Last year, their meadery was destroyed by a fire but they have since reopened in a cozy, colorful storefront in Old Town Eureka (723 Third St). It's the perfect spot to sip the sweet, full-bodied Traditional Sweet, Blackberry Cobbler or Feisty varieties. Do take a moment to appreciate their beautiful bottle labels and check out their witty collection of local products.
You could walk right by Umpqua Bank in Arcata and never know there is a beautiful artspace inside. The Upstairs Gallery (1063 G St.) features fine local art. The gallery is located in the bank's mezzanine, and the quiet, spacious venue is a lovely setting for shows. The conference table in the center of the gallery is a nice touch, too. Past exhibits have included the Humboldt Open Air Watercolor Painters, multi-media installations and photography. The gallery is open for Arts! Arcata (the second Friday evening of each month) and during banking hours.
Another art space hidden in an unexpected place is F Street Foto Gallery, above Swanlund's Camera (527 F St., Eureka). The tiny Foto Gallery is dedicated to showing photographs of local and regional artists. The gallery hosts a diverse range of exhibits, from local landscapes to travel photography to digitally modified shots that resemble abstract painting. The gallery's monthly Arts Alive! (the first Saturday of every month in Old Town) events are a mecca for the local photog scene. Go rub shoulders with the best eyes in our community.
There is a community-driven space in sunny Willow Creek that is devoted to promoting the arts in Eastern Humboldt and Trinity counties. Fueled by local craftspeople and artists, Studio 299 Center for the Arts is a hub for artists and hosts events throughout the year. The gallery, housed in a beautiful log cabin-inspired building, is open on Saturday mornings. The interior is modern and airy, showcasing local photography, jewelry, painting and sculpture. During the week, Studio 299 hosts an art-based education program for K-12 students. A visit to the center offers visitors a window in the creative life of Bigfoot country.
With the Kids
The Philosopher's Stone Gallery (218 F St., Eureka) would fit right in on Diagon Alley. It is the perfect place for little (and bigger) Harry Potter fans to rock-geek out. This gallery of crystals sells everything from $1 stones to exquisite collector pieces. The colors and textures in this space are downright magical and kids can get up close and personal with geodes the size of their heads. The knowledgeable staff will happily, patiently answer all rock geek questions. The shop is impressive and sparkly, but best for older children who are unlikely to push beautiful, expensive things over like dominos.
Entering into SCRAP Humboldt is like walking into a life-size junk drawer. Except it's the most amazing junk drawer ever. The organization is devoted to promoting creative re-use and providing affordable materials to the community. Its retail store is a warehouse filled to the brim with impeccably organized STUFF. Art supplies, sewing notions, craft and scrapbooking materials, wood, decorations, anything you can imagine. Have a kid who revels in popping bubble wrap? Painting? Building things? Eating glue? This is his or her utopia. Spend a free-form rainy afternoon exploring the shop or attend one of SCRAP's Drop-In Crafternoons. You and your child can use the workshop space, tools and materials to work on projects for only $5 per hour (and your kitchen won't be destroyed in the process). SCRAP also puts on Craft Camps throughout the year during school breaks. Check its website www.scraphumboldt.org to register for upcoming dates.
The best (and only) mini-golf in Humboldt is located on the Samoa Peninsula, an area best known for its surfing and dunes. Lighthouse Plaza in Manila is a sight to behold. Even if you're not an avid mini-golf fan, this course will make you a believer. The 18-hole nautical-themed course is impeccably (and hilariously) landscaped, complete with a huge Paul Bunyan carrying a golf club. What does Paul Bunyan have to do with the nautical theme? Hush, now. You're interrupting the awesomeness. Lighthouse Plaza is open seven days a week from noon to 5 p.m. and has an on-site convenience store for aprés-golf snacks.
Not Strictly for Tourists
Redwood Curtain Theatre is located on Eureka's boardwalk in a tiny building decorated with a mural of a winged marble grizzly bear on a pedestal and the inscription, "Theatre takes courage." Impressed yet? No? The theater puts on consistently high-quality performances with an emphasis on contemporary works, and takes on the classics. The front of the theater also hosts local art exhibitions. Redwood Curtain puts on five shows per year, each with a three-week run. May we suggest a season pass?
There is nothing more badass than Roller Derby. Humboldt Roller Derby is made up of three teams: the Redwood Rollers, the Widow Makers and the North Jetty Bettys. Derby home bouts roll at Redwood Acres Franchesci Hall (3750 Harris Ave., Eureka) about once a month from January through June. They are family-friendly, raucous affairs. Tickets are sold in advance and at the door, and often sell out (because we love our teams). It is truly inspiring to watch this diverse group of women play an intensely physical, fast-paced, fun-as-hell sport. We suggest a season pass for this one, too. And keep your eye out for mascot Sassy Squatch.
The thing about whales is that they're always moving. This means you can catch them migrating up and down the North Coast almost any time of the year. Prime spring whale watching is March to June, when mommas are migrating north with their calves. To catch a glimpse of these big guys, you can hop a ride with E and D Charters, who will take you out in their 28-foot boat to get up close with marine mammals. If you'd prefer to stay on land, the best observation sites are on the cliffs of Shelter Cove, Table Bluff or Trinidad Head. Go in the early morning and keep your eyes out for puffs of steam from blow holes! Call them at (707) 498-1355.