02-14-2021 Valentine’s Day by Humboldt Bay

We woke on Sunday morning to a somewhat dreary day brightened by our bright tiny red and pink lights in the window, a box of See’s Chocolates, and shared Valentines.

Deborah said she slept well on her first night on the make-down bed, and in no time had everything back together and tucked away for the day.  Mo and I have been skipping breakfast lately, but Deborah was forewarned and brought along her own favorite breakfast, an homemade egg-bake that she cuts into squares and heats in the microwave. She even brought enough to share for when I decided that waiting until 12 to eat was a bit more than I wanted to wait.

We took our time getting out of the house since the day was gray and rainy and we didn’t have a lot planned.  I originally thought we might try to visit the historic Samoa Cookhouse for a Sunday brunch. However, the restaurant was not only closed for indoor seating, it was indefinitely closed.  The website didn’t reflect that, but I called the phone number and the sad message said they weren’t sure when they would open again.

We also planned to drive and walk around Old Town Eureka, but when we left around 10, we altered our route to follow the bridge across Humboldt Bay toward Samoa.  In spite of the restaurant being closed, it was nice to see the old historic buildings, check out the exterior of the museum, and take a few photos. The Samoa Cookhouse is the last lumber camp style cookhouse in the Pacific Northwest.

Originally it was a dining facility for the employees working the mills for the Vance Lumber Company and opened in 1893.The cookhouse opened to the public in the 1960s and serves “lumber camp style”, or family style, meals at long communal tables. The building also houses a museum with artifacts and images that focus on logging and “maritime industry” history. The building is large enough to seat five hundred workers and to make cleaning the floors more efficient there were holes drilled into the floor with a grate to act as drainage for water rather than mopping.

Mo and I had been to the beach along the Samoa peninsula in the past but had never traveled as far south as the Samoa Dunes Recreation Area.  The road is paved as far as the Coast Guard facility, but beyond that it is rough sand with lots of potholes.  The day was chilly and windy, so we were surprised to find quite a few cars and trucks parked at the various access points to the wild ocean to the west of the road.

The dunes are a popular area for OHV riders, with an unloading ramp, restrooms, tables, cooking grills and a scenic overlook, easy access to 140 acres of “open” terrain, containing numerous trails and the beach strand. There is an additional 75-acre riding area that extends about 1 mile north of the park. The rest of the beach and dunes along the peninsula are closed to vehicle use, except by special permit from the county.

On this chilly day we didn’t see any riders but we were excited to discover that we could drive the Tracker right up the dunes overlooking the entrance to Humboldt Bay from the Pacific ocean.  It was cold and windy, so we didn’t stay outside very long, although Mattie didn’t seem to mind too much.  She loves time on the sand and with the beach fairly open and empty she was able to run a bit.

We were thrilled at the huge waves coming into the bay, with water breaking over the jetty at times and waves at least 12 feet high. 

On our return trip from the dunes, we stopped to visit the Woodley Island Marina. There is an excellent seafood restaurant at the marina, and it appeared to be open, but we weren’t the least bit interested.  After two meals of fish and chips the previous day, if we decided to eat out again it wouldn’t be seafood.  We were hoping to find some fresh crab but didn’t want live crabs since cleaning and cooking them in the MoHo wasn’t easy.  We found several signs for live crab, but none of the boats in the marina had cleaned, cooked crab for sale.  Deb remembered times on the Oregon coast when she was able to buy fresh clean cooked crab right from the boats.  No matter, we weren’t hungry anyway.

Driving back across the bay we turned south to enter the section of Eureka that is called Old Town and is on the National Historic Register. 

The Carson Mansion at the northern pert of the Historic District is highly recognizable and is considered one of the best examples of Victorian architecture in the United States.  The Carson Mansion can only be seen from the outside since there are no public tours allowed.  It is now owned by an elite private club called the Ingomar Club. Sad that this beautiful historic place doesn’t do tours unlike some of the other famous mansions in the United States.

Across the street from the big green house is another mansion, sometimes called the Pink Lady.  The pink mansion was a gift by William Carson for his son Milton.  The mansion is currently a guest house and was for sale for 1.5 million back in 2020.  Not sure of the current status. 

There are carriage rides available in Old Town Eureka, but on this cold and rainy day they didn’t appeal to us.  I did notice that the couple inside the carriage were wearing masks, and heard just a bit of the guide’s conversation about the mansions as he passed us on the street.

Something we did discover about Eureka and the surrounding area is that people are diligent about wearing masks.  Nearly everyone we passed on the trail the previous night was masked and even street people in town were wearing masks.  A refreshing sight for sure.

Photo from our 2011 visit to the same store Deborah visited on this trip, with blue skies

We drove down to the main part of Old Town to explore some of the few shops that were open.  In addition to requiring masks, the shops only allowed a very few people inside the store at once.  The proprietors were diligent about enforcing the rule, and once inside everyone kept a respectful distance.  Deborah found some lovely pottery mugs to commemorate her visit and we ran back to the Tracker in the rain where Mo and Mattie were patiently waiting for us.

During previous visits to Eureka, Mo and I discovered the North Coast Co-Op.  I knew Deb would love checking out the wonderful huge natural food store.  I also wanted to share the beautiful murals that are on the east side of the building with her. We wandered in the store for a time, and Deb bought a bunch of cheeses and other goodies before we left. 

The day was so very dark and wet and dreary that even driving around to find the murals and art installations that are scattered all around the town wasn’t much fun.

Instead we returned to the MoHo for a rousing game of Hand and Foot for Deborah and I while Mo watched the news.  The mirror casting app worked just fine during the day with fewer people around in their rigs sucking up the airwaves.

We enjoyed a great supper of homemade enchiladas and salad before settling in to watch a silly but fun Brit Box show called Death in Paradise.  It is a bit “cheesy” to use Deborah’s word, but she loved it as much as we do.  For us it is an easy escape, with a delightful Caribbean vibe and music, sunshine and palm trees in the midst of a murder mystery with a somewhat goofy but endearing Investigator.  The show kept us entertained at various times throughout the trip.  Deb wasn’t sure her partner Bob would be interested, but asked if maybe we could watch an episode now and then during our Sunday visiting times back home.