Thursday, May 12, 2016

That went ridiculously well, and April 26 is rushing up quickly

These final days before the hike are a merry maelstrom of proportion, panic and – at least it didn't happen a week from now – getting over a horrible headcold.

Week before last I had, as Dave Letterman used to say, more fun than humans should be allowed to have. Honestly, everything has been swinging my way to such a ridiculous extent lately that I feel kind of guilty, even nervous about it. I also feel kind of funny taking up so much space talking about my stupid life, but people tell me they like reading these updates, those who may not don’t have to read them, and I leave town for four months on April 20 anyway, so all this shameless self-promotion will cease then.

It’s as though everything I love the most about Arcata is intensifying. The Ridge Trail is getting better and better; we’re finally – finally! – seeing sanity insofar as cannabis policy, with new above-board facilities being established after all this time; Arcata Main Street has gotten serious, and seems poised to fulfill its downtown mission; and so much more. I'm going to miss out on the Humboldt Crabs season, all the fairs and countless canapés at all the mixers. I won't get to camp on the roof of Jacoby/s Storehouse for the North Country Fair, and I'll miss the Mad River Festival at Delll'Arte. After all these years, my metabolism is basically synchronized with these yearly events.

Dysfunctional, frustrating Arcata has never been more vibrant and engaging. Joni said we don’t know what we got till it’s gone, and I do wonder which of our awesome town’s amenities I’ll miss the most. Probably Brent yelling at me about “fraudulent mediaaaa... bleargh yammer yammer.” Or not.

I was so pleased that we got to put out an Arcata Eye for April Fool. Making an Eye again was an absolute blast. I had kind of forgotten that paper’s design logic, having been laying out Union pages for the last two-and-a-half years. But once I got back into it, it was like riding a bike.

Interestingly, and while lots of folks said they were glad to see the Eye again, there was one common reaction to its re-emergence that I hadn’t anticipated – routine acceptance. Several folks enjoyed the funny stories without initially noticing that it was all packaged as an Arcata Eye. Even a few weeks before the faux edition came out, City Engineer Doby Class referred to the Union as the Eye at a City Council meeting. That paper did serve Arcata every week for 17 years, so I guess it’s inculcated into our mindset to some extent.

Homework passes on his backpacking lore.

Plus, as usual with April Fool and to my mischevous delight, some people believed – briefly – some of the stories; for example the Tunic Town takeover and the Cabin on the Plaza pieces. And of course, it wouldn't be an Arcata Eye without a stupid typo in one of the stories. So that that was fun.

The next major fun last week was attending my new friend and fellow Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) hiker Trevor Homework McKee’s Wednesday night rig rundown at Humboldt State. Homework embodies all the best values of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) culture in terms of friendliness, plus sharing of information and experience. He and his friend Heather Briggs revealed their backpack contents and differing approaches. I learned a lot of things, and made some key revisions to my hiking setup.

Maureen McGarry explains RSVP/VCOR.

Then Thursday, my sendoff event at Hotel Arcata went well. I showed off my hiking gear, talked and answered questions; dentist Dr. Robert Berg spoke about the Children’s Dental Angel Fund; Maureen McGarry discussed RSVP/VCOR; Mark Andre talked about Arcata’s trails; Rees Hughes gave a fantastic overview of the PCT and Volunteer Trail Stewards; Homework talked about the PCT and his trail outreach (he’s hiking the Continental Divide Trail in a few weeks!); and then Glenn Branch of the Center for Science Education gave us a great talk about climate change denial. What a night.

Friday evening was the Companion Animal Foundation’s Fixer Mixer (see page A2), and there I learned how delicious lettuce wraps are.
Ian Harris and Joey Fabian meet part of their local fan base, a
pizza-engorged subset of the Humboldt Skeptics.

Just when I was nearly maxed out on good times, I met with my fellow statistical outliers, the Humboldt Skeptics at the Jam. There we noshed on excellent GMO-free pizza before proceeding over to the Arcata Playhouse.
There, in a well-attended show, I beheld the brilliant musical stylings of Joey Fabian, skeptical musician and fellow Frank Zappa fan. He did a fantastic version of “The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing,” and closed with “It Ain’t Necesssarily So.”

Ian Harris.
 Local comic Kim Hodges followed with her unsparing appraisals of the colorful personnel one encounters in Arcata, saying the things you can only say in a comedy routine. Then comedian Ian Harris had everyone rolling in the aisles with his insights into popular culture and misapprehensions about science. You have to see his bit on that useless Airborne immune-boosting garbage; it’s absolutely hilarious.
Joey Fabian performs Frank Zappa's
"The Meek  Shall Inherit Nothing."
Says Joey: That's an Eb major chord,
so the sound coming out of my mouth
was either "what it's worth, when
it," or "really wrong, if you,"
 "hair  is all gone, the" or "friendly but,
that" or "leave a little tip, and help the..."

What else seems to be intensifying is Arcata’s mad social whirl. I’ve been literally gorging on all the amenities this town has to offer, since it is all to end for me very soon. On April 26, I start out on my 1,726-mile walk. No more mixers, no more catered spreads, no more of the privileges Arcata has bestowed on me. For four months I’ll be in the land of rattlesnakes, mountain lions and kind folks like Homework.

My food resupply boxes are just about ready, and other final details are nearly wrapped up. What I have to do now is close out several work projects and then hit the road, then the trail. 

Meanwhile, consider supporting the great charities for which I’m hiking. You can tax-deductibly donate directly to the PCT at, or to the Arcata Ridge Trail and Children’s Dental Angel Fund at 
Charity donations are tax deductible, or send any donation via me. Make checks payable to Pacific Crest Trail Ass’n, Arcata Forest Fund or the Children’s Dental Angel Fund. If you have questions, contact me at (707) 826-7000 or

One last thing. Various people have told me how admirable this is or I am. Thank you, but I assure you, I’m not worthy. Two things: 

1. I haven’t done anything yet but prepare for this hike. 

2. I would direct any admiration to others in our community who are far more worthy. If you want to acknowledge my effort, here’s how: be extra kind to the woman who puts in eight hours per day at CVS, or who cleans rooms in the Valley West motels, supporting her family. Or send some appreciation to the smart folks at City Hall who keep our sewage system working and drinking water flowing. Or the firefighters and police officers who put themselves on the line at all hours to head directly into difficult and dangerous situations. Or the social workers who daily deal with tragic, emotionally wrenching situations involving families and children ... and many, many more. Those are the folks who deserve adulation. Me, I’m just walking around, or will be.

Thanks again for all your support, everyone. After April 26, you’ll next see me on YouTube and other e-media, from a place far, far away.

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