Sunday, July 12, 2015


Old habits die hard while new ones are worth an embrace.  Relocated to new digs, I’m now within an easy day’s ride of Eureka, an historic and scenic city on California’s north coast.  Over the years, several trips up US 101 find me landing in this lumber/fishing town for the evening.  Three businesses up that way always successfully wrest some dough from my wallet.

The Historic Eureka Inn: I walked into the Eureka Inn years ago and was immediately overwhelmed by the aroma of history clinging to the darkened redwood beams crossing the massive great-room lobby.   
A fixture on the US registry of historic places, paintings of those who’ve overnighted here hang from the walls.  After shedding gear, I make my way down to the lobby to sit on a leather couch in front of a substantial fireplace.  At any moment, I expect to hear Teddy Roosevelt ask if the other end of the seat is taken.

“No,” I’d reply and we'd spend an hour or two with a whiskey or two discussing the difficulty of preserving the area’s ancient redwoods while the lumber barons seek to mow them down in an effort to rebuild San Francisco.

Café Waterfront:  Five blocks north and down the hill from the Inn is Eureka’s historic waterfront.  Moored here is a north coast fishing fleet and ghosts of the lumber scows TR warned me about earlier in the afternoon.

Several plain and fancy eateries live in Eureka’s historic district.  On a Monday evening, a while back, I’d wandered in to the Café Waterfront around 7:00 to find the only seat one at the bar next to an older gent who was nursing a glass of red wine.   

“Charles” was happy to have my company.  As I enjoyed some tender scampi swimming in a garlic sauce and a glass of Honig Sauv Blanc, my bar-mate shared about this being “date night” for him and his wife, who couldn’t make it this evening.  “It’s happening more and more frequently,” he said, admitting that is was difficult to get the folks at the memory care facility to let him take her for the evening.

On a recent visit to this elegant, yet rustic piece of waterfront history, I was informed that Charlie’s wife had finally passed, but that Charlie is still a regular on Monday.  It was a Thursday.  Unspoken was the word family.  I was sorry I’d missed him.

After scampi and that Honig white, I stroll the wooden wharf watching a purple dusk settle over a gently rolling fishing fleet, all the while accompanied by a soundtrack of the clanging of distant buoys and the doleful cries of circling gulls.

"Hey, kid..."
Back at the Eureka Inn:  Hiking back up the hill, I discover Bogey stayed here.  An oil of his image hangs next to an antique lift. 

Across the lobby, the Inn’s “gin-joint” is a buzz of activity.  I wander in for a splash of Bourbon, served by a crazy Russian named Sasha ready to enjoy some tinny piano music from a player named Sam.  If I play my cards right, perhaps Ilsa Lund will appear from the shadows to steal Bogey’s (and my) heart this evening.

Alas, it was “Open Mic Comedy Nite,” which more accurately might have simply been called “Open Mic Nite.”  But, the Knob Creek was good and the barmaid kind enough to ensure I received a full eight bucks worth.

Rooms at the Inn have recently been refreshed.  Beds are comfortable, carpet plush and periodesque, plumbing works and sleep advances easily.

The Black Lightning Motorcycle Café is a new attraction to the area.  Located on the northbound one-way that US 101 becomes, the view through the window is of a line of vintage two-wheelers back-dropped by racks of clothing, helmets and gear. 

Once inside, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee competes with the storied collection of bikes and gear for your reason to hang out – perhaps until the fog clears.  Owner Jeff offers a nice breakfast and lunch menu – plus beer and/or wine, if you’re ending up your day. 

He is interested in what you’re riding and where you’ve been.  He has thoughts about area don’t-miss roads and believes that word of mouth is probably his best form of advertisement.  Consider this, that, Jeff.

A short, pleasant walk from the Inn, the Black Lightning is the new habit I’ve formed when staying in Eureka.

There are plenty of wonderful roads spoking from Eureka’s hub:  The Avenue of the Giants to the south; Mattole Road along the Pacific shore to the west and south...

world class CA 36 east to Red Bluff (out of Fortuna); sweeping CA 299 to Redding and beyond; and US 101 along a craggy route north to Crescent City and the Oregon Coast.

One could spend weeks home-basing here.  Or a lifetime.


Notes and Links:

The Black Lightning Motorcycle Café: Check this site regularly for special events Jeff plans for the greater two-wheeled community.

© 2015
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. In 69-70 I lived in Eureka. You make it seem idyllic. I must hang out there again someday for a few days. Have you found the deep in the valley Redwood Park behind the zoo? I always felt like I was entering a different universe there. Thanks, Dave. e2

    1. After each of my "one-nighters" in Eureka, I resolve that I must string together a few more days just to hang out up there and explore. Nope, I haven't been to Redwood Park behind the zoo, but then again, I haven't been to the zoo. Thanks for an item to add to my list when the extended stay happens!

  2. Thank you for this report. I live in Oregon and have only ridden down to Eureka once back in 2009. The folks at the visitor's info weren't helpful at all and we decided to book her for home rather than stay the night. (We'd been inCrescent City the night before)

    We just might have to ride down again.