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May 18, 2015

Drove up to Arcata CA last week. Took 2 days, spent a night in Petaluma at an AirBnB place, my host a nice enough guy, not especially outgoing, but then I’m not either. Nothing special about the room, but it was a private room, with a door that locked, and the bedclothes appeared to be clean, and the mattress was comfortable, so no need to write more about that. I don’t think I had specified on the website that I was looking in Petaluma, but it was my first time using Airbnb and I didn’t realize that you type in one city or town and they give you listings for all nearby cities and towns also. Those listings show the town name, but I think I didn’t notice. In fact, Petaluma was a little out of my way, and caused me to have to drive through Emeryville and Berkeley near San Francisco during the rush hour and also caused me to have to cross a toll bridge for $5.

101 from then on, to Arcata, was very pretty. California is a huge, and hugely beautiful state. I drove around in Eureka a little bit before I went on the Arcata to stay with friends for a few days. While there, I drove to Moonstone Beach in Trinidad, and also drove to Loleta, Fortuna, Ferndale, McKinleyville, Blue Lake and maybe a few more communities, having a bit of a look/see.

With my friend Mack I drove north of Arcata and went to the Fern Valley for a bit of a hike, and then with his significant other, we drove through Samoa which is on the spit of land just west of Arcata and has its own bridge connecting it to Eureka.

Ferndale has a lot of beautifully restored and painted Victorians. Loleta has a lot of cows. Samoa has a lot of tiny old houses from when the area was filled with loggers (who were notoriously tiny, thus the tiny houses).

After 3 or 4 days I decided it was a good time to head home and I left about 630 in the morning and drove south on 101 stopping here and there for gas and coffee and breakfast and vista points and for a bit of a visit to a redwood forest. I turned off, maybe on Hwy 29, and went vaguely east past the north side of Clear Lake, and made sure to stop at a bunch more vista points because I’d soon be on I-5 and the scenery would become much more vast farmland and a tad less accessible.

By 230 I’d probably driven around 400 miles and was getting tired of driving, but it was only 230, and I hadn’t made a reservation to stay anywhere. Oh, a note about that.

I hadn’t been entirely happy with my first use of the Airbnb site. It kept telling me I’d made mistakes filling out their forms, but wouldn’t let me correct them, and then it would turn out that the forms I’d filled out had been accepted anyway, but the site didn’t tell me that. Also I’d booked my room the day before I left (or was it the morning I left?), and although I got confirmation very quickly, I didn’t get the actual address of my lodgings for maybe 8 or 9 hours after I left home, just as I was driving into Petaluma and had gotten pretty anxious about what I’d do if I didn’t get the info I needed. For a place on the way back home, I looked at Airbnb and also Priceline and just felt both of them involved a lot of bait and switch. Hey, this room is $60…until you go to book it, then on Priceline it’s more money, plus a fee that shows up later in the process, and with Airbnb you’ve got one price until you go to book the room, then find out that there is a fee for Airbnb (reasonable enough I guess) and a cleaning fee anywhere from $3 to $25 for the particular room (set by the owner, but what’s the point of going through the entire booking process without actually knowing what the room will cost me). Also, the user reviews were useless. One I looked at for a motel in Santa Nella, CA, listed on Priceline, had one review that said the place was great, and the next review said the motel was filled with druggies, the room had dirty sheets and mold on the walls, and I should stay away.

So, frustrated by the process, I just drove out of Arcata and figured I’d find a motel if I needed one. As it happened, I just stopped at a rest area near Avenal and slept in my car for an hour, and then drove all the way home. 675 miles, 16 1/2 hours counting nap, meals, gas stops, pit stops, vista points and an auction in an antique shop.

California is beautiful, and I feel quite refreshed having had 5 days out of the city.

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