Humboldt: A Night on the Town
Just in time for your New Year’s Eve (and for all the other rare nights that Southern Humboldters go north), I have sacrificed myself to explore this dangerous upper cousin and return (Alive!) with my report.
Unlike other expeditions to the far North, the danger is not in the getting there. Except for a rather longish piece of construction between Fortuna and CR and a few shorter rough spots, the road is easy—wide open and not many cars. However, once there, rain and bright lights are rather difficult to navigate. Luckily our native deer with their penchant for leaping at cars prepared us for the usual mix of inebriated and/or foolish pedestrians.
As often is the case, when we finally manage to get a date night, we don’t want to ruin it with a nasty surprise. Thus we go for the tried and true. One of our favorite spots to eat is Tomo’s in Arcata. This town, in the extreme northern reaches of our county, is so beautiful, especially now all gussied up for the holidays. Around the square nearly every storefront wears shiny baubles which look so tastefully expensive against the dark night. Not a tawdry face there.
This exotic foreign city actually has inhabitants that look most like our southern locals. There are the common long hair and redneck varieties found in both places. Of course there are variations and species found only in one local or the other but as a whole the populations look similar.
Inside Tomo’s was as warm and friendly as always and contains the exotic food that Southern Humboldters crave. I started with seaweed salad –a slightly sweet delight. Then I had their cucumber salad with a sprinkle of shrimp. The sea meat added just the right touch of savory to the freshness of the vegetable. Finally, I had a plate of sashimi. Presented nicely in generous proportions, the yellow tail simply melted in my mouth. Delicious!
Tomo’s staff makes sure water glasses are always full and dishes cleared away. We have never had anything but a wonderful time. In fact, the last time we were there, we realized halfway to Eureka that we had been undercharged by one whole meal. We called, offering to send the money, but the manager laughed and kindly thanked us—as if we were doing him a favor—and told us the mistake was on the house. Nice people, great food. Well worth the dark trek to Arcata especially this time of year when the square is so charming.
I had failed to make reservations at the place we usually stay (but we were not forced to throw up a tent in the savage reaches of the Bayshore Mall—thank heavens!) We had to try a new experience at the Best Western Humboldt Bay Inn. We were impressed. The lobby was decorated with a homey old fashioned Christmas air. The friendly staff gave us a lovely room (for the price) and informed us that they had a complimentary limo for anyplace in town until 10 pm. Nice for wild people wanting to paint the town but we just settled in to watch TV. Hey, when you don’t have any access, it’s fun to scope out the new commercials.
Note: the place has a fabulous shower with lots of pressure, a nice change from our economical and environmentally sound constant hot water heater at home.
So far the Foggy North had been worth leaving our lovely hill. No foreign customs or places had been difficult or disappointing. But doom was just around the corner. We hadn’t been to the restaurant at Hotel Carter for awhile but we have always loved it. In fact, one of our favorite recipes comes from scones they made there. Today for breakfast, we were incredibly disappointed. I’m not sure if we will ever go again. They had decent enough buffet—melon, a granola, and yogurt (perhaps crème fraiche? I didn’t check closely) and some sweet rolls, cheesecake but they only offered one entrée — a two egg cheddar and cherry tomato omelet. Note: they did not say tomatoes which would have been false advertising. They stuck strictly to the truth and sliced one very small cherry tomato into the meal. I found a piece about every third bite! The chef placed the tiny little egg blanket onto a huge dinner plate drizzled it with something yellow and oily looking and charged us $16 a piece. While it was cooked adequately, I’ve eaten better at Denny’s for a lot less ching.
Now, ye fellow explorers from the wild mountains of Southern Humboldt arise, fare forth and tell me about your nights on the town in that far off North Country. Perhaps you will guide fellow travelers to a delightful oasis and past deadly quicksand or oily omelets.