Weott, CA to Garberville, CA

25.2 mi / 10.1 mph / 1282 ft. climbing
Home: Humboldt Redwoods Inn

With our campsite sitting right on the Avenue of the Giants, it was the shortest distance I’ve ever experienced between leaving camp and being on a glorious cycling road. The Avenue continued just as it had ended the evening before, as did the forest-resort barely-a-towns that it connected.

A living hollow Chimney Tree, part of that Avenue of the Giants roadside-attraction culture (the woman at Phillipsville’s store who recommended it referred to it as a “Hobbit tree”. Yes please!)

The day was short to beat another round of oncoming rain, and to stay in a slightly-more-of-a-town with services while we holed up for a night. I later learned the Garberville is the very town featured in a 2019 New Yorker piece that answered all my questions about the marijuana-growing culture/economy/lawlessness of the area. It also helped to explain the unusual mix of healthy-looking upscale-ish shops, with a dope-addled vagrant density even higher than Eureka’s. I wondered if it was a dying tourist town slowly on its way out, or a dead logging town in the process of resurrection, but it turns out to really be neither of those; it sounds more like a dichotomy that has existed in a fairly stable form since the 1960s when San Francisco hippie exports populated the area.

We got a human version of that dichotomy in Mark, the redwood-tall, highly-cultured proprietor of the Humboldt Redwoods Inn, who had spent much of his life in New York and San Francisco, but was also a 4th-generation Garbervillain (his family had opened the similarly-confused now-Italian/Mexican Calico Cafe we’d eaten lunch at), and was somehow drawn back to this isolated enclave. We hit it off and talked for nearly an hour before we even checked into our rooms, on topics ranging from Burmese restaurants in San Francisco, to that changing local marijuana-economy, to the urban/rural divide splitting our nation and whether the self-sorting is a one-way runaway train, or reversible (even his lived, personal effort to help reverse the sorting seemed to be wavering). It seemed he relished the opportunity to talk with people on a similar side of that cultural divide, that he perhaps was generally not getting from the US-101 construction crews and marijuana capitalists currently making him unexpected off-season income (as we talked, a 20-year old girl extending their stay walked up with a fat roll of cash, pulled off a bunch of $20s, and told him to keep the change).

Our other personal experience with the marijuana economy came the night before via the bonded trio of bike tourers we’d camped with. They told us a wild story where, just before they arrived in camp, a guy in a car pulled over yelling “Acapulco Humboldt!” and handed each of them a big bag of weed as they rolled by. Their theory was that he was part of a crew (they had seen guys on ATVs with shotguns on their backs earlier) making sure that strange people on bikes arriving on their public-land “territory” at dusk were moving right along, and the weed was a parting thank-you. Either way, it was more than they can carry/smoke, so now Rett has an extra ounce of weight added to her bike to carry up the hills.



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