Sept. 20-21: temporarily stuck in paradise

IMG_1174Eureka surprised us with dense Humboldt fog, which at first I mistook for smoke.

IMG_1173I had a platter of delicious local oysters for lunch, as well as a half pint of dark macadamia porter at Taste, which doubles as the city’s tourism information.

IMG_1175Afterwards I topped off my Sunday feast with cardamom and salted pistachio ice cream and took a stroll across the historic city center.

IMG_1185Harry was thrilled when, after a scenic meandering drive on U.S. Highway 1, we came across a long stretch of publicly accessible beaches where we went for a long walk.

IMG_1189The waves were too high for Harry to go swimming, but he still had fun.

IMG_1182We eventually found the perfect campsite: right by the edge of the cliffs. However, note the pole in the upper right of the picture…

IMG_1191La bestia‘s first dent. I had not spotted the pole, which was about twenty inches high, and rear-ended right into it as I was trying to get closer to the edge. And because of la bestia‘s torque, I did not notice anything until I heard a strange thud… Fortunately it did not hit the exhaust, which would be a much pricier fix; even the chrome is unscathed. I will try my luck with a hair dryer to pop the bumper back into shape. Nonetheless, it was upsetting and felt as if a corner of my home had gotten chewed off.

IMG_1194I managed to find some consolation in having stumbled upon such a paradisiacal spot.

IMG_1199Consuming a large dollop of spicy blackberry habanero jam and a generous cut of smoked salmon helped, too, as did listening to jazz music on my Sirius radio. The night sky was truly stunning.

IMG_1195I fell asleep semi-reconciled with the facts — and failed to switch off the radio. When we woke up ten hours later, la bestia‘s battery had died.

Two months ago–in South Dakota–I had bought a jump starter but tossed it a few weeks later as it had broken down after the first full charge, and ACE Hardware in Alaska had been unable to take it back because of the chain’s franchise organization.

My neighbors Dean and Jackie–experienced overlanders traveling in their vaca loca (“mad cow”), a custom-built truck adorned with a cow skull–came to my help, but for some reason the battery would not respond to our cable-based resuscitation efforts. Moreover, neither mine nor Dean’s and Jackie’s phones had any “dicks,” as Jackie explained with a good amount of salacious humor, meaning they were out of reception (and their phones’ displays therefore showed no bars). To my surprise, they offered to drive to the next hamlet and call AAA from there.

Merely minutes after la vaca loca had taken off, Carl and his 14-year-old canine lady came by to ask whether they could lend a hand. A retired correctional officer, Carl had already helped us out with a gallon of drinking water the night before, and it turned out that he had recently purchased a pocket-size jump starter at an automobile fair. We connected it to la bestia‘s battery, said a few silent prayers, and turned the key. La bestia responded without hesitation (of course I immediately asked Carl for the make and serial number of this trip-saving device, and my order with Amazon has already been placed).

Ten minutes later Dean and Jackie returned to report that they had successfully called for an AAA truck to stop by. With la bestia back at work, I was keen to cancel the emergency call. Luckily Carl’s phone had “dicks,” and we were able to phone AAA and update them on our progress. Harry and I were back on the road soon after, deeply impressed yet again by the helpfulness of wonderful strangers.

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