Friday, September 13, 2013

Arcata, California

We had planned to move from Grant's Pass to Redding, California yesterday.  It had been quite warm in Grant's Pass so we checked the temperatures for northern California, and learned that the climate would be the same there for another week.  We made a quick decision to return to the coast, where the temperatures are about 30 degrees cooler.  It was a beautiful drive down here on the Redwood Highway, Highway 101,  what with the beautiful redwood forests as well as the coastal scenery. 
We had a chance to get a bit closer to the redwoods today when we hiked in the Arcata Community Forest.  This lush green forest of 600 acres lies within the city limits.  It was logged in the late 1800s and then allowed to grow back naturally.  What was fascinating to us were the stumps of the trees which had been cut over a 100 years ago.  There is a very tall redwood growing out of the above stump!   The sustainably managed forest is owned by and maintained for the citizens of Arcata.  It was a very busy place when we were there today.  A family with two little boys were biking the trails, a jogger ran past us, and a class from nearby Humbolt State University were measuring the trees.  Some of the tree stumps have sculptures carved into them.  However, the main reason we were in Arcata today was to visit the studio of Laura Skye.  Her house is a mosaic art showcase.  Pictured below is the entrance to the studio portion of her house.  That is not a real person sitting on the mosaic bench in the picture below!
Skye and her daughter were finishing up their lunch, but were very gracious to us and offered us a tour of the place.  Almost everything is covered in some type of bling, including the mug she was drinking from.  The floors, walls, dishwasher, skulls, crutches, and even the toilet are decorated with everything from bicycle chains to gold to imported Italian glass.  Ever heard the expression of "throwing your money down the drain"?  She has done it in her toilet!  Pennies cover the bowl.
Classes and workshops are held in her house.  We caught her at a time when she is packing for a trip to Italy, she will be conducting a workshop on portraiture in Tuscany.  Leaving her house we toured the town which has large Victorian homes, colorful gardens and whimsical shops.  It is a small but very active university town where we saw (what seemed to us) a few oddities, including vans and campers painted with flowers.  Maybe we should say quite Californian.  It is good to be back in this state, the midwest seems a bit dull in comparision.


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