Monday, June 30, 2008

The Flight of The PENguin, part 2

We began today from home, the Bay Area, at about 9:00 and by day's end fetched up about 430 miles north in Gold Beach, Oregon. Our goal is Victoria by Thursday morning, so we are just under halfway there on our first day out. Tomorrow we will slow the pace, get out and around the coastal tidepools and explore a bit.

For the last two weeks the Bay Area has been blanketed by a pall of smoke from the more than 800 wildfires ranging across northern California. As we drove north from Marin county up highway 101, we came to the source of those fires. From Willits northward in patches the air became so dense with smoke that we both ended up with stinging eyes and sinus headaches.When we hit Garberville, just south of Eureka and Arcata, we seemed to be in the center of the firefighting effort. The center of that small town was given over to firefighters from across the northern part of the state called upon to combat the fires.


From there things improved, and by about 5:30 we fetched up in Gold Beach. There the day gave forth it's highlight, a nice room, and more important a dinner of a lifetime, abalone. Now this may not seem like a big deal if you are not from the West Coast. But from 1900 through the 1960s divers scoured the coastlines of Baja, California and Oregon for these delectable bivalves. As a children both my wife, Sharon, and I recall eating abalone as a special treat. But the stocks were fished out by the early 1960s and the harvest was severely restricted . Since then, I've only had abalone once, about 25 years ago. But there it was on the menu, brought up by a local diver and provided to the restaurant, which knows just how to carefully prepare the tender meat, which requires both precise tenderizing and cooking. No pictures of the abalone, I fear. We ate it.

After dinner, Sharon did suggest that maybe we should just go home, since things may not get any better than this. I'm willing to take the chance and continue on.

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