Once we arrived in Arcata in Northern California, Free Wind grabbed her pack and blended into the gutter punk scene. I felt like I was practicing “catch and release” by releasing her into her natural habitat. I expected she would thrive in this fiercely liberal college town.
For me it was not as easy. Every time I tried to take photos some pan handling drug vending gutter punk would go into a fit of paranoia and accuse me of being a cop. I felt as straight-laced as an FBI agent at a rainbow gathering.
The statue in the middle of the town square had no issue with me taking his photo. I couldn’t help but notice that he had his hand out too. Had he been the founding panhandler of Arcata?
Actually his name was William McKinley and it was lumbering that had build and paid for this town. But with lumbering nearly extinct, it was marijuana growing and Humbolt State University that kept this town going.
Arcata is an oasis of militant liberalism, with stores displaying hemp wear, Buda, earth Goddesses and organic food. A good part of the residents seemed to be high on pot. When I asked about the neighboring city of Eureka they warned me that it was riddled with aggressive blue collar “tweakers” revved up on meth.
These rival little cities reminded me of the ancient Greek rival city states of Athens and its militant rival neighbor Sparta. I’d imagine the Arcatains would fancy themselves to be the philosophical and enlightened Athenians, with the neighboring Eurekitas being the overly aggressive Spartans.
I’ll take college town of potheads over a city of rednecks in overdrive any day. I spent the weekend in Arcata and partied with the freaks.
Next Stop – Quaint City, USA – Ferndale, California