1. Eu·re·ka A city of northwest California on Humboldt Bay, an arm of the Pacific Ocean. Lumbering, fishing, and tourism are important to its economy. Population: 25,400.

2. eu·re·ka interj. Used to express triumph upon finding or discovering something.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

I took a little break. Okay, maybe in the blogosphere it was a big break, but I really needed it. I’ve taken a little time to take care of myself post-breakup by going to Arizona to meet my brand new niece and spend time with my family, by spending time with close friends and spare-bedroom hopping, and by working with Francisco to amicably handle our divorce and maintain our friendship.

I also started to think about what I want my life to be like.  If you read my last post, you may recall that the silver lining part of me has been thinking, “You can redesign your life radically and you have the courage to do it- the sky’s the limit!” But what to do out of all the possibilities? So I started thinking about the things I’d always wanted to do. And then I decided I wanted to buy a little house on wheels.  And then I scoured the RV and car/truck listings on nearly every U.S. city on Craigslist. I did Google and Ebay searches to do research and catch anything I might have missed. I Google image searched relentlessly so I could see what the options looked like. And then I actually found what looked like the perfect fit…in Eureka!

Tuesday night Leslie offered to have she and Dean make the 5-hour road trip up to Eureka and by Wednesday morning our whirlwind adventure began. Shortly after we got on the road, we saw an awesome rainbow, my second in a month, when I can’t remember the last time I saw one before that. Making our way up the 101 Freeway, we saw sweet little towns, too many signs for a place called Confusion Hill, endured a littering accident coincidentally in front of a litter fine sign just after an anti-littering rant- oops for me!- and saw trees growing out of classic cars.

We drove through it all- sun, rain, sleet, hail, and the hugest snowflakes I’ve seen since I left New England.  The weather cycled through these so quickly that rather than becoming white-knuckled, we rolled through it all in awe.  Dean was fantastic- a happy little adventurer who never once complained about the long drive.

By the time we arrived to Eureka, the hail was so strong it was bouncing off the tiny motorhome. I confess that it was love at first sight, but I did my best to treat it like the business transaction it was.  The great thing about vehicle shopping in hail and rain? You’ll know if it leaks! Fortunately, this awesome little 1976 Toyota Chinook did not. After riding along with Nathan, the seller, we made the switch for me to test drive and the rain let up, and there was another rainbow! Driving it sealed the deal, so I offered $300 under his asking price and he took it.

The plan had been to check into a well-rated hotel that had a pool for Dean and spend the afternoon checking out the area- possibly Humboldt Bay, Redwood National Forest, etc., and swim at night. But we got in later than we’d hoped, things took more time than expected, and the weather wasn’t conducive to our plans. And when we got to the hotel, we discovered the pool was outside- um, no thanks.  I would never have imagined that a Super 8 would save the day, but it did, with an indoor heated pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, continental breakfast, wifi, and a clean, decent room with two queen beds for $69 (and no, they didn’t pay me to say that). Our plan B involved getting a bite at a restaurant close by, getting back to the hotel to use the amenities, sleeping like babies, and bumping the site-seeing to the morning.  And then Leslie noticed the broken tailpipe hovering just above the ground.

Thursday morning I took care of getting insured to drive back while Leslie & Dean swam. We made a quick trip to the DMV, got $100 back from Nathan, and then on to Leon’s Car Care Center to replace the tail pipe. We got a bite to eat and took Dean bowling while Leon’s worked on the truck.  I wouldn’t have guessed that the only tour I’d get in Eureka would be of the underside of a Chinook, but it was fantastic. I got the tailpipe replaced and a clean overall bill of health for the truck with the mechanic pointing out everything good going for it- including that “It’s a Toyota, and it’s cute.” Did I mention how incredibly nice everyone in Eureka was?

With a thumbs up from the mechanics, and a need to get home so I could house-sit, we caravanned back to the Bay Area, and my new home did just fine on its 5 (okay maybe 6) hour audition…with the exception of being a bit of a Grandma on the steep mountain hills.

I wish I could say I felt like I’d actually been to Eureka, but I really can’t.  In the 24 hours we were there we saw a bank, a gas station, a motel, two restaurants, the DMV, an auto repair shop, and a bowling alley. But it gave us a nice little window onto the place, and the home that will take me on my next big adventure…which may actually include a real trip to Eureka. :)

How about you? Been on a whirlwind trip lately? Been to Eureka? Ever lived in a house on wheels? Tell me about it!

69 Responses to “Eureka! An Off-Beat Dream Leads to a Road Trip There”

Comments (69)
  1. Good to see you posting again! Welcome back, the Toyota looks like fun!

    • thanks glen! it’s been so much fun already, and i’ve only driven it back from eureka and tooled around town. can’t wait for the bigger adventures!

  2. Hooray for the Chinook! Love the post!

    Chris actually read the “101 Things to do in Humboldt” book that we absconded with from the Super 8 and now he’s got big plans for a camping trip this summer! Confusion Hill – here we come!

    • thanks so much leslie! it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun getting the chinook without you and dean! cheers to future road trips!

  3. Now get your ass to Austin before we leave! I missed your posts and YOU!

    Also, my life was also saved by a Super 8 on our last road trip… didn’t expect that. <3

    • thanks erica! missed you too! and YES! would love to get my ass to austin before you take off! i’ll bring my one house! ;)

  4. Hey Lorna,

    Glad to have you back. I love road trips, I just went on one a couple of weeks ago it was just what I needed… I’m a sucker for road trips. I’ve been thinking about getting a conversion van myself or maybe a little RV like you just acquired. I’ve been scouring craigslist too and found a couple candidates. I never thought I would be the guy “in a van, down by the river” but it’s sounding more appealing every day.

    I didn’t know they had optional trees in cars back then ;) gives a whole new meaning to sun roofs.

    • lmao at your sun roof comment! thanks nick! the guy in a van, down by the river rocks! ;) can’t wait to see if you get one. we could meet up and be neighbors in a walmart parking lot- ha ha!

  5. Hey Lorna — glad to see you back! Good for you getting the RV. I hope it brings you much joy. I love road trips of all kinds – all vehicles! I have been to Eureka, but can’t say that I really spent much time there either. However, I visited a little town not far from there called Ferndale which was very nice. The whole area is quite beautiful, I think.

    • thanks cathy! i’m so excited about it! we wanted to go to ferndale! it’s known for it’s gorgeous victorians- but alas…;) i’ll be passing through that way again either on my way up or back from TBEX,
      so i’ll give it a real look then! :)

  6. I’ve been to Eureka, Missouri, I didn’t know there was another one. I’m glad everything worked out for your buy, it’s so scaring purchasing a vehicle, there are so many risks!

    • thanks rease! i didn’t know there was a eureka in missouri. how’d you like it? and me too! but i was in good hands…so grateful for that :)

  7. What? How could you pass up Confusion Hill? Haha…last time I drove up north we actually stayed across the street! There was an absolutely awesome burger place down the road though, so it wasn’t all bad :-)

    • thanks ashley! i know! apparently it is the most worthy place of advertisement of any spot on the 101- so many signs! ha ha.
      what IS confusion hill?! must find out!

  8. Welcome back bonita!!! Sounds like a really fun adventure! Missed you :)

  9. How weird! I was thinking yesterday that all had gone quiet here, and then there was this post in my feedreader this morning. Welcome back!
    We’ll admit to being a teeny bit jealous of your new purchase. Would love one of those. Hope you have lots of happy adventures with her! :)

    • awww thanks julia! she was extremely affordable and i’m sure she won’t be short on fun :) you should get one too!

  10. It’s been some crazy weather that we have had here lately! We had so much rain and even hail here on Thursday. I admit I’ve never been to Eureka and haven’t spent a lot of time up north since I moved to California. However, I might make it up there soon and see a little more than a bowling alley and gas station! :)

    • thanks jeremy! hasn’t it been loco?! um, yes climate change! :( i hadn’t been north of mendecino before this (and it could be argued that i still haven’t- ha ha). i highly recommend seeing much more of eureka than we did- but the bowling alley was some vintage goodness too!

  11. Wonderful! I love the idea that you are approaching what must be painful from the perspective of redesigning your life. I really believe that it’s possible and wish you all the best.

    • thanks amy! you know, it’s sad and hard sometimes, but i know everything is as it should be and that there is so much opportunity.
      i’m really excited- little kid excited!- about this plan and it’s still only half-baked! :)

  12. Omigosh. Your new home on wheels is so adorable. I want one! Can’t wait to hear more about your upcoming adventures!

    • thanks sally! i love it! i love it! so excited. wish i could drive to china to see you! may have to fly for that one though ;)

  13. Welcome back!! You must feel so free after such a purchase =) Many great adventures to come…

  14. So THAT’s what you’ve been up to. That’s awesome, Lorna. We can’t wait to see what comes next. I bet that Chinook will see some incredible places.

    BTW – The cars/trees picture is a little mind bending.

    • thanks kent & caanan! uh huh- that’s what i’ve been up to. i warned you when we met! ;) it’s better than i even thought possible.
      the chinook hopes to see seattle- and you- in the future. aren’t those cars crazy?! there were about 5 of them!

  15. That is one cute campervan. I can’t wait to hear where it takes you.
    I didn’t know there were Eurekas in the U.S. It’s a great name, famous in Australia for the Eureka Stockade, where the now-powerful union movement was born.

  16. OMG, Lorna!!! I so happy for you, Congrats!! Listen I am sooooo jealous…and excited for you!! What a experience this will be. Very, very brave, my girl, I wish you love and happiness on your new adventure, am thinking of you often…how brave are my three little girls from Plymouth, MA!!! Who’du Thunk It??? BE SAFE!!

    • thanks pati! don’t be jealous- i’ll come to see you and take you for a spin! :) thanks for your support. i know! 3 little gals from plymouth, ma
      turn RTW women :) i love it!

  17. Love those wheels!

  18. Take as much time as you need, we´re all still here!

  19. Way to go Lorna. Nothing to stop you now from roaming all over the continent!

  20. A big Mazol Tov on your newest family member!!!! May she take you on journeys to all the wonderful wonders! I used to live in Eureka and yes, you should for sure go back and hang out in that sweet Chinook by the Eel river in Ferndale!

    • thanks fern! wow! you lived in eureka! will definitely take your advise and get back there. also hoping one part of my journey brings me south to see you! :)

  21. First thought: fun! Second thought: envy. Third thought: are you going to take it to the playa? :D

    I passed through Eureka last summer, but we didn’t stay. We did camp in Redwood Nat’l Park and visit the Trees of Mystery, however! The redwoods are great! I hope you’ll go back soon. (Omigosh, so awesome to have a camper on wheels!) :D

    Final thought: I miss my Toyota!

    • thanks katrina! i MAY take it to the playa! was just thinking about that today! are you going?? the more time between me and eureka the more
      excited i’m getting about heading back up there (it was such a whirlwind!) i’m so happy with this little toy. did you have one?! want stories!

      • Alas, no to both questions. Ireland is a long way from the playa. Hubby would like to go one of these days, but it’s not on the schedule for this year. I did take my truck there one year, though. :D

        I had a Toyota Tacoma with a shell, not a full-on camping setup. Still, I love, love, LOVED my truck. It was the first automatic I’d ever owned. Had electric everything. The previous owner had also installed a GIANT stereo system that filled up the space behind the front seats. It’s not something I’d ever considered in indulging in, but I got great amusement out of cranking the bass and watching the rear view mirror shake.

        I lived on Whidbey Island in WA and rarely had a reason to head to the mainland, so every once in a while I’d do the hour drive to the north end just to listen to the monster stereo. Ah, Sir Mix-A-Lot, how I love thee and thy like of Big Butts!

        • omg that’s awesome katrina!!! LOL! i dig me some sir mix-a-lot too ;) your nostalgia is getting me super excited about my camper!
          you know better than i (so far!) the fun i’m about to have and that’s a thrill. oooh! wonder if it can put it on a boat and come to ireland!

  22. Your bed on wheels is so cute! I love it! I found the people in Eureka and Humboldt county to be awesome and friendly too. You should definitely try to make it make to hike in the Avenue of the Giants!

    • thanks christy! i remember your post about that neck of the woods! i think i’ll hit it again either heading up or coming back from TBEX
      and will definitely take your advise! :)

  23. Wonderful! It’s great to hear some good news here in this inter-netty-webby-worldy thing these days. Road trips (in caravans or otherwise) are as much as part of New Zealand culture as they are American. Vintage caravans are getting quite popular, especially the ones you tow behind your car, 1950s style. But I think most people are putting them on their land rather than actually trying to drive round in them. That’s what the all in one van-types (RV?) are for, or the low cost version (like we have) the stationwagon.

    • thanks marie! i’ve heard that about new zealand! and i understand why as i’ve also heard how beautiful the whole place is!
      i absolutely LOVE the 50′s trailers and would have chosen one if not for the two vehicles to buy and the safety aspect (in the chinook i can
      jump from bed to the drivers seat in two seconds flat without having to go outside! just you wait to see what i do with this though…style’s a comin’ for sure! :)

  24. Awesome!! Now come pick me up! I’m headed to Monterey, Tuesday night to see my friend’s band perform.

    • thanks melissa! lol! you can bet there will be joint adventures to come for sure! have fun tonight! :)

  25. What a cute RV. We love road tripping. Welcome back. Feels good to have a break right?

    • thanks caz! me too! it did feel good to have a break! i really needed it. it can be scary to take one too- soooo relieved and grateful to be welcomed back :)

  26. Your new home on wheels looks really cute and I believe because it is a Toyota you should get many more miles out of it and then, it will still keep going. I do love the original tree pot holders. Who would have though of using a car to grow trees in?

    • thanks kerry-ann! yeah what i read when i was researching this camper, its engine is known for getting 300k miles! that leaves me a couple of hundred thousand to go
      and that may be just enough ;) i loved the tree planters too, but their creator definitely isn’t a classic car lover like me! :)

  27. Awesome! Just Awesome! I am so excited for you. And yes, a nude beach excursion to Black’s Beach in San Diego may be just what the doctor ordered!

    • thanks randy! i can’t wait to start my adventure! and yes- my doctor called and said i need to get to black’s beach stat! :)
      hope to get to meet you & beth on the road!

  28. So nice to have you back, but take as much time as you need – you’re worth waiting for. I’ve never heard of Eureka until reading this, but love the name!

    • oh laurel that is so sweet- thank you so much! :) and believe it or not, while eureka is in california, i wasn’t quite sure where it was! ha ha.
      a sign that i should definitely spend a little time being a tourist in my own backyard before i take off on my RTW! :)

  29. I’m the last in a long line of your friends to say: missed you, welcome back, Congratulations on your new home. It’s th beginning of something very exciting, I’m sure of it. How can it be different with so many rainbows and a car from Eureka.

    • thanks sooo much inka! gosh i’m a lucky gal to have such great pals in the travel community and at home :)
      i’m SO excited! have to admit that after i published this one i had a moment out of nowhere- i thought of you and realized
      that using the word “grandma” to describe the chinook having trouble getting up hills was so crazy when you- the glamour granny- have boundless
      energy! you’d put me to shame for sure- lol :)

  30. Did I see that correctly – trees growing through cars??
    Nothing beats a good ol road trip!

    • thanks cam! you did see correctly! and there were about 5 of them!!! it was a great time
      and now with the chinook, those road trips are only getting better- yahoo! :)

  31. Cute RV is right. Sounds like the beginning of a great new adventure! :)

  32. I only know a fictional Eureka from the SyFy show :) The area looks beautiful with those huge forests. Great picture of those car trees!

    • thanks christina! i’ve heard of that show! aren’t those cars crazy? it was SO beautiful to drive there- happy that i’ll end up passing through again soon :)

  33. Sounds like a great trip to pick up a cute little Toyota! I had a ’91 Toyota Corolla that I bought from a friend in college for $350 and it was GREAT! Only a few problems along the way, but it went Mid-West to West Coast, then to the East Coast, up through New England and Canada, then back to the West Coast along the southern states, so with that in mind, it was a GEM. Congrats on your new Toy (-ota)! :)

    • thanks amy! it was definitely an adventure! ;) that’s awesome that you had such a great big toyota road trip! i’m most likely doing dips from in/out of canada and the northern states, down the east coast and then west through the southern states. what were your fave spots?

  34. I can think of nothing better than a blissed out, love up trip at the moment, and this would be top of my list!!

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