Eureka; We Found it, and Said Goodbye

Del Norte Humboldt County Road Sign546 days. One year. Five months. Twenty seven days. 13,104 hours.

That’s how long we were away from our comfort zone, the town where our life came together during our 30s, where our business flourished, and where lifelong friendships were formed with great people.

It took us a decade to build up our life in Eureka, but in less than two, our world has been turned upside down.

Special Humboldt County friendsAs we headed back into the overcast skies of Humboldt County, I thought about all the friendships we left behind. We keep in contact with many old friends, but there’s only so much about our respective lives that email can convey. Since our departure, we’ve missed so many important events, celebrations and small town gossip. I wondered:

Would anyone care that we were back? Would our old friends really want to get together, to see us? Had our respective lives moved on so much that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about?

Good friends in Eureka Humboldt CountyThen, our friend Chris emailed, and said that he and his wife Elaine wanted to throw a party for us at their house. We were stoked, and honored, because the Crawfords do parties right!

My fears were put to rest. Our old friends really did want to get together and see us!

We had a blast at Chris’ house, and throughout our stay in Eureka. For the first time in recent memory, we landed someplace and didn’t feel like strangers. It was like walking into Cheers. Everyone knew our name, and our history. We skipped right past the introductions, and dove into the heart of good conversation among old friends.

Humboldt County Magic Redwood Trees Highway 101Humboldt County is a special place. At four hours away from the closest city, it’s a relatively tight community where residents will come together to help each other through everything from natural disasters to cancer treatment fundraisers. Most residents share a common bond; they live there because they want to, not because they have to.

But it’s not an easy life; the economy has always sucked, and there are numerous logistical challenges that make life expensive. Overall, rural living in a place like Humboldt is much harder than life in a mega-city, but it has far more advantages. The people are at the top of my list.

Ten years ago, we thought that Humboldt would be where we settled down indefinitely. But the weather finally got to me, and real estate prices have gone so high that even if we wanted to buy there now, we couldn’t. I’m glad we returned, because it confirmed what I’ve known for a while; I’ll always cherish the friends and memories we made in Eureka, but we won’t be living there again.

Julie Byrne and Jim Nelson Eureka CAMany world weary travelers warned us; the road changes you. And it’s true. Our priorities have shifted away from buying a home and building another thriving business, to embracing all that life has to offer through travel. It satisfies a spiritual need that I didn’t know I had in me until now. Jim and I both agree that staying on the path we’re on is our key to happiness for the foreseeable future.

And while our chosen lifestyle might not stuff our bank accounts, it does feed our souls. And when all is said and done, isn’t that what living should really be about?

10 Responses to “Eureka; We Found it, and Said Goodbye”

  1. Thanks for the great excuse to party at the Crawford’s house. You both look great, so the road appears to agree with you, thank God.

  2. Again we are going through some of the same things. We started our adventures about the same time you did and we are returning home (Louisiana) about the same time you returned to your home town. It feels so good for me to be back home. I really miss my friends. I have some of the finest friends you will find anywhere. I miss my daughter. I miss my dogs. We, like you, will not be returning to live in this area. I don’t like how it’s changed after Katrina. I’ve even been back to my old job – as a teacher and really miss the school and the kids (it seems better than when I left)……but we won’t be back! It’s kind of sad but at the same time I see how much we’ve grown while being out on the road. That changes a lot of things. It’s good to know that we’ll be so welcomed here everytime we visit – just as you were welcomed to your town.

  3. Awwwww. See what I mean? These truly good people of Eureka are so hard to leave behind, at least for a while.

  4. As Dan Hicks once noted, how can I miss you if you won’t go away?

    HAH!! It was wonderful to see you in your pass through the great Northwest, and we fully appreciate your wanderlust. As you note, it’s always heart warming to know there are people who love you, know you for who you are, and pray for your safety while you pursue this adventure.

    And you’re always welcome, whether for another pass through or to stick around.

  5. Realizing that we won’t be living there again was really tough. I couldn’t believe it myself, until we went back, and I accepted the fact that the weather there just does not make me happy. But the people, our friends, are so wonderful, and a rare breed. It will be hard to leave these great folks behind.

    But like you Ariadne, there’s more lust for adventure in our souls than we imagined, and Jim and I feel like we just need to get out there and experience more than we could if we remained in one place. So much to see, so little time. . .

  6. We’ll miss you guys! Had fun at the Crawford’s as always. It was great to see you. But I totally understand. I did the road thing years ago. May do it again and hope to catch you somewhere along a blue highway.

  7. Ariadne from Simple Living December 17, 2008 at 5:18 pm Reply

    We lived in Eureka/Cutten/Arcata for three years in the ’60s while DH was at HSU, then many years later lived in Crescent City for six years … wow … we’ve visited both many times and know we could never go back either. Loved Crescent City for many reasons (sunnier than Eureka, VERY beautiful and accessible ocean and beaches) and still have friends there, but don’t know anyone in the Eureka area anymore. It’s not that we don’t like either place, but it’s more of a “been there, done that” attitude — can’t imagine there’d be any sense of excitement, discovery, exploration, etc. for us there anymore. And then there’s the rain 😀 … We know the area, so what’s there to learn? (Lots, I’m sure, but we don’t feel it.) If you wind up in Methow Valley (Twisp) – that’s a great place too! We lived in Wenatchee for ten years in the ’90s, which is a HUGE city compared with Twisp (which means “yellowjacket”), but we love North Central Washington, and YES, we’d go back there in a minute if our situation were different! Good luck, and sure enjoy reading what you’re up to! Hang in there …

  8. Yes, yes, a thousand times.. YES. To that last part.

    Speaking of rendezvous.. looking forward to seeing you guys! There’s a Peet’s coffee next door now, but it’s in a ritzy supermarket that’s kind of “blah”.. a better opt is a coffee house (new) called KOFFI that opened about 1/2 mile down. It’s very nice because it’s a big gay hangout. whoooop! You know they wouldn’t go anywhere bland and without art and culture.

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