back to trips West Coast Regional Meet 2005

The 2005 West Coast Regional Meet was, once again, held up in Fortuna. This is a clever ploy by our eternal hosts, Gil (Dr. Gil) and Becky (Beck-Zuki); I'm convinced they spike the BBQ food so that we want to return year after year after year after... Fortunately, it doesn't take much arm-twisting.

This year's trip started out identically to last year's, except that Peter was tagging along this time. This has its pros and cons -- as anyone who's ever traveled with a non-morning person can attest to -- and I was left posting "Argh! Why will he not wake up! WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP!" to the WCRM thread on ST.N early Friday morning.

Eventually, Peter did get out of bed and we got on the road. Blah blah Highway 280 up the peninsula across the Golden Gate Bridge blah blah. It was a surprisingly sunny morning and we could see the Bridge from 19th Street in San Francisco -- a rare sight. Figuring we already had plenty of photos of the Golden Gate, we didn't stop this time (as The Onion so eloquently put it a few weeks ago, "Local Photographer Shits Out Yet Another Bridge Photo"). We continued on.

We stopped for lunch at Old Mission Pizza in Willits, as far north as Peter'd been prior to this trip. We used to go to a little rave/campout weekend out in the nearby boonies, a quirky little event at which I never seemed to do the right drugs for appreciating And while I'm blathering about the town, I'm very pleased to report that it was named for Hiram Willits, who settled there in 1857. This thrills me to pieces because, really, the phrase "old man Willits" just rolls off the tongue, and I'm so glad that it's historically accurate.

Past Willits, we continued on that pretty section of Highway 101 that swoops and winds at, well, whatever the safe and legal freeway speed is, as the landscape slowly turns to spruce and redwood trees. Naturally, we took Avenue of the Giants; Peter wasn't quite as enthralled with the trees as I'd hoped he'd be (I'm starting to realize that no one else on earth is so pleased by Cheesy Touristy Tree Shit) but he was a good sport. I didn't make him stop at any of the truly tacky places but, instead, just took pictures of us amongst some really tall redwoods.

We arrived in Fortuna with enough time to unpack a little, shower, and relax before heading over to the Eel River Brewery for the night's festivities.

The first thing Peter noticed upon arriving at the brewery was that the back patio -- where our group was happily sequestered -- was in its second incarnation. The site was obviously built upon something else, as pieces of concrete stick out in weird places, and sometimes don't quite fit together. The brewery's website solves the mystery by explaining that the restaurant and beer garden was built on the site of the historic Clay Brown Redwood Mill. A second piece of bizarre local history -- I'd assumed that the Eel River was thusly named due to the presence of eels in it. But no: in 1850, an exploration party named the area after receiving eels from a local Native American tribe in return for some pieces of a broken frying pan. Kinda makes you wonder what the area could have been called, depending on what else was up for trade...

The brewery dinner was pretty laid back -- instead of sitting at long tables, cafeteria-style, like last year, the tables were arranged haphazardly. This encouraged people to mill about and move from table to table, so there were many more individual conversations this year. As a result, I didn't get many photos at the dinner -- to busy chatting and drinking! My drink of choice this year was the Certified Organic Amber Ale. Yum, yum. Peter and I mingled and chatted up representatives from at least two different species (the brewery has a few feral cats, one of which is named Porter), drank happily, and wandered off to bed early.

The rest of Friday's pictures

Continued on Saturday...