Anticipating my first summer in Arcata is like waiting for the lottery lady to pick the winning numbers. In this case, I’m hoping to win more than a few warm, sunny days and some social gatherings that include people other than my husband and me. I’ve heard mixed reviews on Arcata summers — enough bad reviews, in fact, to make me reconsider. Here are a few sound-bites from longtime locals:
Arcata sucks in the summer.
The fog gets worse, not better.
It’s f&@king freezing.
After spewing these intimidating opinions, the aforementioned locals urged me to “Get the hell out of here. Go somewhere warm.” Since I’m a student and have no choice, I’m staying, and so far, I haven’t wanted to drown myself in the Eel. Here’s why.
Just as number 2 reads: Everyone leaves! This is a good thing. The annoying dudes with loud, hot rod cars have abandoned their usual cruising tendencies and The Plaza is virtually free of noxious noise. Likewise, the lines to Café Brio that used to run out the door and into the nearby Bank of America have been trimmed down to a nice five-minute wait. People can finally sample their giant chocolate cupcakes and homemade muesli without worrying about spilling coffee on their neighbor. This is something to celebrate.
Also, because many businesses have shut down for the summer — Humbrews, for one — I have found new loyalty toward the establishments that stayed open. Muddy’s Hot Cup, for example, never fails to supply early morning brew (coffee or beer, for those of you that drink in the morning), and, even better, Internet that works. While my favorite night at Muddy’s, the Menstrual Mondays Ladylike Open Mic, is sadly shut down for a while, they still have live music most weekend nights, as does The Alibi, Jambalaya and other bars that have made the tough decision to remain open.
Although a lot of people do leave in the summer, some people stay, and these are the ones that will continue to regularly visit the businesses in the fall. When Humbrews and Sacred Grounds reopen, they will be fighting to steal customers that have become new best friends with the competition. Tough to make money in the summer? Maybe, but customer loyalty is a solid pay-off.
Here’s another reason why Arcata doesn’t “suck in the summer”: festivals. As outlined in the Journal’s calendar section, there is a festival celebrating one thing or another every weekend. Chaco-clad people walk out of the woods and their favorite summer hiding spots to attend these community parties, complete with excessive microbrew drinking and bongo-drum dancing. Just when you think everyone’s gone to San Diego for the season, hordes of people reappear for the festivals. So far, we have celebrated art, fish, oysters, music and Dell’Arte. What’s next? Oxygen? pO? Either way, I’m in.
As to the weather, well ... there’s a reason Arcatans don’t live in Palm Springs. We can drive 35 minutes to Willow Creek for screaming-hot sunburns and lukewarm swimming holes, and still make it back in time for the Crabs game, which is a definite must-do if you want to lose your Arcata summer-virginity.
True, the fog does steal our sun, but when that solar goddess shines her face in our town, people pay attention; they hop on their bikes, kayaks, and skateboards and visit the beach, Redwood Park or the farmers’ market. Arcatans get active. What could possibly be sucky about that?
— Reagan Nail Reagan Nail co-sang this week’s cover story.