A Summertime Tour of Garberville, CA
Well it’s summertime in Garberville again, which means it’s hot enough that you can fry an egg on the sidewalk, if you don’t mind a little dog-doo and a few cigarette butts in it. Still, it’s the best deal you are likely to find on breakfast in Garberville, so bring a spatula. Yes summertime is the time of year where tourists flock to SoHum in droves to see the highest priced gasoline in the entire country.
Tourists often find our local culture just a little odd, and you can see the puzzlement on their faces as they wander the streets wondering: “Does everyone in this town smoke cigarettes?”, “Why, of all of the dog breeds in the world, does everyone here have a pit bull?”, “How come every single parking space in town is full, but all of the stores are empty?”, “Did all of these people come to Garberville just to stand on the sidewalk and smoke?”
I wonder these things myself sometimes, but I know that there’s more to Garberville than brand new pickup trucks, second-hand smoke, and ugly, ill-mannered dogs. No, there’s something special about Garberville that you just don’t find everywhere, at least you won’t find it anywhere between Willitts and Eureka. . That is, a bathroom. Since Garberville is the only town with services between Willitts, about a hundred miles South of Garberville, and Eureka, about seventy miles North, damn near everyone going North or South has to stop in Garberville or risk kidney failure.
Yes, Garberville comes as blessed relief for many road weary travelers, and since every bathroom in Garberville is clearly marked “For Customers Only”, they all feel obligated to spend a dollar or two while they are here, even if they had the good sense to fill-up in Willitts, and know that gas will be at least a few cents cheaper in Eureka.
But Garberville is so much more than a key chained to a foot and a half long piece of PVC pipe that is teeming with bacteria. While you are here, you might as well see the sights, and experience the historical significance, aesthetic highlights and cultural diversity that makes Garberville so unique.
First on our tour, close to the center of Garberville, just West of the only stop sign in town, you’ll find the historic Cadillac Wok Chinese Restaurant. The Cadillac Wok has been open for more than fifty years at that same location, and so far as I know, no one has ever eaten there. Perhaps you’ll be the first.
Just across the street from Cadillac Wok, you’ll see the Garberville Post Office. These have become increasingly scarce in Humboldt County, and who knows how long the one in Garberville will remain open, but most days you can still stand in line behind dreadlocked twentysomethings buying multiple thousand dollar money orders with stacks of ragged bills, just like in the old days.
Cut through the back parking lot of the Post Office, and you’ll see what remains of the last full-service gas station in town. Ironically, the old Ed’s Full-Serve was closed down because its restroom failed to meet specifications of the Americans With Disabilities Act. The station closed despite the fact that many disabled Americans really appreciated the service of having someone pump gas for them.
Across the street from the old gas station, you’ll see one the the most popular skate boarding spots in Garberville. You can find the shredded kneecap skin of dozens of local youths embedded in the concrete there, just under the retaining wall at the end of the long sloping parking lot belonging to the Sentry grocery store.
Just North of the skateboarding wall, you will see a windmill, and metal sculpture of a horse, directly beneath the windmill, you will find a barrel full of water that the windmill circulates.
If you stare into that barrel long enough, you will see golden coy fish swimming in it. They say nothing’s easier than shooting fish in a barrel. Don’t try it, those fish are armed, but they won’t mess with you if you don’t mess with them.
The horse sculpture and windmill stand next to a coffee kiosk called Geddy Up. The interesting thing about Geddy Up is that the floor on the inside of the kiosk is significantly higher than the sidewalk outside. Because of this, when you order coffee there, you find yourself talking directly to the belly button of the attractive young female barista inside, who is always wearing low rise jeans and a halter top. Maybe that’s why it’s called Geddy Up. The belly buttons make good coffee, but that’s mostly beside the point.
Just a half a block North of the coffee bellys, you’ll find a man with dark hair, glasses and mustache smoking a cigarette. He’s been there as long as I can remember. He occasionally says “Hi”, and he’s always smoking.
Just downwind from the smoking man, you’ll find Garberville’s newest eatery: The Healthy Choice, a great place to grab a salad or smoothy while you enjoy all of that second-hand smoke.
A little way North of the smoking man, you will come to The Hemp Connection. Here you’ll find the latest hemp fashions, smoking accessories, and the latest issue of High Times magazine. You’ll also find another smoking man, 4:20 Dave. Somehow, I find his smoke much less offensive.
Continuing North on Redwood Drive, you’ll pass the North Valley Bank. This bank is significant because every dog in Garberville relieves itself on this stretch of sidewalk. The bank has posted little doggie doo bags, and signs encouraging people to clean up after their dog, but mostly the signs distract pedestrians who read the clever signs, and then step right into a steaming pile.
Across the street from the steaming pile, you will see the Town Clock. Beneath the clock, you will find The Town Clock Square. Town Clock Square contains a shop where you can get a hoodie that says “Humboldt” on it, another shop to buy smoking accessories, and a place where you can get a haircut while you shop for a gun.
North of town Clock Square, past the Garberville Theatre, you’ll come to The Branding Iron Saloon, which features Lotto drawings every five minutes and a pole where local women practice their pole dancing skills. The Branding Iron Saloon is a place for serious drinkers, but the pole is strictly for amateurs.
Beyond the Branding Iron Saloon, at the far North end of town, you will find the only patch of shade in all of Garberville, in a controversial patch of greenery known as the Demulling Memorial Grove. Because the Demulling Memorial Grove is the only green and shady place in town, people tend to congregate there. Because people tend to congregate there, many people want it shut down.
Just South of town Clock Square, you’re back at gas station alley. Whether you choose Shell, Chevron, or Union 76, you can rest assured that you are getting the most expensive gasoline that you’ll find anywhere in America.
I hope you enjoy your visit to Garberville, and come again soon.