“All right, make some noise!”
And a great sound goes up from the congregation amassed Wednesday night at Blue Lake’s Logger Bar. What’s the occasion? Monthly turtle races, yo! Zeke Herrera directs the proceedings through a small megaphone while patrons place their bets. He then raises a plastic lid encasing four smallish box turtles with numbers, one through four, taped to their shells.
And they’re off like a herd of … yes. While beer-sipping fans whoop it up, the shelled competitors (mostly) scurry out from the center of a large wooden “track” with circles painted on it. Quickly, though its motivations are unclear, one racer crosses the rounded finish line and the race is over — heats take less than 30 seconds, generally. The turtles are then gathered and returned to their holding pen until the next bout about a half an hour later.
This is turtle racing at the Logger Bar — a clever bar gimmick with built-in ample time for patrons to drink in between. In fact, you gotta drink to win. On race nights, each drink purchased additionally earns you a ticket you can use to bet on the event’s shelled stars for prizes and drinks.
When they’re not racing, Yertle, Make It A Double (the biggest), Stella and Winkle (the smallest) are kept in a wooden enclosure at the back of the bar. Logger Bar owner Kate Martin told me that the turtles were acquired from the East Bay Vivarium (not the banks of the Mad River, as some might suspect) for the specific purpose of entertaining visitors of Blue Lake’s spiritual center.
Do you crave the unique shell shock only turtle racing provides? You’ll have to wait ‘til Oct. 30, the next scheduled race day. But in the meantime your Lost Coast Outpost is happy to supply you with some crappy iPhone video of the scene. Settle down.
(Click photos to enlarge.)
#1: Yertle; #2: Make It A Double; #3: Stella; #4: Winkle
Zeke introduces the competitors.
On their marks.