GROWING OLD UNGRACEFULLY: World Peace. One Couch at a Time

Barry Evans / Sunday, Aug. 21 @ 7:40 a.m. / Growing Old Ungracefully

After ten years and about 70 interactions both as host and guest, my impression of Couchsurfing is unstinting: it’s one of the best organizations anytime, anywhere. With around ten million members worldwide, CS is the link between travelers looking for a bed – or simply a chat over a cup of coffee — and their hosts. Once you’re registered as a Couchsurfer on their website, you have access to a vast, almost unlimited, world of “friends you haven’t met yet.” Best of all, it’s free.

Last week, Louisa and I hosted two vivacious young women from Graz, Austria, who were driving north on an extended vacation to explore the west coast of the U.S.; and an intrepid couple – he originally from Poland, she from Malaysia – hitchhiking their way clear across America. On our profile page, we’re stricter than most potential hosts, saying that we can only offer one night’s lodging to travelers (our Old Town apartment is cramped for more than two people), and that we’re only “open” from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. But that’s usually plenty of time to get to know complete strangers, cook and eat hearty meals, show off the amenities and architecture of our ’hood, and trade stories.

The Austrians had never kayaked before, can you believe? We were happy to remedy that defect in their life experience — by the time they left they were true believers. A couple of nights later, Louisa introduced Tomasz, from near Krakow, to the more upright joys of stand-up paddleboarding.

With Tomasz and Hui last week.

When we receive a request from a CSer asking if we can host them, the first thing we do is check their profile, equivalent, for instance, to eBay’s “positive feedback” system of rating buyers and sellers. After every visit, both host and guest comment on their stay, so we can check how previous interactions worked out for both parties. When hosting, we prefer “verified” guests – for a small fee, the CS organization certifies that a CSer’s profile (address, age, gender, etc.) matches their passport or driver’s license. Amazingly for such a huge organization with so many interactions, complaints of abuse or inappropriate behavior are almost non-existent. Here are some pluses of couchsurfing, as we’ve experienced it:

  • It automatically overcomes language barriers, since profiles include language competency. In Ankara, Turkey nearly 10 years ago, we hooked up with a group of English-speaking Turkish students who gave us a sense of what it was like growing up in a country where ethnic and religious tensions are inherent in everyday life. Later, the resident pianist of the Turkish National Symphony Orchestra (about our own age), a dedicated CSer, invited us to a rehearsal of a Sibelius tone poem.

Ordering off a Turkish menu with the help of Ozan and friends.

Ayse, couchsurfer and pianist.

  • Speaking of age, couchsurfing dissolves away decades of age differences. When we’re around 20-year-old kids (as often happens in our CS world), we’re young again. I remember an evening bouncing around Xalapa, Mexico with a couple of kids who could have been our grandchildren, visiting their favorite dives, seeing the world through their eyes.
  • Friends for life! In 2009, we were Bettina and Dan’s first ever CS guests, in Albi, France (since then, they’ve become old-timers). We later hosted their neighbors in Mexico, and last year they came to visit us in Prague, leading to a magical weekend of in-depth conversations punctuated with laughter and silliness. We’re now planning another rendezvous.

Dan and Bettina in Prague.

  • Near-instant cure for Traveler Blues: I was in Chartres, France, based in a couchsurfer’s apartment (whom I never met—he was out of town, but was happy for me to stay anyway!), feeling tired and lonely after a few days of intense Gothic-cathedral-gazing. Online, I found a local CSer who said she was interested in just hanging (not hosting). Thirty minutes later, at her favorite cappuccino café, I was hearing about the weirdness of growing up in a city utterly devoted to tourism.

Chartres cathedral labyrinth.

  • Parties! Maria in Sicily saw our visit as an opportunity for a couchsurfing party, inviting fellow CSers from all over the island to come meet her “honored” guests.

Maria, third from left.

Intrigued? Check out the website at Even if you have no plans for travel, you can vicariously experience other countries through the eyes of travelers. And if you are interested in heading out for an adventure, you’re never far from a friend you haven’t met. Yet.


Barry Evans gave the best years of his life to civil engineering, and what thanks did he get? In his dotage, he travels, kayaks, meditates and writes for the Journal and the Humboldt Historian. He sucks at 8 Ball. Buy his Field Notes anthologies at any local bookstore. Please.


(UPDATE) Jockey Hospitalized After Being Bucked, Trampled During Race at Humboldt County Fairgrounds

John Ross Ferrara / Saturday, Aug. 20 @ 5:39 p.m. / News

Photo by Israel LeFrak.

UPDATE, 6:45 p.m.:

Fairgrounds General Manager Richard Conway tells the Outpost the injured jockey was Richard Lull.

Conway said that Lull is still being evaluated, but seems to have suffered injuries to his elbow and shoulder after his horse, Charlie’s Gold, was clipped in the heels by its opponents.

A second rider was also injured today.

Jockey Barrington Harvey suffered a broken wrist during race eight today.


A jockey was hospitalized after being flung from their horse and trampled during a race at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds shortly after 5 p.m. tonight.

Local reporter and friend of LoCO “Big Iz” LeFrak reports from the scene that two horses pinned the injured jockey’s horse, causing it to buck the rider onto the track, where they were trampled.

“He got flung off the horse and it was hard to tell how many times he was trampled,” LeFrak said. “But he wasn’t getting up afterwards and that’s when the ambulance and everyone came over.”

A fairgrounds employee tells the Outpost that the rider was taken to the hospital by ambulance. LoCO is waiting to receive more information from fairgrounds staff.

The horses that caused the incident were disqualified form the race.

(UPDATING) Vegetation Fire in Eureka Near Samoa Bridge

Andrew Goff / Saturday, Aug. 20 @ 9:44 a.m. / Fire

UPDATE, 9:56 a.m.: Trusty ol’ Humboldt Bay Fire Engine No. 8181 has arrived! Firefighters are attempting to access the area by cutting through some fencing. LoCO’s man near the smoke John Ferrara surmises that it “looks like they’ll handle this no problem.” Should that be the case, this will be your final update (because Saturday).

# # #

Photo: John Ferrara

Original Post: A column of black smoke can be seen rising from an area of brush near the Eureka side of the Samoa Bridge. Humboldt Bay Fire is responding to the scene. A crowd of onlookers has assembled. 

We will update when we have more. 

MURAL ALERT: You’re Getting Some Pretty Classy Public Art, Fortuna!

Andrew Goff / Friday, Aug. 19 @ 6 p.m. / Art , @Eel River Valley

Fortuna’s Star Hotel mural, January 2015

It’s been about a year and a half since flames claimed the Star Hotel Building, a longtime fixture on Fortuna’s Main Street. Lost along with the historic structure was a mural, iconic to Fortunans, that adorned the 11th Street side of the building and featured scenes of idyllic Fortuna life of yesteryear — you can see the piece in its final days in the LoCO file photo above. RIP, art. 

The Star Hotel mural is now only memory, but a new brick and mortar canvas down the road a bit is currently coming to colorful life. Yessir, the Friendly City will soon have its mural hole filled by a new 50-foot-wide display on the side of  Ray’s Food Place on North Fortuna Boulevard. “Greetings from Fortuna, California” the piece proudly declares in vintage postcard picture font. And look! There’s the Star Hotel in the F! How ‘bout that?!

The man behind the brush is muralist Lucas Thornton, 32, of Eureka. After first wetting his brush at the age of 14 as a student in Duane Flatmo’s Rural Burl Mural Bureau, Thornton has been painting murals on his own for over 10 years — his first solo venture was a piece on the Ocean View Inn in Crescent City. You may not know it but you’ve seen Thornton’s work Humboldt-wide, from mural restoration work at Bucksport Sporting Goods and Cypress Grove to more-mobile artistic expressions in the Kinetic Grand Championship. He’s also mural’d it up out of county, from Ukiah to Costa Rica. Thornton’s Fortuna mural is his largest solo project yet and he says he’s received nothing but love from the community.  

“The people of Fortuna have been so nice,” Thornton said, noting that appreciative citizens have stopped by and slipped him cash for dinner and Jitter Bean gift cards. In fact, while the Outpost was interviewing Thornton, a couple stopped by to ask when the best time would be to bring him a meal. They declined to be identified.  

The project has received support to the tune of around $15,000 from grants and donations from members of the Fortuna community, Thornton said. Fortunans Karen Delangelo, Don Brown and Simon Rios headed up fundraising efforts with Delangelo also being a main contributor to the mural’s design. The scenes depicted within the letters spelling out “FORTUNA” celebrate numerous (well, seven) locations and events. A rundown:

  • F: Classic Main Street including the late Star Hotel
  • O: Deer season in the Rohner Park Forest
  • R: Shake and shingle mill workers
  • T: Picking apples, perhaps during the Fortuna Apple Harvest Festival
  • U: Fly fishing in the mighty Eel River near Riverwalk Drive
  • N: Bronc riding at the Fortuna Rodeo
  • A: Classic cars lined up for the Fortuna AutoXpo

There is still much painting yet to do. Thornton began work on the Fortuna mural last Tuesday, Aug. 9, and hopes to have it done by the end of the month. After that, should the grants fall into place, Thornton hopes to embark on his biggest project: a 250-foot-long mural on the side of the Arcata Bay Crossing building on Samoa Boulevard in Arcata. Stay tuned. 

Arcata Theatre on the Market for $1.85 Million

Ryan Burns / Friday, Aug. 19 @ 2:57 p.m. / Business

Photo from the real estate listing.

Have you always wanted to own a beautiful movie palace from cinema’s Art Deco heyday? Or maybe a live entertainment venue with a kitchen and full bar? Or perhaps you’re looking to invest in a hipster hangout guaranteed to attract college students with beer and regular screenings of The Big Lebowski

The 78-year-old Arcata Theatre is — in its current incarnation — all of these things, and it’s now on the market for a cool $1,850,000. The listing boasts of amenities added during the venue’s 2009 renovation, undertaken by current owners Brian and Lara Cox. They made the place ADA-compliant and added a commercial kitchen, a bar with full liquor license and upgrades to sound, lighting, plumbing and more.

The price includes the two commercial rental spots tucked into the wings of the building, spaces currently occupied by Smug’s Pizza and the Bluegrass Barber.

We left a message for the Coxes earlier today but have not yet heard back. The Arcata couple has operated the place as the Arcata Theatre Lounge since April 2009, featuring everything from live reggae to comedy nights, fundraisers (such as the Mr. Humboldt Pageant) and an eclectic mix of movies.

With the recent opening of the Miniplex at Richard’s Goat Tavern & Tea Room, along with the imminent reopening of the Minor Theater, there’s now plenty of competition on the movie-screening front. Will the next owners seek to reinvent the venue once again?

Fish-Killing Parasite Spotted in This Year’s Klamath Salmon Run, Yurok Tribe Says

Hank Sims / Friday, Aug. 19 @ 1:36 p.m. / Fish

Adult coho killed by ich outbreak during the 2002 fish kill. Photo: Yurok Tribe.



From the Yurok Tribe:

Yurok Fisheries crews conducting routine fish disease monitoring have found that salmon in the Klamath River on the Yurok Reservation are infected with a potentially deadly disease.  Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, which is known as ich (pronounced “ick”), is capable of causing large fish kill events. Ich was the primary pathogen that caused the 2002 fish kill in the Klamath River and killed more than 35,000 adult Chinook salmon and steelhead.  Ich was found at relatively low severity in the Klamath River last year, but is back this year at concerning levels. 

“It appears that a small number of adult salmon migrated upriver in extremely warm water temperatures and then became stuck in a relatively small thermal refuge where they are getting infected with the pathogen.  What this means for the health of the fall Chinook run that is yet to migrate upstream is unclear” said Michael Belchik, Senior Fisheries Biologist for the Yurok Tribal Fisheries Program. 
Fish diseases such as ich are exacerbated by low flows and water temperatures that currently exist in the lower Klamath and Trinity Rivers. 

The Yurok Tribe will be working closely with Federal, State, and Tribal partners to determine what management actions are necessary to prevent further spread of ich and protect the main portion of the fall Chinook salmon run which has not entered the river as of yet.  
“We take this threat to our fish very seriously, and we’re looking at every option to protect our fish.  We don’t want to go through another catastrophe like the fish kill in 2002, and we will do anything we can to avoid that outcome this year.” said Thomas P. O’Rourke, Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. 

(UPDATE: IN CUSTODY) Eureka Police Name ‘Person of Interest’ in Recent String of Bank Robberies

Hank Sims / Friday, Aug. 19 @ 1:12 p.m. / Crime

UPDATE, 5:44 p.m.:


From the Eureka Police Department:

The Eureka Police Department has been investigating a string of Bank robberies which have occurred over the past several weeks. As a result of this investigation, a person of interest has been identified. The Eureka Police Department is seeking the following subject, Harwood Francis McCovey (31 years old of Hoopa, CA). McCovey is further described as an Indian male adult, 6-01”, 190 lbs., brown hair, and brown eyes.

McCovey is not only a person of interest in the Eureka Police Department’s investigation, there is also an active arrest warrant for robbery out of Shasta County Superior Court for McCovey.

McCovey is considered armed and the public is advised not to attempt to contact or detain McCovey themselves, but are urged to call the police immediately if they observe him. Anyone with information regarding the possible location of McCovey is urged to contact the Eureka Police Department at 707-441-4044 or contact Senior Detective Ron Harpham at (707) 441-4300.