Have Kids? Take Them to ACV June 9th.

In a local version of the Harmonic Convergence, our still NOT renamed airport will host BOTH the Wings of Freedom air meeting AND the Goodyear blimp on Tuesday June 9.  The Wings of Freedom event offers a chance to tour vintage Word War II aircraft,  and the blimp!! Well, what can you say about the blimp other than that it is the most recognizable American icon, apart from the Statue of Liberty. 

The festivities actually start on the 8th and the exact date of the blimps’ arrival is unclear (it takes several days to get here from Long Beach) .  Check the papers or  the Fly Humboldt Facebook page for updates.

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Radio Shack Closing

…at Bayshore Mall.  The other stores in the County (Arcata, Fortuna, Myrtle Avenue) will remain open for the time being while radio Shack closes thousands of its locations. The staff at the Mall was very helpful when I asked why Fortuna and Myrtle weren’t answering their phones. It’s because they help live customers over phone calls- don’t you wish everyone did that?-and the stores don’t have answering machines. Yup, that’s right.  They sell them, but don’t have one . The liquidation of the Mall location is well along and is the only store closing I’ve ever heard of that’s being advertised on Craig’s List. Entrepreneurs, check it out. They may have something you can use. 

Arcata Business Closures

The Mad River Union has a helpful summary of recent business closures in Arcata. These include McKenny’s DIB, the St Vincent de Paul store on K Street, the Hunan Plaza Chinese restaurant (after 27 years!!), the Essence of Humboldt gift shop and , at the end of the month, the Eden seed and gift shop on Ninth Street.  It looks worse when you list them all together. Thanks to the Union for compiling these. No link available. 

The McKenny’s and Shafer’s Moves

After conversing  with staff from both companies,  we have established the following: 

1) The Arcata McKinney’s has indeed closed and is transferring its stock to the Eureka store on Hubbard.  Pay no attention to the TV ads which still show the Arcata store open. 

2) Shafer’s will continue to operate in Henderson Center AND will open a new store at the Old Safeway location on Harris near Harrison.  No word on an opening date. 

The Week in Redwood Coast Business- renaming the airport, charging for the Oyster Festival, getting no love from our homies and train vs turkey

Renaming the Airport- The sorry spectacle of a town renaming its airport to attract visitors is a plot worthy of a comedy, one of those good British comedies with Peter Sellers .  The good news is that it will take the proposed name change at least a couple of years to be approved so perhaps someone or thing will come along in the meantime to save us from ourselves.  “California Redwood Coast – Humboldt County Airport” is too long, was obviously , like a giraffe, put together by a committee trying to please everyone, and leaves unanswered the question : what about those obnoxious folks in Mendocino who think THEY have a Redwood Coast? The Mendocino -Sonoma Chamber calls  itself “The Redwood Coast Chamber”. There are so many other “Redwood Coast” businesses down there I almost decided to call my blog something else.

What if instead of perpetual confusion, the airport promoted clarity? Why not spend the money on educating folks that the Eureka-Arcata Airport is in Humboldt County, home of the Redwoods? I called the always-affable Tony Smithers of the Visitors and Convention Bureau and asked for his estimate of the number of tourists we host yearly.  He guesses he number is around 1.5 million all but one or two percent of whom arrive here by means other than air travel.  So if changing the airport’s name would double the traffic there (it wouldn’t- I’m just stretching for an example) the number of air-arriving visitors would go from 30,000 to 60,000.  Would these folks be visitors who wouldn’t come here otherwise? That seems to be the hope. Frankly I think the drive UP here is just as much of a draw as the attractions in Humboldt area,  but only time will tell.

By the way, our friends in Redding just concluded an unsuccessful campaign to attract another carrier and are heading back to the drawing board.  In a climate where airlines are squeezing the passengers for every dime and shutting down as many routes as the government will let them,  attracting more service to a marginal market like Redding or ACV will be quite a trick.  

O Oysters, Come and Walk with Us- The Oyster Festival is making a  brave and necessary change by  instituting a $10 admission charge. I was a volunteer, selling drink bracelets a couple of years ago, and it was obvious something had to change. The drink bracelets didn’t stay with the purchasers for long and the frenzy for beer would cause an onlooker to think they were at a beer festival, not an oyster festival.  I’m looking forward to this weekend, fence and all.  Kevin Hoover’s thoughtful editorial in the Eye lays it all out .

General Patton- Mike Patton,  surely the most influential musician ever to emerge from the Redwood Coast, (sorry, Sara Barielles), was featured in the Critic’s Notebook of the June 3 issue of the New Yorker, as an “indefatigable vocalist and visionary” on the occasion of the Manhattan concert introducing the fourth album by his current band, the “frenetic and experimental post-rock” Tomahawk. “General Patton” , as they dubbed him, the lead singer of Faith No More and founder of Mr. Bungle, among other bands,  is a true original but I haven’t heard of him playing up here, ever. Twenty years ago, when I was getting ready to move back here, Details magazine quoted him as saying, of Eureka,  “It’s a void. There’s absolutely nothing to do there. I mean nothing.”  I wonder if he has been back here since?  He won’t be around this summer, that’s for sure. He’s touring Europe with Tomahawk, opening for Nine Inch Nails.  The Film Commission has been trying to get the attention of Jeff Bridges (whose grandparents ran the Vance Hotel) for years but hasn’t been able to lure him up here. I believe he actually grew up in Petaluma. If the Redwood Coast is to market itself as being a cradle of creativity we need these folks. Incidentally,  After Earth is getting universally terrible reviews, which is a shame, but kudos to Cassandra Hessletine and crew for luring that production here.

Terror on the train- Finally,  as if the problems with starting up any kind of rail service to the Redwood Coast weren’t fraught with perils enough, the current issue of the RAILPAC newsletter reports that at 11am on June 1 in West Mansfield MA, a wild turkey crashed through the window of an Amtrak train, stopping service on all tracks. “The engineer was covered with  glass…and the engine compartment was full of the remains of the turkey, making it unusable”. You can’t make this stuff up.  Thank God no one took pictures. 

Stay hungry. Stay creative. Now, more than ever? 

The Case Against Flying

Everyone has their own horror stories of flying, or trying to fly, into or out of the Eureka-Arcata airport.  I was pleased to hear, during a recent meeting of business leaders in Arcata, that at least one local company has adopted the same policy I have: no flying out of Arcata if a connection has to be made. The odds just aren’t with you. Actually, I’ve taken it a bit further- no flying out of Arcata at all. It just doesn’t make sense.

Do the math. Let’s say you need to get to San Francisco. By the time you use an hour of limo time to get to ACV, then an hour, at least, before takeoff, then an hour and a half for the actual flight time, then another hour to retrieve baggage and/or pick up a rental car, then drive in from the airport to wherever it was you really wanted to go, you have easily exceeded the five hours it takes to drive. The first enterprising person who starts a shuttle service to the Bay Area will make a lot of money.

Now we are on another chase to lure airline service to what will always be a marginal market. I note in this morning’s Searchlight-Record that Redding is also trying to lure Delta into starting a Denver service.  It is unquestioned that our business community needs flight service, but since the rest of us don’t, the numbers sufficient to attract an airline are that much harder to achieve.  My last vacation started out with an unplanned 10 hour layover at O’Hare that was entirely United’s fault.  I’ve been dumped in Redding, stranded in Chicago, stuck at SFO. I say the hell with it. I’ve flown my last flight out of Arcata. If anyone wants to start a shuttle service to the Bay Area,please get in touch with me. I’ll chronicle your progress with great interest. As for me , I’m going on vacation, a five week trip which will be, like the dodo bird, flightless.

When the flying experience out of ACV is so bad and unreliable, it starts making Greyhound look good, it’s definitely time to look at other options.