Happy Spoons and Birds Sculpture

Cure for the Winter Doldrums

Tracey Columns

These days, I find myself pondering want I want to be doing in 2015. Taking stock of the next twelve months is a common practice for me. I find it invigorating to think about the year ahead.

But this approach also helps me bounce back from the holidays. I recognize that I always need to re-group following one of my most favorite times of the year. I also have to admit that I’m one of those people who experiences a little let down each January. I love the holidays, hate to see them end. Besides, it’s January for goodness sakes. What’s to be excited about in January?

Perhaps it’s unfair for us to expect much of anything during the next few dreary months. (My apologies to those of you throughout the nation who are dealing with freezing temperatures!) But what I’ve learned is that having a few fun and different activities planned over the next few weeks helps me get over the holiday doldrums, as well as makes one more winter month scoot on by.

So, have you ever played tourist right in your own back yard?

Now, some of you old timers may be thinking that you’ve lived in the same place forever, that there’s nothing new to be seen. Hold on! Sometimes, an educated tourist knows more about where we live than we do.

Discovering what others see in the area you may take for granted can be both fun and educational, not a bad combination for those of us getting on in years!

Here’s how I would put this concept to work in my neck of the woods, Humboldt County in northern California. Don’t live within strike range of my world? You can do one of two things: 1) put this ‘backyard vacation” concept into play where you do live, or 2) consider the following  “Humboldt County Itinerary” I’ve created as my gift to you, one that I hope will lure you to our beautiful area when you have the time.

Here’s what we have in our own back yard:

1) Natural Wonders: You’ve heard about the Headwaters Forest Reserve but have you ever walked to the end? It’s free, there’s parking for your car, and the scenery is absolutely beautiful!

-Avenue of the Giants: We are all usually so intent on getting down to the San Francisco. When was the last time you simply poked along this stunning bit of two lane highway?

-The mouth of the Klamath River: It’s a beautiful drive north and an easy walk out to the pounding, crashing waves. Watch for seals playing in the waves or sunning themselves in the protected lagoon.

-The Arcata Marsh: I know, technically not a natural wonder … but it’s a wonder none-the-less. Bring your binoculars because just the geese alone can keep you entertained for a very long time, not to mention all of the other water fowl you’ll see there this time of year.

-The Hammond Trail: Okay, man made but … here’s a jewel that runs through pasture land, forest, and along the Pacific Ocean. While just a stones throw from other communities, I wonder how many people have discovered  what a beautiful walk it can be?

2) Art: I’m intrigued by people’s different reactions to all things artsy. Some of us lap it up while others can’t begin to understand what all of the fuss is about. But considering Humboldt County was once cited as being “the seventh best” art area in the United States, perhaps checking out some of our local art might actually be a worthwhile experience. No, you won’t like it all, nor will every piece of it make sense to you. But that is exactly why art can be such fun.

Maybe you like to mix up your art with socializing?  Eureka, Arcata, and McKinleyville all set aside one night a month to celebrate art. I find these evenings especially fun during January – the community, usually battling terrible weather, ventures forth to enjoy the creations of our talented neighbors and the company of each other. (Arts Alive info: https://www.facebook.com/artsalivehumboldt )

3) Breweries and wine tasting: What better way to warm your belly and your spirits than by heading off for a (responsible) bit of libation in one of our fine local breweries and wine tasting rooms. Simply throw open your phone book or browser,  find a place that you’ve never been to, and take yourself out for a new experience. (Really want to mix it up? Make sure you have a designated driver!)

To be continued …

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