Michael and I had talked about going up to the Eureka area and watching the Kinetic Races for some time. We weren’t sure of when they took place and so on Thursday May 30th when I researched it I was surprised to find, THEY WERE IN 2 DAYS!! On Friday morning we woke up and made a spontaneously decision, “LET’S DO IT!!!” We quickly stocked the RV with food, water, diesel and other supplies that we would need and set out on a 4 hour, 200 mile plus journey to Humboldt County. It’s always such beautiful scenery driving north on highway 101. The hills still have some green left on them from all the heavy rains last winter. The wildflowers are still blooming and showing off a splendor of color. Soon we would be under the dark canopy of glorious redwoods. Along the way we learned about Hobart Brown (a sculpture artist) and how the Kinetic Races began in 1969. It seems one day he decided that his sons tricycle needed some revamping to a five-wheeled, decorated pentacyle. The next thing you know he coined his mission statement, “Adults having fun so children will desire to grow older.” to describe the Kinetic Races that have been taking place every Memorial Day for the last 48 years. One never knows where their unique and original idea can lead them to. The closer we got, the more excited we became. It was good to get that one day jump start to find a place to hunker down and call home for the next few days. Thankfully we found a spot at the Eureka Elks club for just 25.00 per night for members that included electricity, cable, wifi and a free drink at the bar to top it off.
Day 1 – On Saturday we headed to The Arcata Plaza where the racers would come in for brake check, pageantry judging and perhaps a bribe or two which we learned is also part of the overall game plan to taking home one of the many titles that would be awarded over the next several days. After a parade around the plaza the racers would head through Manila Dunes to “Dead Mans Drop” near Samoa Cookhouse. Unfortunately we didn’t read about the need to carry bug spray with us as we found out the area was thick with mosquitoes and ticks. That didn’t stop the spectators and soon the dunes were crowed making it difficult to get a good view to see the races go down the actual drop. Needless to say Michael had that covered with cautious help from his drone and his willingness to explore other vantage points. Day 1 was full of adventures and good times for the trill seekers as well as those of us watching.
Day 2 – After a good night sleep (for us anyway) we headed for our first stop at the Wharfinger buildings near the public marina where the Kinetic Racers would test their rigs for sea worthiness. They could also pick up a prize for the “Biggest Splash” here. Once again the docks were loaded with spectators which is wonderful for the event but difficult when your trying to set up for photos and video with an 80lb Siberian Husky in tow. Kaliki and I found a place on a dock and enjoyed some great conversations and got some video and photos as well. We all held our breath as the crafts hit the water and watched them struggling through the low tide mud areas. There some would sink and some would capsize and some would swim. Loud cheers could be heard as they broke free to sail their course. As they made their way along the course we would meet them up the road a mile or two and watch them emerge from the water. It was very impressive to see the team spirit and teamwork that went into each segment. Pumping up their pontoons before entering the water and then letting out the air and disassembling their vessels to prepare them once again for the town streets was obvious to the most casual observer that a lot of time and practice went into each phase. After another fun filled day Michael and I took the advice of many towns people and headed to the Samoa Cookhouse for a late lunch. We were not disappointed by the family size meal complete with homemade bread, soup, salad, pot roast, beans, potatoes, cake and even coffee for a mere 15.00 all served by a cheerful waitress who had moved up to the area just a few months before to escape the central valley hot summers.
Day 3 Michael and I decided to split up for a few hours. He dropped me off in the charming town of Arcata to scope out the finish line while he headed back down to Elks River to watch them cross the swift currents. While in town I took advantage of walking the streets to see some of the beautiful Victorian homes and downtown storefronts. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in the middle of a Memorial Day Parade as well, so that was an extra bonus for me as well by getting there early. As the streets filled up the many volunteers that had made this race possible began to prepared the Finish Line on Main and Brown Street. KHUM radio set up with husband and wife DJ team Cliff & Amy Berkowitz and the Royal Kinetic Madness Band played while the children danced. Even the Rutabaga reigning Queen Kaleidoscope was there to welcome home the 3 day weary racers from their 50 mile course over land, sand, water and mud. Needless to say, (but I will) a grand time was had by all. Be sure to watch the videos linked below to find out who brought home the Kinetic Grand Championship title for 2017.
“Adults having fun so children will desire to grow older.” – Hobart Brown
cTv, 2017 Arcata Kinetic Grand Championship Race, #1 Contestant Qualifications