Kathleen, what kind of facilities does Eureka have for the disabled?
Kerry Elizabeth Thompson

Kerry, I cannot speak about living facilities specifically for the disabled. I live in an apartment that is not ADA compliant; it’s on the ground floor, so I can get my wheelchair in and there is room in the living/kitchen room for me to ride. I have to walk to the bathroom and my bed is set up in the living room. (My husband sleeps in the bedroom.) There are places that do advertise as being ADA/disabled accessible — if not immediately here in Eureka, then 6 miles north in Arcata or another couple of miles beyond that in McKinleyville.

“Old Town” Eureka is filled with historical buildings…none of which have to be re-configured for ADA. The shops are somewhat accessible, depending on how graceful one can be with a wheelchair.

HOWEVER. EVERY single intersection has ramps in all directions and there are plenty of very accessible buttons for getting across the roads. People will also stop their cars and wait for you to pass — even if they have the right of way. I don’t ride down the sidewalks because driveways…are usually at a steeper angle than I want to ride across. BUT there are bike lanes all over the place. Where there isn’t, I stay very close to the right curb (going around parked cars as necessary) and I haven’t been hit yet. (Cars do go around — and they generally will slow down as they do so. I have never felt unsafe.)

There is plenty of handicapped accessible parking almost every where we have gone — Old Town being the one that is the most questionable and that’s merely because parking in general is limited. When a town is built during the horse and buggy times, they don’t plan for every single customer to come along with their buggy all at the same time and want to park in front of a specific store all at once. Putting cars into that just makes it worse. But there are also a lot of public lots. There is metered parking in some places, but I *think* (don’t hold me to it) that handicap parking doesn’t pay.

The Department of Health and Human Services (which is where MediCal, the Medicaid of California, and MediCare are) is filled with wonderful people, all eager to help and to seek out anything that can assist a person. There is an amazing food bank that we needed for a while and were very grateful to be eligible. (If this sort of help is needed.)

I know that there is at least one, possibly two agencies that provide in-home health care; no idea of costs. St. Joseph’s is the hospital in Eureka; Mad River is the one between Arcata and McKinleyville. There are plenty of doctors, but if you require very specific specialists, you might have to travel to see them — south to the Bay Area, or north to Portland. I receive my healthcare through the VA, so my primary care doctor is at the Eureka VA clinic. But I cannot travel to see specialists at the SF medical center; I am referred through the VA to local providers. I have been pleased with each doctor I have seen: the eye doctor (glasses), a neurosurgeon (for a consult), a general surgeon for minor surgery (hernia repair). I have also gone to local providers for acupuncture, chiropractor and pool therapy (physical therapy). I can name names for you later if you do end up coming here, as I would recommend ANY of these doctors to you.

As far as general information about Eureka: it’s called a city, but there is only about 35,000 people, with a swell of another 10,000 during the work day. It is the biggest “city” between San Francisco and Portland, with a deep water harbor that accommodates shipping. We see a lot of lumber go by on trucks. The cost of living was a major factor for my move out here — I used to live in Northern VA, where the cost of living was at about 130–140% of the national median income — Eureka sits at about 95%. Some people think it’s expensive. Coming from NoVA, I think it’s cheap.

I eat only organic food as much as possible — and it’s very possible here, for about 1/2 the cost the same foods were in NoVA. I am paying about $5.50/pound for local grassfed ground beef (80% lean); Eggs run about $3.50 a dozen from range-free organic chickens — and those chickens that don’t produce eggs make some fine meat for about $6/pound for the thighs, little bit higher for white meat. Bread is about $3 a loaf. I buy fruits and vegetables that are on sale (seasonal) and when I buy lots, it ends up being a big chunk of the bill. (This is shopping at the local co-op, which carries only organic for about 99% of its items. The local mom-and-pop grocery store that is near where I live has about 40% organic and some of their prices are better. We have a Safeway, which carries a large amount of organics. If you have a Safeway card, the savings can be decent. If you don’t mind about having organics, it’s a relatively new store, huge, with everything you could possibly want…and the prices are comparable. There is a local grocery store called the Win-Co which is supposed to be cheap, but I haven’t heard very much about them other than that.)

The weather is pretty stable — the highest temperatures in the summer hit about 80 (86 degrees as the historical high, I think) and the lowest temperatures in the winter seldom hit the freezing mark — generally more in the 40’s. And the difference in both seasons between the coolest and hottest points of the day is only about 15 degrees, so 65 degree morning low in the summer, with it hitting about 75–80 with full sun in the day; about 45 degrees low in the winter with the high hitting 55–60, again full sun. It’s always cooler in the shade. Most houses do not have A/C and many places, especially apartments, have a single gas heater unit located central to the space which is sufficient to heat. Eureka has two seasons: wet (winter) and dry (the rest of the year, sort of). So there is a fair amount of rainfall — except that it has been my experience that what is generally being called rain is actually an aggressive mist. No real need for an umbrella, just a hoodie.

I can’t tell you much about the local tourist places, since I haven’t been to them. They do exist and being made for tourist, almost assuredly have handicapped access to some degree. (Dunno how far into the Avenue of the Redwoods a wheelchair can go, for example.) I can tell you that the local zoo is accessible — it’s very small and well laid out, with paths that handle wheelchairs and children all at the same time. The gift shop was a little close, but they did have the required 36 inches between displays. There is also a phenomenal flower garden right next to the zoo, open to the public.

There is a boardwalk in Old Town, down on the harbor — and paths from both sides of it that connect a great portion of the townfront, from the pavilion at one end up to the wharves at the other. I have been there for the 4th of July fireworks — which is a world-class display, especially for a “small” town…4th of July is a MAJOR tourist holiday and the town actually gets kind of crowded then. Eureka also has the kinetic sculpture race on Memorial Day weekend. (You have to Google that one to really get a feel for what it is.) There are a lot of events happening — music, art, there’s a community theatre as well as a local orchestra. There are several casinos within driving distance, with all that entails: slots, games, shows, food…

There is even a bowling alley. (Which apparently does a lot of food business.)

Eureka has a mall, a multiplex theatre, 2 Verizon stores, a Staples, a Wal-Mart and a Target. Plenty of restaurants, but only 3 chain restaurants (besides the fast food places of McD’s, Carl Jr’s, Taco Bell, Burger King and Subway) — there is an Applebee’s, a Sizzler and a Denny’s. Most of the restaurants are mom-and-pops, and most of them serve local food, a lot of which is organic. And of course there are many restaurants that do have only organic. The diversity of cuisine is glorious: Chinese (1970’s comfort Chinese food), Chinese (as in, Chinese people go there to eat their own comfort food), Japanese, Indian, Ethiopian, Hawaiian, Steak houses, Greek, Italian, American, Diner, BBQ. There is a Philly Cheesesteak in Eureka and one in Arcata and there is something called “Vampire Penguin” (again, you can Google it) that serves snow cream, which is better than ice cream.

The people…are so generally kind that the few who aren’t stand out in memory. I have had complete strangers help me with the heavy monstrosity that is my wheelchair when I got it stuck (as I was first learning to use it). There is always someone to help put groceries into the car, to help put gas in the tank, to help you get something from a shelf that is out of reach. The butcher/fishmonger will weigh and wrap my purchase, then step from behind the counter to hand it to me, not just lay it on the top of the counter. (And so does the person in the deli if I’ve ordered a sandwich.)

I realize this is a wall o’text. I hope it proves helpful. Google is your friend if you want specifics — that’s how I found out about Eureka in the first place. And for the things I didn’t know to look for, or didn’t expect…they more than made up for the things I thought I might get and didn’t…which I don’t remember any more what they were. I love it here.

If you want more info, let’s find a way to hook up in a less public space?