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October 06, 2002
Eureka before sunrise.

I woke up hours before sunrise. Much too early to do anything really. It was somewhere around 5AM. I was ready and willing and definitely not able to take pictures in old Eureka. I was the only car in the streets, I was the only parked car by the water, I was the only man walking the empty streets, the only man with a big tripod, confused, not knowing much about this old little city, hours, hours before any natural allowed to do anything. It was so dark that the only reading I could get out of my -meter was an annoying E, even at time settings of 30 minutes. It was very quiet and pretty cold in this little victorian wood and gold-rush city. Eureka is very charming and some buildings are very lovingly restored. It is certainly not a 24 hour place though. I looked into the shop windows. There was a little bookstore on F Street and 2nd?, or 3rd? In the window a paper from 1991. War on Iraq. Next to it a declaration by the UN, a historical document. A quiet commentary on the horrible situation we are in now. So there was intelligent life out here. Oh, and then there was the skunk. On a lot right next to the harbor was his home. He lived in this pipe which was supposed to become a street in the upcoming harbor rejuvenation/condominium project. Right now the entire block belonged to the little skunk. He saw me. We looked at each other for a little while. It was too dark for me to do anything with my camera. I said hello. The skunk went back to checking the place for food and to rubbing himself against the grass, probably to mark the territory. The territory consisted of the mentioned lamp pole, an anker, some other large marine object and really not much more. This was prime real estate, across the street from the town café, and really a jump away from the boardwalk. I walked towards the boardwalk again. A heron whom I had seen before must have confused me with a hunter. There was a lot of noise as the bird flew away, screaming over the fishermen boars in the port. I should have just waited a little longer. The sun did not even announce its arrival. I was really hours off. I got back into the car. Driving around the empty streets seemed a little bit more natural than walking with the tripod and a 300mm lens. I found a street that led to the carson mansion, a building straight from the fantasy-world of a comic artist. Take a look. The sun decided to finally arrive. It rose somehow very slowly and somehow behind the mansion, which does not look half as attractive facing away from the city. So the pictures I took here will probably be pretty bad. I noticed a bridge leading to an island that actually was the harbor of Eureka. It did not take a long time for me to be on that bridge, in the middle of a beautiful bay, driving into the little harbor, where fishermen (amateur fishermen) were boarding somebody else’s ships. There was also a wildlife preservation area with a tired pelikan and some other water walkers. The backdrop of the bay was a huge factory which happened to produce really unhealthy looking clouds. I decided to drive all around the bay. There were two more interesting bridges I had to cross to find myself on the other side, on the shore where the mansions were groups of huddled trailers. This was probably not Eureka anymore. The money did not seem to radiate this far. I was in the middle of a not so wealthy place. All looked so incredibly peaceful at 7am on a Sunday morning. There were more crossings over the beautiful waters of the bay. The NPR reception was quite good here, in the morning, in the mist. One of the reports was from Brasil. The reporter was telling the horrible story how streets through the rain-forest are the main cause of evil. The streets make it possible for new settlers to enter the area and it is the often illegal streets that destroy so much the nature that belongs to all of us. These greedy poor people burn down portions of the jungle to plant crops. They are not even good at it. So the logging companies end up using the roads to get the precious old trees out of the so sensitive rain forest. It was somehow incredibly ironic that I was here in a monstrous all wheeler driving down a 6 lane highway through a mist that is the ideal nourishment for some of the oldest trees on the planet, towards a city that made its money by selling the now gone forest around it to San Francisco. Much of San Francisco is built with the wood that used to be here, until the street was built, until greedy people started looking for gold, until basically exactly the situation happened that was now being presented to me as an environmental catastrophe, not as the discovery of “abundant natural resources”. History tends to be written by winners.
I was really looking forward to seeing the large and untouched trees this afternoon. There was so far not a single sequoia in sight. I arrived in a well lit, cute Eureka. It was time for breakfast.

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