For a long time now I’ve been avoiding Downtown. First reason – stuff is over-priced Downtown, everything from a parking space to a cup of coffee to a meal to a blouse or pair of shoes. We used to enjoy a few eateries, but as our income dipped, prices went up, and we can no longer afford it. Plus, as I get older, I find, I don’t have the patience to sit at a table in a crowded dining room, listening to bits and snatches of my own conversation over the din, waiting on a dinner that may or may not be worth $28 a plate. I had a delicious meal out recently, on a gift certificate from (the best) friends (ever) – I had a salad and an appetizer and my husband had a steak and a beer – essentially a meal for one – and it cost over $80, plus the tip. We got a similar meal at the North Coast Brewery in Fort Bragg for three people and paid about the same. We almost couldn’t finish our meal in Fort Bragg – they put a plate of cioppino in front of me that threatened to collapse the table. I forced myself to eat it, they have valet wheelbarrow service out to your car:)
And, guess what, you can walk the streets of Fort Bragg without having to sidestep human or dog shit, human or dog bodies, or garbage or makeshift beds/tents, without being accosted by a drunk or a snarling cur, without worrying about getting hit by a car as long as you look both ways before you step off the curb. And Highway One cuts right through their commercial district. I notice, lately, they’ve worked to renovate some old buildings off the main drag, making room for lots of neat little shops. I can’t afford to shop Downtown Chico, but I took a pretty good whack at my Christmas list in Downtown Fort Bragg. I’ve been shopping at many of those businesses for 20 years, including Carol Hall’s Jelly, where they have this garlic wine jelly, whoa baby. Stop it!
The last two businesses I have to deal with Downtown are Smyth’s Tire Service – and don’t worry Dan, I won’t leave you down there all by yourself! – and my bank. Sheesh, I ain’t making any such promises to that bank, which I won’t name – they are already hanging on by a thread, not the best service in town. If the teller asks me how my day is going without really caring one more time I’m going to tell her I’ve just been diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome and give her a quick demonstration.
Especially now that they’ve put that traffic circle right in my path. Of course when I go over to Smyth’s, I am driving my car. As bad as the traffic is Downtown, I feel essentially safe in my car. But, when I’m making a trip that close to my house, I feel stupid taking the car, unless that’s actually the focus of the trip. When I go to the bank, or shopping, post office, etc, I try to use my bike. Me and Myrt are a common sight in the park and Downtown corridor, up Mangrove and over on Esplanade. Know who else rides his bike alot – Dan Herbert. My family always yells out “Hi Mr. Mayor,” and he beams like a beacon. I used to see Rick Keene alot, he jogs and walks in the park. I always say Hi to Rick, and he always looks nervous. I see Ann Schwab alot, she keeps that apartment right next to One Mile. I’ve seen her out jogging, and that’s not pretty, and I’ve also seen her taking a little white dog to shit along the sidewalk outside her apartments – I’ve caught them in the act! But you know who I never seen on a bike or walking around town? Brian Nakamura. Have yet to catch that guy, and I really do ride my bike around all over town.
My husband and I tried the traffic circle right after it was opened – we hit it coming out of Annie’s Glen, which is our usual entrance to Downtown. I’ll admit, we used to go that way to the Saturday Market, get some garden plants and hit the food truck. But that intersection off the Vallombrosa bridge has always been bad. There’s no visibility – you can’t see the cars coming from Vallombrosa, and they can’t see you. With the traffic circle, I’ve noticed, cars are actually increasing speed – they speed up coming from Downtown because two lanes suddenly merge into one and people get into that herd panic. They speed up coming over that bridge for no reason I can figure – do they want my bike for a hood ornament?
We’ve tried it again since, and it’s awful. I told my kids, if I get it in that circle, you are to sue the city, and here’s a list of names to include! I’ve also considered telling my bank I’m leaving because of the Downtown remodel – I’m still mulling that over.