Friday, November 30, 2018

Follow the SpongeBob Trail on the Redwood Coast in California | 'SpongeBob' Creator Leaves Lasting Legacy in Humboldt


Follow the SpongeBob Trail on the Redwood Coast

Stephen Hillenburg, creator of the hit Nickelodeon animated series SpongeBob SquarePants, died on November 26. He was 57. Hillenburg, a Humboldt State University graduate and former marine biology teacher, died of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, at his home in Southern California.

Just months ago, Hillenburg ('84, marine science major, art minor) and his wife Karen created the Stephen Hillenburg Marine Science Research Award Endowment at HSU with a $135,000 gift to provide grant awards for student research projects in marine biology, oceanography, and marine fisheries.

To honor Hillenburg and his Humboldt heritage, which had a huge impact on the show, the Eureka-Humboldt Visitors Bureau is encouraging visitors to follow his fun-filled footsteps through the county. Kids of all ages will enjoy a sensational aquatic adventure. *

First stop, the Telonicher Marine Laboratory (570 Ewing St, Trinidad 826-3671, requested $1 donation) managed by Humboldt State University, where Hillenburg studied marine biology and art. The facility, perched on a cliff overlooking Trinidad State Beach, houses aquariums teeming with odd local sea life, such as a monkeyface eel, a bashful octopus, camouflaged eelgrass fish, florescent jellyfish, and one of the world’s fastest starfish. After examining a giant whale skull nearby, the grand finale awaits outside where young hands can plunk their digits over the squishy bodies of starfish, sea cucumbers and sea anemones in several open touch tanks.

What about sponges like Bob? Alas, such gentle souls don’t last long in the aquaria jungles, where voracious shrimp turn them into dishes du jour. But go five miles north to Patrick’s (not named for Bob’s co-star) Point State Park (4150 Patrick’s Point Drive, Trinidad, 677-3570, $8 day-use fee per vehicle) and judicious exploration of its tide pools at low tide, in particular, those around Palmer’s Point Beach at the south end of the park, reveal bonanzas of hermit crabs, fish, mollusks, sea stars and occasional sponges. For the more ambitious, stop in the visitor center to request a “Get in the Zone” brochure to identify the tide pool creatures or a Redwood EdVenture Quest map to earn a badge on a park scavenger hunt.

Ocean, redwoods, big sky: These were some of the sights that influenced the incredibly talented Stephen Hillenburg during his Humboldt County days. You can find places that have that sweet "SpongeBob" vibe on your next visit to the region. Photo: Don Forthuber.

Naturally, the pursuit of Poriferans may prod the appetite, best satisfied by a visit to Stars Hamburgers (1535 G St, Arcata, 826-1379 or 2009 Harrison Ave, Eureka, 445-2061, which serve up grass-fed beef burgers with toppings like guacamole, bacon and blue cheese; veggie patties, Cajun fries, onion rings, chocolate malts, and of course fish & chips. The place may seem familiar. It is said to have inspired the Krusty Krab restaurant, dining establishment where SpongeBob SquarePants works in the series. Hungry for more SpongeBob fare? Try Toni's 24 Hour Truck Stop (1901 Heindon Road, Arcata, 822-0091), thought to be the muse for the show’s Chum Bucket restaurant, the arch-rival to the Krusty Krab.

For more information about the Redwood Forests of California, Eureka and Humboldt County, please visit

* Excerpted from the Spring 2017 issue of the Humboldt Insider.

Based on a official Eureka-Humboldt Visitors Bureau press release.

Also, from NBC 7 San Diego:

Visit the 'SpongeBob Trail' in Humboldt County

Creator Stephen Hillenburg called the nature-packed, oh-so-quirky region home during his university days.

KNOW "SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS"? Then you know it is a timeless show, one that will be as watchable in a century as it was a decade ago, thanks in part to its creator's devotion to all-out quirk-a-tude, to gentle but sophisticated humor, and a love of nature, specifically the ocean. Know Humboldt County? Then you can understand how Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of the hit Nickelodeon series, basked in some of that quintessential Humboldtian character during his time at Humboldt State University, and later brought that character and pluck to his perfect animated series.

IT IS A BEAUTIFUL REGION, in short, that fits the sprightly show, a show that followed the adventures of a sweetly offbeat sea sponge and his pals and frenemies, very well, thanks to Humboldt's natural bounty and whimsy-loving character. If you thought the county's whimsical rep was mostly to do with its famous Kinetic Grand Championship, and its other famous and unusual events, best ponder another visit. And make it about paying homage to the memory of Mr. Hillenburg, who passed away in Southern California on Nov. 26, at age 57, following a battle with ALS.

WHERE TO FIND THAT HUMBOLDT MAGIC? It's all around, as any local will tell you, but the Eureka-Humboldt Visitors Bureau has shared some suggestions for fans of Mr. Hillenburg and his iconic series under the header of the "SpongeBob Trail." You can swing by Telonicher Marine Labratory, to eye the aquariums "teeming with odd local sea life," a place where Mr. Hillenburg put in his time studying, you guessed it, marine biology (and, of course, art, too). Patrick's Point State Park is also on the list, as well as some area places to grab a hamburger (if not a Krabby Patty).

FOR MORE INFORMATION... on this sweet travel-oriented tribute to one of Humboldt's favorite students and lovers of nature, start your SpongeBob-spunky journey to the land o' the giant trees.


Additional source: Wikipedia.

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