Pilot story and photos

by Andrea Barkan

Brookings-Harbor hospitality tourists spent Nov. 17 ferreting out the quirky quintessence of Gasquet.

Jan Norwood's 48-person tour group started at the Smith River National Recreation Area, where Recreation Technician Phil Bono led a short botanical trail trek to a local treasure - scattered bogs of the rare Darlingtonia plant.

Darlingtonia, also known as the California pitcher plant, is a cobra-shaped, carnivorous plant found only in Northern California and Southern Oregon.

Group members watched appreciatively as the sun shone through the bogs, illuminating the pitcher plants' waxy, translucent hoods.

Barbara Bono, Phil's wife, joined in on the trail tour. Barbara encouraged Norwood to tour Gasquet when the two met recently at Pacific Antiques and Collectibles Mall in Harbor.

Barbara, who's lived in Gasquet since 1970, said she told Norwood, andquot;You need to go to Gasquet for crying out loud!andquot;

That was all it took. Norwood made a date and Barbara made some calls.

Barbara said she happily helped organize the Gasquet adventure, glad to share the town's community spirit with outsiders.

andquot;It's just a neat little place to live,andquot; Barbara said. She and Phil estimated about 700 people now live in Gasquet.

andquot;If something happens to somebody, the whole community comes out of the woodwork.andquot;

Carnivorous plants cultivator Harry Tryon was next on the tour agenda.

When Norwood met Tryon recently and learned of his passion for plants she was excited to add him to her Gasquet voyage.

andquot;There are some exotic species he is cultivating and the people in Gasquet don't even know he exists!andquot; Norwood exclaimed.

Tourists filled Tryon's wrap-around deck for guided passage into the dramatic world of carnivorous plants.

Hundreds of plants line Tryon's deck. He's been growing them for 15 years and has eleven genera, including four that are native to this area.

Del Norte County is the only home in the world to one species of butterwort, he said.

Tryon explained how plants become carnivorous and fielded questions from his curious audience.

He said North America has more carnivorous plants than any other country and Gasquet is the carnivorous plant capital of California.

Norwood next directed her group to two local businesses, Born Yesterday of Gasquet and Redwood Bears and Burl.

Louise Johnson, Born Yesterday owner, shared a brief history of Gasquet with those who inquired.

She talked about the town's namesake - French founder Horace Gasquet - and his wife, who ran a successful French restaurant.

Gasquet was a sleep-over stop on the stagecoach road from Crescent City to Grants Pass.

Adam's Station, on Gasquet Flat Road, was the town's stagecoach stop and boarding house.

There was also a winery, Johnson said.

andquot;This was a happening place 100 years ago,andquot; she said.

Wednesday's out-of-towners found lunch at She She's Drive-In Restaurant and Susan Stewart's Gasquet Deli inside the Gasquet Market.

The final stop was scheduled at Gasquet Bible Church, where local crafters set up small exhibits.

Before visitors went there, though, Norwood found just one more thing for them to do.

After a spontaneous meeting, she culled another tour from a local. This time, it was of an eclectic rock garden that featured stones from around the globe.

Back at church, group members perused Wendy Black's dried flower arrangements and several of Shari Ortega's quilts.

The quilts featured a variety of themes, including Sun Bonnet Sue and Mary Engelbreit.

Ortega, owner of Spiderweb Quilting, also showed a quilt made from flour sacks and farm animal feed sacks of bygone days.

Hospitality tourists Sallie Merriman and Edda Franzen were impressed with the arrangements from Black's business, Hydrangea Express.

Merriman said she almost never misses a hospitality tour.

andquot;We love it,andquot; Merriman said. andquot;Jan always finds something for us to see that you would not have found otherwise.andquot;