Amy and I had carefully timed our arrival in Arcata, a city about eight miles north of Eureka. Arcata is the home of Humboldt State University (HSU) - the northernmost campus of the Californian State University System - and HSU was due to host a concert by the jazz singer Bobby McFerrin on the 9th January. The human half of our duo is a great Bobby McFerrin fan and therefore entered town humming along to "Don't Worry, Be Happy". The canine half kept him on a long leash. But the best laid virtual plans of men and dogs ... and all that. The concert was cancelled due to ill-health and therefore I had to pretend it happened as I listened to one of his CD's on my MP3 player. A pretend concert on a pretend tour - how sad is that?
The cancellation did give us time to explore the campus. The present-day seven-and-a-half thousand student university developed out of the Humboldt State Normal School, a teacher training college established in 1913. It has a excellent reputation as a centre of learning - "Humboldt students are among the brightest and most unique students anywhere", trills the university brochure - and as a centre for student activism and libertarian views. Architecturally, its most prominent feature is Founders Hall which dominates the local landscape. During the second-world war it was painted in camouflage so Japanese submarines could not use it as a navigation aid.
Today, the university is keen to entice anyone in its direction and I thought I might as well check out the opportunities for Amy (after all she keeps telling me what a clever dog she is). There's a Department of Wildlife Management, I say as I flick through the prospectus. She objects to this and indicates a degree programme in kinesiology as an alternative. "What the hell is kinesiology?" I ask as we walk out of town. I look it up in my dictionary. Ah, yes - exercise science!