Wild Tales from my Hometown in America – Video

Wild Tales from my Hometown in America – Video

Growing up in a small town in Northern California in the 1970s and 1980s was truly a unique experience, filled with crazy and unforgettable stories. In his video titled “Crazy Stories From My Life in a Small American Town,” Gabriel takes us on a tour of the town of Willits in Mendocino County, where he grew up. From childhood adventures to teenage escapades, Gabriel shares his memories and experiences from the town that shaped him.

As Gabriel drives through the town, he points out landmarks and reminisces about the places that hold special meaning to him. From the local Mexican restaurant where he enjoyed delicious meals and played arcade games, to the middle school where he spent his formative years with his friends, every corner of Willits brings back a flood of memories for Gabriel.

Growing up in a small town meant tight-knit communities and familiar faces everywhere you turned. Gabriel shares stories of hanging out with his friends Abram, Shane, and Gabe, exploring the town and getting into all sorts of mischief along the way. From playing sports on the school field to swimming in the local pool, Gabriel’s childhood in Willits was filled with fun and adventure.

As Gabriel looks back on his time in Willits, he reflects on the simpler times and the sense of community that defined life in a small American town. From the stunning landscapes of Mendocino County to the quirky charm of small-town living, Gabriel’s video is a nostalgic journey through his past. Join Gabriel as he shares his crazy stories from his life in a small American town and relive the magic of growing up in a place that will always hold a special place in his heart.

Watch the video by Gabriel Traveler

Video Transcript

Engineer where are you headed carry me back to Tennesse oh I got a little girl who been waiting promise that she’d Mar hey there how’s it going this is Highway 101 here which goes from Southern California heading north up to the Bay Area and then uh coming up here into

Mosino County just south is Yukaya just north is Willet the town where I was raised I am filming right here for a specific reason which I will explain in just a second so first a very quick recap of my childhood my parents were raised in Los Angeles they both worked in the hospital

My father was a laboratory technician my mom was a nurse working at a hospital where my dad work was a guy from Canada that guy I think moved back to Canada but my dad was in touch with him and my parents wanted to get out of Los

Angeles so this was before I was born at some point they decided Let’s uh do it let’s head to Canada and uh go get a job at the a hospital with the friend of my dad’s and so they did that moved there in 1970 1 or 1970 around then I was born

There we lived there for for 2 years and then they moved back to Los Angeles lived there for a couple of years and then did the escape from La once again moved to somoma County just south of here and then my parents were looking at land in the area in general

And they found a good piece of land outside of the town of Willets just about 2 or 3 miles north of here so we moved there when I was 5 years old I spent my entire childhood there when I was 15 then my parents got divorced I

Moved with my dad down to the Bay Area and went to my last uh 2 years of high school there graduated from Berkeley High School in 1989 and so I’m going to stop at the schools that I went to in Willet going to drive up there in just a

Second here it is a Wednesday so there will be kids in the school so I can’t you know stop and do a proper t tour of the schools or anything but show you where I went to elementary middle school high school so in elementary school then

I had three good friends one of them many of you know already Abram there was also Shane and another guy named Gabe Gabe lived in this RV park down here so uh let’s uh get cruising here got the Honda CRV get up to Willets do a tour of a typical

American Northern California small town also I wanted to start here to just kind of show you the Landscapes give you an idea of uh the uh nice Green forested Hills here February 28th a nice sunny day today but rain is a coming tomorrow so I wanted to to get

Up there and do this tour while I have the chance on a very nice uh warmish day all right let’s get cruising get up to Willet so coming up here is Ridgewood grade the highest point on Highway 101 there you can see ride the world famous

Skunk train next exit a kind of famish thing here in Willets here we go Ridgewood elevation 1,953 ft around 600 M and then you head downhill here and have to take an exit to go to Willet whereas this road used to just go right through the town but a few years ago

They created a bypass around the town Burger King Safeway Taco Bell McDonald’s Willets next to exits so here’s the new bypass going straight got to get off here 20 Highway West and Willet so I filmed a video yesterday driving from Yukaya where I’m staying with family went over to the

Coast to Highway 1 and the town of mesino and then drove back to Willets on on that Highway 20 that is mentioned right here and Fort Brag over there so that is a Fun Loop to do and then couple miles from here to get into the town of

Willets there you can see 101 South Yukaya and here we are coming into Willets city limit population 4,888 and on the right here that building used to be where one of my alltime favorite Mexican restaurants was it was called Adelitas we would go there when I was a kid there was

Something in their beans that was just so tasty probably lots of pork or something but uh great Mexican food they had arcade games like uh maybe joust or uh digdug something like that classic80s games and then tragically the owner’s young daughter died who I think was named Maria and so

They changed the name of the restaurant to her name after that happened so I think that it was Maria’s after that but uh no longer there so Willet is a small town but it is very spread out to actually walk from the first city limit sign there all

The way to the other end you’re talking I don’t know a few miles on the right here it says well it’s charter school but that was the health club that uh my family was all members of and we would go there and play racket ball and swim in the

Pool and soak in the hot tubs and stuff like that okay my school middle school was over here somewhere let’s find it backto Grove okay I think this is it school slow yep there it is so in fifth and sixth grade then I have the same teacher Mr Meyer and it was right

Around there I think straight ahead that door there you can see Beal Grove Middle School I don’t want to go walking around there pointing a camera but uh the school here was fifth 6th and seventh grades I was only here for fifth and sixth grades pretty sure Abram and I both had the

Same teacher either way we were hanging out a lot because we’ met earlier at uh the other school that I will go to next in second grade so of course loads and loads of memories here playing sports on the uh field there Abram and I messing

Around and then my other friends that I mentioned Shane and Gabe and so in seventh grade my parents transferred me to a private school because I just kind of wanted to be somewhere different and so they were trying something else and so I went to a

Uh private monu school which was up in Brook Trails for sth grade and then Abram skipped 7th grade we would still hang out we were on the uh same soccer team okay I need to stop here and talk about the sign and so Abram skipped 7th grade high

School was from 8th to 12th grades which is unusual I’m assuming they’ve probably changed that now but uh at the time the eighth graders at the high school were called rats and so Abram skipped from 6th over 7th went straight to the high school in eth while I was in seventh

Grade at that monu school and then my parents arranged for me to skip 8th grade so that I would catch up with Abram and also not have to be a rat which was great um and so I will show the uh high school as well let’s uh take a look at the sign

And explain something here so the uh Arch sign is the old sign that was in Reno they used to say the biggest little C in the world or in the United States or whatever so you can see it says Willets they made a new sign obviously heart of

Menino County now that is kind of debatable because it would kind of make more sense for Yukaya to be the heart of Menino County when it is the largest town and the county seat the capital of the county maybe will is slightly more centrally located in the county or

Something but also gway to the Redwoods that is especially dubious because the Redwoods are a long ways North well there’s redwoods around various Redwood Groves as I showed in my last video driving over to the coast but really the Redwoods are quite a bit further north you could say

More like Eureka or Arcada or maybe Garberville are more of the gateway to the Redwoods so kind of silly but uh whatever Willet Arch dedicated July 1st 1995 a gift okay I hadn’t realized it was a gift from the City of Reno Nevada to the city of Willets California in

1990 this Arch towered over Reno’s Virginia Street from 1964 to 1987 welcoming people there we go to the biggest little city in the world and so here is the Safeway supermarket where my family would shop and then let’s head over to the elementary school that I went to so let’s

See if I can find the school hey my car and maraposa Market that was here when I was a kid let’s see if I can actually find my elementary school and so Abram lived in Yukaya for I think a year before coming up here in I guess kindergarten

Or first grade and then we met in second grade we had the same class at the school that I’m heading towards here is the gra Hall Community Center oh now it says will it school so I’m not sure what that is but uh there’s a large uh room in there

Where there would be various community events one of which was a play that my mom was in it was one FW Over the Cuckoo’s Nest my mom was nurse ratchet the like kind of evil nurse in the movie with Jack Nicholson so memories that are coming to mind from here are trick-or

Treating for Halloween and then walking from school okay I think we’re getting there yeah this is all familiar all right so we’re almost to the school so usually I would catch the bus right from the school but sometimes I would be walking like maybe over to the hospital where my parents

Worked or uh something else go to the health club go to friends houses whatever so the uh memory that I’m going to mention from here actually two come to mind first I was in kindergarten which was there on the right and there was an earthquake I remember boxes falling off the

Shelves so there you go Brookside Elementary same building everything the buses pull up here in that lane and then another one is from before I even started school my dad drove me over here and showed me the school and said this is where you’re going to be going to

Kindergarten so that would have been like summer of let’s see I would have been five so 77 summer of 1977 Brook Side Drive okay now let’s head over to the high school where the memories get more interesting Commercial Street back when I was here up ahead was the only stoplight in

Town now there are more up on the right no idea if it’s still there was landmark Bakery a popular Bakery where there were also live shows there was a room in the back and wow I wasn’t sure if it would still be here but TNT Market an old looking sign it is exactly

The same right there so they had arcade games in there like I was mentioning at the Adas Mexican restaurant but they had a bunch more and so we would go there and play uh games oh so that place that says pizza or no maybe it was over here one of

These businesses right there was Abram’s burrito shop burrito exquisito back in the 90s Abram and his uh older brother Chris started this burrito shop there not sure how long they owned it for a few years and then they sold it to somebody else and ahead you can see the noo the

One love and Madame web is one love of Bob Marley movie certainly sounds like it okay going left here so as I mentioned in the last video Yukaya has more screens there at our theater there was just one so we would often go down to Yukaya to uh see movies

Their oneone Drive-In good uh burger and fast food place okay the memories start this place I forget what it was called at the time when I was in high school there was some other kind of restaurant there here is Sherwood road which goes up to my house and I will drive up there

So Abram and I decided to walk through the drive-thru and try to order food at that place cuz there was like a drive-thru on the back I don’t know why we didn’t just walk in they might have been like closed except for the drive-thru something like that and so we pressed the

Thing or no I forget exactly how it went down but uh I don’t know if we ever even got to the point of ordering but the guy sticks his head out and says like get out of here basically something like that so totally didn’t work okay Willet high school here home of the

Wolverines pretty cool mascot Wolverines are very ferocious creatures so you have the pool here I learned to uh swim at that pool I think it’s the community pool and then also for the high school I took wrestling in that building right there let’s hop out see if we can wander around a little

Bit so there you can see it says will it City Pool this was the gym Lots happened inside there this was the room where wrestling class happened and then uh tennis courts over there I played tennis here you had softball baseball out there the main field football

Games let’s see what happens here if I get kicked out eventually so uh basketball hoop there reminds me back at uh Brookside Elementary School the uh first school then one of our pastimes during the uh recesses was playing basketball but we didn’t do so much actually playing basketball as we would just

Shoot and try to make the craziest shots we could make you know from way far away or bouncing it in or whatever so one of the uh funniest stories from my time here with with Abram there is the library I think that is it actually right there

Yes so we spent lots of time in the library and at one point Abram and I got kicked out now I forget the exact circumstances I think it was basically something that Abram did but I was associated with him and I was sitting next to him and they thought that both

Of us were involved I don’t remember it was like making some noise or something it might have been you know the second or third time they’d warned us or something like that but uh we got kicked out and banned from the library for maybe the rest of the year or maybe

It was just a few weeks or something I forget maybe it was like two weeks or something but uh in protest then every morning around the time a little bit before classes were about to start we would stand at this window there was like a uh entrance going in a door right

Here and then it went into like an enclosed area and then you took a right into the actual door that went into the library and so there were Windows on this sort of entrance area and we would stand at the window on the outside with our tongues against the

Window and just stand there like around the time that everyone was leaving and so there would just be this line of everyone leaving the library to go to their classes and we would just stand there with our tongues on the window for like 5 or 10 minutes or whatever in

Protest and then I guess eventually we were allowed back in the library if for get there but uh Abram and I shaved our eyebrows maybe that was at our one of our houses I forget but uh it was kind of emulating the pink Floyd movie the wall because uh Pink the main character

In the movie shaves his eyebrows at one point the basis of that we kind of came up with the idea and then we were unsure whether we should go ahead with it and so we agreed that if either one of us did do it and the other one didn’t do it

Then the one who didn’t do it would owe the other guy five bucks so if Abram did it and I didn’t do it then I would owe him $5 and so that kind of gave us incentive to both do it and then eventually of course they grew back

I could certainly go on and on telling various uh stories from high school it would certainly take a bit of digging to uh remember all that transpired here in just the two years that I was here 9th and 10th grade and then 11th grade I moved down to the Bay Area went to

Skyline High School in Oakland because my dad had moved to Montclair in Oakland Skyland High School where Tom Hanks went to high school and then uh for various reasons I was kind of in with the wrong crowd then my Dad decided to change me over to Berkeley High

School and uh graduated from there and then as I’ve mentioned before Trey cool the drummer for Green Day went to Willet high school as well and was in my group of friends and we all hung out along with Abram and Abram’s older brother Chris and uh the stories of where various

People went on with their lives after Willet High School are pretty wild including this one guy Andy who got in a surfing accident and almost died or something and then he survived but but he had sort of a spiritual Epiphany and for some reason this resulted in him moving to

Alaska and becoming a Russian Orthodox Monk and a friend of mine showed me a photo of him once and uh big long Gray beard like totally looked you know straight out of Russia or something all right now let’s head up Sherwood Road and go to the area where I was raised I’m

Not going to go to the house somebody else of course lives there now but uh show the area there including where I first learned a hitchhike Sherwood Road Brook Trails airport 4 miles so high school right there and then as I talked about in my last video how I started hitchhiking as

A kid up our dirt road which I will be showing and then later in high school I started hitchhiking all the way home from town and so I would just walk across the street and stand there stick out my thumb and eventually get a ride home which

Involves about a 3M Drive up this road and and then you turn onto a dirt road so across there might be hard to see there is a Big W for Willets so there have been a lot of crazy tragic stories coming out of this little town one that comes to mind

Is a guy in high school Jason strong I think he was maybe a year older than me anyways this was in I forget when I was in 9th or 10th grade anyways and uh he was driving himself to school driving down this road and somewhere along it a

Tree randomly fell across the road crushed his car killed him instantly imagine the you know timing on that you brush your teeth for 2 seconds longer and it doesn’t happen you know just such a bizarre freaky thing Willets was the sight of the fastest shootout in the west

Apparently back in the real cowboy days there was some shootout in which like six people got killed in a minute or something like that so this is Brook Trails as you can see very nice uh forested area and Abram lived up here and I’m going to show you his house now the only

Reason that I’m going to show it to you is because because his parents sold it and moved away just recently like last year or something but uh if they were still living there I wouldn’t show it for their privacy but uh let’s go take a look and I have been

There maybe like 10 years ago or so no not that long ago I think in 2015 here’s a photo with Abram and another friend of ours John who we also went to school with and we all met at Abram’s house and then we went on a uh drive up north out to

Koval kind of random just a uh little day trip so here Sherwood Market that opened at some point after we had moved here a few years later and it was really a revelation for us because it meant that we could get stuff without having to uh drive all the way

Into town save you know just a few minutes but it was a shorter drive from where I lived and they also had uh VHS tapes movies so we could just pop down there grab a movie get some ice cream or whatever all right so we are getting close to Abram’s

House so up here on the left Abram’s family’s house they moved here I guess when they first moved to Willet so a year or two after my family did that’s it right there so I spent a lot of time in that house I would regularly go stay over the

Night we would play computer games have all kinds of Adventures in the trees around here Abram’s family was Mormon is Mormon and so they had seminary in the morning so I would stay the night and then go to Seminary with them here is the airport the Willets

Airport my dad got his pilot’s license once we went to visit my grandparents in Bishop near Bishop California over the sieras and I guess we must have taken off from here I forget if it was here or maybe Yukaya but I think probably here and so uh we flew there over the

Sieras it was spectacular but also painful because uh no pressurization in a little four-seater plane and I remember our ears just like bursting there it is again so his parents moved to Oregon all right so I’m now going to continue straight down here get back to the Sherwood Road and

Then get up to where I live mov so we’ve left the brook Trails area behind and it gets a little more wild up here classic old barn and uh Farmhouse and then there are various roads that connect to Sherwood Road here I think all of which are dirt unless

Some of them have been paved since but just up ahead is going to be our dirt road called troll Ridge that was kind of the informal name or Timberline Road I’m going to uh drive right past our driveway without revealing it for the sake of the person’s privacy who now

Lives there but uh that’s where our mailboxes were only one there I guess maybe the mail truck now goes up uh the road and delivers there that used to be a shortcut but now gated and then down here is where the bus would drop me going this way so it would stop here

Drop me off and I would start the long walk if I wasn’t getting a ride Timberline Road as you can see or as I mentioned in the last video and in my book following my thumb a decade of unabashed wander lust link down below to my books then this is where I started

Hitchhiking not actually right here I will show you in just a second but uh at some point when I was eight or 9 or something like that I decided rather than walking the whole way that I would just stop and wait for a neighbor someone who is familiar to come along

And get a ride with him so the bus would drop me here here maybe one of my parents would be here to uh pick us up otherwise we were on our own getting home my brother would take a different bus I don’t recall us ever taking the same bus

Because he was a few years behind me so I was always on my own making this walk so when I started hitchhiking then rather than hitchhiking down there at the bottom I would walk up here and you’ll start seeing the driveways going off to various properties you

Don’t see most of the houses from the road of the people who live out here mostly they are longish driveways so here on the right driveway and there is the top of the shortcut and so you would cut off just that little bit of the road if you came

Up the shortcut which was open when I was a kid but somebody owns that property and I guess they decided to uh block it off so driveway there gated and so right there is where I would wait it was different then less uh trees and that’s a mad drone tree right there the

Trees were smaller I remember it being grassy right there and so there was like a comfortable soft grassy spot in the sun to hang out and hope that somebody came along and got me home because from here it’s more than a mile further of a walk up this Gravel Road and then this

Road continues past our driveway and reconnects with the Sherwood road so I will make that entire drive now so another uh house there which you can see and so there you can see multiple addresses I guess four houses down there another driveway and so this uh Road was originally

Constructed as a log operation access road back in like the 40s or 50s so they logged this whole area and so when I was a kid then it was still a couple decades or something uh after the logging had happened but the uh trees were smaller so this is the start of

What my brother and I called killer Hill because it is a big steep hill and there were less trees so it was less shaded and it was hot on a hot day it was kind of exposed andere walking up the Steep Hill which doesn’t look like that big of

A deal now but at the time it just felt a lot bigger and longer and so on the left here is another driveway down to one of my dad’s friends we would hang out there really cool homes out here all you know built by the people who uh moved onto the land

Mostly because it was raw land and so they’re all individual and you know just kind of class Mountain sometimes kind of ramshackle style some more driveways very you know country feeling there was really a community here more driveways so my parents knew I’m sure basically everybody who lived

Out here and then some were better friends than others but uh there would be community events one guy had a sauna we would go over there for potluck every Sunday evening and duas oo lucky us we got to see a deer nice there it is looking back at us that is

Awesome so it was really a pretty ultimate childhood of course no childhood is perfect but uh it was about as good as it gets to live up here have these forests to explore have interesting neighbors be immersed in nature and have a childhood of you know some ruggedness of chopping

Wood our house uh didn’t have regular electricity we weren’t connected to the electrical grid we had 12v instead of the usual 120 volt so basically like that powered electric lighting which we actually got later we just had like gaslighting lamps before that and then we got the electricity and got the electric lighting

And then we had a stereo system that worked on the 12vt but our TV did not work with 12vt and so we had a generator away from the house that you had to start up to get the 120 volt electricity going so that we could watch the movies as I mentioned that uh

Store then we would have to go start up the generator which involved like cranking it and then the scary part was after we’d watched the movie then either my brother or I I think it like alternated would have to uh go back to the generator to turn it off and

Of course after watching movie it’s dark out and it was a few minutes it wasn’t right next to the house it was a little ways away okay so I’m trying to decide whether to go down Middle Earth or Timber line both will work I forget but uh let’s just go straight I

Guess actually I might want to go back down Middle Earth butth let’s go out this way a little bit and so it was kind of a freaky experience having to leave the you know brightly lit warm house go out into the cold dark woods and then

You go down this path and get to the shed and the generator is roaring away and then have to turn it off and then get back to the house just as a kid walking through the woods in the dark your imagination goes wild so there were a lot of you

Know really amazing parts of it there were challenges of course but uh I wouldn’t trade it for a thing and so the short version of how we ended up here is my uh parent parents were looking around for land to buy and ended up in Willets somehow

Found out about uh this area and the uh lots that were available and bought the land 40 acres off of this road I passed the driveway but didn’t point it out and there was absolutely nothing on it just you know the trees that were growing back

So my dad didn’t have much in the way way of construction experience but he learned and uh my mom and dad got started building a house and built this big awesome wooden house which took many years to uh complete so we had an ouse at first no working bathroom ous down a

Hill a uh you know one minute walk from the house or whatever and then later a friend moved on the land and built this little cabin and then my dad built a big Woodshed and we dug out a lake and so we you know made various improvements

Over the course of the 10 years that uh the whole family was living there we had Orchards with different fruit trees we had a garden we would cut wood from trees on the land for our wood stove we didn’t have gas heating or electric heating but just a wood stove hey more Wild

Life and so it was really a country Mountain experience and it’s great to see that uh 40 years later not a whole lot has changed still a dirt road I think they have electricity yes there we go power lines those weren’t here at the time sure they got internet but uh other than

That still dur Road lots of trees classic uh wooden homes still nice and quiet out here haven’t passed a single car on this road yet and in just a second we’ll get back to Sherwood Road and that other road that I passed Middle Earth I think it can next to this

Road or maybe that’s it there I forget right over there is the paved Sherwood road so let’s just drive out that way a couple minutes so uh right up ahead here this Junction was called double cul HTS a very practical name okay there we go Middle Earth Road there and

So that is a covert that big pipe sticking out of the uh dirt for the creek to flow through under the road and I guess there were two of them maybe now there’s only one maybe they replaced it with one big one or something but there used to be two and

So if you wanted to meet somebody here you would say see a double CS all right let’s head a little bit further up Sherwood road so I just drove a couple of miles further up Sherwood road to the RoR Ranch and in the process I realized that I got something

Wrong so this is as far as the bus with would go it would drive here turn around and then go back and in the process I remembered the bus did not pull over and drop me off going this way and then I would cross the road because they thought that that

Was unsafe which it kind of was so I would have to ride the bus all the way here and then it would pull in here back in and then turn around and go that way right here I’m pretty sure the pavement stopped and it was then dirt going

Further up the road which eventually goes back to Highway 101 but it is a long ways uh further going that way so anyone who lived further up there their parents would have to like drive here and pick them up or whatever and so I don’t know that I’ve

Ever been back up that way lots of mailboxes so lots of houses back in there and so I’m going to uh drive back to town and and end with uh just showing a bit more of this road and some of the uh roads along the way which are where more friends of my

Parents lived and so I have various memories of driving out here to go visit various people to go to parties I remember a guy who had a pond we would go there and swim the guy’s name was Kirk he made wood stoves he made our wood stove and it said Kirk on

It and we also went out there to watch the Super Bowl ones back in like the mid 80s when Joe Montana was the quarterback and so there you can see it says third gate so there’s a series of three different roads here first gate second

Gate and third gate and so you drive out there and it goes back in there away to many more you know Country Homes hippie houses I had friends that lived back in there and uh there was a lot for us to do without necessarily going into

Town being out here having all this uh Community around us and so I remember it being kind of an annoyance when I was a kid having to stay on the bus go all the way out there wait you know to stop and drop kids off

Along the way and then turn around and I think that I was the last kid yeah I think so and so I was always alone on the bus at the end and so here on the right is the uh double colberts again and then we’ll get

To second gate and first gate and Hobbit Hill and then it’s our road troll Ridge so that’s second gate I think a pretty cool place to grow up beets living in the middle of the concrete jungle of the city I’m glad that my parents got out of Los Angeles

A pretty ideal life out here all right that is going to do it so the weather is about to change the next uh several days it’s going to be rainy so I don’t know what I’m going to be doing I’m going to be doing some travel

Planning that is for sure and trying to decide what the heck I’m going to do next because it is getting on time for me to make a move sometime soon that might be first gate there so uh who knows where I will be next but more videos coming from somewhere see you

Video “Crazy Stories From My Life in a Small American Town” was uploaded on 03/01/2024. Watch all the latest Videos by Gabriel Traveler on Gretopia