Redwoods on california route 36Wednesday’s ride had Kenny and I traveling over a curvaceous stretch of California 36 from Red Bluff to the coast, where we stopped in Ferndale to have lunch.

When we pulled in to the beautiful Victorian town, I took a quick scan up and down the street and picked a place to eat. The winner was Poppa Joe’s.

When I opened the door and stepped inside, it was like walking through a portal to another time. Laid out like a typical olde tymey counter service lunchonette, I chose one of the tables in the rear corner so that we could get a good view of the place while we ate. Behind us were a few senior citizens playing cards at game tables. Straight-up saloon stuff.

Inside Poppa Joes in Ferndale California

Locals strolled in and out of Poppa Joe’s while we ate. Each time they did, the waitress or the lady who slung hash with love in her spatula addressed them by name. It did my heart good to be in a place that felt like a “real” piece of America; a place that hasn’t been sanitized for my protection. There was something that seemed long lost and pure in that place. Something you pray can withstand the crush of “progress” and just keep on keepin’ on.

Ferndale California

After lunch, I stood on the curb next to my bike while Kenny was down the block. An older gentleman in a yellow pickup truck pulled up and parked in front of my bike. He got out of the truck, walked towards me smiling and asked where I was traveling from. From that opener – the next 10 minutes was like a song that summed up our lives as much as possible in that short amount of time.

He was a World War II veteran who moved around during the war but never lived anywhere other than that very town of Ferndale as a civillian. He told me about his children, asked about New York, and told me a little bit about what he did during the war. He asked where we were headed and agreed that taking Mattole Road would be a great choice.

And just like that,… we passed through each others lives.

I could have talked to him forever. The whole time we spoke he smiled with his eyes. That is the kind of smile that comes from the inside out and gives you a hug. In that small sliver of time, he made my day with his simple joyfulness. I can still see his face when I close my eyes.

Have you ever felt blessed to have met someone?

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