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California Love: On Top of the World on Mattole Road

On the west end of town in Ferndale stands a gate with an arrow pointing towards Capetown and Petrolia. This is Mattole Road. If you’re curious enough to hook that turn and head up the little road with no line up the middle, you will be handsomely rewarded with treasure.

Heading up Mattole Rd in Ferndale

Now, you won’t get your reward all at once. Like the plot of a good book, it will make itself known with a slow build.

The narrow road begins with an ascent into the trees. In many places the road seems like it’s barely wide enough for two cars to pass each other. But it feels just right for a motorcycle.

The draw of the road, the landscape – they give the distinct sensation that you are somewhere else in the world. Can this possibly be the same California I grew up seeing on television?

Kenny on Mattole Rd

Climbing gradually, you crest into golden rolling hills.

The road gently coerces you to slow down, to take your time and drink it. Save for a few lucky cows who have the greatest grazing place on Earth there doesn’t seem to be another soul around.

cows on Mattole Rd

Before long, you will find yourself looking out to the edge of the world. The horizon line gets on its tippy-toes, peeks over the curve of the land and beckons you to come down to put your toes in the ocean.

The ocean on Mattole Rd

Once there, you have the beach all to yourself. Now, if that isn’t a treasure, I don’t know what is.

This feeling of expanse, of freedom,.. this place – I cannot help but cherish it. This lost coast is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

Mattole Rd Photo Gallery

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Sights From the Road: Now That’s a Pinecone!

I found this impressive cone laying on the side of the road in the Lassen National Forest.

Giant Pine Cone Lassen National Forest

Isn’t that something?

I was going to make a grossly inappropriate joke about it not being the size but the seed inside that counts – but then I thought better of it.

Lassen National Forest Sign

California Love: Sweet Moments in Ferndale

Redwoods on california route 36

Wednesday’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?

More Posts From This Trip:

GoPro Accidental Photos: The Redwoods

While in California, Kenny and I spent a lot of time with out GoPro cameras set to photo mode. We varied the photo shooting time between 1 and 3 second intervals. Overall, I found that I much prefer having a lot of photos to sift through, rather than hours of yawn-worthy video.

What I also discovered is that invariably there will be some gems that get taken “by accident”. They seem to pop up often when you forget to turn the camera off while stopped somewhere.

While looking through our GoPro photos I found this photo that was taken in the Humboldt Redwoods:

Fuzzy in the Humboldt Redwoods

If you click to enlarge it, you’ll see that I am in the lower right corner taking a photo with my camera. It gives you some idea of what it’s like to be amongst those big beautiful trees. Pretty cool, huh?

How About You?

Do you ever use your GoPro in photo mode?

A Symbol of Hope and Inspiration on California’s Route 36

Not only does California’s Route 36 boast beautiful riding and the world’s greatest road sign – it does so much more. It’s undulating roadway oozes hope from it’s very blacktop.

What the hell am I talking about?

Well, darlings, I’m so glad you asked.

Near Cottonwood, California where a dumpy, tan port-o-potty once stood – hope has sprung eternal in the form of…

California 36 - From Portopotty to butterfly

a shoe tree.

Route 36 Shoe Tree California

Has there ever been a more poignant testament to the idea that you can rise up out of whatever shit you’ve come from to become something great?

No. No, I don’t think so.

From pee to shoe tree. From pooh to shoe. You too can become a butterfly; a phoenix, even! Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Under the shade of the shoe tree

Shoe Tree Gallery

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