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 luncheonette, 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 woman 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 civilian. He told me about his children, asked about New York, and told me a bit about what he did during the war. He asked where we were heading and agreed that taking Mattole Road would be a great choice.

And just like that,… we passed through each other’s 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 joyousness. I can still see his face when I close my eyes.

Have you ever felt blessed to have met someone?

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Rachael is the whimsical writer behind the 20+ year old Girlie Motorcycle Blog. As a freelance blogger, she is on a mission to inspire laughter, self-examination, curiosity, and human connection. Girlie Motorcycle Blog can be found on several Best Motorcycle Blog lists.

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5 Responses

  1. Tim Frazier says:

    Meanwhile I was stuck in a laundromat in Texas listening to an old codger school me on the virtues of old fashioned commercial gas dryers vs. the new ones “that got motherboards in’em what have to be replaced every two years.”

    Do you know how much it costs to put a $75 motherboard in thirty dryers every two years?

    Yeah, I didn’t care either.

    I bet if I had ridden my motorcycle up there he would have had war stories to tell instead…but the laundry wouldn’t fit in my saddlebags.

    That said, I get a kick out of our old folks and the nuggets of wisdom they share. I bet something about that commercial dryer conversation will be worth something to me one of these days. But it’s not as cool as war stories.

    • Fuzzygalore says:

      See? Look at that. You came away with some knowledge to share. I had NO IDEA that dryer motherboards cost $75. Consider me enlightened 😆 Your job here is done.

      Well – to be fair – it sounds like that guy is having a personal war with his washing machines. That counts for something, i… think…?

  2. Dar says:


    I love little towns, people are so friendly. I love old time architecture and little eateries. The local cafe is the heart of any small town. I remember once we were on vacation in Oceancity, our car broke down and the fellow who helped us was the local sheriff, fire chief and an EMT, he also was the town mayor. He was awesome, he helped us tow our car to a local garage, talked to the local hotel person & they ave us a cut rate on our room. He lent us 2 bicycles to get around town and everywhere we went the knew we were that young Canadian couple who had car trouble. We got lots of howdies and welcome to our town. It was amazing! I don’t think that would happen in a big city.

  3. Kari says:

    Funny how bikes seem to invite folks to get together and chit-chat. Meet some great people that way!

    Also like visiting the local small diners/family businesses. Always lots of character, both in the location and sometimes in the patrons and staff that you find there.

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