It was time for us to turn toward home. Friday morning we were in Fort Bragg, and I had us routed to be in Ashland, Oregon that night. Chris would soon split from the group and head south toward his home in the Los Angeles area. The rest of us would turn north on Highway 101.
We rode the serpentine Highway 20 from Fort Bragg to Willits where we had breakfast at Lumberjack’s, a restaurant recommended by a local rider. Willits was the splitting point for Chris and, after breakfast, he lit out for home.
Our now-diminished group of five followed Highway 101 to Highway 299, which was unremarkable, other than experiencing a bit of traffic in the Fortuna/Eureka area, and then Highway 299 east to Highway 96. Like the section of Highway 101 from Fortuna to Willits, this section of Highway 299 is mostly four-lane, with long arcing curves and a steady ascent into the Trinity Range. The highway is lined with lush redwood forests, with nice views to the west with the Pacific Ocean in the distance.
We took a long break at a gas station in Willow Creek at the junction of Highway 299 and Highway 96. While relaxing in the sun, we were approached by a young guy I’d estimate to be in his early 20’s who asked about our motorcycles. He had a strong Indian accent and, when I asked where he was from, he said with a big smile, ‘Bangladesh.’ Motorcycles like ours are far outside the norm of those in Bangladesh. While visiting with him for a few minutes, he related that he lived locally, had a job, and a place to live. He didn’t say it, but you could tell that the tiny town of Willow Creek was the best place he had ever lived. He seemed very happy to be here, was cheerful, and radiated optimism. I remember thinking as we rode off, we really need young people like him.
At the junction with I-5, we turned north for the short ride to our motel in Ashland. It had been a great day.