Nadine Hopper

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2018 by George Griffin

Nadine Hopper was born in Agadir, Morocco in February 1934, and she died February, 2018 in Marysville, California.


Nadine, July 2012 flashing her “I’m so happy” smile.

Between those two events she lived a full life: working- not stopping until her 80s; living her faith in God; sharing love in the form of banana bread and home made jam; supporting charities that helped the needy; and most importantly, loving and protecting her family.  Life can be dauntingly hard, and Nadine’s was filled with obstacles, but she had grit and determination  and a spirit that led her around or over or through whatever challenge she faced. Some took years to overcome, but her resilience and hard work ultimately led her to succeed.

2017-12-24 09.33.38

On the streets of Casa Blanca with her father Alexander Bakhmeteff.

There is a mystery about who her mother was. Her birth certificate read “Mother Unknown.” Our best guess was that her mother may have been a mistress or concubine of her father. He was a well off, educated and connected man. Mom said she didn’t know, and if she did she never shared it with anyone. When she was seven years old, World War Two arrived in North Africa and she was placed by her father on a farm far from the city for safety. Conditions deteriorated in Morocco and they lost contact. Forced to work for her food and a place to sleep, she labored there until as a teenager she ran away, back to the city, with the goal of finding her father. She stumbled into a job at a sardine cannery where she lived and worked for two years until she was sent to the owner’s office for fighting with a co-worker. When the owner turned out to be a friend of her father, she was reunited with him. For the next few years she lived with her father in Casa Blanca, Morocco, as the daughter of an educated, successful architect.


Nadine at about 18 years old.

Nadine was a beautiful young woman who commanded attention and turned men’s heads. During the time she lived with her father, she attracted the attention of an American serviceman stationed in Morocco.


Shelby Roy Griffin and Nadine Bakhmeteff were married in 1955 in Casa Blanca Morocco.

Nadine Bakhmeteff and Shelby Roy Griffin were married and they soon moved to the United States of America, first living in San Bernardino near his parents and eventually settling near Beale AFB, in Marysville, CA, with their two young sons. Her husband turned out to be a poor partner in life. He enjoyed other women more than being married, so showing her determination and a questionable lapse in judgement, she confronted him with a pistol one evening. Luckily, she wasn’t successful and he wisely decided that life would be safer if he left.

One of her jobs was as a short order cook in the Orchard Club. She would later marry the owner.

Nadine spent the next several years raising her two boys as a single parent. Those days were tough. She worked two jobs to pay down the debts, struggled to keep a house, but still applied herself to create a stable life for her family. During that time she worked as a cook for Carl Hopper, and he fell in love with the young mother.

Chapel of the Bells, Reno Nevada, 1965. Carl made a lot of smart moves in his life, but marrying Nadine was his best one.

Carl and Nadine were married in 1965 and and she and her family moved into what would be her home for the next 53 years. From her childhood on a farm or the hand to mouth life as a single mother with very little, Nadine’s life changed dramatically with her marriage to Carl. Her home life was now stable, her daily life was predicable, and she settled into an extended secure period for the first time in her life. She still worked as a cook at local restaurants, and with an nod to her past, at two different packing plants, but because of her impoverished past, working and earning an income had become an important driver in her life.

Certificate of Naturalization- Bravo Nadine!

As an immigrant, Nadine dreamed of becoming a citizen of the United States. Her new stability allowed her to enroll in classes at Yuba Community College. She took English as a Second Language classes, citizenship classes, and practiced and studied on her own. It was a proud moment for her when she took the oath of citizenship in front of her husband and two very impressed teen sons.

Carl’s declining health led him to be completely dependent on Mom’s care.

The last several years of her married life were devoted to caring for her husband. He suffered a heart attack and a series of strokes. Over time his health deteriorated and he became more and more dependent on her to the point where needed to be cared for like a baby. It was an endless labor of love that kept her close to home at all times. When he died in 1998, Nadine’s life began to open again. She could travel, visit her family, and finally, take care of her own needs and desires.

Happiness just after her first communion. Mom saved the corsage.

Nadine’s faith was an important touchstone in her life. She was a long time parishioner of Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church. She discovered Catholicism in her 40s and was a regular at Mass, with several years of attending many times weekly. She supported the church with her presence, money, and until her death she maintained correspondence with several of the priests that served there. The last four decades of her working life was as a home health care giver, an undertaking for which she was truly gifted. Over the years she cared for, she loved, she fed, bathed and finally grieved for, dozens of people as if they were her own family. Caring for family is easy because we love them, but Nadine extended that loving care to others. Even as an 80 year old “little old lady” she cared for an older little old lady, and as recently as a month ago she talked about getting another job.

Family was always the center and most important part of her life. A mother bear could not have been more fiercely devoted. She encouraged and pushed, she cajoled and nudged and prodded, and she loved and supported her family any way she could. As rascally kids we felt that love as protection or hugs, warm smiles, or food, and sometimes as punishment like a stare, a threat, a raised voice or a whippin’. Her two husbands felt it as an unwavering force to do what she thought was right. How ever it was expressed, we always knew that she had the family’s best interest at heart.

Nadine enjoying a nap with her well loved rescue cat, Mickey.

Nadine’s life came to a sudden and unexpected end when the flu, pneumonia and a leaky heart valve threw up one last obstacle that this sweet little old lady could not get around or through or over. She lived 84 full years, and over the last few years she often marveled at being given that much time. She wondered aloud what God had in store for her. Now she’s with Him and knows!

Nadine’s life experiences could have shriveled her spirit and hardened her, but instead they grew her compassion and capacity to treat others in an unselfish, loving way. Her death leaves a huge hole; her community, her friends, her family, me, all of us, will miss this wonderful woman. Goodbye Mom. I love you always and forever!


Treasure Hunt

Posted in Uncategorized on December 4, 2016 by George Griffin

How often do you clean out the freezer? If you’re anything like me it’s a rare event. This morning while I was making space in the freezer for the soon to arrive pig meat, I discovered a quart of frozen, roasted duck broth with meat hiding in the bottom. Bingo! It’s not the lottery, but it is a little bit of treasure.


Even though I had a long list of chores for the day, which is why I was cleaning out the freezer in the first place, there’s little better than cooking if you want to stall with a purpose. So the list got pushed aside for a while and the broth thawed for dinner.



Duck broth is tasty, but too thin to stand on its own, so it was time for the rest of the dish.  The mixed white beans went into the pressure cooker. Cooking dried beans can be a long process, but the pressure cooking time for them is about twenty minutes. The hardest part was waiting for it to depressurize so I could put the whole thing together.

ducksoupWhile the beans cooked, the rest of the ingredients were readied; the bacon went into the skillet, while  leeks, onions, garlic and Herbs de Provence went into the stock pot with the olive oil.


The final bit was adding some kale from the garden for a little spicy bite and some color. That’s my kind of morning, cooking and stalling. I have a prediction. I’m going to enjoy retirement.




How Far Is It To The Summit?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 25, 2016 by George Griffin

Screen shot 2016-04-03 at 9.17.27 AMAround the campfire last night we had a talk and made plans for the final day.  Day 4 contained the biggest single climb, and, we were also riding 52 miles, ten miles longer than the previous day. To top the day off we had a train to catch at the other end and it wouldn’t wait for weary cyclists.  The plan then, was to leave by 7:30 and be in Ventura in time to pick up the Uhaul truck and catch the train. Sub-plan: Courtney decided that her legs had reached their limit and was going to get a ride and meet us at the train station.

Everyone was looking toward the mountain we had yet to climb. How long was the climb? What were the elevations? What’s it like on the top? After three full days, how would our legs respond? I didn’t really remember much about it except that it was longish and pretty steady. In fact, the climb was longer but not as steep as I remembered from several years before.

Day 4 Begins

After a short flat section the climb started. It immediately turned to switchbacks, but long drawn out ones. Traffic is never too light on a bike ride. We had been spoiled with minimal traffic since hitting Soda Lake Road, but trying to get a ride for Courtney on a deserted road was tough and we were hoping for the farm truck to come by with a friendly and generous driver.

Day 4 Courtney's AngelWell, he didn’t show up, but we flagged someone down and he, unfortunately,  said, “Nope! Can’t do it,” then pulled away from us only to stop forty yards up the road. He had a change of heart. He was Courtney’s Knight in Shining Armor- we packed all of her gear in his van and waved good bye, with plans  to meet up in Ventura, not before taking a picture of him and his license plate just in case.

Day 4 Uphill for 5 milesFrom then on it was uphill to the summit. It was cool in the early part of the ride, but the exposure to the sun quickly warmed us up . The 2000 feet plus climb to the summit contributed. Still, even a hilly, hot day on the bike is better than most other days.

Day 4 Summit R & S and MattThe summit was welcomed and we regrouped there for a picture or two before heading into the next section, the Sespe River canyon.

Day 4 Sespe Downhill LizDropping into the Sespe is soooo much fun. The road goes down fast with just a few rollers to pedal over. The road is smooth and wide and you can pretty much forget about using the brakes. The river and rock formations were eye candy and the descent was awesome. I continually scanned the sky hoping for a glimpse of a California Condor, but no luck.

Screen shot 2016-04-03 at 9.17.27 AMAs seen on the day’s course profile, it’s a pretty easy day, at least on paper. But reality has a way of making what’s on paper a bit different. We topped out at 5,732 feet elevation and our downhill was to take us down to 7 feet in Ventura. If there is a better final day on a bike tour than a 5,725 descent over 25 miles, then I want to find it and ride it. Notice the little bump at the mid point of the profile. That little stretch is were the road leaves the Sespe River watershed and crests a ridge that leads to Ojai. It was also the hardest  quarter mile section of the trip. The wind blew up the gorge and right into our faces. Not a mild or gusty little wind, but a strong and steady wind fueled by the hot inland temperatures. Small gears ruled, and getting as aero as possible only slightly lessened the difficulty factor.

Day 4 Second Summit LunchAt the bump of the false summit we found a handy and scenic roadside picnic spot for our lunch. Strangely, the wind was not blowing there.  The food was shared around and we enjoyed the rest stop knowing that the remainder of the ride was downhill.

Day 4 False Summit downhillFrom our picnic spot, we could see the coming afternoon’s descent. In the distance was the marine layer, the cooling fog that’s often on the coast and reaching inland, but in this case it blocked our further view of the canyon.

Day 4 Matilaja Creek Yellow FlowersWe dropped into the canyon in small groups and singles. Smiles and white knuckles all around. This section proved to be steep with many sharp turns, perfect for going fast and learning the bike over.

Day 4 Fat GeorgeSome of us gained a little weight from the fine cooking on the trip.

Day 4 Tunnel SusanThe section of road passes through a tight canyon called Wheeler Gorge. There were a couple of tunnels there and some of us shared the tunnels with semis, and while the roads had more traffic as we approached Ojai, they were still pretty much deserted.

Day 4 Three Dirty CyclistsAfter a bit more pedaling we rolled into Ojai and our lunch spot. The super-market had everything we needed. I seem to remember beer and chips to go with the actual food for fuel.

Day 4 Posse on Bike Lane BridgeThe final eleven miles from Ojai to Ventura we enjoyed the Ojai Valley Bike Path, a Class One bike lane that parallels Highway 33. It’s a wonderful place to ride and well used by the community.

Day 4 Posse Bike Path MartyWe took lots of photos and stuck together as a peloton, dodging families, strollers, dog walkers and other people out enjoying the day.

Day 4 Class One Bike Lane DanielIn Ventura, Marty and I cycled across town to the uHaul dealer while the others pedaled to the Amtrak station. Each of the two groups bought some beer, cause, well, beer.  Half an hour later the truck was packed, we were changed and waiting to make the return trip to SLO.

train-stationBike touring is pretty much always fun. I’ve toured alone, with Liz, with small and with large groups, and in every case, it’s fun. Twelve people is the largest group I’ve ever toured with, but each person brought something unique to the trip-food, wit, skills, equipment, positive attitude…

Last night we met to talk about this spring’s tour. We don’t have a route yet, but the four days are from Friday, March 31 to Monday April 3. Yep, April Fool’s Day is in there. I’m looking forward to seeing what trip the group cooks up for the next ride and getting back out on the road. Want to join us?



Day 3 KCL to Rancho Nuevo

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2016 by George Griffin

Another flat day- Yea!  Well, okay. My riding mates might say that I’m just a wee bit optimistic.  This trip marked the fifth time in about 15 years I’ve ridden this section of road and I remember it being flatish. Not flat but mostly flat.

Day 3 ProfileAnd now as I look at the course profile I can see from where that memory comes. It is mostly flat with just a little uphill bump in the middle, right? So, this day was shaping up as a cruise over rolling terrain, and we had the added interest of the first 14 miles being dirt road. Sounds like fun!

Being away from everything, responsibilities, clocks, being out of cell phone range, sort of distills life to the basics. Pedal, drink water, eat, camp and enjoy the now. My friend Jim would call that “strokin the now.” The regular world doesn’t really intrude much out there. That was the case for me when the Easter Bunny reminded me that it was Easter. Oh yeah, it’s Easter.


Day 3 Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny Susan dropped off goodies for us all.

Just before loading up and pedaling away the Easter Bunny stopped by and dropped off a chocolate for each of us.

Day 3 930 roll out

Exiting KCL Campground and heading for miles of dirt road.

The pictures show a muted green color, but the undertones of flowers were everywhere. In this section of the valley, most flowering plants were either past their bloom or were very low growing plants and partially hidden. It might not be everyone’s idea of nature’s beauty, but in a stark way the valley was stunning.

Day 3 Renee on Dirt

It’s easy to see that Renee loved the hills and sand.

The dirt road was pretty easy to navigate. There were a few sections of washboard that rattled us and our gear. I started to hear some squeaking from the front pannier rack. I told myself to check the connections that night.  If anything was going to come loose, today was the day it would happen.

Day 3 Marty Dirt

Marty had the only BOB Trailer, but he handled it on the rough terrain with aplomb.

There were also some sandy patches that caused the tires to bog down. I know of at least one rider who showed up in camp with sand on her legs. It was fun to see the bicycle tracks showing which path to take or showing where to avoid at all costs. Looking at the horizon in the picture it’s easy to see that as the day progressed we gently climbed. Over the miles the road rose and fell, but each fall was less than the rise and so in this way we gained elevation. I was pretty content. My legs were feeling good again, if not fresh, at least they seem to have recovered from the ugly first day. And yeah, maybe this day wasn’t flat or even flatish.

Day 3 Traver's Ranch

Traver’s Ranch, where we bumped into Sobyl.

Traver’s Ranch marked a bit of pavement. It was an illusion because soon after we were back on dirt. For the moment though, it was a good rest spot. There was a museum of tractors and farm implements, a shuttered house, and what we appreciated greatly, a port-a-potty. This was a good snack spot. At this point we redistributed some gear. Courtney’s leg was hurting and her energy was flagging after two and a half days of riding a heavily laden bike. We got a surprise visit from Sobyl here. Strange how out in the middle of nowhere we still managed to bump into friends.

Day 3 Liz Geo Pavement Patch

Traver’s Ranch stop with appreciative smiles for a bit of pavement.

As we continued south, the flower patches became more common. Several patches were brilliant  and they were like the Sirens, pulling us to a stop.

Day 3 John Flower field

I think we all used this place for a photo op.

This particular patch was a magnet for everyone in the area. There were several cars parked on the roadside, people walking all over, and lots of photos being taken.

Day 3 Field of Blue Ron Susan

I wonder if Ron calls Susan Honey Bunny.

This particular flower field was also right next to the spot where the pavement started again. That was a    Very. Good. Thing.

Day 3 Pavement Begins

14 miles later we reach the pavement again; you know there were some happy sighs emitted.

The beginning of the pavement also meant that we had traveled only 14 miles and had about 28 more to go. We were here about midday, the sun was overhead, and though not blazing hot, it was very warm. Time to push on.

Day 3 Weston

Weston, the Man Child. Next time he’s carrying all the food!                   (Note the mini alkali deposit in the background.)

After more rolling hills we hit a summit of sorts. I’m not sure there are supposed to be summits on flat ground, but, we rolled over it anyway and enjoyed a nice long downhill.

Day 3 Marty Rockin the BOB

Marty rockin’ the Bob trailer.

After a short uphill we came to Highway 166 and the funky building on the corner. It offered a little shade and we snacked there a bit while our group joined us in ones and twos. Our intention was to ride into Ventucopa and have lunch at the diner. I was looking forward to a bacon burger with frings, BUT, it was Easter Sunday and we weren’t sure it was open. We tried to call from the corner but cell service was spotty so we just pedaled on.

Day 3 Derelict Gas Station

Derelict Corner Store,  Gas Station and tired cyclist rest spot.

Turning right onto 166 we had a wonderful downhill with a aiding tailwind. It was the fastest 5 miles in two days. Highway 33 to Ojai was our route as we pedaled through the open farmland. The Cuyama River Valley here was pretty bleak. The hills across the valley were visible, but up close there was little more than bare fields, a few orchards and not much human life. There were a few patches of yellow on the hills, but everything looked disturbed.

Day 3 Ventucopa Line-up

Hot, dry, dusty and mostly empty, heading in to Ventucopa.

After the downhill we gathered in the shade one of those open side barns used for storing hay.

Day 3 Daniel in White Face

Daniel sporting knickers, wool jersey, Zinc Oxide and a brilliant smile.

After a bit of chatting and rest we headed into town hoping that the diner would be open on Easter Sunday. No such luck. The diner was closed, but the little store was open. The clerk was plenty patient with us as we cruised the aisles looking for suitable food. We may have each made about three passes through the store by the time we were done. One of the more popular items was a frozen burger. Pop that thing in the microwave and you’ve got a diner substitute. They also had ice cream and popsicles, nice for a hot afternoon. The most important thing we bought was water, about 5 gallons worth.

Day 3 Rolling Road

The climb to camp led gradually upwards.

When we left the store I was carrying about three extra gallons of water and I could definitely feel it in my legs. This was a good pedaling day for me, but each hill was beginning to tap a little deeper into that well of reserves. From the store we had about 12 miles to go, and each little hill I climbed I thought, “Well, this is a little more than flat.”

There was a funky little place just about 200 yards from our camp road were we pulled over and had a conversation with a person right out of Blue Velvet, or Wild At Heart. There was a Native American looking guy in a 58 Ranchero loaded with stuff. His buddy was talking to Weston when I arrived. He offered us the hard to decline chance to camp at his 600 car, Museum of the American Automobile and Log Cabin. “It’s just over there,” he said as he nodded at the brush across the road. The guy was so besotted he had pissed in his pants. As hard as it was to pass up his roadside attraction, we did decline; the David Lynch factor was just too high.

Our crew pulled up at the road to Rancho Nuevo and I waited at the turn for the people still on the road. About 3 minutes later the group came back and made an executive decision. They we going to camp right there in the grassy meadow with the big shade trees instead of heading another mile and a half across the sandy wash and four creek crossings. Works for me.  Day three was a long day. It was hot, and the road made for slow going early in the day. We left camp about 10:00 and arrived in camp after 5:00. So far it was our longest day in the saddle. Day Three was a tough day.

Day 3 Post Ride Camp

Funny how at every gathering people always end up in the kitchen.

Daniel, Liz, Ron, Susan and I were on kitchen duty. We tossed some ideas out ahead of time and through email decided on an Indian meal. We split them up into equal parts so no one person would have to carry the lot. Rice with Curried Red Lentils, Tasty Bite Chick Peas in something sauce, one with Spinach and Paneer Cheese, and one other I can’t remember right now. It was good, and spicy and filling and we had enough rice for a Korean Family to join us.

And yeah, a Korean family did join us. This nice lady with two children was looking for the campground and was checking out a map on the dirt road. Ron chatted with her a bit and invited her to camp near us. With the Blue Velvet character just up the road we were a safe alternative. Plus, we had about a gallon or more of rice.

Day 3 Campfire

Campfire fun…

We likely ended up in a better camp spot than the original plan. This one had plenty of downed branches for a nice fire. John was good at getting that going each evening. He and Weston kept this one stoked.

Day 3 Campfire Smiles

Wine anyone? Enjoying the fire and the folks. And, BONUS, our Korean neighbor brought us some fresh strawberries.

Before bed, we had a conversation and made plans for the next day; it was to bring the biggest climb, the most miles in a day, and we had a deadline of about 4:00 to make because the train doesn’t wait for straggling cyclists. But for now, we enjoyed the fire, the remaining drinks and each other.

Day 2 Bitterwater Road to KCL Campground

Posted in Uncategorized on April 1, 2016 by George Griffin

Day 2 was the flattest and shortest day of the trip. It also marked the end of Highway 58 for us and the beginning of lightly traveled roads.Day 2 profileWe were hoping for a big wildflower bloom and a restful day. This is the day that spawned Rule Number One of Bike Touring; “It Takes All Day!” It didn’t matter that Google maps said 32 miles should be about 2 hours and 32 minutes. The First Rule of Bike Touring states, “It Takes All Day!”

Coffee PrepEach of our days started with the kitchen. For me that meant the morning ritual of coffee. I was one of the first up and out so had first crack at coffee. Marty was always there too. “Coffee fix please,” I say. Thanks to Ron’s delivery last night, I had coffee, dark and delicious in the morning. Liz and I made an oatmeal, dried fruit, nut, and seed mix before the trip; each day all we had to do was boil water, cook and eat. We all had our specialties; John had fresh eggs and pancakes, there were dehydrated breakfasts, fruit and snacks. The camp kitchen was a happening place each morning. Hot water, stove space, need a pot for this, got some extra of that, any sugar…

This day started out pretty leisurely. We finally had everything packed and were on the road by 10:00. The colors were remarkable- bright green and depending on the flower, splashed, with yellow, gold, blue, white or purple blossoms.

Day 2 Kyle and Francis

Kyle enjoying the stoker’s seat and the sunshine.

The sun was already high and warm, but there’s no problem with a late-ish start today, because it was a short day, only 32 miles, and flat ones to boot.

The Kammer duo trade bikes for a bit.

Soda Lake Road was beautiful. It was pancake flat, and we had the slightest of tailwinds. Did I mention the wildflowers were wonderful? After a couple of miles on Soda Lake Road we arrived at the CDF station in California Valley- break time, and hopefully time to get some water. All the spigots were labeled non-potable, and our knocks on the office door went unanswered. As we were snacking in the shade of the big trees, the red fire engine rolled up. Perfect!

Day 2 California Valley Pack

Nothing like having a tandem pull the group.

Note the gallon bottle of water on Kyle and Francis’ front rack. Each of us carried as much water as possible. There were precious few places to get any on this route. We stashed about five gallons ahead of time at each campsite, but after the first overnight stop we realized that with 12 people, we didn’t have enough for dinner, breakfast and the next day’s riding. The CDF firemen let us fill all our bottles. We emptied their filtered water reservoir of about seven gallons and headed South on Soda Lake Road. (Thanks CDF. Our tax dollars at work.)

Day 2 MattDaniel

Matt and Daniel give the camera some love.

We had a surprise visit by a convertible BMW with Carl and Bettina. We chatted with them while pedaling. They were kind enough to motor pace me forward so I was able to catch Marty who was leading our group. We met them again at the Soda Lake Overlook where we stopped once again because, well, we could, and there was no rush as the day was short and flat.

Day 2 Visitor's Center

Make your own bike parking places.

At Saturday midday, Painted Rock Education Center was a busy place. Many people were out for the wildflowers; the visitor center tables were all taken, so our lunch was had in a grassy patch. We spent a long time enjoying the food, the shade, and Carl and Bettina who joined us with their own picnic.  (Bonus- they shared not only their company but fresh strawberries and potato chips too. Thanks Carl & Bettina.)

Day 2 Dirt RoadShortly after lunch, we hit the first of the dirt road. There is a 20 mile or so section of dirt with a half mile of pavement as a teaser in the middle on Soda Lake Road. We were concerned early on about how the rainy winter might have affected the road, but it was in great shape. Today’s ride had us on the dirt for only six miles; six miles that were hot, dry and slow going.

KCLOur end point for the day was KCL Campground. It’s an improved BLM campground in the minimalist sense. Pit toilets, camp sites, shade, and no water, but on the Carizzo Plain, this is a lot. We shared KCL with many people from the Bay Area. and a lady named Judy who brought her horse and her mother. We’d hear from the horse a little later.

Day 2 John's House KCLWe took a giant grassy patch in the middle of the camp and made lots of noise setting up camp, enjoying the wine we’ve been schlepping, and finding the perfect spots. There were still a few bottles of beer that Matt had carried, so Courtney approached Judy, the horse lady,  who offered space in her refrigerator to put some chill on it.

Day 2 Post Ride @ KCLTents went up all over, but everyone gravitated toward the shady side of the old stables. The sun had been intense earlier and the cool felt good. The green grass and the shade kept us comfortable while dinner cooked. Pre-dinner, if you weren’t on cooking detail, was the sweet spot time for relaxation. Day 2 KCL Camp circleWe were sitting on Therm-a-rest chairs in deep shade, with wine, and there was also whiskey and tequila along, each making it a wonderful time to be together in the shared experience of pedaling. It might have been nice to have a few more luxuries, but life was pretty sweet.

Day 2 post

Susan, Courtney and Renee enjoy the shade and a little liquid.

About this time we started to notice that Judy’s horse was unhappy about something. But hey, a cranky horse in a remote location is nothing to get your undies in a knot over, right?

Day 2 Dinner Grubbin @ KCLDinner was a wonder of fresh vegetables. There was even a salad. Two days on the road and fresh salad!?! Courtney’s collapsable cooler kept the fresh produce cool, and we were the beneficiaries of a tasty day two meal. And, thanks to being in a real campground we ate at tables instead of on the ground.

In no time the sun dropped behind the ridge and it got dark. Hmmm… It wasn’t supposed to be that late. Maybe it took longer than we thought, and there were a lot of stops, and th edirt road, and….

Oh yeah, The First Rule of Bike Touring is- “It takes all day.”

The evening was topped off by a campfire fueled by scavenged brush and wood, more wine and conversation.

Sleep comes early when you’ve pedaled all day and that’s what happened. Mix some wine, a big dinner, a shot of spirits, add in a tired body and a sunset and you have the recipe for sleep. We all went to bed pretty early. Well, all of us except the horse 60 feet away. All night she was whinnying and neighing. If there ever was a demon possessed horse that was it…





Day 1 Santa Margarita to Carizzo Plain

Posted in Uncategorized on March 31, 2016 by George Griffin

Hopium Ride Profile

Day One of any bike tour is special; it’s the day that sets the tone, it’s a day that’s pregnant with possibility, it’s one of those where anything can happen, it’s the kind of day we imagine in our dreams. Paraphrasing John, it’s being on “hopium.”

Our plan was simple; meet at our house at 7:30am, load up the trailer with bikes and  gear, load the cars with people, pile in, and our shuttle drivers (Thanks Dan and Ray for delivering us.) would take us to the start in Santa Margarita where we’d load up and be pedaling by 9:00.

Day 1.b Assembly Spring Bike Ride 2016It can take a while to load the panniers and all the gear and then overcome the inertia of a big group, but we were able to do it pretty quickly.  (Click on the pics for the full size view.)

Day 1-2Group Portrait Best BeginOne last bit before leaving, the obligatory group picture. We were fresh and jonesing to get on the road. I don’t know what people’s thoughts were, but mine were- “This is going to be GREAT!”

Day 1-3 Posse Starts outAfter a few minutes of picture taking, we rolled out of town. The road east took us up and down over 37 miles- a relatively short day- to the Carizzo Plain, and it was familiar territory for many of us. Still, there were plenty of hills to get over- more than enough to tame our hopium buzz.

The first day was the second shortest of the four, and our eyes found plenty to distract us from our legs- velvety green hills, Fiddlenecks in bloom, Lupine, Poppy, Goldfields and of course, the riders with ear to ear smiles.

Day 1-5 Spring Color K&FThe downhills were wonderful, and because our legs were fresh, the uphills were largely easy to roll over. Still, each uphill and downhill reminded us of the baggage we were carrying.

Day 1-4 Rolling up and downEvery bike was fully loaded,  that kitchen sink, the extra wine, the luxurious fresh vegetable meal, and it all added up.

Day 1-6 Shell Creek LunchWe stopped a few times along the way, for pictures, or a drink of water or to take in a view, but the first real stop was Shell Creek Road for lunch. Marty broke out the stove and had some coffee. (This is when we found out that Daniel has a serious love of tea. Hot tea anytime please.) The winter rains had brought out deep and luscious grass and flowers galore. Our lunch was leisurely and fun and no-one was in a hurry to move on.

Day 1-7 Big Assed Climb Spring RideAfter lunch we started climbing a bit more. The section from about 20 miles to 37 had very little flat. The good news is- going up and down and up and down caused us to use different muscle groups. The bad news was going up was hard with a fully loaded bike. As soon as it got steep, the stronger riders moved to the front. Daniel and Weston just cruised. I started to suffer a bit. The first big climb after lunch had me thinking that maybe the three liters of wine wasn’t such a good idea and that maybe training more would have been a good idea.

Eventually, we all made it to our first camp. Some of us had a more difficult time than others. I found a new motto on the last climb- “If you’re not fit, don’t bring extra shit!” It wasn’t the last moment on this trip that I regretted bringing so much stuff. Day 1 was hard! Hopium doesn’t power you up a hill. This was the second time I’ve ridden this section fully loaded and it was much harder this go around.

Day 1-8First CampOur Day One campsite was a pasture near an emu ranch. It was rough ground, but beautiful. As people rolled in they’d set up a tent and throw down the food for the evening meal. Those of us not on cook duty that night would sat and talked and drank cold beer or had some wine. Poor Ron had a work commitment and missed the whole up and down with a kitchen sink thing. We didn’t mind a bit when his friend dropped him and his gear off, gear that included the coffee that I forgot to bring, a 12 pack of ice cold beer, and lots of water for dinner and breakfast the next day.

Day 1-10 Emu MotelWe went to sleep to the lullaby of emus screaming, geese honking, dogs barking and later coyotes yapping, and yeah, the neighbor’s dog that wouldn’t stop barking and the occasional ranch truck flying by on Highway 58.  I think that all of us may have had a little bit of “hopium” in our systems as we looked forward to a solid sleep, breakfast, and the short, flat day coming up.

A Spring Time Ride through Flowers

Posted in Uncategorized on March 30, 2016 by George Griffin

Spring on the Central Coast is an incredible time to get outside and explore. The hills are green, flowers are popping, and the weather is just about perfect. Liz and I enjoy bicycle touring and a multi-day bicycle tour during my spring break is always a treat.

Route MapLast year we rode down the Big Sur Coast with 6 friends, and this year it was a tour of the interior of the Central Coast with a final destination of Ventura, CA. As the time to start riding approached, my level of excitement increased. With a dozen adventurous people and some lightly traveled back roads, the recipe for a good time was there.Course ProfileThe plan was to spread out 163 miles over four days so that any single day wasn’t too much.  According to the Google course profile, we’d lose about 1000 feet from beginning to end.  The road we’ll travel was to be a gradual incline with lots of flat road and rolling hills. There are a few steep spots, but overall, it should be just about perfect.