Posted in 2018 Alaska trip

Second Stop

Saturday, June  9

The ship left port around 10 last night. We were watching another show and didn’t even feel the ship moving. Dan is feeling worse so we went to the cabin and crashed.

When we finally climbed out of bed, we were in Skagway. Weather today, overcast and drizzly. After a light breakfast, we wandered into town searching for WiFi. Found it at the local library but many, many others were using it too so it didn’t work well. I still cannot load my pictures onto this site so no publishing yet.

Dan wasn’t doing well so he went back to the ship while I stayed at the library.  

Before Dan went back to the ship, we stopped at a few stores. Saw some beautiful knives. The handles were made from mastodon teeth. Who would have thought a tooth could be so pretty.  Also stopped at Sockeye Bicycles. They not only sell bikes and bike related items but also run tours. I thought I’d seen the name before. They advertise in Cycle California.

Evidence we were there (see Dan in reflection)

Mountains around Skagway were trying to hide in clouds but I got a partial peek

After hiking back to the ship, did lot of nothing waiting for the dinner hour. Most of our group was there so we caught up on the various adventures.

A new comedian kept us laughing for awhile. That was all Dan could take so he went to lie down. I wandered off to watch Girls with Guitars. A decent show. After that I stopped in to listen to karaoke. When the first singer got up to try it again, I was outta there. The ears can only take so much.

Posted in 2018 Alaska trip

First Cruise on a Cruise Line

Tuesday, June 5 to Friday, June 8

eft home with Wayne and Tony. Their bags were larger than ours. First worry…did I pack enough? What else should I have brought? 

This is an unusual worry for me as I have packed for lots of adventures but not a 10 day ship cruise.  I mean, they expect one to dress up for dinner for Pete’s sake! Dan and I have relaxed into a VERY casual lifestyle. We really don’t have “dress up” clothes and really don’t want any. Conundrum.  Thank goodness for friends who loaned Dan a suit jacket. I do have some old clothes from when I was working.  However, I felt very underdressed the first ‘formal’ evening. The next one won’t be any better. Guess I’ll live through it. I feel like the wait staff are better dressed than we are. Live and learn.

The arrival in San Francisco was great. Wayne dropped us  at the pier and went to park the car.

Dan and Tony waiting for Wayne to arrive after parking car

Weather was perfect. Just after passing under Golden Gate, we saw whales! No pictures, they weren’t posing that day. In a hurry to get wherever they were going I suppose.

Our first night the dinner was dressy casual so felt comfortable with that. We have five couples at our table. Met Jim and Barbie for the first time. They came from Texas. The rest of us have homes in Pine Mountain Lake: Wayne and Tony, Frank and Darlene, Todd and Yvonne and Dan and I.

Dinner is the only time we are all together. We are a raucous group- lots of teasing and laughter.

Since it took two plus days to arrive at our first port, Juneau, we did a LOT of walking…up and down stairs, around various decks, trying to learn our way around.  Day four and we still don’t agree on which way to turn. Sometimes Dan gets it right, other times it’s me.

We have seen Mike Wilson, comedian/impersonator/singer, twice. Enjoyed both his shows very much. Also have seen several shows done by the Princess singers and dancers. There were also a couple of shows by Sonia S. (don’t remember her last name). Would like to hear her again but she’s done for this cruise.

As we arrived in Juneau, there were many, many bald eagles in the area. It seems the ship disturbs the marine life which brings the birds to feed. There were also seagulls. Great to see the eagle dive, grab food and then fly off.

We have met several people who have heard of Groveland. Small world! There are also lots of folks from various parts of California.

Many take excursions at the ports. We chose to wander the city. Went by and saw the Alaska  State Capitol building.

Also went to the city museum and the state museum which is only two years old. There were some hand made guitars in the gift shop of the state museum so Dan got a small guitar “fix.” He enjoyed playing one of the electrics…glad he didn’t buy it.

Statue of William Seward who negotiated transfer of Alaska from Russia to U.S.

Four story totem

I was also on the lookout for some WiFi! What we get on the ship doesn’t work well. I was able to get a few fb posts done.

We also saw a seaplane base. Dan went over to talk with the pilots, of course. 

Otter flying into Juneau

While he was doing that, I was able to watch some of the native tribes perform several of their dances. Since we’d seen a totem pole carver do a presentation on the ship, I had a better understanding of what it all meant to the people who were dancing and chanting/singing.

Haida dancers
Haida dancer’s costumes

Saw another fun show by the Princess singers/dancers this evening. They sure get a workout and are very athletic.

One last photo from the day…

Holding hands with local bear in Juneau
Posted in 2018 Organized Rides

May was an Interesting Month

Brent Burns came to out little town and entertained us with his Trop Rock and patter. Some of the neighbors stepped in to help out too.

Brent Burns with his flock

Found out this evening $500 was raised for the aviation scholarship fund because of this event. Hoorah!

The next day I took a different route to Coulterville for the monthly fundraising breakfast for their museum. My usual route was closed because of the road damage caused by our horrendous downpour the previous month. The road I did take had also been closed but was open that day. Here are some pics of the damage I saw on Priest-Coulterville Rd. Each of these was from a different section of the road.

Some clean up was done but the road still needs major repair. In the meantime, these sections are down to one lane.

A few days later some friends of neighbors came to visit with their bikes. I was asked to act as tour guide. My pleasure!

We rode to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

Phil on recumbent. Doug on Cervelo.
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir with the falls.
Harlequin Lupine

Next day Jenn flew in from Missouri. The plan was to fly to Oakland to pick her up but the weather didn’t cooperate so I started to drive down to get her. In the meantime, the weather cleared so Dan went and got her while I stopped at the Costco in Manteca to do some necessary shopping. It all worked out.

Next day, Jenn and I met her cousin, Sarah, in Sonora. Had a great time visiting and wandering.

Discovered Legends, a soda fountain/book store with history
The piece behind the bar survived a couple of natural disasters before moving to Sonora
Sarah and Jenn showing off the spring in the basement. There were also tunnels under the building (which was a bank) that the businessmen used to get to the bank so they wouldn’t have to deal with the riff raff on the streets.
The bank safe
A carrom board, I hadn’t seen one of these since I was a kid! One of the antiques in the store (I was another one).

A Trip to Yosemite was in order so Jenn and I went to the Tuolumne Grove to see the giant sequoias. We got there early and had the place almost entirely to ourselves. The dogwood were in bloom too.

Jenn in what’s left of the drive through tree.
Hard to get the perspective of how big these trees are in a photo. You need to come see them in person.

As Jenn headed back to the SF bay area to spend time with family and friends there, Dan and I headed to Big Sur to spend some time with Julia and her family.  But before that, we spent a day preparing food and feeding close to 100 people who were in the area for an auction. Whew! We needed a relaxing trip to the coast.

However, it wasn’t to be such a simple trip. I was going directly from Big Sur to Paso Robles for the Great Western Bike Rally. So, Dan rode his motorcycle so he could go home after Big Sur and I drove the car. We stopped outside of Modesto for breakfast but when we left the restaurant, Dan started honking his horn and waving at me to pull over. I had a flat tire! Fortunately we were by a fuel station because, of course, the spare was flat too.

Once we got that taken care of, all was OK for the rest of the trip.

It was good to have several days of nothing to do to recover from the previous several days. One of the other issues we dealt with was our airplane not starting on the day we flew Jenn back into Hayward. After Dan dropped Jenn and I off in Hayward, he had taken the plane to Palo Alto so he could pick up Bryan from Stanford. When he went to start the plane, it wouldn’t. Fortunately we have friends who fly to Palo Alto for work and one of them was there to rescue Dan. Bonnie ended up coming to Hayward to get me and then flying to Concord to drop off Bryan before flying home. Ay yi yi!

It was Alex’s birthday so we had cupcakes to celebrate.
And what’s a camping trip without s’mores? Jasmine definitely enjoyed hers.

Although hwy 1 was destroyed north of where we were camped, we could still get to Julia Pfeiffer State Park where we took a walk to McWay Fall.

Alex, Julia carrying Jasmine, and Bryan on the walk to see the fall.

McWay fall

Dan and I also stopped to enjoy views along Hwy 1:

My next stop, Paso Robles. I arrived in time to join Jack, Phil, John, and Al for a ride to San Miguel and back. Then, while they went grocery shopping, I went to do laundry. So nice to have some clean clothes again…

The next morning Jack decided to go home. He’d had a rough night. I was sad that he had to leave. Getting old sucks.  Before he left, he did join us at the donut shop.

The rest of us headed out to do Peachy Canyon in reverse. At least that’s what I was told. Phil and I got separated from the rest of the group (Louis, Sydney, Ron and some others had joined us by then). When they were not at the next corner, Phil and I made the decision to turn left (which was the reverse route). Turns out the others had gone straight. Since there was no phone reception, we couldn’t call. All made it back safely but we sure took different ways to get there.

Saturday’s ride was a variation on the Hollyhock Hop that I did last month. We all managed to stay together. The ride also took us to Sculptera Winery. Phil and I had ridden out there a few years back but it was worth going again.

Al, Phil, John corner of Creston Rd and Geneseo
This was new since the first time I’d visited.
This one is still my favorite.

Panther, cougar, mountain lion, jaguar, take your pick.
John riding the lion

The next day’s adventure took us back to San Miguel but the return was more round about. One thing we confirmed, Airport Road has been repaved, hallelujah!

John, Al and Phil on one of the back roads.

Our last night so we went to The Oddessy for dinner then wandered around the town park.

Library, a Carnegie building
Statue of Paderewski, yes, the composer and pianist. He lived in this area, owned land, grew grapes. I had no idea!
This was our home for the past five days.

Before I headed home, I went to bay area to see family. Surprise for me, I got to see Chelle, Alex, Brittany, Amanda, Kirk, Melissa and Evie. I was only expecting to see my two daughters. And I did get to see them too. 

Jenn, Melissa and I were able to spend time together at The Lake in Newark.

Egrets decorating the tree.
Got lucky catching this guy preparing to land.

And then I came home. Now I’m starting on the June adventures.

Posted in 2018 Daily Life

Disappointed and Then Not

I made a special trip to Oakdale today to meet up with some folks from the Stanislaus Bike Club that I’d met last week when riding in their area. I left my phone and the route sheets I’d printed from their website on the kitchen counter. Of course I realized this after I was about 30 minutes into the hour plus drive. Too late to go back.

I arrived at the start location at 8:20. This was good since it was advertised as an 8:30 ride. So, if they normally start the ride at 8:30, I was early enough to be ready to go. If they don’t actually meet until 8:30, I was gold.

It was very quiet at the house where we were meeting. OK, they must meet at 8:30 and actually start riding later. 8:30 came and still no activity. Do I knock on the door? Am I at the right house? Eventually I went to the door. Packages by the door. Doesn’t look good.  No one answered the doorbell. Maybe it is the wrong house.

Got back in the car and drove up and down the street looking for bicycles and people in Lycra. Nope. As I went by the house, I noticed a bicycle wheel by the mailbox. Right house.

Lesson learned-call, text, or email the leader ahead of time.

Plan B – parked at Knights Ferry and rode into Oakdale. Stopped at Starbucks just as a tour group came in. Sounded like they were Russian or from that part of the world. Got my tea and scone and relaxed outside in the nice weather.

Returned to Knights Ferry but took a little detour. Passed another cyclist who looked like he was wearing Stanislaus Bike Club gear so I turned around and chased him down. Turns out the ride leader had to be away today so a group had met early for a ride. We missed each other by a few minutes. 

So I rode solo but enjoyed the ride and was glad I met one of the Stanislaus Bike Club members. Good day.

Posted in 2018 Daily Life

Excellent Saturday

Yesterday was too nice to forget. It began with a flight in our Mooney to Auburn for breakfast with my niece and her family. Barrett had spent the night with his high school students “locked in” at the school playing games all night. So, he was a little rummy from lack of sleep. We also got to meet Berenize who is staying with Chelle and Barrett for awhile.

After a wonderful, fun time visiting and eating, Chelle asked if they could see our plane. That resulted in a flight for all three.

Berenize gets front seat. Chelle and Barrett in the back.

After they took off, a couple of men who were wandering around looking at planes asked why I wasn’t flying too. I told them my husband said I had a thumb.

Dan took the group flying over Folsom before returning. He also had them experience weightlessness, of course, without warning anyone what he was about to do. There’s a price for flying with Dan.

Coming in for a landing.

As we flew home, I was thinking about what to do with the rest of the day. Apparently Dan was too. So, after a bit, we decided to go for a motorcycle ride. The day was calling us to be out of the house. 

Although we’d been to Evergreen Lodge just last week, we decided to head that way again. While we didn’t go to the Lodge, we did take the same roads. I was surprised at the changes in the plants. The ceanothus had filled in and some were blooming. There were more lupine with some harlequin that weren’t there the week before. There still aren’t as many varieties of wildflowers as I would expect for this time of year but our weather’s been so wonky, I’m not surprised the plants don’t know what to do.

Having an intercom on the helmets so we can speak to each other while riding is nice. Sometimes we communicate better when we’re riding since there are no distractions. Hmmm, maybe we should wear the helmets all the time.

We ended up at Hetch Hetch in Yosemite.

Kolana Rock front and center. Wapama Fall on the left.

We completely forgot about the aviation meeting but got a reminder call so did go. Interesting presentation by our neighbor who is an aircraft accident investigator. This time he told us about a towboat/barge allision (yes that’s a real word). 

And that was our day.

Posted in 2018 Organized Rides

Primavera 2018

This ride starts in Fremont, California. I live about a 2 1/2 hour drive from there but there is family in the area. So, Saturday morning I headed to meet my daughter who is in the midst of moving. Her cousin and her two young boys were at the Subway where we met. After a quick lunch, we headed for the storage unit and started moving stuff around so we could get to Jess’ stuff. Although there really weren’t that many boxes, it was a hot, humid day so by the time we hauled everything up three flights of stairs, we were all hot and stinky. I’m glad we didn’t have to move any major furniture!  That’ll come later and young, strong men for hire will do that.

So, the new place is a one bedroom. I brought my sleeping pad and bag thinking I’d sleep in the front room. Jess thought we could share the bedroom so I set up in there. She warned me the cat snores. Well, it wasn’t the cat keeping me awake. I eventually fell asleep but didn’t get a good sleep partially because, even though the cat didn’t snore, he did ‘cat around’ a lot that night.

Early Sunday, we all got up and dressed (well, Teddy wore his birthday suit as always). Then Jess drove me to the ride before she headed off to begin her day.

I walked into Registration and heard, “Nikki!” Following the sound of the voice, I spotted Al Q waving at me and sitting next to him was Becky S. What a great way to start the ride. After a quick hello, I headed out. And who should I see (we almost bumped into one another) but Barb Q. A quick hug and she went in to register. Saw her two more times during the ride.

Route, number and patch

The first part of the ride is fairly easy…but then, the turn onto Calaveras Road. Calaveras means skull in Spanish. Sometimes when riding portions of this road, I think I may expire and all that’ll be left of me is a skull.  The first bit is steep but there’s a rest stop where it levels out.

Dennis, Carrie, Andy, Ken L. were all there to greet me! OK, maybe that wasn’t the reason they were there but it was nice to see each of them.

Continuing on Calaveras, it climbs again and then comes The Wall. A bonus this year was being able to ride this portion of the road as it has been closed to all traffic except the workers who are repairing the dam which creates Calaveras Reservoir. No workers on Sunday so we really did have the whole road! This was nice for climbing The Wall as folks could take as much of the road as they needed to get up it.

Some of the riders climbing The Wall

Once past The Wall, the rest of this section is mostly downhill and scenic. The hills were green, the yellow mustard flowers were blooming, the blue reservoir was lovely. I noticed the soil and rocks are more of a dusty tan as opposed to the red we have at home.

Calaveras Reservoir
The Dam

I’m guessing we had 10 miles of road to ourselves. It was the highlight of my ride this year.

At the next rest stop, in Sunol, I saw Joyce T. and John D. We shared a story or two before I moved on. Thus far, I hadn’t even looked at the route sheet or road markings. So it was a good thing one of the volunteers was at the Verona Bridge to guide complacent riders (ahem). At least I woke up and saw the arrows on the road for the turn onto Sunol-Pleasanton Road. To the left, to the left. That was a change in the route I wasn’t expecting.

Riding in the Sierra foothills must be doing me some good as the climb over Dublin Grade was not as long as I remembered it. After the final rest stop, the climb on Palomares loomed. Its been too long since I’ve done that climb. I remember it being much longer and steeper. So the top came as a bit of a surprise, a very pleasant surprise.

The drop down to Niles Canyon was fun but ended too quickly. From there its a quick run to Mission Blvd and then south to where it all began early in the day. I debated just going back to Jess’ place but wanted my lunch at the end of the ride. Total miles were 68 and I felt good when it was all done. However, a few hours later (not even the next day) my muscles were telling me they’d had a good workout. Getting older…not so great.


Posted in 2018 Daily Life


Stopped at the Stanislaus Groveland Ranger Station and noticed several trucks for various fire departments. After a quick stop to refill my water, I was on my way. Not too long after I got back onto the highway, the trucks started passing me.

When I arrived at Rim of the World, I saw the trucks again. As the men (yes, no women) walked by, I asked a few if they were there to honor Eva Marie. One said yes.  Eva Marie Schicke lost her life fighting a wildfire in the Stanislaus Forest. A portion of Hwy 120 is designated the Eva Marie Schicke Memorial Highway.

Trucks from Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Aptos La Selva, Cal Fire, and the National Forest.
Lecture before honoring fallen comrades.

I happened by this same location a year or so ago when the fighters were there again to honor the men and women who gave their lives fighting wildfires. 

From Rim of the World:

Looking toward the high country
Facing north
The river we didn’t used to see. The Rim Fire in 2013 opened up views.

Leaving Rim of the World, I returned to the ranger station. Who should I see but Bob, the same Bob that rode with me a couple days ago! 

A couple stops on Ferretti Road resulted in more photos:

No special filter but this looks “soft”
Sunshine in the woods
Trees, trees and more trees

Before I got home, a car with a bike on the back came toward me. It was Dwight! Not a good place to stop so a quick greeting was all we could share.

Instead of getting warmer as the day went on, the temperature dropped, the wind came up and the sky started getting darker. After I got back to the house, we actually had a few drops of rain.

Posted in 2018 Organized Rides

Paso Robles April 8, 2018

Today was cool but the sun was trying to peek through the clouds when I left my motel room to do the Hollyhock Hop. This ride is one that’s been on the Great Western Bicycle Rally’s list of rides for many years. It was one of the rides I did on my second Rally. 

It only took me 1 1/2 hours to do the 20 mile loop. Here are photos I stopped to take along the way.

There was a recliner on the side of the road. I almost stopped to get a picture of it for Ray P. but I didn’t.

Since I paid for the motel which has a hot tub, I took advantage of it before I checked out. It was nice to soak for 10 minutes before the long drive home.

Speaking of the drive home…I’ve come back from the Fresno area before and missed the exit off hwy 99 to get home so I asked my phone for help. The lady-in-the-phone kept trying to take me home on the roads that have been damaged from the recent storm. I ignored her many suggestions until I got to the road I’d taken to get onto hwy 99 the other day. I couldn’t remember the road after that so took her direction for awhile but started getting suspicious so pulled over and had a talk with her. Finally got back on track and got home!

BW was glad to see me. I think Dan was too (wink, wink).

Posted in 2018 Organized Rides

SLO Wildflower April 7, 2018

Drove down to Paso Robles to participate in the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club’s Wildflower ride. This is a ride I’ve wanted to try for many years so finally made the commitment. The weather predictors said it would rain but only .04 inches. Well…instead of riding the metric century, I quit at mile 45. I was drenched and it didn’t seem like a smart move to ride with wet shoes, socks, gloves etc. Fortunately the rest stop at mile 45 was also the start/finish for all the rides which made it easy to quit. And there weren’t very many wildflowers!

After eating my lunch, I drove back to the motel and stood for a long time under the hot shower.
The rain quit about the same time I did. The afternoon was clear and sunny. So, I got some rags from the motel staff and started cleaning my bike. Well I couldn’t get the rear wheel off. I just didn’t have the oomph to loosen the skewer. What to do, what to do?  Oh, take it to the local bike shop…except they are out of business. 

OK, my phone said there’s a motorcycle shop nearby. I’ll go there. Couldn’t find them but did find an ATV dealer so went in to see if they could help. Just needed someone with a strong thumb. You know, a man! He loosened it and I was good to go.

So the bike is cleaner and I plan to do a short ride tomorrow before heading home.

Some folks from the SF bay area and others from SoCal also came to do the ride. We were going to meet for dinner last night at the house the NorCal folks rented. Partially due to very poor directions from the owner of the house, it didn’t go as planned. But I got to meet and get to know some new (to me) folks.

The next plan to go awry was meeting in Creston at 7:30 this morning. I was running late and forgot my phone. So I tried to determine if the others had already taken off.  After hanging out for a bit, I decided to go ahead and ride. Later I found out they were behind schedule too so they left about a half an hour after me.

Alls well that ends well. This evening we all got together for the spaghetti dinner we were supposed to have had last night. It was delicious and we got to share stories, drink wine and just enjoy our time together.

This is the shop where I got help loosening my rear wheel.
Posted in 2017 daily life

Fading Away

Last two rides have been solo but I’m ok with that.  I’m at an in-between stage since riding across the country.  I’m much stronger and faster than I was when I left for that ride in June.  I don’t want to lose the strength and speed but fear I will since I won’t be riding miles and miles/hours and hours every day.

Along Old Highway 120
All that’s left of the hanging tree.

My stats from recent rides show that I’m retaining some of the speed/strength but I find I’m having to consciously think about pushing myself.  It is so easy to fall back into old patterns.  Trying to keep up with others is a great motivator…one that I’m missing.  🙁

New play area at Mary Laveroni Park in Groveland
Luckily, no one caught me near the play area!

Wednesday I started out with the intention of heading east.  I got out to where I could see the mountains east of us and also saw SMOKE! It looked pretty dense so I decided maybe heading east wasn’t such a good idea.  Change in route took me through town (Groveland) and then back home.  Got in 26 miles with just under 12 mph average.

It rained overnight on Thursday.  Cleared the air of smoke!

Sunday I challenged myself to ride from home to O’Shaughnessy Dam.  I thought it would be about 60 miles but my buddy, Alan D., said 70.  He was right.  I made it even longer by leaving my water bottle at the dam and having to go back to get it.  Ended up with just over 72 miles.  My average that day was also just under 12 mph.

Entrance to the Hetch Hetchy area of Yosemite National Park
The O’Shaughnessy Dam

This is what I’m concerned about…the average for my ride on the 13th was 13 mph.  Only a few days and I can’t seem to keep up my speed.  These three rides all have similar elevation gains/losses as they are in the same area.

Nice to see Wapama Fall is still running in October 😀