Cayucos 3/28

Great day at Cayucos. I flew for three hours in very smooth lift. Second flight was an hour in lighter conditions, but managed to work the lift higher somehow. 


I left Big Sur Monday morning at 8:00am. I didn't have any cars in my way the entire drive down the coast. I got to Morro Bay for a breakfast burrito then headed to my friend Charlie's house in Cayucos.

When we got to the top of the hill I could see the caps on the way in. For some reason Charlie didn't seem to amped. I setup knowing that it might blow out if I was not ready when it came in. Some of the local paraglider pilots took off just before the caps came in and had sled rides down to the LZ. I told Charlie where I hid the keys and took off as he was just setting up. After flying around for a bit I realized I forgot to put the keys where I told Charlie they were. Soon after he called on the radio asking about the keys and that he didn't want to fly. So I landed on top, gave him the keys and took off again before it got too strong.

I got to the dam for the first time. It was not as smooth as I liked so it was only a touch and go back in that spot, but will see myself trying it much more often. Then in the back bowl I got to 1500 and should have made a split for the rock, but was not sure if that was enough. After a few hours I landed when I was going to piss myself. Great day solo flying. Sorry Charlie didn't come join me. I'm sure we would have went to the Rock.

Cayucos St Patricks Day 2014 from Trey Kropp on Vimeo.

Pfeiffer Fire

Part I
Wake Up!
I could hear my phone ringing at 12am but it was across the room. I could hear it ringing again but too sleepy to move. Then again and so I decided I better check. It was Hugh Milne and he was telling me a huge fire was on the way and to pack up now. I went outside and could see this across the ridge.

It was hot out, and I could smell the smoke. The warm off shore wind was blowing at my back and I thought how the area on fire had not burned in over 100 years. I also knew that Pfeiffer ridge was home to a lot of the Big Sur community.  My friends, my neighbors, they all needed help. 

A neighbor of ours gave Ross Curtis an old water tender after the last fire. It holds lots of water and has a PTO pump. He gave me some lessons on driving it so my first thought was let's get that up the ridge. The Apple Pie crew met up on our ridge and made a quick plan. We grabbed the tools, got food and water, and the got a hold of some friends who were fighting the fire at their homes. Jali said get up here quick! We can save the place if we get help. So Tyson, Cyrus and Matt left to see if they could drive up Clear Ridge and over to Pfeiffer Ridge. The girls made food, while Jon and I got the water tender ready and full. Then Cyrus called and said they got through the fire to the house. 

It was a slow drive up that steep ridge in the water tender. We turned left at the top and headed past Mike Trotters house. He told us the firefighters were ahead, but to just drive by them. That's when we came around the corner to see my friend Kodi's house burning to the ground. Kodi was out of town and it was his birthday. It was too late for us to help him. 

We rounded the next turn and a power line was blocking the road. Two forest service trucks were also in the way. We only had a quarter mile to go until we got to the Morgenraths. Another delay and no one was doing anything. Jon and I went to find something to prop the line up with. A huge PVC pipe was the key. Jon cut a notch in it and I hoisted the line up. Just then a PG&E guy came around. He had the right tools to cut the line. We continue forward into the smoke and ash.

Part II 
The Morgenraths 

We arrived to the scene in the photo. A cabin of my friend Dale is below those trees on fire. The shed next to the person is about to catch. We quickly got the fire hose out and got water pumping. Tyson was using another hose that Jali had hooked up to a water tank on a trailer. The fire was trying to catch the big oak that almost touched the house. Embers were flying all over. We knew that we had to stop that from happening. Just behind the oak is the shop that was also ready to melt at any second. The scene was intense. The water seemed to be working. The flames were big, but we kept the embers from catching the roof and that old oak. 

The next photo shows after the shed had burned to the ground. I'm not sure what was in that shed, but it smelled awful. You can also see how close that house was to its demise.

The next building to catch fire was Jali's garage. Inside he had vintage motorcycles and many memories he had hoped to save. It went fast. Jali drove the bobcat into the burming garage and tried to pull out the motorcycle, but it failed and that was it. Branham and I pushed his other old Harley up the driveway to a safe spot. Then Jali's must have had fireworks in the shed because bottle rockets and small bombs started going off as the shed roof caved in. Jali was devastated and told me of all the kids memories he kept in that shed. I felt awful we could not save it. 

The water tank above Jali's was melting and I went to make sure our water didn't get compromised. I could see the hose was on fire, but it was too hot to reach that part. The neighbors house caught fire right as I got up to check the hose. It was too late and dangerous to even try to get inside to save anything.  This next photo is that house and the water line. Somehow the line held together even half melted.

This is Jali's house, his vintage motorcycle, and his sons 1949 ford that we moved to a safe spot. The fire behind that is from the house in the photo before. 

The sunrise was really amazing. This photo does not capture it. The clouds and the smoke were creating quite a show. 

The scene for the rest of Pfeiffer Ridge did not look good either. We were hearing propane tanks blowing tops and what sounded like a jet engine while the gas escaped shooting flames hundreds of feet into the night sky.  8 other homes were on the property that we also had to continually watch for the next 36 hours. 

Here is Tevye's house that almost got it. We had to keep watch over the entire ridge as spot fires were constantly catching unburned areas and threatening the remaining homes. A Cal Fire crew of three helped us keep watch the rest of the time. Tevye's eyes were bad and he needed to leave and go to the health center. My eyes were fine at the time, but later they would feel awful. It was Sharron and Daniele Latta from the health center who were able to gain access to the closed ridge to bring us eyedrops, and more food. That never would have happened in past fires. Our county officials did a much better job this fire working with the locals. Danielle would stay the night and help with the watch so we could try to rest a few hours. 

Part III
The Ravich Property

Danielle needed to leave the next day. Her dad was able to drive up to pick her up. Branham also wanted to leave. As they were loading up I asked them to check on a house on the way down the hill. Our friend Billy had been helping at the Morgenraths the entire time, while his house was left with no one around. He was able to drive down earlier and confirm it was still standing, but told me the fire was still on its way. Danielle called and said the fire was a few feet from his landlords place and that we needed to get down fast. 

I got down to the tender and saw a USFS crew. I asked them to follow me to this house, but they would not for some reason. We arrived and a helicopter was dropping water buckets below trying to keep the containment line from jumping Sycamore Canyon. We quickly made a plan of a containment line around the house and down the hill to Billy's place. 

Tevye went back home and drove the Bobcat back so he could clear a much larger fire break all the way down the hill. I worked the fire along the containment line, but was getting really tired at that time. I called down the hill to a friend on Apple Pie asking if he could find help. He called back saying he had a crew of nine people to help. We were stoked, but how could we get them up here when the road was closed? It took several hours but they were able to get through the gate when the cops finally gave the ok and with some major help from the right people.

Another lucky thing happened when a USFS crew showed up and we knew the captain Kevin. He wanted to help and our main problem was we could not watch the fire on the south side of the property and the north side. We just didn't have enough hose. We were doing that for a while but running the heavy hose back and forth was not easy. So Kevin posted his crew down below on Pfeiffer Ridge Road. It got pretty intense a few times, but they didn't leave. We filled their fire trucks with water from our water tender. Finally at about 3am both sides of the fire met and the property was safe! I left and drove the water tender over to Clear Ridge to a property I caretake. I went to bed around 5am knowing that this would  be the next ridge to burn if they could not stop it. 

To be continued...


I took a sailing class years ago at the community college. Then got to sail for a while when my family had a sailboat in Monterey. That didn't last long before they sold it and moved away. That was 11 years ago, and since then I have wanted to own my own sailboat and get back into sailing.

I have forgotten all the sailing lingo. All of it is important and so I found my old sailboat for beginners book and started reading up on it again. I would cruz by the harbormaster office and check the for sale board every once and a while. Craigslist search of Monterey Harbor was also another thing I checked often. That's when I found the 1972 Coronado 27'

The owner was about my age. He had been living on it for the last year. He told me that the boat was in pretty poor condition before he owned it. That it had sailed all the way to Baja with a past owner. We took it out and it seemed perfect. It came with a slip in Monterey Harbor, and that was huge because they have a 8 plus year waiting list to get a slip unless you transfer a sale with one.

Inside it has lots of room and storage. It came with a TV, and Stereo. What I lacked in skills was taking the time to go over everything that might not be working. I was just too excited about the boat. He did agree to drip the price $2000 and the sale was final. I would soon find a long list of parts that needed to be replaced, or fixed. No worries though as I found two more people to go in on the sale with me and we could all split the cost and share the labor. And it's worked out great so far. We have already almost fixed everything as well as added many more items that it lacked.

Sailing is slow and relaxing. When the wind is blowing good, and the boat is healed over it's really a cool feeling. No motor just the sound of the swell hitting the bow. Otters, Seals, Jellyfish, and Whales all around the Monterey Bay. I plan on taking some longer trips some day too. Channel Islands seems like a really good destination. Santa Cruz is not that far either.

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