Lunch Over a Hotly Contested Cold Case

We all have our moments when we wonder what the hell we’re doing, why we’re doing it, why we’re doing it here … and then something like this happens and it all becomes perfectly clear.

 

Eluding Sheriff Deputies like a kid soaping neighbors’ windows on Halloween she sneaks her way closer to her home.

 

Putting Mary aside, ever since I wrote the three-chapter series, I’ve wondered what happened to the Round / Swall Meadows survivors.

Who knew I’d get closer to finding out what it was like by simply picking up a copy of The Sheet for February 10, 2018.

The Sheet was founded in May, 2003 by Jack Lunch and is independently owned and operated.

Which is about five years before the Great Recession.

And, during our original 2003 – 2009 Time Frame.

Hmmm.

If they have an online version, I can follow my own “Step” and update Mammoth profiled in The Knowledge Path series:

25) Compare what “life” was like in those communities before the Great Recession, how resilient each was during the economic downturn, and to what degree did each bounce back after with any “economic hangover.”

Yup, I found their Monthly Archives.

It made it easy for finding out the back story you almost always miss in extended weekend visits or vacations chock full of Easter Sierra outdoor adventures.

Or …

30) Review headlines and relevant news as far back as you can find online to surface each community’s unique pulse and identify information necessary to make your decision. Is there a “ticking time bomb” issue you may uncover that eliminates the resort from your bucket list? Search on topix.com.

Let’s see.

I discovered as publisher and editor Jack “writes a lot of page two’s.”

And, they’ve got a Facebook Page in addition to their website.

That’s where I noticed yet another coincidence.

Comments.Thank you for writing this. I was hoping you would write about your experience, and you didn’t disappoint. Great read. And … sorry about your house.

Today Jean told me about the fire. You know I had to see what you had written in The Sheet. You didn’t disappoint. Glad to read everyone made it out ok. Now I’ll keep you in my prayers that everything goes according to your wishes.

I am curious will you rebuild? Mother nature may take ten years to rebuild the beauty that once was Swall Meadows. Then again the beauty in Swall is more then just the trees. God Bless you all.

And that’s what I’ve been curious about, too.

Like randomly trying to solve a cold case after all these years.

Straw-Bale House Construction

Like the family who lived in their house built using an environmentally friendly straw-bale-construction methodliving in their forever house,” the editor lost his home in the Swall Meadows Round Fire.

Jack, if that’s his real name (and not “Ted Carleton – Jack of all Lunches“) devoted a “Page 2” to his ordeal.

Oh, and, what’s up with the scandals and degree of truthiness in that part of the Eastern Sierras?

Is there been something in the Rock Creek water?

Headlines and Highlights

Time Frame 2015 – 2020

Winter 2015

Page 2: The year of the goat (saver)

Jack Lunch. “Pretty quiet week …

Most of you know that mine was among the many homes burned to the ground in the Round Fire.”

How can you not learn a lot about surviving from such a horrendous ordeal?

Jack realized something was up, something way out of the ordinary when he and his two-year old ran into a road block near Tom’s place on Lower Rock Creek Road.

The Swall Meadows mandatory evacuation.

He can’t get through on his cell to his wife still in Mammoth at Snowcreek.

Lunch.So I drive back to get her.

One of us needs to rescue our animals (three dogs, a cat and two goats).

And I know my wife well enough to know she’s gonna make it happen, evacuation order be damned.

She drives down like a bat out of hell to Tom’s Place – well, as much as one can be a bat out of hell in a Honda Element.”

There’s a secret route known only to locals, the forest service access road down the hill.

Lunch.It’s bumpy and rutted and thank God she’s got all-wheel drive and pretty good clearance.

Her cellphone is dying.

It’s getting darker.

Eluding Sheriff Deputies like a kid soaping neighbors’ windows on Halloween she sneaks her way closer to her home.

Lunch.The Sheriff’s Deputy sees her and lights up his siren – bloop bloop.

He yells something to her she can’t understand.

She replies with “I know, I know.” He tells her to “come here.” She yells

“No way!” and takes off running.

He’s got to drive down and around.

In that time other units are mobilized as well.

Stealthily she ditches the authorities.

She finds her neighbors figuring out how to scoop up and save their livestock too.

Her luck changes.

Busted.

But, his wife explains how now she’ll load up the animals and evacuate.

Lunch. “My wife tells him, ‘I don’t know the law. I do know I’ve got about 15 more minutes of light.’

She tells him she’s going to load up the animals and go.

At this point, he softens a bit and asks what he can do to help.

She tells him to come back in ten minutes.

By that time, she’ll be ready and will need some muscle to lift our large-ish pregnant goat into the back.

But, things turn ugly in a flash.

It couldn’t get worse for her in the moment of crisis.

The first sheriff’s deputy she outsmarted appears with only one intention.

And that wasn’t to volunteer to help her.

Lunch. “He keeps asking for her I.D. and she keeps telling him to wait.

Finally, he tells her to turn around and put her hands behind her back.

But to arrest her.

She manages to escape once more into the sanctuary of her home and locks the deputy out.

Lunch. “Law enforcement had no choice but to leave.

The neighbors came running over right after (Brian and Janet, heroes both) and it took the three of them to get the pregnant goat inside.

My takeaway from this event is not in mourning all the relics of my past that have burned up, but in celebrating the present and future of the land and the people whom I love so much.

31) Do your due diligence so you don’t regret your decision after it is too late. If you plan to move, invest in real estate, work, start a business or retire affordably, you are making a longer-term commitment. Drill down with city-data.com.

And, in this case, nose around a little more until you find Jack’s accounting of the hidden costs for clean up not covered by fire insurance policies.

Page 2: More than $141,000

Lunch. “That was the final tabulation of what it cost to clean up my property, burned in the Round Fire in Swall Meadows.

Others have received similar bills.

What was initially estimated as a $2.2 or $2.3 million project was ultimately a more than $5 million project.

To put this in perspective, when I was debating whether or not to sign up for the state-contracted cleanup, my friendly insurance adjuster recommended I shouldn’t, citing an estimate he received from a Bishop-based contractor who said he could clean up my lot for $15,000.

That’s a pretty serious discrepancy.

Or consider this. I sold the lot two months ago for $115,000.

I just received a letter from the Mono County Assessor, who, citing the fact that the fire-ravaged lots all now have a clean bill of health, recently restored my former lot to its pre-fire valuation of $125,000 – still well below cleanup cost.

According to the terms of my insurance policy, Farmers will cover $20,000 of the cleanup, leaving $121,000-plus to be footed by my fellow citizens of the State of California.

Steps:

25) Compare what “life” was like in those communities before the Great Recession, how resilient each was during the economic downturn, and to what degree did each bounce back after with any “economic hangover.”

30) Review headlines and relevant news as far back as you can find online to surface each community’s unique pulse and identify information necessary to make your decision. Is there a “ticking time bomb” issue you may uncover that eliminates the resort from your bucket list? Search on topix.com.

31) Do your due diligence so you don’t regret your decision after it is too late. If you plan to move, invest in real estate, work, start a business or retire affordably, you are making a longer-term commitment. Drill down with city-data.com.

32) Plan extended seasonal vacations during summer and winter months. Group destination locations together in regional trips to explore what several bucket list towns have to offer in the general vicinity – with only a week or two vacation time to spend, we recommend organizing your itinerary by travel regions.

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