Bishop’s History and Migrating Lifestyle

Who were the first non-Native Americans to roam the northern end of Owens Valley?

The one BOF lifestyle to say goodbye to Bishop, said hello to three Colorado and three California mountain resort towns.

 

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

Bishop: Part One

What do we already know about Bishop?

Having driven through Owens Valley on this trip we know it’s at the northern end of the valley.

And we know that the Sierra Nevada range is west while the White Mountains lie east of town.

Rock climbers gravitate to Bishop for the over 2,000 volcanic tuff and granite challenges.

Wikipedia fills in the main hiking and climbing attractions.

“Numerous peaks are within a short distance of Bishop, including Mount Humphreys (13,986 ft.), to the west, White Mountain Peak (14,242 ft.) in the northeast, and pyramidal Mount Tom (13,658 ft.) northwest of town.

Basin Mountain (13,187 ft.) is viewed to the west from Bishop as it rises above the Buttermilks.”

Bishop promotes itself “The Gateway to Eastern Sierras” and as the “Mule Capital of the World.”

For almost half a century Bishop Mule Days celebrate the contributions that pack mules made to settling the area every week leading up to Memorial Day.

“More than 700 mules compete in 181 events and the largest non-motorized parade in the United States.”

But, mules aren’t the only draw.

Tourists come for an arts and crafts show and a country and western concert.

And maybe, Bishop should celebrate cattle too.

First of all, the town’s named after a creek that’s named after Samuel Addison Bishop.

Was Sam the first to inhabit the northern Owens Valley location?

Of course not.

Maybe on maps.

But, not in fact.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) may control much of the upstream and surrounding area but, the Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Bishop Community of the Bishop Colony control land just west of the town.

Bishop Paiute women’s Labor Day parade float, 1940

Here’s how Wikipedia sheds light on Bishop’s Native American heritage.

“The Bishop Paiute Tribe, formerly known as the Paiute-Shoshone Indians of the Bishop Community of the Bishop Colony is a federally recognized tribe of Mono and Timbisha Indians of the Owens Valley, in Inyo County of eastern California.”

As of the 2010 Census the population was 1,588.

More recently, the tribe counts 2000 enrolled tribal members making it the fifth largest in California.

Five elected members govern via a tribal council.

“The tribe has its own tribal court and many programs for its members.

For economic development, the Bishop Community created the Paiute Palace Casino and Tu-Kah Novie restaurant in Bishop.”

In the winter of 2013 the Los Angeles Times reported that stolen petroglyphs were recovered.

“Thieves stole from an Eastern Sierra site sacred to Native Americans about 15 miles north of Bishop. 

Vandals used ladders, chisels and power saws connected to electric generators to remove the panels from cliffs know as the volcanic tableland.” 

The sheered slabs measured 15 feet above ground and many were two feet high and wide.

“Native Americans had carved hundreds of lava boulders and cliffs with spiritual renderings: concentric circles, deer, rattlesnakes, bighorn sheep and hunters with bows and arrows”.

Covered by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, the site supports sacred ceremonies local Paiute Native Americans, so …

“they are priceless to Native Americans, who regard the massive tableaux as a window into the souls of their ancestors.”

Who were the first non-Native Americans to roam the northern end of Owens Valley?

The Bishop visitor center named Kit Carson, Ed Kern and Richard Owens, as well as, Samuel Bishop as early explorers and settlers arriving in the middle 1800s.

Kit Carson had become a celebrated “Indian fighter” by then.

Carson, Kern and Owens mapped the Eastern Sierra territory.

Kern County and Owens Lake and Valley drew their names from Ed and Richard.

But, what about the core founding story of Bishop?

Ghost Town of Aurora, Nevada

Bishop came into being due to the need for beef in a booming mining camp some eighty miles to the north, Aurora, Nevada, (Aurora was believed to be on the California side of the border at that time and was the county seat of Mono County, California).

“In 1861 cattlemen drove herds of cattle some three hundred miles from the great San Joaquin Valley of California, through the southern Sierra at Walker Pass, up the Owens Valley, and then through Adobe Meadows to Aurora.”

When Bishop and his wife, and a few trail hands drove 600 cattle and 50 horses on that long journey from Fort Tejon in the Tehachapi Mountains into the valley they experience an epiphany.

Why not just settle there instead, raise the cattle and sell their beef to the miners and businesses selling to miners in Aurora?

The McGee brothers joined them as the first white settlers in the valley.

“Remnants of these early settler’s stone corrals and fences can still be seen north of Bishop along Highway 395 in Round Valley (barbed wire fencing was not invented until 1873).”

Enough of that.

What about present day?

What happened to the lifestyle that took flight?

The one BOF lifestyle to say goodbye to Bishop, said hello to three Colorado and three California mountain resort towns.

The 11Y1T1 30-44, Midlife Couples, ditched Bishop’s Wireless Resort, Maturing Resort community and possibly migrated to:

  • Mammoth Lakes, California
  • Truckee, California
  • Tahoe City – Sunnyside, California
  • Durango, Colorado
  • Telluride, Colorado or
  • Frisco – Copper Mountain, Colorado.

So keeping things local, let’s now turn to Mammoth.

Steps:

20) Pivot. Maybe the lists of best places don’t appeal to you. Where can you go to make a fresh, new start? Don’t limit your imagination. Think anywhere — across the globe. Where do you really, really want to live, work and play?  Why not live where it’s a vacation all year round?

26) If you know the zip code you can discover the lifestyles living in the community. You can compare your profile with theirs to estimate your degree of fit.

27) Estimate how well suited you are for the resorts. Refer to “Profiles-at-a-Glance” comparing 2008-2009 and 2013-2014 for changes in Life Stages – Singles, Couples, Families, Midlife, Empty Nests, Baby Boomers and Seniors; Ages – 20-29, 25-54, 30-44, 45+ 45-65, 55+ and 65+; and mix of Lifestyles in neighborhoods. Does the resort still offer the age, life stage and lifestyle profiles you prefer?

28) Which lifestyles profiled in the western resort towns during 2008 – 2009 remained five years later in 2013-2014?  Which disappeared entirely? Why? Which new lifestyles emerged, grew or moved in to shift the neighborhood mix? Have longtime locals been forced out by escalating property valuations and sky high property taxes?

Bishop

Bishop is a welcomed retreat with much (much) warmer weather than Mammoth.

We put together a “Birds-of-a-Feather” lifestyle list of possible communities across western states.

 

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

Montana Regional Areas

We introduced this section with a story about building a life on your own terms with Whitefish, Montana residents figuring it was time to move on because of their property tax burden.

We put together a “Birds-of-a-Feather” lifestyle list of possible communities across western states. 

Rocky Mountain Region

And we narrowed the choices to the Rocky Mountain states, specifically Colorado, before visiting and sizing up towns in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

For our Swall Meadows family, we honestly don’t know how the next chapter of their story unfolds.  

Each neighbor faced gut wrenching choices.

Start over.

Fight.

Or flight.

But, to where?

Their lifestyle profile opens up their relocation options to the same communities we already profiled.

So we can speculate.

Swall Meadows falls within the broad Bishop zip code, unlike Tom’s Place, Rock Creek Lodge, McGee Creek and Crawley Lake which claim Mammoth Lake’s zip code.

If they planned to rebuild (hopefully their financial planner made certain their fire insurance coverage was current) and needed to find a temporary home in the area, they probably chose either Bishop or Mammoth Lakes.

In both places they will find neighbors who fit their lifestyle and share their values.

Mammoth School District employed the husband as a math teacher.  

Choosing Mammoth would certainly cut their commuting expenses, while like their other neighbors, they rebuild.

But, first the “from” before the “to”.

Choosing Bishop.

Location At-A-Glance  

Region: Western United States

State: California 

Travel Region: Sierra Nevada Region; Eastern Sierra

County: Inyo County,

Patchwork County:  Service Worker Center 

Town: Bishop, Swall Meadows 

Population Density: Town and Country

Zip Codes: 93514

Profile At-A-Glance (Summer 2010) 

Life Stages: Singles, Couples, Empty Nests, Baby Boomers

Ages: 20-29, 30-44, 45-65, 55+

Community Neighbors: 

Wireless Resorters

Premier Resorts – WRPR 

09M1T1, Big Fish Small Pond, 45-65, Empty Nests, Accumulated Wealth, Landed Gentry

Maturing Resorts — WRMR

11Y1T1 God’s Country, 30-44, Couples, Midlife, Midlife Success, Landed Gentry

28M2T2, Traditional Times, Empty Nests, 55+ Baby Boomers, Country Comfort

Distant Exurbans — WRDE

48Y3T4,Young Rustic, 20-29, Striving Singles, Rustic Living

Bishop, California Zip Code 93514 — Nearby Zip Codes: 93513, 93512, 93526, 89010, 93546, 93628

At the time of the 2010 financial check up, Bishop counted four Wireless Resorter lifestyle profiles in its zip code.  

But, six years later one of the two Maturing Resort lifestyles, 11Y1T1 — 45+ Affluent Empty Nesters disappeared.

Profile At-A-Glance (Winter 2016)

Life Stages: Singles, Couples, Empty Nests, Baby Boomers, Seniors

Ages: 20-29, 45-65, 55+, 65+

Community Neighbors: 

Wireless Resorters

Premier Resorts – WRPR

09M1T1, Big Fish Small Pond, 45-65, Empty Nests, Accumulated Wealth, Landed Gentry

Maturing Resorts — WRMR

28M2T2, Traditional Times, Empty Nests, 55+ Baby Boomers, Country Comfort

Resort Suburbans — WRRS 

43M3T3, Heartlanders, 55+Boomer, Cautious Couples, Middle America

Distant Exurbans — WRDE

48Y3T4, Young and Rustic, 20-29, Striving Singles, Rustic Living

High Country Eagles

Rustic Eagles – HCERE

57M4T4, Old Milltowns, 65+, Sustaining Seniors, Rustic Living

Service Worker Centers 

Midsize and small towns with economies fueled by hotels, stores and restaurants and lower-than-average median household income by county.

By the winter of 2016 one High Country Eagle lifestyle, the Rustic Eagle 57M4T4 joined Bishop’s zip code.  

The rustic living, sustaining senior citizen lifestyle joined another newcomer, the 43Y3T3 55+ Baby Boomer, cautious couples. 

In 2016 Bishop included lifestyles from all four Wireless Resorter communities – Premier Resorts, Maturing Resorts, Resort Suburbans (with the 43M3T3 newcomers) and Distant Exurbans — and the first High Country Eagle lifestyle (57M4T40).

Taking off and saying goodbye to Bishop, the 11Y1T1 30-44 year old successful midlife couples, having also left Breckenridge may have landed in the Lake Tahoe Basin in Tahoe City or Sunnyside. 

Or in Southwestern Colorado Region along the Animas River in Durango . 

Or in Dillon, Colorado – like Finnmark did.

What else should we consider about Bishop, according to Wikipedia?

The population was 3,879 at the 2010 census, up from 3,575 at the 2000 census. (304 more over 10 years)

To that the Bishop visitor center adds

The “greater Bishop area,” which includes unincorporated nearby neighborhoods such as West Bishop, Meadow Creek-Dixon Lane, Wilkerson Ranch, Rocking K, Mustang Mesa and Round Valley includes an additional 11,000 residents.

Bishop is a welcomed retreat with much (much) warmer weather than Mammoth. 

With 5.18″ average yearly precipitation and only 6 inches of snow, Bishop makes the perfect combo vacation – ski, golf, fish and bike year-round.

Part Two: Bishop’s History and Migrating Lifestyle

Steps:

20) Pivot. Maybe the lists of best places don’t appeal to you. Where can you go to make a fresh, new start? Don’t limit your imagination. Think anywhere — across the globe. Where do you really, really want to live, work and play?  Why not live where it’s a vacation all year round?

26) If you know the zip code you can discover the lifestyles living in the community. You can compare your profile with theirs to estimate your degree of fit.

27) Estimate how well suited you are for the resorts. Refer to “Profiles-at-a-Glance” comparing 2008-2009 and 2013-2014 for changes in Life Stages – Singles, Couples, Families, Midlife, Empty Nests, Baby Boomers and Seniors; Ages – 20-29, 25-54, 30-44, 45+ 45-65, 55+ and 65+; and mix of Lifestyles in neighborhoods. Does the resort still offer the age, life stage and lifestyle profiles you prefer?

28) Which lifestyles profiled in the western resort towns during 2008 – 2009 remained five years later in 2013-2014?  Which disappeared entirely? Why? Which new lifestyles emerged, grew or moved in to shift the neighborhood mix? Have longtime locals been forced out by escalating property valuations and sky high property taxes?

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.

Curiosities and Coincidental Connections

Still pining for Mary, I needed something else besides bites from my veggie omelet to distract me.

 

Mono Lake “Moonscape”
The Mammoth avalanche my son told me scattered future “Rustys” at the bottom of Chair 5’s lift.

 

Or, how an omelet cured my unrequited love for Mary.

Well, almost.

De j’ vu all over again?

Did we fall off the weather wagon again?

Is this the new drought-normal?

Or, did we not end the multiple years of no rain, no snow, and no snow pack melting on its way down slope into the Los Angeles Aqueduct courtesy of the Owens Valley, after all?

This was supposed to be Anette and Steve’s awesome, empty-nest and family reunion adventure.

C’mon. February!

Always snow.

WTF?

Anette’s Norwegian family had been skiing at Mammoth for decades.

It was in their blood, kinda.

We’d almost always receive a surprise dump of snow at Mammoth.

Even on vacation in the High Sierra’s during lean snow pack years over the President’s Day weekend.

Where’s the snow we’re used to in February?

But not this year.

Not on this first day.

So we went bowling.

Then it happened.

Overnight snow dusting.

Dusting.

Not dump.

Enough accumulating by 10:30 am to cover the ground.

Enough to excite the boarders and skiers in the family.

The Stove on Old Mammoth Road

They headed for the lifts, at least for half day runs.

I headed for “The Stove” on Old Mammoth Road for a veggie omelet, but without falling for Mary again.

Burned twice in the past,

I finally learned my lesson.

Oh, ok.

Still pining for Mary, I needed something else besides bites from my veggie omelet to distract me.

I noticed this free newspaper, “The Sheet”, on my way in,  next to the turquoise stove on the enclosed porch .

Absent minded (which is my natural state according to Anette), I began flipping through its pages between bites and sips of coffee.

Mono Lake “Moonscape”

I checked out announcements “every Saturday – South Tufa walks at Mono Lake.”

Hmm.  Mono Lake.

Settling for Clouds at Mono Lake

That could be fun if the snow continues to flakes out on us,

What else?

  • And, Mammoth Film Festival at Minaret Cinemas, Village.
  • Other issues – Mammoth Airport vs. Bishop.
  • Or, fewer than normal back country permits for packers.

But one headline caught my eye.

Ouch.

Rusty Gregory ran Mammoth Mountain operations.

Honoring Dave McCoy

All those decades after founder Dave McCoy started it from scratch.

Or from dirt.

Apparently Gregory had risen up the Mammoth Mountain ranks starting as a lift operator.

Now Gregory assumed a new CEO role for Alterra Mountain Company.

Who or what?

Reading the article between bites of green pepper, mushrooms and cheese, here’s what commanded my attention … KSL Capital Partners LLC.

A name I associated with Highlights and Headlines during a 5-Year Time Frame some time between  2009 to 2014.

I looked it up later in the condo at Aspen Creek.

In the Squaw chapter described in Book Five, “California Mountain Resorts: Play and Invest in the Golden State.”

It was in the fall of 2011, but associated with the Lake Tahoe area, not Mammoth at all.

Alpine Valley.

Squaw Valley.

But, the first pieces of the connections didn’t materialize until when we had returned home a couple of weeks later.

And, a freak atmospheric river aka the “Pineapple Expressed” swiped tropical Hawaiian moisture and dumped so much snow it triggered avalanches at Mammoth and Lake Tahoe.

After our February President’s Holiday vacation!

The Mammoth avalanche my son told me scattered future “Rustys” at the bottom of Chair 5’s lift.

Tossed on my home office desk that paper copy of the 2/10/18 issue of “The Sheet: news, views and culture of the Eastern Sierra” –  laying in wait,  tempted me to Google for more information, almost as much as Mary had captured my imagination.

I dug into The Sheet’s archives, ahem, following my own recommended steps (see below) and discovered KSL-Aspen announced its new name: Alterra Mountain Company.

Winter 2018 (Jan 12)

Enter Alterra

On Thursday, January 11, Mammoth Resorts’ parent company, which had previously called itself the joint venture of affiliates KSL Capital Partners and Henry Crown and Company, announced its new name: Alterra Mountain Company.

Affiliates of KSL Capital Partners (owners of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows), and Henry Crown and Company (owners of Aspen Skiing Company) purchased Intrawest, Mammoth Resorts, and Utah’s Deer Valley Resort in 2017.

KSL-Aspen’s acquisition of Intrawest and Mammoth Resorts was finalized on July 31, 2017.

Alterra Mountain Company is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, and is comprised of Mammoth and June Mountains, Big Bear, Snow Summit, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado, Stratton Mountain in Vermont, Snowshoe in West Virginia, Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Blue Mountain in Ontario, and Deer Valley.

Alterra Mountain Company also owns CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures in British Columbia.”

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.

McCoy

McCoy bought a small airline to fly a few skiers from Burbank, California to Mammoth.

From Mammoth Mountain Resort – History
He went to the bank, attempting to acquire an $85 loan to set up a permanent rope tow. The bank turned him down but the bank’s secretary, Roma, urged the bank to give him that loan. A few years later, McCoy would marry Roma and the two would raise six children together.”

 

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

 

That night we shared our tale around the flaming bonfire smoking and sparking and launching glowing embers like fireflies into the deep dark starlit skies.

Embellished of course.

And, Dave McCoy wasn’t too far removed from the conversation, although everyone in the family knew him as the iconic figure who left his imprint on Mammoth Mountain and its town Mammoth Lakes.

No one else knew how close we were that night to his first mountain slope, or that he married Roma, the secretary of the bank that turned him down for an $85 loan.

That, and so much more.

Wikipedia fills in some of the details:

In 1938, McCoy got a permit and set up a primitive rope tow using parts from a Model “A” Ford truck on McGee Mountain, near US Highway 395

He went to the bank, attempting to acquire an $85 loan to set up a permanent rope tow. 

The bank turned him down but the bank’s secretary, Roma, urged the bank to give him that loan. 

A few years later, McCoy would marry Roma and the two would raise six children together. 

After swapping yarns at the bonfire we returned to our cabin and when I flicked on the light I noticed something for the first time.

Not too far from the old-time stove-heater sporting the black rounded angle “Z” stove pipe leading to the roof.

Not too far from the 14 bullet points on “Welcome to Rock Creek” rules of the road.

And not too far from the “Welcome to the Cabin” painting on wood with a an idyllic lake side setting with a deer drinking water at the water’s edge.

A ‘30s or ‘40s era gray pickup truck sat next to a log cabin with yellow lights casting a glow on the ground and with steps leading down to a canoe and dock.

I wondered if a local artist painted it and Rock Creek Lodge lent its support.

But, what caught my eye was the third piece hanging on the brown paneled wall.

A photo of three circling birds of prey, dark brown with black tipped wings.

The glare from the cabin lights masked a faint full moon directly behind the dominant hawk in a dark blue mountain sky.

In the foreground filling in the lower two-thirds of the shot you notice brown and white and gray rock formations with little else.

Except in the lower right, there it is.

Scribbled over a brown boulder Dave McCoy’s signature.

And, not part of the photo, but haphazardly fastened to it, a description:

Photo by Dave McCoy written in cursive script.

This photo was taken by Dave McCoy, the founder of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.  The proceeds from this image will be donated to the Mammoth Lakes Foundation, which supports higher education and cultural enrichment in the Eastern Sierra.

A former co-worker of mine tells a story about her boy friend chatting it up on the gondola taking him to the top of Mammoth Mountain where he’d ski down the Cornice.

During the conversation, Dave McCoy’s came up.

The gondola rider asked if he’d like to meet him.

Figuring it was just a conversation and nothing else, said “Sure.”

“When? What are you doing after the run?”

“Wait,” the boyfriend said, “This is Thanksgiving holiday weekend.”

No problem.

Dave (he called McCoy a nickname that my friend couldn’t recall in the telling of the story) won’t mind, he said.

Completely unannounced, the Gondola BFF walked up to Dave’s porch and yelled that he was there with two new BFFs in tow.

From “How I Did It … ” Inc. Magazine. CREDIT: Bryce Duffy

To my friend’s amazement Dave appeared, welcomed them into his Bishop ranch, piled them into his ATV and took them on a tour across his “back 40.”

“He really didn’t seem to care,” she said. “Even though his kids, grandkids and great grandkids were arriving at any moment.”

Maybe living all those years in the high altitude living a vigorous life is the formula for a  long life and marriage.

Wikipedia fills in some details.

Dave and Roma from Mammoth Lakes Foundation

McCoy turned 100 in August 2015. His wife Roma turned 95.

McCoy currently enjoys traveling in the Eastern Sierra driving an ATV. 

He has always enjoyed photography and that is what he does today. 

His mission is to take pictures of places very few people have even seen. 

Dave’s pictures can be bought at local stores in Bishop and Mammoth and other local towns. 

All of the proceeds go directly to the Mammoth Lakes Foundation, which helps develop education and the arts in the Eastern Sierra. 

Mammoth Lakes Foundation from its website

“The family and the community were always a big part of our success, as they helped play in the big sandbox as well,” McCoy says. 

“It shows that no man does anything alone. 

Now, my camera’s eye keeps making the Eastern Sierra a place for all of us to enjoy.”

Back in the 1940s the climate shifted and McGee Mountain received less snow than when Dave pioneered Eastern Sierra skiing.

Eastern Sierra Ski Club at McGee Creek Lift in 1938. Courtesy of Pomona Public Library

Pivot.

Where did the heavy snow fall?

Why, Mammoth Mountain, of course.

He set up his second rope tow there just as WWII was fought, in 1942.

But enough about that.

For now.

What about his story? “Dave McCoy – World Class Skier, Entrepreneur, and Visionary”

According to legend, and Wikipedia, Dave first fell in love with the Eastern Sierras when he visited roughly 87 or 88 years ago.

He loved it so much that in shop class he fashioned his first pair of skis.

During his adolescent years he had to move to the state of Washington to live when his parents split up.

The Great Alf Andersen from Wikipedia

There he lived with his grandparents.

There he encountered Norwegian ski jumpers.

And, there they fanned the spark into a flame that began in junior high school.

Here’s the Wikipedia part.

Right after graduating from high school, he moved to the tiny town of Independence, California

Two years later, he moved a few miles north to Bishop. 

In 1936, McCoy took a job as a hydrographer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which involved skiing up to 50 miles per day.

Courtesy Mammoth Lakes Foundation

While being a hydrographer, he joined the Eastern Sierra Ski Club. At age 22, he became the California State Champion in skiing.

For the decade roughly between 1942 and 1953 the startup struggle phase of Mammoth Mountain ski area’s tested his entrepreneurial meddle.

Luckily for him the Forest Service offered by bid the right to operate the ski area.

Lucky, because nobody bid on the permit.

From Mammoth Mountain Resort – History

Without any money, he didn’t bid either.

But, they must have recognized the fire burning brightly in him, because in 1953 they gave him the permit nobody bid on but, with one stipulation.

He had to develop the mountain as a ski resort.

What?

Can you imagine how he must have felt?

An entrepreneur’s dream almost handed to him.

From Mammoth Mountain Resort – History

By 1953 a ski lodge opened.

He incorporated as Mammoth Mountain Ski Area two years later.

But all wasn’t deep powder and awesome runs.

Wikipedia describes how McCoy struggled to develop Mammoth.

The “lodge” was actually only 12′ by 24′, had a dirt floor with an outside toilet, and served snacks. 

The McCoy family used it as a home during the early years of Mammoth.[

McCoy went to the bank again for a loan of $135,000 to build a chair lift. 

Again, he was turned down. 

Somewhere he found a used chairlift.

From Mammoth Mountain Resort – History

With his dedicated Mammoth maniacs Dave worked feverishly digging holes and mixing concrete to permanently anchor the lift by themselves.

Chair 1 became operational just in time for Thanksgiving in 1955.

Chair 1 had a wooden ramp, covered with snow, that skiers had to side-step up to reach the chairs. 

Sometimes skiers would lose their balance and cause several of the skiers in line below to topple over like dominoes. 

But, it worked.

And it was definitely a platform he could build on over the next four decades.

Our family remembers the early days of the next phase in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

The ramp was removed sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s and a new high-speed Chair 1 was installed and renamed “Broadway Express.” 

The original main lodge was expanded and to this day, the upper part of the old exterior rock wall mural, with a white and brown flagstone arrow, can be seen sitting on the deck. 

By 1973, under McCoy’s leadership, the ski area grew to 14 double-chairs, and a second base lodge was built. 

The drive from Southern California region to the mountain required a dedication on the part of skiers and eventually boarders, because Mammoth wasn’t a destination ski resort.

Well, not yet anyway

What did Dave do?

McCoy bought a small airline to fly a few skiers from Burbank, California to Mammoth.

Mammoth Yosemite Airport from Wikipedia

The growth of the ski area led to growth of the town of Mammoth Lakes, California, which incorporated in 1984.

And the rest was history.

Steps:

(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.

Round

We are coming up on the anniversary of this life changing event. Our home burned to ashes.

We have come a long way since the early days of deep shock and we no longer break into tears when someone says they’re sorry or utters a kind word. We are rebuilding.”

Part 3 In a Three Part Series

Part 2:  If Worse Comes to Worst

Part 1:  Swall

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

Round fire in Sierra Nevada destroyed 40 homes and structures and 250 residents from Small Meadows and Paradise were evacuated.

Worse did come to worst… 5 years later.

What Are We Going To Do?

For the vast majority of Swall Meadows residents in the winter of 2015.

Two lines in Wikipedia summed up the devastation succinctly.

On February 6, 2015, Swall Meadows and the neighboring community of Paradise were ravaged by the Round Fire, which burned 7,000 acres. 

Swall Meadows, California

The fire destroyed 40 homes: 39 homes in Swall Meadows and 1 home in Paradise.

Word got out.

Variations of the Associated Press account were picked up by the New York Daily News, US News & World Report, and the Los Angeles Times.

Ravaging Wildfire

Round fire in Sierra Nevada destroys 40 homes and structures, is 50% contained – Los Angeles Times

More than three dozen homes and buildings were destroyed Saturday by a wildfire in the Eastern Sierra that has forced the evacuations of two towns and burned more than 7,000 acres.

Cal Fire said the wildfire, dubbed the Round fire, was 50% contained as of late Saturday afternoon.

The blaze broke out just after 2 p.m. Friday, and was fueled by strong winds that had made containment difficult. 

But a strong storm system moving through the area Saturday brought rain that helped firefighters gain the upper hand, officials said.

An evacuation center has been established at the Crowley Lake Community Center in Mono County.

Devastating Aftermath

SWALL MEADOWS, Calif. — Associated Press

Ira Hanson milled around an evacuation center near tiny Swall Meadows on Sunday afternoon, not quite sure what to do after learning that the dream home he and his late wife had built 30 years earlier was damaged in a wildfire that consumed 40 homes and buildings.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Hanson, 79. 

“It’s like having a nightmare and you’re going to wake up any minute and it won’t be true.”

Fire crews increased containment of the wind-driven wildfire that ravaged communities along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, but they said Sunday that they still didn’t know when the roughly 250 residents evacuated from Swall Meadows and nearby Paradise would be able to return home.

It blew up when 50 to 75 mph winds whipped through wooded areas near the two communities for about three hours, turning the flames into a “freight train,” Brown said.

The relatively affluent community of Swall Meadows, which boasts sweeping views of the snow-covered Sierras and is home to retirees and outdoor enthusiasts, was hit hard by the blaze. 

Thirty-nine homes were destroyed there while one burned in the community of Paradise, Brown said.

A three-year drought across California has created extremely dry timber brush that fueled the flames and pushed them all the way up the Sierra slopes to the snow line around 8,000 feet, she said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Meanwhile, officials running the evacuation center in Crowley Lake said they received an outpouring of support. 

Pizzas, fresh fruit and a birthday cake collected on a folding table, while a white board filled up with the names and phone numbers of people who had volunteered their homes for displaced humans and pets.

So many had opened their homes that nobody stayed in the shelter overnight.

“This is one of the most resilient communities you’re ever going to find,” said Mono County Administrator Jim Leddy. “They know how to take care of themselves and take care of their neighbors.”

Drought, Wind and Fire

SWALL MEADOWS, Calif. (AP) — US News & World Report

An incoming storm caused the winds to constantly shift direction, making it tough for firefighters to contain the blaze, she said.

“We had to take defensive positions to protect as many structures as we could while protecting ourselves,” Brown said. “We did what we could.”

She said Swall Meadows was hit hard by the blaze — 39 homes were destroyed there while one burned in the community of Paradise.

Firefighters gained the upper hand when rain moved in, and have contained 50 percent of the blaze.

Brown said even rain wasn’t enough to put out the fire because a three-year drought across California created extremely dry timber brush that fueled the flames.

Captivating Photos, Conflicting Emotions

“ROUND FIRE” RAVAGES EASTERN SIERRA HOMES – February 7, 2015

http://wildernessexposures.com/round-fire-ravages-eastern-sierra-homes/ 

A relief fund has been set up to help victims of the fire who lost everything, including their homes. 

If you would like to help please visit the gofundme page and make a donation: http://www.gofundme.com/roundfirerelief

Too Much Too Soon?

Thanks for your comment, Bill. 

Please know that it is not my intent to romanticize the event or as you say, congratulate the fire. 

Its true that I viewed the fire with the conflicted perspectives of an artist, journalist, former wild land fire-fighter, and personal friend to several of the families whose homes were both lost, and directly threatened. 

I am deeply saddened by the tremendous loss the fire has caused the members of this tight-night community of climbers, skiers, and fellow mountain lovers. 

It is not my intent to focus on the misfortune they have experienced, or exploit the “human wreckage” as you so sensitively wrote. 

I do apologize if any of my words have offended those who were actually affected by this tragedy.

Evacuation of Horses Through Wall of Flames

Carol says

February 13, 2015 at 8:51 am

I live in Swall Meadows. 

I had to walk my horse out of that fire down through Paridise (sic) to get out. 

This photographs are exactly what I walked past. 

We made it out around 2:00 am. 

We started at 2:00 pm. 

We are all ok. 

I saw many emergency trucks pass us along the way. 

The firefighters always rolled down a window to see if we needed anything. 

In hindsight, a bottle of water would have been nice. 

I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone. 

And hope we can set a protocol, like they have in so many other parts of California to have an evacuation for horses and large animals in place when this happens again. 

Walk 10 miles in my shoes before you judge me.

Life Changing Anniversary, Hope and Resilience

Jennifer says

January 18, 2016 at 8:22 pm

We are coming up on the anniversary of this life changing event. 

Our home burned to ashes. 

We have come a long way since the early days of deep shock and we no longer break into tears when someone says they’re sorry or utters a kind word. 

We are rebuilding. 

Our community and especially the people at my church have encouraged us a great deal. 

We are affected every day by our loss, continually having to “let it go.” 

I think that we will feel much better when we again have a home of our own…looking forward with hope.

Each winter for five years as we chugged our way up Sherwin Grade, after the LA Times published the fiscal checkup article but, before the Round Fire, I’d squint to see if I could catch a glimpse of Swall Meadows.

In much the same way as we drove through Owens Valley past the signs to Cartego near the Crystal Geyser bottling plant, I’d keep my eyes peeled for any sign of Scott Palamar’s award-winning home and sustainable desert community.

U.S. Highway 395 in California’s Eastern Sierras

About a year before the Round Fire in the Malibu Mountains, he too lost everything and chose not to rebuild.

“All I managed to do was get the cat and clothes, and grab computers and important papers and that’s it,” Palamar said. 

One neighbor did stay for another hour, and watched as the vegetation around Palamar’s home caught fire. Palamar’s home, which he’s lived in for nine years, burnt to the ground, with nothing left standing practically, except a mailbox.

Each attempt to pick out Swall Meadows failed.

It’s especially difficult – nearly impossible climbing up US 395, because the downhill lanes block your view.

Sadly, it wasn’t until a week after the 2015 fire, on our way to our yearly ski and snow boarding trip to Mammoth.

We could see the blackened devastation covering the entire Mule Deer migration trail from mouth of the Round Valley canyon up into the narrowing canyon slopes.

Each resident faced gut wrenching choices.

Start over.

Fight or flight.

But, to where?

We introduced this section with a story about building a life on your own terms with Whitefish, Montana residents figuring it was time to move on because of their property tax burden.

We put together a “Birds-of-a-Feather” lifestyle list of possible communities across western states.

And we narrowed the choices to the Rocky Mountain states, specifically Colorado, before visiting and sizing up towns in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

For our Swall Meadows family we honestly don’t know how the next chapter of their story unfolds.

But their lifestyle profile opens up their relocation options to the same communities we profiled.

We can speculate.

Meanwhile, officials running the evacuation center in Crowley Lake said they received an outpouring of support. 

Zip Code 93514

Swall Meadows falls within the broad Bishop zip code, unlike Tom’s Place, Rock Creek Lodge, McGee Creek and Crawley Lake which claim Mammoth Lake’s zip code.

If they planned to rebuild (hopefully their financial planner made certain their fire insurance coverage was current) and needed to find a temporary home in the area, they probably chose either Bishop or Mammoth Lakes.

In both places they will find neighbors who fit their lifestyle and share their values.

Mammoth School District employed the husband as a math teacher.

Choosing Mammoth would certainly cut their commuting expenses, while like their other neighbors, they rebuild.

But, first the “from” before the “to”.

Choosing Bishop.

Steps:

(33) When you move, will your established neighbors share your same values? Does your new home have potential over the long-term to develop into a high appreciation real estate investment while being affordable for mid-life or empty nesters? Do the weather patterns in winter or summer make you want to live there year round, or only on a seasonal basis. Does  your new community offer a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities?

If Worse Comes to Worst

“People will lend you money to go to college, but not to retire.”

Securing Our Future
Oh, and if worse comes to worst … If they need further living expenses beyond that point, they can tap the equity in their home through a reverse mortgage.

 

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

 

Can’t Get Back to Sleep

What keeps the couple up at night?

They can take care of what’s in front of them with their current lifestyle.

But, in less than a decade their son will be college bound and they’re afraid they’ll go broke shouldering his tuition and room and board.

And roughly seven years later dad will be retiring followed by mom a couple of years later.

What Are We Going To Do?

Have they squirreled enough away for those two rainy days?

They can manage their current nut, but …?

No more television for you my mom used to say when I misbehaved.

In their case the couple willingly cut that $40 a month cable package out of their budget and bought insurance policies with it instead.

On top of their expected pensions, they agreed to sock away $10,000 a year into two Roth IRAs.

“Few people realize they can also use Roth accounts to pay for their children’s college expenses, given a few restrictions,” the planner said.

It’s one of those good news, bad news things.

Leaving Home for a College Campus

Their son …

will probably need financial aid when he goes away to school and some colleges may provide less financial aid to families that have 529 accounts to cover higher-education expenses, the planner said.

 

Trade offs?

Certainly.

No easy choices for a couple used to carrying no debt except for their mortgage.

The planner got them to see their challenge from a different perspective.

“People will lend you money to go to college, but not to retire.”

Working out a diversified portfolio, giving standard planning returns and savings rates, and recommending Roth contributions of $10,000 a year, when the husband turns 65 the accumulated savings will reach $331,000 even after college expense.

The planner calculated the first year of college to run $16,000 and grow to $19,000 by his senior year.

What about retirement?

They can count on a pension for the husband of $77,000 a year and $7,300 in Social Security for his wife for a total of $84,300.

With reasonable withdrawals to make up for any short fall in retirement, the planner calculated their savings should last until both are in their mid-90s.

Oh, and if worse comes to worst …

If they need further living expenses beyond that point, they can tap the equity in their home through a reverse mortgage.

Completed in 2005, the house could be worth as much as $350,000 to $400,000 in 2010.

“This is our forever house,” the wife said. They even kept in mind the possibility of becoming infirm as they age. “We built it with one story so we can just roll in our wheelchairs,” she said. 

Steps

(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.

Swall

“This is our forever house,” the wife said. They even kept in mind the possibility of becoming infirm as they age. “We built it with one story so we can just roll in our wheelchairs,” she said.

Winter Road Trip in the Easter Sierras
In this case a Gen-X couple in their mid- to late- 40s with a 9- year old  son lived in the rustic, remote community.

 

An excerpt from Book Five in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Sierra Mountain resorts.

If on our return trip to our epic, awesome suburban life in Southern California we had taken the scenic route, we would have discovered Swall Meadows.

U.S. Highway 395 in California’s Eastern Sierras

Instead of jumping on US 395 again, we could have taken Crowley Lake Drive from Tom’s Place and headed towards Bishop on what becomes Old Sherwin Grade Road and Lower Rock Creek Road for about 7 miles.

I first read about Swall Meadows in the Fall of 2010.

The LA Times used to print a financial planning column.

Basically, volunteers divulge their current economic and lifestyle situation.

If selected, a financial planner meets with them and assesses their goals, evaluates the gaps and challenges that would keep them from retiring the way they want to and prescribes a change in habits in the best possible way.

In this case a Gen-X couple in their mid- to late- 40s with a 9- year old  son lived in the rustic, remote community.

In this small neighborhood their neighbors overwhelmingly own their own primary or secondary homes.

Swall Meadows, California

Swall Meadows, however, is large enough to warrant its own Wikipedia page:

There were 128 housing units at an average density of 28.7 per square mile, of which 90 (91.8%) were owner-occupied, and 8 (8.2%) were occupied by renters.

The 2010 census counted 220 living the outdoor-loving life that only the four Eastern Sierra seasons can bring.

Zip Code 93514

One that Dave McCoy fell in love with in Independence, on McGee Mountain, while developing Mammoth Mountain and ATV-ing in the canyons, foothills and mountain trails surrounding Bishop.

While Swall Meadows falls within the Bishop zip code, 93514,  the downtown Bishop area is about 21 miles south (and Mammoth Lakes is roughly 25 miles north.)

 

Our financial case study couple commute to their jobs in public education.

  • There’s one major fuel cost that’s not in keeping with their green lifestyle. 
  • Mostly because husband and wife each commute two hours, round trip, to jobs, they spend a combined total of $250 a month on gasoline.
  • The family’s main source of income is the $65,622 annual salary the husband earns as a high school math teacher in the Mammoth Unified School District. 
  • His wife brings in an additional $13,000 a year as a special-education teacher’s aide for middle-school children.

Swall Meadows, in southern Mono County sits within just under 5 square miles below Wheeler Crest at about 6,500 feet above sea level.

Without any commercial enterprises, other than a firehouse near the meadow, it it’s primarily a residential community just southeast of  the “old Sky Meadows Ranch” and northwest of the Pinyon Ranch development

Mountain Peaks Surrounding Swall Meadows

The seasonal views are to die for — there’s Mt. Tom and White Mountains on the east of Owens Valley.

Wikipedia adds:

Mule Deer

It is also well known in the area as an important deer migration route for the Round Valley Mule Deer population, which cherish the grazing in the meadow and apple falls from the old orchard trees.

A year after the financial makeover article, in 2011, to protect the migrating deer, the Eastern Sierra Land Trust brought an additional 104 acres of the meadow area near an historic homesite under the control of a conservation easement.

No wonder the teachers chose the location to build their home in 2005.

They found …

Swall Meadows Willows and  Streams

permanent and seasonal streams and the eponymous meadow with wetter-habitat vegetation such as Jeffrey pines, willows, stream and bog orchids, and the remnant trees of the old commercial apple orchard. 

Sometime in 2000 or 2001 the couple became a family and put down roots.

In Swall Meadows they constructed and completed, for the most part, a 1,200 square foot, two- bedroom home by 2005.

The LA Times article described it as an …

Straw-Bale House Construction

environmentally friendly straw-bale-construction method — in which thick walls are built around the bales, which provide insulation — helps keep the 1,200-square-foot home’s electricity bill at an average of about $28 a month.

Five years later the financial planner revealed how they got by on a disciplined, frugal budget living just seven miles from where my son wanted to find out how he could live in a place like there.

Their total budget came to $4,000 a month including the mortgage payments on their $270,300 home.

Also included in it were:

  • $250 a month for fueling their commutes
  • $90 a month on propane for cooking and to heat water.
  • $28 for electricity
  • $40 a month for basic cable

They willingly cut corners to live in their pristine community.

They grow their own food, as much as they can.

Cost-Cutting Measures

Without a clothes drier, they simply fall back on the more traditional way — hanging clothes outside, even in winter.

Why buy new clothes, when you can find bargains at thrift stores, even ski outfits?

If you live in a mountain paradise, why take vacations, except to visit friends and relatives?

When they do, they make a point of camping in national parks to enjoy Mother Nature’s wonder and save on lodging.

What keeps the couple up at night?

Steps

(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.

Life After the Great Recession

“Local news for (fill in  a town on your bucket list, or in your itinerary) continually updated from thousands of sources on the web.” 

Winter Fun for the Whole Family
For couples and parents, you might find the following quote from city-data a deal breaker:

 

An excerpt from Book Three in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams.

5-Year Time Frames — 2003 – 2008

Continuing with favorite Highlights and Headlines for the next five years.

5-Year Time Frames 2009 – 2014

Later in 2009 as the impact of the Great Recession begins to sink in …

Pagosa Springs Blue Grass Festival

Pagosa Springs Locals Resist Arts Cuts

No music festivals, no dance, no theater, no art galleries, no children’s programs, no singing, no film festivals, no sculpture, no debates in the newspaper about differing …

 

Winter 2009 – 2010

While other Colorado towns (Vail) lined up for economic stimulus money…

Winter Snow Scenes

Pierre Mion taught his popular Winter Watercolor Workshop featuring Pagosa area snow scenes, one of which was featured on the December page of the 2009 Pagosa Country Calendar. 

Winter 2013 – 2014

Overlooked Family Bargains in Colorado, Montana and Wyoming –

Wolf Creek,  Pagosa Springs, Colorado, most snow  in Colorado

Pagosa Springs

$58 adult lift tickets, no lift lines. great food at the ski lodge. Great accommodations. Lots to do besides great skiing & great snowboarding.  Hike, cross-country ski, snow shoe. horseback ride, sleigh ride, enjoy Pagosa Hot Springs, right downtown Pagosa. indoor heated olympic pool.  Great restaurants, tequila, Bear Creek, JT’s, Chatos. Awesome grocery – City Market.  miss ski season by 5 months for secret spot fly fishing, ride the Cumbres Toltec narrow gauge railroad, Red Ryder Rodeo every thursday night. 

For regional coverage we’ve relied on Topix.com in the past.

“Local news for (fill in  a town on your bucket list, or in your itinerary) continually updated from thousands of sources on the web.” 

To test it out, search for your current hometown.

Notice and how current and complete the local items in the news are in your search results.

We set up RSS feeds for Topix towns, but soon discovered a major problem.

  • Like almost every other news outlet, local online papers rely on world and state news to fill their editions (that weren’t relevant).
  • AND, the vast majority of local stories centered on crime.

So we set up a variety of filters to screen out “jail,” “robbery,”” burglary,” and all the variations of those terms.

As a back up, you might want to try The Paperboy.com which claims they’ve got lists of 12,064 Online Newspapers & ePapers.

Topix News for Whitefish, Montana

News feeds for Whitefish, Montana:

http://www.topix.com/city/-mt

http://www.pilot.com/ for the  Pilot News – set up an RSS feed

Topix News for Pagosa Springs, Colorado

For Pagosa Springs, Colorado:

http://www.topix.com/city/pagosa-springs-co

http://www.pagosasun.com/ Pagosa Springs Sun

And, finally if you’re serious about Pagosa Springs (or Whitefish so far), or about any other town on your growing bucket list, you’ll want to investigate the most comprehensive resource we’ve found – city-data.com.

In Depth Data for Cities and Towns Across the U.S.

Their detailed, statistical data often provide more information than you know what to do with.

They aggregate public records open and available to the public at large and periodically update their information based on the records that these agencies release.

They also encourage user-generated content.

Here’s the link for Pagosa Springs:

http://www.city-data.com/city/Pagosa-Springs-Colorado.html.

Updated Stats for Local Registered Sex Offenders

For couples and parents, you might find the following quote from city-data a deal breaker:

Winter Fun for the Whole Family

According to our research of Colorado and other state lists there were 24 registered sex offenders living in Pagosa Springs, Colorado as of April 20, 2015.

The ratio of number of residents in Pagosa Springs to the number of sex offenders is 71 to 1.

 

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.

Seasons

The Ute Indians called the hot springs “Pah gosah.” Pagosa Springs is a small town in southwest Colorado with the largest natural and deepest hot mineral spring in the world known as “The Great Pagosa Hot Springs”.

Pagosa Springs
Cloud-Seeding, Dan Fogelberg and 24 Sex Offenders – What a little digging will reveal.

 

An excerpt from Book Three in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams.

Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Refreshingly Authentic

Where the Clues finally make Sense

Pagosa Springs continues to grow as an art community. The Pagosa Springs area is home to a variety of art galleries, live theatres, museums, and cultural activities. You can explore ancient civilizations, our Western heritage and deep history, and amazing artisans throughout the year. 

 

5-Year Time Frames — 2003 – 2008

Skimming Pagosa Springs’ back story helps reveal its attraction, especially before and during the Great Recession.

Highlights and Headlines. 

A sample of some of my favorites:

Fall of 2006

From the New York Times

Pro peace forces win battle in Colorado town – Denver – Peace is fighting back in Pagosa Springs 

Spring of 2007 

Drinking Liberally 200th Chapter

Drinking Liberally Anniversary

One of the progressive movement’s most innovative social organizations has reached a huge milestone: With the arrival of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, the Drinking Liberally map has hit 200 chapters.

 

Summer of 2007

Four Corners Folk Festival

The Infamous Stringdusters, fresh off their whirlwind 6 week US tour, will have a new face when they hit the stage on September 1 at the Four Corners Folk Festival in Pagosa Springs, CO.

Now we know …

The Great Pagosa Hot Springs

Summer in Pagosa Springs

The Ute Indians called the hot springs “Pah gosah” Pagosa Springs is a small town in southwest Colorado with the largest natural and deepest hot mineral spring in the world known as “The Great Pagosa Hot Springs”.

 

Fall of 2007

If it’s fall, then it’s Football Season, and …

Pagosa Springs Pirates Football Team

In Friday’s non-league game, the Pagosa Springs Pirates football team got by the host Kirtland Central Broncos , by a score of 20-14.

BootJack Ranch Listed for $80 million

Ranch North of Pagosa Springs, Colorado

BootJack Ranch listed for $80 million. Brown, a developer who owns a significant chunk of real estate in the old downtown area of Pagosa Springs, is planning to sell a vast ranch where he lives northeast of town.

 

Antero Reservoir Trout Limit –

The Colorado Wildlife Commission has affirmed a two-trout bag and possession limit for Antero Reservoir for the near future. 

And, some bad news … depending on how you look at it.

New Reservoir Water Right Denied –

“We think the Supreme Court got it right” The state Supreme Court has denied a large water right for a new reservoir above Pagosa Springs. 

Enrollment Decline Leads to Budget Cut –

Enrollment in Pagosa Springs schools dropped almost 100 students this fall, necessitating a $275,000 budget cut.

Winter of 2007 – 2008

You knew this headline couldn’t be far behind, right?

Property Tax for Education Lawsuit

“This particular issue is going to cause a tremendous increase in property taxes for the schools here in Archuleta County” Mesa County commissioners and several citizens sued the state government Thursday over a law passed last spring…

And, what comes with ice and snow?

Rescued Elk from Iced Over Pond

Elk in Winter

We were all pretty wiped out by that time” In one of the most unusual emergency operations in Colorado this year, three cow elk that fell through the ice of a private pond south of Pagosa Springs were rescued by Division of Wildlife officers, a local …

 

Most Snow Fall – Wolf Creek and Silverton Mountain

Wolf Creek and Silverton Mountain were the big winners, reporting 40 inches in the 48 hours ending Sunday (Jan. 6) afternoon, but other areas also tallied impressive totals: 26 inches at Telluride, 29 inches at Purgatory, 36 inches at Crested Butte, and …

Spring of 2008

And, then after that comes …

Winter Road Closure

Landslide Watch Northeast of Pagosa Springs –

“It’s an emergency because it continues to move, and we don’t know when or where it will stop, and we don’t really know what we’ll have to do when it does stop” Officials from Archuleta County and the U.S. Forest Service are watching a landslide northeast of Pagosa Springs that has already destroyed a Forest Service road and could threaten the east fork of the San Juan …

 

Summer of 2008 

Sad news for fans of Dan Fogelberg …

Dan Fogelberg in Great Outdoors

Dan Fogelberg’s $15,000,000 Ski Retreat –

The Pagosa Springs, Col. ski retreat of the late singer Dan Fogelberg, who died in December of advanced prostate cancer, reportedly is under contract after having been on the market for $15,000,000.

 

 

Wolf Creek Seeing Red

Colorado’s Wolf Creek Ski Area

The U.S. Forest Service has begun a new environmental assessment of Texas billionaire Red McCombs’ proposed Wolf Creek development that would add housing and businesses to serve as many as 10,000 people adjacent to Colorado’s Wolf Creek Ski Area.

Winter 2008 – 2009

Say, what!?

Cloud-Seeding Program

How Cloud-Seeding Works

“Last week, the San Juan Water Conservancy District Board of Directors adopted budgets and joined a cloud-seeding program, but failed to approve a resolution suspending the …

Some us vs. them … or visa versa?

Earthjustice, San Juan Citizen’s Alliance, Colorado Environmental Coalition, Colorado Wild, Oil and Gas Accountability Project and the Wilderness Society –

Last year Earthjustice filed the suit on behalf of San Juan Citizen’s Alliance, Colorado Environmental Coalition, Colorado Wild, Oil and Gas Accountability Project and the Wilderness Society. It challenges the 2007 San Juan Public Lands Center authorization for 27 new coal bed methane gas wells and 11 miles of new roads in the HD Mountains roadless area on either side of the Archuleta/La Plata county line.

USFS Halts Analysis Of Colorado’s Village At Wolf Creek –

USFS halts analysis of Colorado’s Village at Wolf Creek The developers of the Village at Wolf Creek, a development originally proposed to build a resort on …

And, during the Great Recession and later. More to follow …

5-Year Time Frames 2009 – 2014

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.