Mammoth Lakes: From Hardships to Hope

Then in June, management at Mammoth Mountain, the resort that dominates the town, trimmed staff, cut salaries and announced the shuttering of its June Mountain ski operation.

 

Photo: Visual Hunt
By the Winter of 2013 -2014 the first Premier Resort lifestyle segment flew into the scene –  midlife families on the fast-track taking advantage of the real estate deals.

 

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.

Final Installment in a Seven Part Series:

Part One:  Mammoth

Part Two: What Was Mammoth Like Before the Great Recession?

Part Three: Chains that Bind – Bankruptcy, Foreclosures and No Snow

Part Four: Stuck in the Middle with You

Part Five: Breathtaking Mountain Panoramas and Bullet Holes

Part Six: Temple of Folly, Clocks Cleaned and Repaired

Highlights and Headlines

5-Year Time Frames  2009 – 2014

Winter 2012 – 2013

Hoping for a better future

How Bad Things Have Been This Year

Before we get to the early snow, the new businesses, the zipping skiers and beaming boarders at Mammoth Lakes, let’s remember how bad things have been this year for this corner of the Eastern Sierra.

Photo: Stephen G. Howard

How bad was it?

Scant Snow In The 2011-12 Season Shuttering Of Its June Mountain

First, Mother Nature delivered scant snow in the 2011-12 season, driving tourism down just as the larger economy seemed to be recovering. Then in June, management at Mammoth Mountain, the resort that dominates the town, trimmed staff, cut salaries and announced the shuttering of its June Mountain ski operation — a painful blow to the tiny mountain community of June Lake, 20 miles north of Mammoth.

Photo: Visual Hunt

Financial Hardships

Mammoth Lakes Declared Bankruptcy

Oh, and in July the town of Mammoth Lakes declared bankruptcy after it lost a breach-of-contract lawsuit. Recovery, town officials said, would depend on layoffs, pay cuts and a plan to make debt payments of $2 million a year for 23 years.

June Lake Local Businesses Are Doing Without

These have been hard times, especially in June Lake, where local businesses are doing without their own ski mountain for the first time in decades.

Deals to bring skiers and boarders back for new season

Westin Monache Resort Mammoth

Westin Monache Resort Mammoth, 50 Hillside Drive, Mammoth Lakes; (760) 934-0400, http://www.westinmammoth.com. Some 230 rooms (all with kitchenettes) in contemporary style, with Whitebark restaurant downstairs. Winter rates $299-$599 for most rooms, more during peak time.

Photo: Visual Hunt

Village Lodge

Village Lodge, 1111 Forest Trail, Mammoth Lakes; (800) 626-6684, http://www.thevillagelodgemammoth.com. Vacation condos. Winter rates $289-$669 for a one-bedroom condo, plus $20-a-night resort fee.

Swiss Chalet Bed & Breakfast Inn

Swiss Chalet Bed & Breakfast Inn, 101 Hill Street, Mammoth Lakes; (760) 914-3452, http://www.swisschalet-mammoth.com. Opened this summer, the inn has two rooms with private baths in a modern log home with a spacious great room, picture windows and a deck with whirlpool. Winter rates typically $200-$275.

Mammoth Mountain Inn

Mammoth Mountain Inn, 10001 Minaret Road, Mammoth Lakes; (800) 626-6684, http://www.themammothmountaininn.com. A short walk from the lift lines, but gets mixed marks on TripAdvisor. Some 217 rooms. Winter rates $129-$398

Our second profile glance picked up some of changes to Mammoth’s community.

Profile At-A-Glance (Winter 2013-2014)

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

Ages: 25-54, 35-54, 55+

Community Neighbors:

Wireless Resorters

Premier Resorts – WRPR

20F2T1, Fast-Track Families, 35-54, Families, Young Accumulators, Landed Gentry, WRPR Premier Resorts, Wireless Resorters

Maturing Resorts — WRMR


23Y2T2, Greenbelt Sports, 25-54, Mainstream Singles, Country Comfort, WRMR Maturing Resorts, Wireless Resorters

28M2T2, Traditional Times, Empty Nests, 55+, Couples, Conservative Classics, WRMR Maturing Resorts, Wireless Resorters

32F3T2, New Homesteaders, 25-54, Mainstream Families, Country Comfort, WRMR Maturing Resorts, Wireless Resorters

33F3T2, Big Sky Families, 25-54, Mainstream Families, Country Comfort, WRMR Maturing Resorts, Wireless Resorters

By Winter of 2013 -2014 the first Premier Resort lifestyle segment flew into the scene –  midlife families on the fast-track taking advantage of the real estate deals.

Two of the WRMR – Maturing Resort – lifestyles, 55+ age Empty Nests and Mainstream Families depart.

But, another Mainstream Family, age 25-54, moves in.

In 2008 Mammoth said goodbye to the younger 20-29 Millennials.

Now, two Baby Boomer lifestyles fly away.

The first, 32F3T2 families, like in South Lake Tahoe, disappear from all the California, Nevada and Colorado mountain towns we visited.

Photo: Visual Hunt

But, the second, 28M2T2 Empty Nesters, show up in almost all of the those towns surrounding Lake Tahoe.

As well as in these Colorado towns:

And, then in California:

Like snow flurries that fall and don’t stick, at the end of the season in spring, Mammoth said hello and then goodbye to its only Premier Resort, Fast Track family lifestyle.

They, the 35-54 year old Young Accumulators (20F2T1), moved on to Olympic Valley – Squaw Valley.

Reading some of the 2013 headlines, in hindsight, you can notice some new opportunities and something positive was in the air.

Were things returning to normal?

Three seasons of highlights and headlines provide some clues.

Highlights and Headlines

5-Year Time Frames  2009 — 2014

Spring 2013

Extending Spring Snow Conditions

Tons Of Snow And Will Be Open Through Memorial Day

Photo: Visual Hunt

But not to worry, the resort has tons of snow and will be open through Memorial Day; In the meantime, it’s using those balmy temperatures as part of this quirky lodging deal:

Thriving in Lifestyle Businesses

Howard Sheckter, The Weather Sage Of The Eastern Sierra

A hailstorm ignited Howard Sheckter’s obsession with the elements. For three decades, the real estate agent has doubled as the weather sage of the eastern Sierra.

Range in Temperatures

Daily High Temperature At Main Lodge

Officials said the daily high temperature is based on the high temperature at Main Lodge recorded on the ski patrol website. To book, go to mammothmountain.com/VacationPlanning/Deals/.

Deals and Incentives

Discounts For Two Or More Nights

If you stay two or more nights at Mammoth from Saturday to May 23, you will receive a nightly discount based on the high temperature for the previous day. That means if it’s 50 degrees, you’ll get a $100 discount upon checkout for your two-day stay.

Summer 2013

June Mountain Season Passes https://www.junemountain.com/winter/plan-a-vacation/plan-a-vacation/deals-packages

Open for Family Fun

Reopening Of June Mountain In Winter

This coming season also marks the reopening of June Mountain, the family friendly neighbor that closed last season. At Mammoth, meanwhile, Unbound Playgrounds and Adventure Zones, which offer a go-slow introduction to terrain parks for beginners and children, will have some additional interactive elements this winter.

Water Rights Settlement

LADWP Drops Two Lawsuits For $5.8 Million

In return for $5.8 million, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power drops two lawsuits. Each agrees not to challenge the other’s water rights.

Snowboarding Training and Contests

U.S. Olympians Training Ground

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Assn. has chosen Mammoth Mountain as an official training ground for U.S. Olympians in freeskiing and snowboarding. Mammoth Mountain, celebrating its 60th season this year, will help them prepare for upcoming Winter games in Sochi, Russia, which start in early February.

Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix

Around since the late ’90s, freeskiing involves jumps and tricks on terrain park features usually reserved for snowboarders. Additionally, the 2014 snowboarding team for halfpipe will be announced at Mammoth during the final Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix Jan. 18 and 19.

Fall 2013

Fall Colors in Creeks and Canyons

Quick Trip To Mammoth For Brilliant Fall Colors

California: Near Mammoth, fall color starts to creep in. Don’t believe California has fall color? Neither did a Vermont friend, so I took her on a quick trip to Mammoth last year so she could see for herself. She was surprised.

Photo by Stephen G. Howard

Rock Creek May Be At Its Brilliant Best This Weekend

Timing and elevation are everything, of course, so if you’re planning a trip this year, know that colors are beginning to appear at higher elevations. In fact, Rock Creek may be at its brilliant best this weekend.

Lundy Canyon, Bishop Creek and Rock Creek Canyon

From our trip last year, here’s what we saw along with some early color reports from this month. Just north of Lee Vining is Lundy Canyon, identified by California’s Eastern Sierra Color Guide and Map as one of the best places to see color (we also chose Bishop Creek and Rock Creek Canyon).

Waterfalls And Trails, Vistas And Forests

None of the drives was more than about 40 minutes from Mammoth. Lundy Canyon and Lake is beautiful any time of year, with waterfalls and trails, vistas and forests, but fall is special.

Photo by Stephen G. Howard

Color Has Now Descended To The 7,000 Feet In Elevation

Color spotter Christie Osborne reports in CaliforniaFallColor.com that color has now descended to the 7,000 feet in elevation and is approaching full peak at Mammoth Lakes, five hours away from L.A.

60s Daytime Temps Nights In The 20s And 30s

Poimiroo says daytime temps have been in the 60s with no wind. Nights remain cool in the 20s and 30s, providing optimal conditions for fall colors to intensify. The canyon roads west of Mammoth are always aflame in October, and the June Lake Loop is a can’t-miss destination.

Deer Spotting

Feeding Deer at June Lake, Past Village, Down Along Silver Lake

Best June Lake stretch is just past the village and down along Silver Lake, where tunnels of aspen line the road and deer come out to feed just before dusk. Bring a book, a camera, a camp chair and something to sip. Leave the rest to Mother Nature.

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.” 

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 

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.

Temple of Folly, Clocks Cleaned and Repaired

The hype of working the “largest bonanza outside of Virginia City” sparked a two-year long gold rush stampede of roughly 2500 miners to Mammoth.

 

There’s an enduring quality and allure to the Eastern Sierra mountain range, Mammoth Mountain and Mammoth Lakes area that attracted people throughout the ages.

 

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.

Part One:  Mammoth

Part Two: What Was Mammoth Like Before the Great Recession?

Part Three: Chains that Bind – Bankruptcy, Foreclosures and No Snow

Part Four: Stuck in the Middle with You

Part Five: Breathtaking Mountain Panoramas and Bullet Holes

Photo by Stephen G. Howard

Newer decorations in Aspen Creek condo tweaked my interest, and with very little snow again covering the grounds around our condo and the roads in Mammoth Lakes, I felt a burning desire to find Lake Mary.

Old-time black and white photos triggered my curiosity.

One titled, “Stamp Mill, Mammoth Lakes” in hand printed white letters at the bottom edge.

In it two buildings occupy the lower third, a tall building resembling a two-story barn only partially in the photo, and the second a single story log cabin with shingles.

Behind both you can make out a much taller hill rising out of the frame to the right with loose rocks sliding down its slope.

With two trees in the foreground and a dilapidated building almost sliding down a hill from right to left  you view the “Mammoth Mining Company.”

Decaying wood rubbish piles nearer to the viewer and a wooden wagon wheel lean against a tall pine tree.

Almost all of the wood siding has been salvaged or fell off over time to expose the structural bones.

Maybe the most arresting photo shows four wooden store front buildings with a long wooden walkway or porch connecting all of them.

Similar to the one at Tom’s Place with the less than true sign proclaiming, “Tom’s Place Since 1917.”

In these photos, you can only take an educated guess — at the end of the 1880s – possibly 1888?

Posed in front standing on the dirt street you can count ten males and two dogs – one spotted and the other with dark fur.

Zooming in on the right side of the panoramic shot you capture six males and dog one.

One guy sports a white hat and dark pants, vest and over coat.

A gold watch chain dangles just below his left hand that grasps the lapel of his coat.

Like several others he has grown a long mustache.

He’s the only one standing on an irregular white stone step in front of the porch.

Next to him on our left and standing in the street you see another citizen sporting a long beard in a rumpled lighter-shade three-piece suit

He poses with both hands clasped behind his back.

The next citizen on display poses in a black western hat, dark coat and white working pants with dirty knees.

He’s wearing dark black gloves, the color of his hat.

Look, the photo’s in black and white, so go with me on this detail, okay?

A trio stand in the opposite corner to the right of the gold chained dandy.

Just above them hangs a sign, “Clocks Cleaned. Repaired”

All three lean against a posts or each other with legs crossed.

They’ve pulled their hats back on their heads to better reveal their faces.

They’re younger with dark mustaches.

They’re not in their “Sunday Best.”

They’ve made no attempt at matching their clothes.

The one in the middle wears his jeans tucked into his boots.

The spotted dog one sits at the feet of the third man in dark hat and dark coat with his hand resting on the shoulder of one in the middle.

Dog one stares alertly down the street to the remaining two males and a dark fur dog laying in the street looking back.

The largest sign in the picture says, “Temple of Folly.”

  • A saloon?
  • A community gathering hole?
  • A general store extending credit to miners down on their luck?
  • Or, on close inspection a barber shop with two striped poles near the door with six glass panes?

Directly in front of possibly a second establishment set back a few feet stands a smallish, younger man dressed in a vest, tie and more stylish hat.

  • Was he the barber?
  • Or the bartender?
  • Or, the shop keeper prospering while the older, punchy, white-bearded customer near by stood loosely  at parade rest?

In contrast, with his top button fastened (maybe the only one left) on his dark coat revealed  paunchy’s pot belly hanging over rumpled jeans.

Where can I find remains of the ghost town?

With a good wireless connection and a coffee table piled high with Mammoth magazines, brochures, fliers, local directories and books bits and pieces of the story about the photos emerged.

There’s an enduring quality and allure to the Eastern Sierra mountain range, Mammoth Mountain and Mammoth Lakes area that attracted people throughout the ages.

Who were they and when did they populate Mammoth Lakes?

Courtesy Mammoth Lakes Foundation

In fact the history of Mammoth Lakes didn’t start with Dave McCoy in 1941.

According to our condo’s coffee table and wireless connection, if you consider the Native American heritage it starts hundreds of years before European’s arrived in 1877.

Four prospectors wanting to strike it rich ignited a frenzy.

They staked a claim south of the current town of Mammoth Lakes on Mineral Hill by Old Mammoth Road.

The gold rush was on.

Near Lake Mary those early miners organized the “Lakes Mining District.”

Rumors about a strike – the largest outside of Virginia City, known for the Comstock Lode and made famous years later by Mark Twain in “Roughing It” – drew a stampede of miners in 1877.

Photo – Geni

In 1878 the famous Union Pacific Railroad tycoon and Civil War General George Dodge bought the group of claims.

He organized the Mammoth Mining Company to, well, mine Mineral Hill.

Roughly 1500 wannabe miners flooded the Mammoth Area by the end of 1878 alone.

Aurora Ghost Town

According to “Mammoth Properties Guest Services Directory” for two decades gold and silver fever fueled get rich dreams.

As silver discoveries at Aurora and Bodie led to ever more prospecting.

The hype of working the “largest bonanza outside of Virginia City” sparked a two-year long gold rush stampede of roughly 2500 miners to Mammoth.

Photo – cityconcierge.com

The burgeoning mining camp changed its name to Mammoth City and was poised to produce wealth all around.

But, the dream died in 1880, just three years later when reality failed to live up to the propaganda.

The company ceased operations.

Eight years later the population severely declined from a peak of around 2500 to less than 10.

So, was that photo documenting the only remaining survivors?

According to Wikipedia:

“By the early 1900s, the town of Mammoth was informally established near Mammoth Creek.”

And, the Mammoth Properties Directory tells the official story — two decades later Old Mammoth Village formed to accommodate the pioneers drawn to the area to enjoy fishing, hunting, photography, camping, hiking, and horseback riding.

That’s the story that repeated itself across the West.

Most miners remained flat broke while the real money flowed to the merchants, tools and transportation providers.

Even Twain gave up to write and soak up the scenic wonders on vacations in his spare time.

Times had  been tough at Mammoth more recently, as we already knew.

Part Seven:

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.” 

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 

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.

Breathtaking Mountain Panoramas and Bullet Holes

Up close you could see its wounds. Torn limb from limb and dented and twisted. For some reason there weren’t two of anything.

Photo by Stephen G. Howard
We snapped photos. How could we not with such a panoramic view looking off in a distance from our gray dirt and blond foliage-lined plateau?

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.

Part One:  Mammoth

Part Two: What Was Mammoth Like Before the Great Recession?

Part Three: Chains that Bind – Bankruptcy, Foreclosures and No Snow

Part Four: Stuck in the Middle with You

It worked.

On a more level terrain with more room and no hidden rocks, logs or deep trenches, we were able to take about a dozen small, tight back and forth turns to flip around and trace our path back.

Photo by Stephen G. Howard

To the very same turnouts we had originally declined for lack of snow on the way up.

We parked.

We hiked.

We snapped photos.

Photo by Stephen G. Howard

How could we not with such a panoramic view looking off in a distance from our gray dirt and blond foliage-lined plateau?

Across the tops of dark green pine trees on our side to the Mammoth mountain range covered in white gleaming snow.

Photo by Stephen G. Howard

Out in the open with darker whites and light blues reflecting the deep, high altitude blue sky, and black sprinkles in the canyons and shoots cascading from the crest.

Another overlooking the Mammoth power plant.

It looks like a rectangle box with two sets of three or four rows of power generating units bordering the length reflecting sunlight glare so they look round at their tops.

Photo by Stephen G. Howard

And metal roofed structures with pipes and tubes and other equipment connecting the two sets.

Finally, and the least expected – what’s left of a rusted brown, reddish Ford Model-T?

From a distance it looked like as if the tires and under carriage were buried up to the running board.

Photo by Stephen G. Howard

Only it sat on dirt, not deep piles of snow.

Up close you could see its wounds.

Torn limb from limb and dented and twisted.

For some reason there weren’t two of anything.

One door, the passenger.

One head lamp.

But, no engine block, hood or any sign of them.

Rusted steel violently fell close by.

How did it get there?

How long has it been there?

Was it pushed off some cliff?

Wait we’re not anywhere near a cliff.

And who shot it full of bullet holes?

Two years later during our next winter reunion a second mystery consumed me.

Part Six: Temple of Folly, Clocks Cleaned and Repaired

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.” 

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 

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.

Stuck in the Middle with You

We wanted to take a sharp left turn around a substantial tree and climb a steep incline about 20 yards long in deep snow onto the next plateau.

Photo: Visual Hunt
Which is why as soon as my sons passed their drivers test I had them gun our SUV in the empty parking lot at the base of the mountain on the next Mammoth trip.

 

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.

Part One:  Mammoth

Part Two: What Was Mammoth Like Before the Great Recession?

Part Three: Chains that Bind – Bankruptcy, Foreclosures and No Snow

That was then, this was now.

Photo by Stephen G.Howard

Driving through the intersection on CA 203 we found Old Mammoth Road, running parallel to US 395 and took a right instead of driving on Substation Road to Mammoth’s power plant.

Then we looked for ways into patchy white wilderness foothills.

But, we had to drive a ways on dirt roads almost identical to those we explored at Rock Creek Lodge and Tom’s Place to find any more than patches of snow.

Photo by Stephen G. Howard

In areas where snow had just melted the color of the path was darker – slightly muddier.

With persistence we found fresh snow and we made the first tire tracks.

Not quite as epic as snowboarding through the trees on fresh powder, but fun anyway.

We had to guess how deep the fluffy white drifts were and where the dirt trail underneath actually was.

Leafless scrub brush broke through intermittently.

Photo by Stephen G. Howard

So did large rocks.

We kept vigilant for deep ruts.

The kind that could trap us.

Then it happened.

We wanted to take a sharp left turn around a substantial tree and climb a steep incline about 20 yards long in deep snow onto the next plateau.

We slipped.

We slid sideways.

We momentarily got hung up in a trench.

Full disclosure?

I experienced a flashback.

No, not that kind.

But further back to the winter in high school merely months after getting my driver’s license.

Photo: Visual Hunt

Having grown up in a suburb of Cincinnati when every season between December and January or February several storms would drop inches maybe a foot or more of snow.

More than on the ground this trip in the Sierras, and probably with a layer of ice underneath.

My father had taken me out to the vacant church parking lot covered in about 6 inches of snow, told me to slide behind the wheel and gun it.

Do what?

That’s right, punch it he told me.

Twin emotions overcame me.

Sheer fear and sheer joy.

We slipped and slid all over the place.

Photo: Visual Hunt

I turned the wrong way and accelerated the sideways loss of control, fearing I’d bang into something solid.

But, soon enough I got the hang of it.

Turning into the direction of the skid.

Except for that one time.

It was my mother’s brand new station wagon.

Her new baby.

Still had that new car smell.

I had pleaded my case.

Dad certified I knew how to successfully tackle every challenge a winter snow storm could provide.

Photo: Visual Hunt

Except this one time.

Like all mom’s do.

She probably experienced an intuition that this wouldn’t turn out well.

But, she was my mom.

She let go.

She let me go.

Anxious about what would happen next.

Driving down the steep hill and making a hard right hand turn onto the street leading to my best friend’s house, tucked away in the woods, was a little sketchy.

But, I mastered it.

I smiled from ear to ear.

Until.

Photo: Visual Hunt

My best friend’s driveway unfolded on three different levels with three different turns.

Piece of cake I thought.

Until I tried to navigate the drop from the top-level to the middle with a left hand turn.

I could have sworn, and did later to my mother, that no one could have anticipated where the turn began.

Or, that slipping off the driveway and sliding towards the trees could have turned out worse.

No, I didn’t hit the biggest one head on.

I swerved out of it’s way.

Photo: Visual Hunt

But it creased her passenger side from just behind the front wheel all the way back to back seat door.

Which is why as soon as my sons passed their drivers test I had them gun our SUV in the empty parking lot at the base of the mountain on the next Mammoth trip.

But, snapping out of the flashback, we still were stuck.

We rocked forward and backward to get traction.

I got out and pushed.

Nothing worked.

No cell service.

No AAA road service.

Photo: Stephen G. Howard

If we could just free ourself and get a running start while I pushed maybe, just maybe we could take the incline to the top.

We really didn’t have much choice, since the path was too narrow and tree-lined to risk turning around on the lower level.

We tried another trick I learned from my Dad years earlier.

We let a little air out of the tires for more traction.

Kept our fingers crossed.

Part Five:

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.” 

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 

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.

Chains that Bind – Bankruptcy, Foreclosures and No Snow

It verified the drip, drip, of snow melting and sliding off brown wood shingles would not turn into ice cycles any time soon.

 

Winter Road Trip in the Easter Sierras
But one year, the highway patrol flagged you down at a blinking yellow light to check out your chains with one of those abnormally long flashlights they always carry.

 

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.

Part One:  Mammoth

Part Two: What Was Mammoth Like Before the Great Recession?

5-Year Time Frames

2009-2014

By the fall of 2010, with the help of local business owners, the Village had seen a resurgence of new restaurants and stores.

But, if you and the Swall Meadows family had Googled “Mammoth Real Estate Market” in 2011, you would have come across links to realtor blogs discussing foreclosures and distressed properties.

In August Jeff Warwick reported on the sales of bank-owned (REOs), foreclosures, pre-foreclosures and short sales.

  • Of all those closed 2011 sales, 89 of them were distressed (REO’s or Short Sale) transactions.
  • 43.4% of all 2011 fell into the distressed real estate category.
  • He pointed out that only 5% of the listings are distressed, but 43% of closed sales are distressed.
  • And nearly 1/3 of all closed sales were cash buyers — a market indicator that the investor-buyer accounted for a stronger component.

Wikipedia picks up the story thread:

The California Court of Appeal, Third District, affirmed the judgment in December 2010, and the California Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal on March 23, 2011.

On Monday July 2, 2012, Mammoth Lakes filed for bankruptcy in the face of the judgement.

Later the same year, the bankruptcy was dismissed as a result of a settlement between the town and their largest creditor.

Having guessed right all those years, maybe we were due for a Thanksgiving-like winter in February of 2012.

Bad news for the rest of the family, but not so bad for me because I hadn’t fully recovered from my skiing accident surgery.

Sure, I’m easy with solitude, but even I can catch cabin fever.

Upstairs there’s a loft between the third bedroom and second bathroom.

Where the bunk beds accommodate the younger and single family members

Usually you can look directly out through the top window across from the bunk beds to see snow laden fir trees giving way to streams of snow blowing off the mountain peak.

Only this year, not so much.

Yes, lots of snow packed the upper third of the mountain.

But in town not so much.

Even the black pavement, often treacherous at night with black ice patches, dried to gray.

There’s a huge round thermometer in the glassed in porch overlooking the hot tub where we dip into a winters supply of firewood,.

It verified the drip, drip, of snow melting and sliding off brown wood shingles would not turn into ice cycles any time soon.

You couldn’t grab the green disc or red plastic sled out of the closet to slide in the deep snow   on the two stage slope along the side of the condo complex.

Well you could, but you wouldn’t make much progress.

Unless you slid a foot, hopped up and ran to the next patch sat with your feet and knees pulled up for the next two feet, and so on and so on.

But the lack of deep snow meant one thing.

Another off road adventure exploring the area on the opposite side of the turnoff to Mammoth Lakes.

We backtracked on Meridian Blvd to where it dumped into CA 203 (or Main Street in town) turned right and drove to US 395 intersection.

Winter Road Trip in the Easter Sierras

In years past we collectively held our breath, arriving near or past midnight in our SUV at that intersection.

During a normal snow season roadside signs told you you needed to put on your chains before you could climb the final hill into the town and your condo.

We wanted to take our chances each time.

But one year, the highway patrol flagged you down at a blinking yellow light to check out your chains with one of those abnormally long flashlights they always carry.

Reluctantly I flipped open the hatchback.

Grabbed some gloves and a flashlight.

Pulled out the rear tire chains and fumbled for 45 minutes fastening them.

Not noticing that the blinking yellow check point closed.

Oh well.

Other years, having learned from my ordeal, we’d shell out the going rate to locals for installing our chains, while we stayed warm inside listening to the final songs on our road trip playlist.

But enough about that.

Part Four:  Stuck in the Middle with You

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.” 

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 

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.

 

What Was Mammoth Like Before the Great Recession?

We began coverage of Mammoth Lakes during the Summer of 2008.

Across mountain towns in California (Mammoth), Montana (Whitefish) and Colorado (Pagosa Springs, Durango and Silverton) the younger Distant Exurbans those 56Y3T4 Millennials disappeared.

 

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.

Part One:  Mammoth

We began coverage of Mammoth Lakes during the Summer of 2008.

Location At-A-Glance

Region: Western United States,

State: California

Travel Region: Sierra Nevada Region; Eastern Sierra

County: Mono County

Patchwork County: Immigration Nation

Town: Mammoth Lakes, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

Population Density: Town and Country

Real Estate Phase: Early Maturity

Zip Codes: 93546

Ski Area Citizens Scorecards:

(B) Mammoth Mountain Ski Area 69.1% (Fall 2008)

(B) Mammoth Mountain Ski Area 71.8% (Fall 2012)

City Data filled in a more complete picture.

Nearest zip codes: 93634, 93529, 93512, 93514, 93541, 93605.

Nearest cities:

  • June Lake, CA 3.3 miles,
  • McGee Creek, CA 3.3 miles,
  • Crowley Lake, CA 3.7 miles,
  • Aspen Springs, CA 4.0 miles,
  • Sunny Slopes, CA 4.2 miles,
  • Swall Meadows, CA 4.5 miles,
  • Lee Vining, CA 4.8 miles, and
  • Round Valley, CA 5.1 miles.

Many tourists playing in the Eastern Sierra adventure communities may believe that Mammoth Lakes would be similar to Bishop.

Bishop’s Patchwork County (Inyo County) description after all is “Service Worker Centers.”

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

The more in-depth description provides clues.

“Some of the Service Worker Centers are small-town vacation communities along the coasts or near inland lakes that get a boost through tourism.

Residents make their money working at cafés, restaurants and curio shops, while the local governments draw revenue from hotel taxes.

Others are simply local commerce hubs for the scattered populations around them, places to buy necessities or do business with local government.

These are not places you go to do high-end shopping.

Bishop, California

The Service Worker Centers generally holds places with one main street or main intersection that is more designed around needs than wants – diners more than four-star restaurants.

There is a strain conservatism that runs through these counties, largely arising out of distrust of big city wealth and big government, but those conservative leanings do not have the same social conservative undertones to them.”

However, for Mono County, the Patchwork Nation Profile is “Immigration Nation”

“Communities with large Latino populations and lower-than-average incomes, typically clustered in the South and Southwest.”

The more in-depth description doesn’t seem to ring true, may be emerging or overlooked by  vacationers like us.

“These places are not necessarily overwhelmingly or even majority Hispanic, rather they are places with large Hispanic populations where there tends to be a strong divide in the community between Hispanics and Anglos.

Immigration Nation counties often hold communities within communities – one where almost all business and conversation is done in English and one where Spanish dominates.

Walk or drive a few blocks and you might find not only different kinds of grocery stores and different languages are the registers, but different products on the shelves.

The different ethnicities and backgrounds of the people in these counties can cause increased tensions from both sides.

In some communities these tensions can lead to dysfunctional relationships and governance.”

With so much change at hand, we take three glances at the Mammoth Lakes profiles.

  • One during the summer of 2008 which serves as a baseline.
  • The second during one of our winter ski and snowboarding holiday trips at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.
  • And the third eight years after Mammoth’s baseline during the summer of 2016.

Let’s start with the beginning baseline.

Profile At-A-Glance (Summer 2008)

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

Ages: 20-29, 25-54, 55+

Community Neighbors:

Wireless Resorters

Maturing Resorts — WRMR

23Y2T2, Greenbelt Sports, 25-54, Mainstream Singles, Country Comfort

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

32F3T2, New Homesteaders, 55+Boomer, Mainstream Families, Country Comfort

Resort Suburbans — WRRS

42Y3T3, Red White Blues, 20-29, Striving Singles, Middle America

Distant Exurbans — WRDE

56Y3T4, Crossroads Villagers, 20-29, Striving Singles, Rustic Living

Over the following five years the 20-29 Singles leave by the winter of 2013 – 2014 eliminating two segments of Wireless Resorter lifestyles – Resort Suburbans and Distant Exurbans.

The WRRS Resort Suburbans vacated rentals on the edge of town, while the WRDE Distant Exurbans moved away from their more rustic living digs.

Three long time neighborhood lifestyles commonly associated with Maturing Resort communities remained.

Older Mainstream Singles, Empty Nesters, and Mainstream Families.

Most likely those who could wait out the worst that 2009 to 2014 would bring.

While Mammoth, like Whitefish, Montana, said goodbye to the 42Y3T3, Striving Single, 20-29 year olds, the zip code surrounding Tahoe City and Sunnyside bordering Lake Tahoe said hello .

Such wasn’t the case for the second lifestyle.

The goodbyes to the 20-29 striving singles used to rustic living and lower incomes felt more permanent.

Winter Fun

Across mountain towns in California (Mammoth), Montana (Whitefish) and Colorado (Pagosa Springs, Durango and Silverton) the younger Distant Exurbans those 56Y3T4 Millennials disappeared.

They probably returned home as so many other Millennials did during the Great Recession.

NOTE: Don’t feel too bad for them. According to our 2016 update, they may be flocking back to Telluride, Colorado.

Part Three: Chains that Bind – Bankruptcy, Foreclosures and No Snow

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?

Mammoth

To top it all off for the winter 1976 – 1977 ski season Mother Nature decided to dump only 94 inches making the disaster the worst in Mammoth’s history.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area was sold to Starwood Capital Group in a deal that valued Mammoth at $365 million- a far cry from the $135,000 he borrowed in 1953 to build the first lift.

 

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 the Swall Valley family needed to relocate, either temporarily or permanently, after the Round Valley Fire, and they chose Mammoth then their commute to the school district would be closer and less expensive.

Like the Swall Valley community the Mammoth Mountain Ski area and town of Mammoth Lakes, since the 1940s, suffered their share of economic, prolonged climate and seasonal weather-related setbacks too.

From Mammoth Mountain Resort – History

Establishing Mammoth Mountain as a growing ski area wasn’t easy for Dave McCoy when he switched from McGee Mountain in 1941.

At the end of the 1950s his entrepreneurial burning desire was almost snuffed out by a drought.  

Roughly a dozen years later the Southern California economy almost collapsed with a spike in gas prices triggered by the 1973 oil crisis.

Drivers who had to fill up at much higher fuel prices, but only on odd or even days of the week, weren’t about to risk getting stuck somewhere along US 395.

To top it all off for the winter 1976 – 1977 ski season Mother Nature decided to dump only 94 inches making the disaster the worst in Mammoth’s history.

Mammoth Yosemite Airport from Wikipedia

But, in the ‘90s Alpha Airlines flew resorters from LA to the small Mammoth Airport you drive past on US 395.

In the mid- to late- ‘90s investors wanted a piece of McCoy’s dream.  

Here’s how Wikipedia described the time

In January 1996, Intrawest Corporation and Mammoth Mountain Ski area announced that Intrawest Corporation had purchased 33% of Mammoth and June Mountain ski operations, as well as all of the developable real estate owned by Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. 

In 1998, Intrawest increased their partnership interest to 58%. 

5-Year Time Frame 2003-2008

When the new millennium began in the Eastern Sierra’s times were better.  

Horizon Airlines offered service round trip between Mammoth and Los Angeles and the Bay Area and Reno.  

Not just for winter holidays, but for all four seasons too.

Straw-Bale House Construction

The Swall family completed their sustainable, forever home and hadn’t volunteered for a financial make over yet. 

The Malibu fire hadn’t forced Scott Palamar from the mountains to Owens Valley yet.

The Great Recession hadn’t dashed the hopes of millions yet.

With Intrawest’s investment, McCoy realized a significant portion of his dream.

The development of three new village areas: The Village at Mammoth, Sierra Star, and Juniper Springs, has brought new developments to the resort.

The Village at Mammoth, a European-style and pedestrian-only complex, was built in a style similar to other Intrawest properties, such as Whistler or Keystone. 

The Village opened in 2003 with various stores, restaurants, galleries and 166 luxury condominiums. 

The 15-passenger Village Gondola, which departs from the Village, transports skiers and snowboarders directly to the Canyon Lodge base.

By 2005 McCoy had designed, build and run the ski area for almost 70 years.  

So, he decided to sell his stake in Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and announced it during the winter ski season in 2005.  

Maybe he just wanted to enjoy skiing for a few more years without all the headaches and responsibilities he had shouldered for 68 years.

Or maybe his knee began bothering him. 

Three years later he had a knee replacement.

Or maybe he wanted to take more time to enjoy his family.

As of 2008, he and Roma’s family numbered 6 children, 16 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren according to Wikipedia.

At any rate, in the first week of October, 2005 Barry Sternlicht of the real estate private equity fund, Starwood Capital Group, bought McCoy’s ownership stake.  

Wikipedia reported the details

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area was sold to Starwood Capital Group in a deal that valued Mammoth at $365 million- a far cry from the $135,000 he borrowed in 1953 to build the first lift.

Timing is everything.

Because of a poor economy in California, beginning in 2007, many of the stores and restaurants in The Village closed.

As the recession hit, the Town of Mammoth Lakes owed tens of millions of dollars for a deal that fell through.

Wikipedia says

In 2008, after a jury trial, the Mono County Superior Court entered a $43 million judgment against the Town of Mammoth Lakes for breach of a development agreement. 

Part Two:

Steps:

24) Determine which maker or breaker community issues you will find across all resort communities vs. those unique only to the quality-of-life towns at the top of your best places list.

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.

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.