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.

Pristine

“Qual·i·ty of life — the degree of enjoyment and satisfaction felt in everyday life.” 

Celebrating the Moment
How to make healthy, wealthy and wise choices for living, loving, working, playing, investing and retiring in vacation communities.

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

Follow your passions.

Why not?

Nobody can follow your passions for you.

Don’t stop there.

Choose to live anywhere you want.

Preserving the World

“In wildness is the preservation of the world.”  Henry David Thoreau.

The great thing about living where others spend their vacation is the year round quality-of-life.

In case you forgot just what that is …

“Qual·i·ty of life — the degree of enjoyment and satisfaction felt in everyday life.”  

The West.

Live, love, work, play, invest and retire anywhere you want.

From the Desert to the Mountains to the Sea and all the Pristine Rivers, Lakes and Islands in Between.

Western Skies and Island Currents!

Winter in the mountains and summer at the beach.

Snowboarder Performing Jump Silverton, Colorado, USA

The story of the Wild West celebrated a spirit of adventure.

Starting over with new beginnings full of promise.

Fueled by dreams of striking it rich.

We have a rich history of mining and panning for gold nuggets in the West.

Making a life based on ingenuity, resourcefulness and self-reliance.

Back then, whenever travelers met each other on the road, they swapped info about the places they came from and asked questions about places they were going.

But for us, every day we follow the rules.

Go to work.

Keep our nose to the grindstone.

Marry our sweet hearts.

Raise our children.

Save for their college education.

And, finally retire sometime off into the distant future to a glorious second half of our life.

That’s the way it’s supposed to be, but one day everything changed.

Employers shipped our jobs overseas.

We worked longer and longer in jobs we couldn’t stand.

But, at least we had a job.

But, the stress piled on.

And on.

Because of that we had to escape.

If only for a vacation.

There’s nothing quite as all-American as a road trip…

especially in the West, where a wealth of culture, natural beauty and excitement unfolds before you. 

What is it about traveling back to nature?

Where you feel most inspired?

Where the yellow aspen do that shimmering dance beside the deep green of the lodgepole pines.

But, there’s a dark side to vacations.

We notice our predicament when we return to work.

Are we who we really, really are when we keep our head down with our noses to the grindstone?

What about those expansive western skies?

The majestic mountain peaks?

The rushing babbling creeks and brooks?

The taste of salt in the air along the coast?

We keep those nagging questions at bay.

Maybe bubbling up only occasionally in dreamland.

Until finally we wake up and realize we don’t live in our bubble any longer.

We make a commitment to ourselves.

We can make healthy, wealthy and wise choices for living, loving, working, playing, investing and retiring in vacation communities.

Where we feel the most alive.

Steps:

(21) Spend the time to find the best places to live and invest. It will be worth your while. The great thing about living where others spend their vacation is the year round quality-of-life.

 

 

 

Persistence

“I was an aspiring filmmaker,” he said. But I started to see how aspiring to be something was a way to not really try.”

Aspiring Independent Filmmakers
When do we realize it really is time to move on? Time to smell the coffee?

An excerpt from Book One in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find more meaning and happiness in your life.

You know what they say about anything creative – it’s  1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

Giving It One More Shot

“I was an aspiring filmmaker,” he said. 

But I started to see how aspiring to be something was a way to not really try. 

If you did that and you failed, well, you didn’t really fail. 

I needed to start making things, even if they weren’t great, just making things.”

The grind takes it toll in different ways.

The Show Must Go On

The actor’s wife, still living in their home town, wanted to fly to Los Angeles for the play but wasn’t sure she could make it.

He needed to see her.

He was beginning to realize that daily phone conversations were hardly a substitute for a real marriage.

Not one of his coffee buddies attended his closing night.

But, most importantly his wife wasn’t there either.

Closing Curtains

Maybe she sent flowers?

No such luck.

“I want our life back,” he said after the play was done.

Not long afterward, over the phone, his wife said that she would always hope for his acting dreams, but she wanted a divorce.

He feared that his single-minded pursuit of acting had torn them apart.This quest for an acting career....

My God, it has led me down the road to ruin.

Persist or Pivot? How Do You Know?

And yet …

When do we realize it really is time to move on?

Time to smell the coffee?

Steps:

(4) Nurture your passions and express your uniqueness — no one else can or will, for that matter

(6) Persist and pivot to navigate external threats and opportunities.

(3) Pick options designed to attract better opportunities.  You don’t want to miss out on lucrative jobs or entrepreneurial ventures that will fuel  a real change in your lifestyle.

(7) Choose the ‘Preneur’ business model that brings out the best in you – freelancing, consulting, franchising, Internet marketing or establishing a Knowledge ATM.

 

Dreamers

Your father long ago told you to grow up and quit pursuing acting as a career.”

Piecing Together Your Dreams
Pursuing their dreams: actors, writers and directors; stragglers, success stories and hard-luck cases.

An excerpt from Book One in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find more meaning and passion in your life.

It’s an old story.

Wanna be actors land in Hollywood chasing an elusive dream.

More recently, during the winter of 2012 – 2013, Kurt Streeter, writing for the Los Angeles Times, hung out at an unpretentious cafe in Atwater Village.

Coffee Shop Communities

He profiled one of the neighborhood residents who moved there three years.

Like many others chasing his dream he had been acting since the age of three, but was still waiting for his big break.  

The regulars, a group of a dozen or so, eased his loneliness and shared his Hollywood ambition:

Hollywood Land of Dreams

Amy, the animator who had worked on “South Park,” Nicholas, whose latest film was well received at the Sundance Film Festival, and a rising African American actor who worried about being typecast in criminal roles.

They stayed for hours, talking, typing, hunched hard over laptops, nursing lattes.

They were actors, writers and directors; stragglers, success stories and hard-luck cases.

Mobile Writers and Freelancers

A woman reads over her dissertation; a freelance reporter plans his next story; two producers discuss financing for an independent movie.

Observing the scene, the servers and baristas say, look this is their place so you don’t bother them.

But over time you begin to notice.

“After a while you just see them sort of losing hope. And then, just like that, we don’t see them anymore.”

Privately, after so many failed attempts, the internal dialog goes something like this —

Is it time to give up on your dream of making it in Hollywood? 

Your father long ago told you to grow up and quit pursuing acting as a career.

“It’s so easy to say that. 

Easy to criticize, doubt, say ‘give up’ and  ‘I told you so.’ … I’ve never been one for easy.”

Steps:

(4) Nurture your passions and express your uniqueness — no one else can or will, for that matter.