Tag: attitude

two trucks in two days

The entire social media presence of Mammoth Lakes is on the “buy sell trade“. Someone stole your fishing pole? Need a place to rent? Heard a weird noise? It all goes there.

So I’m sitting on the couch doing my EMT+W homework and Charlotte hands me her phone and says, “You see this?”

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Yep, that’s stuck.

So some realities start to collide:

a) I’m on a search and rescue team, with the sole desire to help people who are in various shades of screwed.

b) I’m literally sitting there studying how to help people (medically, but the point stands).

c) I have a gassed up off road rig with a big winch on the front and a bunch of recovery gear sitting in the driveway, backed in.

So I call the dude up. We make plans to meet in 15 minutes and I text another buddy of mine from Mono SAR who’s got a likewise dope 4×4 set up.

Mind you, Friday morning there was another guy posting about he got stuck out at Lake Crowley which I handled myself before work with just a simple tow strap. But for this big ass Ford Expedition it required nearly 25,000 pounds of pull power.

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Off course it had to be getting dark, full of mosquitoes, thick mud, and cold water. Of course.

Two winches, two snatch blocks, me revving my engine to keep the electricity going, and the stuck Ford with street tires in 4L. We popped the guy out, told him we hoped he had a better time in the Sierras, and to hit us up anytime he’s got problems.

Honestly it’s really nice to be a position to help people. I feel like not only do you get a chance to come to someone’s aid when they’re in a tough spot, but doing it for free with a cheerful attitude can really spread some positivity in this world.

It’s fairly well known that our country is quite polarized politically and ideologically these days. Half the people in that shot above probably voted for Trump, the other half hate his guts. There are ties that bind us only if we form and tighten those accords. Lincoln famously said, “We must not be enemies, but friends.” Not only do we need to keep from loathing one another, but we must also purposefully reach out and be kind.

So I’d ask of you the same thing I’d ask of myself: try to help folks out in whatever way you can. Not for money or notoriety but from the simple truth that living in a world where we are kind and helpful to each other is the only kind of world we want to live in.

the 2017 spring melt

It’s our first year living in Mammoth, and we’ve had one hell of a winter. Over fifty feet of snow fell, and I literally shoveled that entire amount from my driveway and probably a third from my roof (the rest melted / or shed by itself). I still don’t want to write about the 16/17 winter because I’m always looking over my shoulder that it’s not done. In fact there’s ~6″ of snow forecast for this weekend, in May. Just a few days ago I got high centered in snow, again. Rumors persist that the mountain will stay open for ski and snowboard operations all year, and Tioga Pass may not open at all.

Above are shots from roughly the same vantage point of Mammoth Creek Park. On the left is late April, on the right is 1.5 weeks later in early May. So while winter may not be done yet the melt is certainly happening. Barring rain or some freakish event, when snow falls December-February it’s basically not going anywhere unless you physically remove it. By about the third week in April though the sun is high enough in the sky that it starts cooking the snow off fast enough that you can safely put the shovels away. Well, maybe leave one out for the steps.

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The remnants of our no-kidding igloo from December. 

The animals are also going bonkers. In winter, you have two main issues: snow and ice. The bugs, bears, plants, and all other forms of life vanish and you get winter all up in your grill.

Just last night I was in my truck when the neighborhood asshole big fat black bear rolled down the street like a stoner text messaging, not paying a damn bit of attention to what was ahead of him. In this case: me. About two car lengths away I spotted him, he spotted me, and we both darted in opposite directions. I came back armed with bear spray and bravado but the 8,000 calorie a day consumer had vanished.

There’s a bird trying to peck a hole into my house this morning. I put some more siding over there, and now he/she has moved to another target. I throw wood chips at it.

Funny enough though there hasn’t been much mud: just look at how bone-dry that park picture is above with the amount of snow that melted into it so quickly. The soil seems to accept water really well and flat meadows are the exception not the rule up here in the Eastern Sierras. So the water is either flowing like crazy somewhere or filling something up. You’re either flooded or dry, as most likely you’re on an incline of some sort.

I would definitely caution any would-be homeowners to look seriously at localized flooding. If you can’t clearly see how the water would drain, it probably won’t. And I mean a lot of water. Like thousands of gallons a day sort of water.

Another would-be homeowner tip: ensure the front of your house faces south. Seriously. The sun is god’s show shovel and it never gets tendinitis or a sore back.

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If you can see asphalt anywhere, it’s spring. Lyra is standing on our “yard”, down there somewhere.

And with that, all eyes are on for summer. Sure, there are snowflakes that will still fall this year but instead of looking at a massive wall of snow outside my window, all that’s between me and nature is the window screen, with the sounds and smells of the Eastern Sierra coming through.

It really is a privilege to live here and even with the bears, ice, woodpeckers, voluminous amounts of snow, and soon-to-be forest fires of the summer, I’m happy to live here.

welcome to mammoth, how do you pay your bills?

Perhaps before anyone cares to know your name one of the first questions you will face as a resident of Mammoth Lakes goes something like this:

What do you do for a job?

It’s not the friendly version that you get in a normal place. Generally I’ll wait to lug out the “what’s your job” question until after I know someone. I’m genuinely more interested in your attitude, poise, and demeanor than I am how you pay for your groceries.

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My “office”, Mammoth Lakes. I’ve carefully redacted all identifying marks.

In case of point the expression in Mexico, loosely translated, looks more like this:

What do you dedicate your life to?

In Mexico (which only has a 17% edge over the United States for college graduates per capita despite having only 1/3 the per capita income), it’s pretty normal to have a degree in a particular field but end up working a different job to make ends meet. Take me, as an example: I work in financial services. But is that what I dedicate my life to? Certainly not. It’s my profession and I take it very seriously, but I dedicate my life to my family and experiencing as much of this world as I can while my heart is still beating.

I knew a quite capable fellow who managed a bar in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico. He paid his bills working as a bar manager but had advanced degrees in marine biology and kept quite current in the field. So is he a bar manager or a marine biologist? Well that of course depends on the question you ask and whether or not you are genuinely interested in him as a person or simply in how money shows up in his direct deposit.

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Outside my window. One of these sons of bitches chewed through a powerline and took out my Internet connection for 5 hours. Hope you enjoyed the electrons, bro.

The reason for the “how do you make your money” question is two fold.

  1. General skepticism that anyone can move up here. Because it was a hurculean task for them to arrive, it was obviously a fluke that you did, and you’ll probably be leaving soon. Good riddance.
  2. You’re a trust-a-farian (a.k.a. you have money that you didn’t earn). This also sits well because it shows that you don’t really deserve to be here. Again, it’s just a fluke.

It’s actually quite refreshing to be up here but yet have zero professional connections. Sure, I don’t really have any professional friends within a couple of hundred miles, but on the flip side I can walk around fairly confident in knowing that the small-town-everyone-is-everyone’s-business aspect doesn’t leak into my job.

Of the two of the friends I’ve met in town, one is in law enforcement and the other is a teacher: not only are you in a town the size of a postage stamp, but you are up in everyone’s shit on a daily basis. I feel bad for these folks. I enjoy being civil and trying to be pleasant in nearly every encounter, but it certainly helps being able to pick the majority of those encounters and not have them thrust upon me.

So if you move up here be prepared to just say “Hello, my name is Sam. I work at the [xyz], nice to meet you.” You’ll save all the inquisitive people who want to know about your personal finances a ton of time.

living in a jumping off point

living in a jumping off point

One thing I loved about being down in Banderas Bay, Mexico, was that it was a nexus of adventurers. A stopping point for the Baja HaHa, it was also the biggest starting point for those ready to cross the Pacific. You were surrounded by people who were excited. People who had the nerves and luck to make it this far, and the will go even farther. Offshore sailors really make for a diverse, fun, and capable set of neighbors.

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Soccer on the beach, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. 

In Mammoth it’s pretty much the same feeling. Everywhere you go there are people that are stoked to be here. They drove for hours. They saved up money. They took time off work. They got all their gear organized. They’ve been planning this for weeks, months, or maybe even years.

And now, they’re sitting in front of you as you’re buying a loaf of bread.

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Today in Vons, bread isle, Mammoth Lakes.

And that type of energy is hard to underscore. It’s a reminder every day of the options at your disposal. It’s bright shiny people who in a few hours will be airborne flying off a snowy ridge, or looking down from the top of a mountain they just summitted.

More importantly, it’s a reminder every day of the things you’re not doing. Seeing people achieve and accomplish things chisels away at the long list of reasons that you tell yourself you can’t pull things off. You see people younger than you. Older than you. With more kids. With less money.

And there you are, buying your load of bread, having to answer the question (if you dare to ask it) about why you’re not the one with grocery cart full of supplies for a week in the backcountry.

So thanks to you, Mr. Climbing Rope in the Bread Isle Man on a Wednesday.  Thanks for reminding me to take advantage of every second that this life will offer me.

Leaving San Diego

My family moved to San Diego when I was in 5th grade. I finished up elementary school here, then went through middle school and high school. I went back to the east coast for college and military service, and then came back to San Diego in 2000. In total, I’ve lived in San Diego for 24 of my 38 years.

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I lived and worked near downtown until I left, and have lived in Carlsbad and Encinitas. I have friends all over the county, and have worked in Sorrento Valley, San Marcos, Oceanside, Hillcrest, Point Loma, Del Mar, and Poway that I can remember. I’ve had girlfriends in San Diego, I got married here, and have two little kids, one of which is in local school.

But it’s time to move, and here’s why.

Continue reading “Leaving San Diego”