Hikers and Bikers
I am responding to a letter in the last issue whereby the writer stated that the favorite part of her visit was her walk on the bike path. This practice of walking on the bike path is inherently dangerous. The path has a number of places with blind curves and hills and valleys where pedestrians are only visible at short range. Couple that with the fact that downhill riders are usually going fast; and, it is not easy to stop a fast moving bike nor swerve to avoid an obstacle. Often a biker comes upon people walking side-by-side with little or no clearance on the right side. Sooner or later there is going to be an accident that will bring to the public’s attention the incompatibility of fast moving bikers and much slower walkers on this narrow lane. I know that pedestrians are not prohibited from the bike path; but, I wish that the writer and others would find a better place to walk. How about the many beautiful hiking paths in and around town?
Ronald A. Rosien
Mammoth Second Home Owner
Disappointed in Dunlap’s dismay
I was disappointed to read that Mammoth Lakes resident Lyn Dunlap objects that a portion of the funds collected by the Mammoth High School Interact Club for parking during the Bluesapalooza Festival will be used to support a humanitarian project in Baja California (Mexico). Members of the Interact Club, which is affiliated with the two Mammoth Lakes Rotary Clubs, staffed the paid parking on Minaret during Bluesapalooza. They received over $4,400 in donations.
I would like to provide some additional information about what the funds will be used for in the hopes that it will change the opinion of Ms. Dunlap and others who question the efforts of the students. In May 2012, the Rotary Clubs of Mammoth Lakes will participate with Corazon, Inc., a Southern California non-profit organization that is best known for building a house in a day for residents of northern Baja. Corazon teams up with churches, schools and service organizations that raise the funds for the materials and provide up to 50 volunteers who travel to Tijuana or Tecate and build a small house in one day. Corazon, through volunteers, works with the local Mexican officials to identify the recipients of the homes. They must donate hundreds of hours of community service to qualify for a home.
I’ve had the opportunity to coordinate four trips with Corazon through a Southern California Rotary Club, and will do the same for the Mammoth Lakes clubs next May. Interact Club members will have the opportunity to participate. These projects are far more than “improving the quality of life” for the people of Mexico. They can be a life changing experience for volunteers who have never witnessed how people live in a third world country. The local recipients participate during the day and the volunteers get to interact with our neighbors to the South. Building a house through Corazon is a tremendous educational opportunity for American youth and young adults to see how most of the rest of the world lives, and realize that we have far more in common with the people of Mexico than they may believe. Ultimately, a lasting emotional bond is created. Each year, students have participated and each one hasreturned to the U.S. with a newfound understanding and broader view of the world.
This past May, Schools Superintendent Rich Boccia and Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra dynamo Kathy Copeland chaperoned five Mammoth Lakes students on a trip to build a house with Corazon. I had the privilege to hear the participants speak afterwards. Each of them was inspired, motivated to give back, and came away more knowledgeable of international affairs. As with others, it was a life changing experience.
Volunteering with Corazon is much more than donating funds to another country. It is an educational experience that provides the opportunity for participants to view our neighbors to the South in a different way than they may otherwise. As we get closer to next May, volunteers will be sought. Perhaps Ms. Dunlap and others who are critical of this effort may consider going with us.
Mammoth Lakes Noon Rotary Club
Back to the Future
I have been racking my brain long and hard to come up with ideas for the economic longevity of Mammoth Lakes.
What came to me while watching the public television series on National Parks by Ken Burns is that we need to resurrect the past. We need to think about going back to the days of the Valentine Reserve. The day when porters would come days before and have the camp set up ready for the guests to arrive.
In those days, special guests would take 8 hours or more to drive there; sometimes even taking more than a day. Who were these special guests? Well they were the not just very wealthy, but they were the first conservationists, preservationists, philanthropists; they were nature lovers, inventors, politicians and scientists and they were all looking for that unique, authentic experience. They were looking to be out in nature and yet they wanted to be pampered and served. They did not go there for the service, but they would not have been there without the service.
We still have all the natural beauty, nature, wildlife, geology and scenery we had then, so why aren’t these people coming to Mammoth Lakes today? (well, yes, some are coming but they either own a second home or are staying in someone else’s). What has Aspen, Park City, Vail, Telluride and Whistler, even Jackson Hole (the Amangani) have that we don’t? They have hotels, restaurants, spas and shopping, conference centers and as important if not more important they have businesses and people that know how to provide service, I will say it again SERVICE. The hotels they have are 3, 4 and 5 star hotels and I say HOTELS not just one but several at those levels.
The Westin has been one of the bright spots in the North Village redevelopment area. My friends who have not been to Mammoth Lakes in years have come back because of the Westin and would love to see more. I have even read several articles in major newspapers about the Westin and the guests who had not been back to Mammoth Lakes in years, stayed and loved it. But all that needs to stay within the town existing boundaries and done in the most natural and environmentally friendly way with a creative flair.
So what needs to be done is to send the mandate to the community development department to go forth and seek out hoteliers. Don’t wait ‘til they come to us. Invite and court such hoteliers as the Ayres family of the Ayres hotel, Chip Conley of Joie de Vivre, Aman Resorts and the Kimpton Hotels and there are many others. Staff needs to go out and find hoteliers that can create handcrafted Mammoth Lakes hotels with soul. The government i.e. the town and county needs to incentivize, cajole and convince with whatever it takes to get them to come and build. We need to meld the vision of John Muir and Gifford Pinchot – friends that had diametrically opposite ideas of how to get to the same place, create the National Park system.
The time is now. We need visionaries like John D. Rockefeller and many others that would buy land not to develop, but to buy it from developers and give it to the national park system to be preserved for ever. Yes, J.D. Rockefeller, the epitome of a capitalist, even he bought land in Yosemite to give to the park system. He and his party might have even been one that went to the Valentine reserve. From looking to our past, that will lead us in to our economic future and the future of Mammoth Lakes.
If you haven’t watched the National Parks series, you should, it is very informative and will give you a deep insight into the magnificent area we live in and why it needs to be preserved and used to the economic benefit of the town and the environment. If nothing else, watch the first one and the last one. It tells the story of conservationists, politicians, developers and the greedy; it is why the word stewardship was used extensively in the general plan update. We need to manage and lovingly take care of what we have in perpetuity.
Costa Mesa & Mammoth Lakes
The following letter, addressed to the CEO of Alaska Airlines, William Ayer, was forwarded to us Thursday for publication. The incident described below allegedly occurred August 8.
Dear Mr. Ayer,
I was sure the following nonsense was to be ascribed to the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration), but sadly, it is not. I’ve had great experiences in the past with Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, but not this time.
I arrived a half hour before take-off and attempted to obtain a boarding pass through the kiosk. I was given a message that I could not print the pass and I should see the ticket agent. When I turned to the one ticket desk in the entire terminal, it was empty. A couple standing there said they saw the ticket agent exit and shut a door when said agent saw them. As best as I could tell, the door led to the section of the terminal where baggage is handled and travelers are checked through security. A second couple was also waiting for the flight. I walked over to the gate entry to the baggage and security area and observed two TSA agents milling about. One of them soon came and shut a metal gate, separating us from the secure area. I told her I needed to get on the plane – which had not yet arrived – and she asked if I had a boarding pass. I said no. At that time the woman of the first couple mentioned the escaping ticket agent and TSA said we needed to take that up with the agent, who of course, was absent. We were left standing at a closed gate, looking past security into the waiting terminal, where passengers awaited a plane that had not yet arrived.
I called Alaska Airlines and the “customer representative” said we could not board because we weren’t there an hour before the flight! She was sorry, but those are the rules. I thought she meant TSA rules! I explained that my itinerary printout did not mention the one-hour prior to flight arrival and she told me “it’s all over our website.” I don’t know if I’d been to Alaska’s website, because I booked the flight through Orbitz, but I’ve been there since, and it IS NOT “all over the website.” Of course, it is there, if you look for it, and I should have looked for it. Coming from the greater Los Angeles area I always believed early arrivals were due to passenger convenience in a crowded airport, and to avoid delays, such as security check-in, traffic, etc. But this! We are talking about Mammoth airport, with a terminal smaller than a high school gym, with less than 100 people, most of those to be leaving on an aircraft that hadn’t yet arrived!
I can’t understand this 1-hour arrival time even in a place like LAX, which is ridiculous. You either get through check-in, or you don’t. But, in a podunk airport where there are literally more cows than people walking around, and one commercial flight, the plane not having arrived! And we are turned away because of a stupid rule?! I ended up borrowing my nephew’s car and driving the 300 miles back home, costing an additional $120 bucks for gas and great inconvenience for the return of the car.
That, in addition to the ticket I’d already purchased but could not use because YOUR agent abandoned five paying customers without explanation! If I hadn’t called your “representative” I would have received no explanation at all! And that explanation was pathetic. TSA was standing around waiting for the plane to come in. Where was your agent? Why were we abandoned? Outrageous doesn’t describe it. What you did was despicable!