Pine Mountain Lake…………#254 (the 90’s)

Old Priest Grade at sunset

Old Priest Grade at sunset

 The Buick taking all in stride, old Priest Grade remained the same, Gary deciding to  visit his Katherine and Brother-in-Law Don DaValle, his sister Kay having reverted to her given first name of Katherine when addressing non family members at some point in her life, at their affluent lake front home in the 19 sq. mile gated community at Pine Mountain Lake a mile northeast of Groveland.   The DuValle’s tri-level home with it’s sandy beach affronting a scenic view of the quasi-stella private lake.  The community with its 18 hole golf course, tennis courts,  country club restaurant, equestrian center, airport and access to Yosemite National Park was  a presidio display of monetary affluence.  His brother-in-law contracted as a computer systems engineer at Loral Space Systems in Palo Alto responsible for programing the meteorological GOES 8 Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite to maintained its geostationary position and likewise was was involved in other projects but because of security classification not available for discussion.

GOES 8 Satellite

GOES 8 Satellite

Don’s employment driving distance requiring him to spend weekdays in San Mateo at his mother Celestia’s residence,  Kay allocated to reside in Groveland alone,  Gary finding the accommodations at the Lake House exceedingly spacious, his sister introducing him to her stay-at- home routine.   Katherine and Don having initiated a long desired project,  purchasing 90 acres of rural land on Ferretti Road which was a scenic loop from the town around the gated community and  rejoining Highway 120 7.2 miles from Groveland.  The property eighteen miles from the Big Oaks Flat entrance to Yosemite National Park, and like most of life’s endeavours, with its purchase a seed having been planted.   Katherine and Don’s master plan for the acreage was to plant forty acres of olives trees,  work having begun on the renovation of an old cabin on the 90 acre property,  its presence having a colorful past,  once  a residence,  a tack house,  even a rural church,   the cabin to be converted into a showcase exhibition room for their product.  The couple employing Jacque a carpenter from San Francisco who previously provided workmanship at Don’s mother‘s home in San Mateo on weekends,  Jacque being provided a place to stay at the lake house.

Pine Mountain Lake

Pine Mountain Lake

Downtown Groveland

Downtown Groveland

 Gary being questioned as to his future, his sister putting forth an offer for him to remain and assist in their ongoing project with an overture of residency at the lake house and some financial compensation, but the objective of his venture west was to assess the perspectives of returning to California,  not to make a decision.  His sister introducing an exposure to the world of the stock market and as an avid participant an awakening to the corollary of Day Trading, providing an insight accomplished by experience. The DaValle’s having been active traders,  especially with the gaining appearance of IPO’s   (Initial Public Offering)    inaugurating from the High Tech Companies of the Silicon Valley.  Weighing the perspectives of his sisters offer, moving to California, the pro’s and con’s and their recourse on his family and friends,  deciding to efface the numerous questionable complexities, the only question:  should he to return to the encumbrance of the past or traverse into the uncertain clarity of the future?   The decision was made, Gary would remain in California, reservations for round trip air-travel to Kansas was coordinated with a pickup date by United Van Lines to remove his possessions from his apartment in Kiowa for the journey west.  Katherine rendering him to the San Francisco International  for a flight to Houston,  then boarding  a 25 passenger commuter jet to Wichita Mid Continent Airport,  the flight concluding with a rental car and the drive to Kiowa.   Gary’s journey from Mid Continent to Kiowa was a melancholy experience,  twenty years of traversing this highway,  scenes and recollections from the past entering his thoughts,  knowing that this drive might never be renewed.  Entering the darken apartment, the fragrance of vacancy accompanying a forbearance of sadness, a sense of being privy to all memories that were captive within the walls and experiencing a hollowed emptiness knowing the past and that one couldn’t change what had  been written in the book of life.

A moving experience

A 53 foot United Van Lines tractor and trailer was parked curbside at the Price Apartments in Kiowa,  three employees embarking to release Gary apartment of it’s contents.   Gary recalling the difficulty in projecting the Yamaha console piano up the stairwell,  Bill Duvall, Mike Pavlu and Roger Robinson providing the muscle, good heartedly saying   “don’t call to move it down”.   The Van Lines company having a special dolly,  enabling them to move it down the stairs without any difficulty.   The moving experience taking less than two hours,  Gary discovering he would leave several unwanted items,  placing a call to his daughter Sandra,  asking if she would assist in the final dispersing of items left behind,  offering a financial incentive,  if she would finish the clean up,  tossing the left-behind contents in the apartments dumpster.   The loaded United Van Lines contemporary began its trip to Groveland,  the afternoon finding Gary bidding a goodbye to Kiowa returning his rental car, boarding a Wichita United Airlines flight via Denver to San Francisco,  the final move now decisive.  The arrival at SFO,  Gary finding Don accommodating him at the airport,  the two to spend the night at Don’s Mothers in San Mateo before returning  to Groveland.  Surprisingly the furniture accorded Van arrived in three days considering the probability of other stops as his few possessions were minimal in a 53 ft. van, but what was more surprising was the final invoice, the cost of transportation almost exceeding the value of the property.  The driver wasn’t without comment, complaining about traversing New Priest Grade,  having to utilize both lanes of the highway because of  the trailer length, the steep incline and narrowness of the highway, mentioning if he known this a smaller truck would have made the delivery and he wasn’t looking forward to the return trip off the hill.   Gary finding a temporary home for his possessions in the unused partition of the Lake House garage  with the exception of his computer and the piano.

Lake House living room

Lake House living room

A full length deck

A full house width deck

The Pine Mountain Lake House residence providing Gary with an opportunity to indulge further into the stock market procrastination of investment,  his sister giving him access to her and Donald’s investment accounts allowing him to make short-term day trades for them.  Gary attaining a $6000 portfolio with SureTrade,  a no retail branches firm and a $7.95 flat fee per trade commissions for trades executed through their Internet trading platform.  The Day Trader  procuring low-priced investments,  opting his preference for stocks less than $15.00 a share enabling him to dwell in the 100 + share range when buying or selling,  watching for an upward movement of 50  cents or more on several hundred shares able to recoup a hundred or more dollars in a short time frame. Early Monday mornings were a ritual,  Gary and Katherine seeing Don off to San Mateo joining him for store-brewed coffee and donuts but not with the locals at PJ’s restaurant the morning gossip place but next door at the Groveland Mini Mart at the corner of Ferretti Rd and Highway 120.  The weekday mornings soon became the beginning of an abbreviated  NASDAQ trading day, realizing even with the daily study of the Wall Street Journal, advice from Charles Schwab,  Gary found that inn some respect short-term investments were pretty much likened to a casino gamble.

Brother in-law Donald

Brother in-law Donald

Gary's sister Katherine

Gary’s sister Katherine

     Gary considered his sister and brother-in-law financially diversified,  Don’s having set up a mail order office to establish legal residency in non taxing Nevada for another LLC, Orbital, joining the ranks of Indian Creek LLC, Morning Dove LLC, Olive Forever LLC. Orbital to enable prospective clients to incorporate their income, the enterprise providing the necessary paperwork and services. Gary wasn’t surprise when Don approached him about accompanying his sister to Reno for a three-day conference and seminar on LLC’s entitled The Asset Protection & Tax Planning Strategy Conference,  held at the Atlantis Hotel and Casino hosted by the Laughlin Institute of Corporation Studies, Ltd.. The seminar to address what was known in the world of corporate as ‘the red ink system’ a means of diversifying their income and transferring it into several LLC’s ( Limited Liability Corporations)  showing a loss by means of distribution thus a reduction in taxes.   The three-day conference to start on Wednesday March 24th, brother and sister to travel by car, but because of work priorities Don would not  attend the conference but would fly into Reno Friday night to spend the weekend. .  Also joining the group would be two friends of Don,  computer engineer Dave Matthews and Jack Lawry.  Gary looking forward to the experience, providing the opportunity to expand his knowledge of corporate structure having never ventured down this road before.  He soon discovering that the Reno journey entailed more than just a three-day conference at the Atlantis, discovering that they would be spending  Saturday and Sunday nights at the Silver Legacy Hotel &  Casino.

The Atlantis Hote & Casino

The Atlantis Hotel & Casino

A departure for Reno and the three-day conference, Gary piloting the Buick with his sister.  A stop for gas at San Andres  before the venture east on Highway 88 at Jackson,  the upward journey over the Sierra’s beginning, Katherine asking if she could drive.  Gary not surprised as his sister was the driver in their family, not ever recalling her husband Don in the driver’s seat when she was present.   Leaving the bounds of the sierra’s an afternoon Reno arrival at the towering new edifice still under construction, the Atlantis, the two entering,  meeting with Katherine’s daughter Brenda, Dave Mathews and family friend Jack.   Gary immediately perceiving the beckoning  sound resonating from the casino, its hypnotic voice enticing with promises of reward.  Katherine in business like manner registered question about the conference,  the answers were given the large Atlantis lobby Venue Directory servicing notice of the conference room location and the 8:30 a.m. starting time.

Gary's niece Brenda McQuary

Gary’s niece Brenda McQuary

Dave Mathews

Dave Mathews

Gary having sat through ten years of informative seminar session on a variety of subject with the Kansas Hospital Engineers Association, having discovered that sometimes you feel like you’re being held hostage.  There was an upside to seminar attendance beside the educational benefit, it was the  dietary morsels provided during a break by the facility catering service, but when partaken of and  endowed sometimes made it difficult to stay awake.  Dave Mathews being a large person and concurrently having a large appetite, plus frequenting the late hours in the casino and once having eaten a copious afternoon lunch, followed by a monotone seminar presentation found no difficulty discovering slumberland.  During one afternoon sessions Brenda and Gary were not distracted with Dave’s dozing until he began to snore, then Brenda quietly furnishing an unwelcome elbow to bring him back to reality.   Gary wasn’t a gambler as such but enjoyed watching others, after accompanying Jack and watching him consistently win was amazed at how lady luck choose her partners.  He enjoyed spending the evenings with his niece Brenda the two attempting to show a profit on the uncooperative machines but together discovering a host of mutual subjects to converse about.  They would meet in the morning at the bar skipping breakfast because of the early conference time, Brenda having discovered if you purchased $10 dollars in coins for the bar’s counter slot machines you would receive a free drink and as regiment would have it, Brenda would deposit the $10 in coins in the slot machine, but toasting the loss with a Bloody-Mary for breakfast.

Silver Legacy Mining Machine

Silver Legacy Mining Machine

Gary's niece Mary Garrett

Gary’s niece Mary Garrett

The three days of Laughlin asset protection & tax strategies coming to a conclusion, Gary recognizing the big picture of de-facto defrauding the government of corporate tax by setting up a circle of LLC’s,  strategically rotating assets from one to another to show a  loss.   With Don arriving from San Francisco for the weekend, a move being made to the Silver Legacy, a change from the upscale modern motif of the Atlantis to the western mining heritage of the 1700 room Silver Legacy Casino. It was getting to be more like a family reunion,  Katherine’s daughter Mary Garrett  arriving to join Brenda, the two to visit their father John Ove who had suffered a debilitating illness and was now residing in Carson City.  Gary found the most impressive feature in the Silver Legacy was the giant 180 ft. automated replica of a silver mining rig, its performance set on a timing mechanism with clock watching bystanders waiting to observe its operation..  The Buick was being put to good use, transporting Donald and Katherine to their Nevada office and Brenda and Mary asking to borrow the Skylark to visit their father in Carson City, Gary happy to comply with both the request.  The weekend coming to an end, Gary making two trips to the Reno Airport to see his niece’s off and Donald’s return to San Francisco.  A farewell to Reno, this time Gary when asked by his sister about his impressions of the past week,  two words came to mind, “an experience”.

The first of May found a spring snow falling at the lake house, with camera in hand, Pine Mountain Lake a pictorial background,  Gary taking a photo for posterity feeling like he was living in  Currier & Ives pictured postcard.

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Early May snowfall

Legendary D-8 Cat

Legendary D-8 Cat

 Gary, Katherine and her copious rottweiler Darian firmly sequester in Katherine’s jeep, their destination Greely Hill a secluded area north of highway 120, the jeep  leaving the blacktop traversing up a non-defined dirt road.  The two arriving at the residence of John Brooks, a retired 74 years of age projector of heavy equipment,  a character of renown, having escalated much of the landscape in the county with his arraignment of bulldozing equipment for the past 50 years.  A delightful person with endless stories from another era, his explorations for gold and all the discoveries he had made thru his 70 plus years of life,  his mountain yard filled with the equipment, relics and mementos from another time.  Like monuments, several vintage trucks with a bygone history, an array of paraphernalia from his gold mining endeavors,  including a mercury detort tube for extrapolating gold that he had invented,  every conversation entailed an exponent from his life.   The large gray-haired elder was an amiable overwhelming personality,  his presence and vocabulary one of dauntlessness and integrity,  a person that Gary immediately accepted.  Katherine proposing John to transport his legendary D-8  385 horsepower, 80,000 lb.  caterpillar bulldozer to break the ground with ripper blades for the future planting of her olive tree endeavor. John agreeing to cultivate the hillside with the heavy-duty ripper,  but suggesting a first attempt being made with a smaller caterpillar. John and his son arriving, unbuckling the smaller unit but soon discovering it was unable to break the hardened soil of the virgin hillside terrain but returning with his heavy-duty D-8  to accept the challenge,  it’s presence being successful.   Gary watched as a bystander but then called upon to journey to Jamestown in Katherine’s pickup to obtain 55 gallon drums of diesel fuel for the Caterpillar.  It wasn’t unexpected and  noticeable that John would occasionally stop, dismount and inspect the furrows of the turned over ground during his 40 acre traversing, Gary was reasonably sure that John was looking for the tell tale signs of gold.

Under construction

A daily work project

   The completion of the Cottage was entailed,  Mike,  a friend of Katherine’s daughter Sally, (Scelestia) noted for his impeccable carpentry skills  was employed.   A perfectionist  installing the hallmark beam ceiling for the downstairs, his work a paragon display.  Gary working with Mike adding the finishing touches to the roughed in windows and the center ceiling beam.  All was progressing on a rapid scale when Mike developed a personal relationship problem with Sally and his work on the cottage came to a halt.   Gary learning that the young man had a bipolar testament and when on medication was an outstanding person, but when off his meds he could render a confrontational personality change.  Brother and sister deciding to put their carpentry skills to task,  the access to the upstairs having required a ladder as the placement for stairs was still undecided.   The two designing and structuring the outside stairway to the second floor,  notching and securing  the 2 x 10’s for the steps to be installed,   Continuing,  assuming the mantle where Mike had left off finishing the door facings, painting and installing the Pergo laminate flooring.   Jacque returning,  the San Francisco contractor having completed all the electrical and plumbing projects, his final calling would be the laying of the ceramic tile that would engulf the downstairs floor, the once relic from the past beginning to resemble a showcase livable entity.

McConaghy House in Hayward

McConaghy House in Hayward

Gary accompanying sister the two journeying to the bay area, the jeep venturing to Hayward stopping at an antiquity  home  built in 1888.   The McConaghy House a two-storey,  six bedroom mansion now officially designated as a historical museum.   It’s stairway, widows and Victorian widows walk endowed roof for some reason implanted a fascination with Katherine, Gary not aware that her obsession with this structural part of history would soon turn into reality.  Katherine having set another goal besides the olive orchard and the remodeling of the cottage,  a project that would  fulfill her entailment with the McConaghy House and the purchasing of an additional 120 acres that adjoined their 90 acres.   Gary wasn’t surprised on the upcoming sale and move from the lake house, the capital to be invested in fulfilling their goals of purchasing an additional 120 acres.  Don, Katherine and Gary visiting the owner of the property, the addition acreage included three houses and high delivery water well, the negotiations beginning in earnest.   This time brother and sister   journeying to contracting home builder George Williams Pine Mountain Lake home, addressing him about his servicers and the of duplicating a facsimile of the McConaghy House with a Bread and Breakfast concept in mind.   After several deliberations the contractor concurred  accepting  the project,  the timeline undecided but the McConaghy facsimile would be realized.

Completed project

Completed project

The move from the Lake House was somewhat unsettling, Gary more than satisfied with occupying the large downstairs bedroom with french doors opening onto a porch, Katherine and Don claiming the upstairs., but it was the 8 mile drive to Groveland and the habit of eating out that was the consternation.  The stay at the Cottage with its remoteness, serenity and echo’s of benevolent country living was beginning to dwell,  there being no exertion of  others except for an occasional passing vehicle,  the only nocturnal sound was an occasional cricket or the rustling of the  creatures of the night,  an aura and realizing that silence could be deafening.  The summer, Katherine’s grandchildren would be visiting,  Gary and her erecting  a large tent, the grandchildren to spent a summer month breaking the solemn stillness of the  countryside.    There was still some remaining work on the Cottage,  the laying of the chimney stones  which needed a professional,  Gary’s labor provocations having diminished,  he and Katherine having expended their expertise.    The stay at the cottage beginning to seem like a bastion of  isolation,  but a reprieving  call from his sister Nancy in Columbia providing him reasoning to abrogate,  she was in need of a dog sitter for Kizzy, his sister and mother having planned an extended excursion,  Gary finding a reason to waiver from the solitude of his nomadic life.

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