Pine Mountain Lake…………#254 (the 90’s)

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 of Pine Mountain Lake a mile northeast of Groveland.   The DaValle’s tri-level home with it’s sandy beach affronting a scenic view of the quasi-stellar 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 programming the meteorological GOES 8 Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite to maintained its geostationary position and likewise was was involved in other projects that because of security classification was not at liberty to talk about.

Brother in-law Donald

GOES 8 Satellite

Gary’s sister Kay (Katherine)







Don’s bay-area commute required 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.   Kay 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 endeavors with its purchase a seed was 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 having hired Jacque a carpenter from San Francisco who previously provided workmanship at Don’s mother‘s home in San Mateo, providing him with a place to stay at the lake house when available to work on the cabin.

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 renovation of cabin and their ongoing projects 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 the 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, he would remain in California, reservations for round trip air-travel to Kansas was coordinated scheduling 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 and their good hearted comment   “don’t call us 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  spending 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

A full length 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 retail branch 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. 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 in some respect short-term investments were pretty much likened to a casino gamble.

Early Monday mornings were a ritual,  Gary and Kay seeing Don off to San Mateo joining him for store-brewed coffee and donuts  at the Groveland Mini Mart at the corner of Ferretti Rd and the 120 Highway junction.  Most other weekday mornings would find Gary and Kay and her rottweiler Darien, who had a towering physical presence in the jeep his sister drove, would journey into Groveland for breakfast and several nights thru the week would fine them enjoying a prepared cuisine featured in the dining room of the Groveland Golf and Country Club.  The two would frequent the acreage everyday, both participating in the reconstruction of the historic cabin and catering to the two horses which were apropos in the modern stable that had previously been erected.  Sally, Kay’s youngest daughter on her visits from San Francisco appropriating a horsemanship skill with the equine species.  Sally prompting a workout in the fenced circular arena, letting the magnificent breed protruding their prominence and under her direction achieving a showmanship of expertise with the horses excise.   Gary discovering a new direction in life with a family with monetary affluence, his sister responsible  for the introduction.

Yosemite Lake – Merced

Gary having corresponded with California ICQ lady friend whom he had visit with from his apartment in Kansas, the two agreeing to meet.  Pat was in Merced, the meeting was cordial and it was apparent the picture she had sent him was taken years earlier and pounds lighter, but that was not unexpected.   Gary dressed in what he thought was appropriate  for a first meeting,  short sleeve shirt and tie, his internet friend dressing more casually in jeans ,  the two meeting at a Pizza Hut.  He was aware from their previous correspondence that her husband of thirty years had passed two years prior,  Pat mentioning that her solitude being the  reason for her ICQ participation.   Gary finding the lady very congeal, especially when she offered to provide a tour of  Merced in her pickup,  their brief ride ending up at Yosemite Lake, a small lake bordering the town.   Pat relating remembrances,  giving a reflection of  her late husband, the two having spent decades fishing this lake, Gary listening with understanding as she added that the Hmong influx from Thailand and Laos having proclaimed the east side of the lake as theirs and the Hispanics having occupied the west side, sadly expressing it was no longer safe.   Gary not being familiar with the demographics of Merced suspected her concern was warranted, upon leaving thanking her for an enjoyable afternoon.

A&W – Cruise Night Thursday

Another foray from Groveland to meet another awareness whom he had correspondence with from Kiowa, her name also was Pat.  Gary noting that both the ICQ persons in California whom he had corresponded with were named Pat.  Traveling from “Groveland, a long trip to Lodi, the lady having a home in an exclusive gated community, meeting her in for the first time.  Gary finding her personality adherent to her internet presentation, but discovering her physical apparition was new to him.  She was handicapped, not able to walk with out an accommodation, her mode of transportation was a van with a lift enabling her to sit in the drivers seat.  Her conversation was enlighten, very knowledgeable, her aspirations were of reliving the past.  Gary and her journeying to a A&W Drive In to partake of the roller skating waitresses, noting a sign proclaiming Thursday Cruise Night, a warrant of the past, both enjoying the experience.,  Her disability didn’t prevent her from preparing a dinner, asking if Gary would spend the night and accompany her to church in the morning.  She was a consummate Pentecostal, Gary spending the night in an alternate bedroom rising to a prepared breakfast, Pat capable and able to navigate the kitchen.  The Pentecostal Church was experience for Gary, never having attended a Church Service that exhibited such enthusiasm, never before observing a five piece band, drums, guitar, bass, keyboard sax fulfilling the background for the hymns. the congregation standing and lifting their praised to the Almighty.  The sunday morning completed returning to Groveland,  not disappointed at making a new acquaintance but only as an online friend.



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