Monday, February 02, 2009


Moonday meanderings

February, and not a moment too soon. January was a very long month. Things seem to be speeding up; I have an appointment with the orthop. next Monday to see how my hip and pelvis look. I think they're pretty good, although there are still moves that don't feel good. Sort of like discovering there's a piece of barbed wire down in there, rubbing around. I think that's pretty normal. Hope so, anyhow. We'll see.

Once again, I "missed" the superbowl. I chose not to watch it, like I choose not to watch Dr Phil or Fox News. We took a drive over to Sisters, following the countless backroads, hoping we'd find some great little spunky lost dog who didn't have an owner we could find. No luck. Saw a bunch of deer, though, the usual horses and cows, some bicyclists out on their recumbent wheels.

Sisters, which I guess is an OK town except for the corny wannabe-Knott's-Berry-Farm old west style of downtown, looked like it was on the way to being an old west ghost town. Usually, on a Sunday, the downtown is full of pedestrians, parking places are hard to find, and traffic is creepy. The town looked semi-deserted. Is the superbowl that important? I don't think so; when a place's whole reason for existing is tourism, and the tourists stay home, the town goes to hell. Sisters, like Bend, was once a timber town. Bend had the sawmills and Sisters was surrounded by nice flat ground filled with big Ponderosa pines. The big trees are gone, now, along with the sawmills. How does a town survive without it's economic base? Tombstone, Angel's Camp, Virginia City, Bisbee, and other mining towns pretty much depend on tourism. And they're shadows of their pasts. Sisters has a lot of fancy ranches around it, quarter horse ranchs, places like that. Bend has, uh, uh, well it has housing. Bend went for years being some sort of destination mecca. There's ski-ing close by, sure, and there's lakes and rivers...once upon a time there was outstanding fishing, but these days it's put-and-take or it's catch-and-release, sometimes a combination of the two. The town is built on image and advertising. It became a product, marketed like sporty cars (or, more appropriately, SUVs—the image of outdoorsy, robust, adventurous, but comfortable and polished and expensive).

I guess Sun Valley is the model for that, at least in the west. I have no idea how things are going there. Here, they're going badly. There are for sale and for rent signs all over town. New office buildings and strip malls have too many vacancies. And the city government is nearly broke. They thought the boom would go on and on—just like the mining companies thought the Comstock Lode would never run out of ore. Or the Anaconda Company thought Rich Hill would never quit producing copper. Buying houses to flip them, resell them quickly, was a popular activity. You could get loans on $250,000 homes if you were working full time and for low wages. Same old story. Eventually it became obvious Bend was drastically over-priced. And now...who knows what? There's no economic base here, no industry to speak of, no vast reserves of...oil? Natural gas? Coal? Silver? No, no, and no. A whole lot of this town developed, grew, to offer houses to the retiring boomer generation and their parents. They'd worked for good Cold War wages; maybe blue collar, but still good wages.They owned property free and clear in, say Los Angeles, and it sold for a whole lot of money. They came up here to retire. They did. Some of them don't like the climate; some of them thought their kids would want to live here, and some of them died. There's nobody to sell to, now. Even with house-prices down by 1/4th or 1/3rd. No buyers. Ooops.

I don't know what'll happen. I wish I did, but I don't.

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