It’s Thanksgiving week, and we are back at our Lake Arrowhead cabin for a little WTF, or Working in the Field. The advantages of a wired world are also our nemeses. To a real estate agent, there is no such thing as a real vacation.
I call it our little falling-down A-frame, which annoys Steve immeasurably. The fact is that it is a charming, not so gently used, older, smaller, in need of a lot of cosmetic (and a little structural) surgery cabin. It is sandwiched between newly constructed, more impressive homes with all of the modern amenities (say, a garage), but it is ours. It is a cabin on its fourth owner, and we represent two of those “guys”. We have loved it both times we bought it, but that is a story for another time.
So, our little falling-down A-frame is host this week to three laptop computers (one that is very shiny and now has an operational “3” key, but one that has spontaneously deemed outgoing email to be a non-essential feature). We have a fax machine, a printer, four cell phones, two external hard drives, a Docusign electronic signature account, one broadband wireless connection, and a neighbor who apparently didn’t see fit to secure his home wireless network. He will be getting a very big, anonymous fruit basket this year. Ah! Family fun shall ensue… any moment… I’m waiting.
You see, my daughter’s teachers subscribe to some very strict District Standards requiring that only the most involved homework projects be assigned on days immediately preceding vacation days, projects on par with a Mt. Everest summit attempt. Since the San Diego fires took the schools out of commission for a week, their workload has been doubled this week. The learnin’ must go on, they have been told to play catch-up, and we are at advanced base camp. I will see them this week only when I venture into their caves periodically to throw them some raw meat.
Generally, we get more done in the mountains than we do at home. This is because the distractions are fewer. Generally. This week, though, our next door neighbor has elected to rebuild his entire four-story concrete monument to the architecture-out-of-context-with-the-surroundings Gods. At this moment, I believe they are jackhammering bedrock. The process of making deafening noise began at 7:30 AM, and will by all accounts continue until my understated VW bug pulls off the parking deck on Friday. On the other side, our unknowing supplier of the unsecured wireless connection is also “doing work.” We suspect he is either building new decks or flying an F-14 in his living room. Sound echos up here, so it is really hard to tell for sure. And, somewhere down the hill, we have a little Ringo wannabe practicing his art. I’m tempted to start whacking away at the top of our Broil-Mate Grill with a tire iron just to fit in.
We are about a mile or so from ground zero of the recent Grass Valley fire, and I am surrounded by noisy irony. While Builder Bob on one side of me and Dozer Dave on the other go about their business of improving their homes, big impressive homes that are sticking their proverbial tongues out at our little neighborhood eyesore, hundreds of people within their ear-drum busting broadcast area are without homes. We ventured over to the area hardest hit today. It was a long, sad hike.
This sign was hung from a couple of pine trees in front of a lone home. As far as we could see in any direction, no homes had been spared. Fires are funny that way.
The lighting wasn’t particularly kind to me this afternoon, so I only captured a couple of rough shots.
If this photo were full size, you would more clearly see the incongruity of a large, metal sunflower and “Welcome” sign still standing in what was presumably the garden, next to a tree with the lot-clearing vendor’s sign proudly displayed.
This picture is symbolic of what we witnessed at every lot – For those familiar with Lake Arrowhead, we were on Modoc near Brentwood Drive. A fireplace in a fire place.
Steve and I have speculated what impact this might have on the real estate market up here. This is really a unique little Southern California microcosm. There are more second home owners (or flatlanders, as the locals not so affectionately call us) than full-time residents. In San Diego, it was primary residences which were primarily effected. Where the vast majority of San Diego fire victims will likely rebuild and, at a minimum, will need replacement housing, not so in this community where much of the housing is discretionary.
Arrowhead Woods, the area with “Lake Rights”, consists of approximately 11,000 homes (comparable to Scripps Ranch in size), and the market here has dramatically slowed over the past year as it has been down the hill. Yet, on any given day, there are between 400 and 500 homes for sale, compared to the 100 to 130 you will find in Scripps. Statistically, the housing loss in Lake Arrowhead is more significant than in San Diego. How many will just choose to sell their lots and call it a day? The potential glut of lots on the market may prove lucrative for the local building industry, and future flatlanders will eventually have many new, modern and impressive homes from which to choose, but I can’t believe this is going to be a boon for local prices. Good thing we were not planning on selling our “charming” little retreat any time soon.
I am going to busy myself tomorrow, between some WTF real estate stuff, with trying to clean up the refrigerator runoff. A week without power and a freezer full of ice cream and frozen margarita mix are not good bedfellows. Frozen confections in their natural states instinctively, much like a plumbing leak in the upstairs bath, seek refuge in lower places. And, they make big solidified, sticky puddles once they have escaped. At least I still have a refrigerator, albeit a gooey one.