Tomorrow, June 21, is the longest day of the year and as such the official first day of summer. The sun will rise at 5:40 a.m. and 14 hours and 41 minutes later will set in the west at 8:21 p.m. The glow from that star closet to us will keep it light outside until after nine and we will be able to enjoy the beauty of the area as well as our friends and family as this new season arrives.
It also means the beginning of tourist season and that means many changes for those of us fortunate enough to get to live here full-time.
Our seasonal visitors save all year just to get to be our neighbors for a week or two. They bring many dollars into the area and they serve as a reminder to us just how lucky we are to call our Mountain Area home.
Admittedly there are a few who leave trash along the roads and in the campgrounds but the vast majority love this area and think of this place as a second home so they really do respect it. The McCobb and Black families come up each year to share a cabin across the street from me. The past ten years I have watched the kids grow up and I watch as those two families enjoy the beauty of Bass Lake.
When folks like the Fitzgerald's, or the Escovedo's, Doke's, and Mauzey's arrive you can see the sense of relaxation descend over them and I am able to watch as they soak up for just a week what we get to enjoy for the additional 51 weeks until they get to return in 2014.
I happen to be a school teacher. Others in the community work in fields not directly related to tourism but the simple fact remains that every single one of us is in the tourist industry. We all profit from those tourists dollars and we better realize that they are our bread and butter. Transit occupancy taxes pay many bills for this county. The additional sales tax covers much of what we want to spend on our county departments. The folks we call neighbors earn their wages because those tourists are buying gas, groceries, meals in restaurants, souvenirs, and other various items. Because of the tourists there is a local economy and because of that we have the ability to live here with our creature comforts in homes that have a great deal of property value.
There are some who laugh about it being tourist season so is it okay if we "shoot 'em." Talk about shooting yourself in the foot! It becomes our jobs as good neighbors to do what we can to enhance the tourist/visitors experience here in Eastern Madera County and Mariposa County. When they seem lost ask if you can give them directions to where they want to go. Recommend those great restaurants you enjoy so that they may enjoy it as well along with that business and staff benefiting from the additional income.
It is also a time to remember that we see a large number of local kids earning money for school as they work in shops, stores, and eateries. Those kids are our neighbors and the future leaders of our community. When I see the Alex's, Eric's, Pamela's, and Sierra's working during these hot days of summer while many of their friends just lounge around I know I am looking a somebody who will do well in life. They are learning to arrive at the job on time, work hard for their employer, meet the needs of the customer, pay taxes, and not have as much time for their social life. The kids at Miller's Resort, Fork's Resort, or the Pines up at Bass Lake along with those kids at the shops in Oakhurst and elsewhere are learning the value of the tourists coming to our area.
We need to remember to be welcoming hosts to our visitors so that they will want to return and that they will tell their friends that this is the best place to take a vacation.
So smile, wave and enjoy the great migration from other parts of this state and nation into our little part of the world. Remember that many of them wish they could live here and they know that few of us want to live where they live.
Tomorrow might be just the day to look about, enjoy the beauty of what we have and spend the longest day of the year celebrating the start of Tourist Season.
"So smile, wave ... Remember that many of them wish they could live here and they know that few of us want to live where they live."