Should I stay or should I go? – Combat Rock – The Clash (1980).
Eileen and I moved to Oakhurst in November of 2006 to spend more time with daughter Susan and her family. Earlier this year, Susan and Rich decided to head for exciting new high-tech opportunities in Nashville, departing last week with Allison, Asher, Isaac, two cats and two fish. They got there in four days. This leaves our entire immediate family well east of the Mississippi, but not abandoned to strangers.
“Bitsy” and I just love it here. But is this the time to consider geographic transition ourselves? We’re not getting any younger. Or stronger. Or faster.
With Fresno International Airport right down the hill, we’re still less than a half-day away from closest kin and simultaneously offer a spectacularly attractive destination for those enticed to visit. That’s how I’d start a “Top 10” list of why I want to stick around Oakhurst like industrial strength Velcro. Or Super Glue. Or those two quesadillas I ate late last night before sliding into bed. Nine more reasons come quickly to mind, listed as a matter of personal priority. See if any click with you.
☆ (9) Cal Fire. Anyone who thinks government can’t work should check these heroes out.
☆ (8) Cool local bars. The Oak Room, Dirty Donkey, Southgate Brewing Company and Hitching Post head the list. Erna’s is way too fancy for the likes of me.
☆ (7) Wildlife. Herds of mule deer, flocks of wild turkey, squads of squirrels and coveys of quail abound in these foothills. October brings Tarantula time. Don’t kiss the rattlers.
☆ (6) An active and harmonious political environment allowing for what I call “positive cross pollination.” During election season, almost all of our speakers at monthly meetings of the Oakhurst Democratic Club were Republican candidates. I consider John Pero, Central Valley Tea Party Coordinator, a friend. Folks seem amazed when they see Bill Atwood and I having lunch together at El Cid’s. They’re even more dazzled when Bill picks up the tab.
☆ (5) A solid spiritual base. Virtually every major religious group finds representation in Eastern Madera County, as well as evolving philosophical thought. I am particularly impressed by such prominent Oakhurst originals as Angelo Pizelo and his work with the Emerson Institute, now of nationally renown. Angie always makes me laugh.
☆ (4) Community clubs and projects. We’re not a city, suburb, village or town. But for a “Designated Census Area,” we certainly offer a multiplicity of organizations dedicated to addressing specific needs and projects.
☆ (3) Exceptional law enforcement. The California Highway Patrol #456, part of CHP’s Central Division, covers more than 1,000 square miles of state highways and unincorporated roadways in an around Oakhurst. The Madera County Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Jay Varney now offers an Oakhurst substation on Liberty Drive to better serve the foothills area. Similarly, District Attorney David Linn has opened a satellite office at that same location to make his services more accessible.
☆ (2) Our wonderful neighbors. We are blessed with friends and acquaintances of all kinds and minds.
☆ (1) Yosemite. Always first and foremost in evaluation must be the stunning, breathtaking beauty of America’s premier national park. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is celebrated internationally for its granite cliffs, crystal streams, dramatically plunging waterfalls, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, glaciers and biological diversity. And here we are with Half Dome in our own backyard. Five million visitors are expected this year.
But we get to stay.
Here in the Misty Mountains. Where the spirits go. Over the hills, where the spirits fly.