Yosemite area (from Sonora to Bass Lake, from Mariposa to Mammoth Lakes) questions (Fresno: wood floors)
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Yosemite area and all of the surrounding towns....
.... let's see if I can list them all, so they'll show up on the appropriate city profiles, like Sonora, Columbia, Jamestown, Soulsbyville, Tuolumne, Twain Harte, Chinese Camp, Knights Ferry, Groveland, Moccasin, Buck Meadows, Coultersville, Bear Valley, Mount Bullion, Catheys Valley, Mariposa, Midpines, Bass Lake, Oakhurst, Coarsegold, North Fork, etc....
(.... and the towns in Yosemite.... Mather, El Portal, Yosemite West, Wawona, Yosemite Village, and White Wolf....)
What is the best of these places to live?
* If you live in any of these areas, what are the pros and cons of each?
* What/where is the nearest hospital? What kind of a drive is it from any of these places to the nearest hospital (for work because I am a nurse), especially in the winter?
* Do these cities/towns ever get snow, and how much? (I love the snow!)
* How hot does it get in the summer? (As bad as Sac?)
* What is the crime rate like there?
* What schools do you recommend? Do you know of any Montessori (or charter) elementary schools in the area? Do you know of any charter high schools in this area? What do you know of other high schools in the area?
... I posted to a similar question already, but in case you're a different poster, here's the reply:
I moved here about 15 years ago, from the Central Valley (Merced).
This place feels more like "home" than any other place I've ever lived, even though I had lived in the central valley basically all my life.
I moved here because there used to be a something of a miniature "Silicone ValleY" scene. Oakhurst was the original location of the Sierra software company. In the 80's-90's, Sierra Online was the largest producer of PC games on the planet. They eventually relocated to Seattle, but their influence, and especially the salaries they were paying were amazing for the area, and caused quite a bit of growth.
Recently (4 years ago), a local Indian Tribe (Chukchansi) of the Picayune Rancheria built a BEAUTIFUL Casino/Hotel in Coarsegold, about 7 miles away. This changed a lot of things, for the better (mostly). Wages in the area went up, they employee 1400 people (the entire population of the town, (Coarsegold, is only 3500), and now, in what used to be a really sleepy little town, mostly populated with businesses to cater to tourists on their way to Bass Lake or Yosemite (Hotels, restaurants, gas stations), there is now a 24x7x365 operations with 7 restaurants, 192 hotel rooms (they are now adding an 11 story hotel tower with an additional 200 rooms, and a five story parking garage which will accommodate an additonal 800 cars).
This is no "put up a building, and put in slot machines" style casino. This is a resort-styled casino/hotel the likes you would find near the lake in Tahole.
The only drawback, for some, is that housing and land prices have sky-rocketed. I was lucky and bought my modest 1500 SF home in 2000, a year before the property opened for approx 150k. It has a modest amount of land (probably 1/3 of an acre) and my back yard fence is actually the back of Yosemite High School (I can watch the baseball games from my backyard, if I go to the farthest corner), and the elementary school is within walking distance). Although I've converted it to a 2/2 (took two bedrooms and made a master suite), added a 1000 SF three-level deck and put on a new roof/insulation, other improvements, the last appraisal of my home (done for a re-fi) now puts it at $310k. This is a very typical price for homes up here, and mine was originally built in 1972.
I make a little more than the median income listed on this site for Oakhurst, CA, but if I were trying to buy a house up here now, at my income level, I wouldn't be able to afford it.
Living here is expensive. Because it's a tourist-based economy, there's not "product" that comes off our "mountain" (it's called Deadwood, due to a fire in the 60's that decimated what was once an amazing grove of Cedar trees --- its' greened up again with some mature trees, but apparently isn't what it used to be --- reference the "Harlow" fire for more info), everything costs more. For $100 bucks at a grocery store in Oakhurst, you get maybe 5 bags at a chain like Vons or Raleys. Drive 35 miles down Highway 41 to Fresno, and you can get 8-10 bags of groceries for the same price.
Gas usually is also 10 cents ore more per gallon, as compared to Fresno.
Depending on where you live, you may have your own water well (that costs electricity to run), or you may end up in a water-district. I'm the later, so I pay for every gallon of water I use. I'm single (though a lot of friends come through during the summer, on their way to Yosemite, almost every weekend, so I'd estimate my summer water useage to equal that of a family of 3) and in the summer my water bill runs about $40.00 per month. This doesn't include garbage pickup, which runs about $175.00 a year (I actually go the dump about once every two months, for $12.00 per run, which is a little cheaper) (no, I don't collect refuse -- I do a lot of composting and use a trash compactor <grin>). By the way, the drive to the "land fill" is about 15 miles away, but a very relaxing, beautiful drive through the Sierra Foothills...
Back to the water:
It's a scarce commodity up here. Seriously. The area up here is basically all sitting on some amazing granite slabs. Granite is linked to quartz, and quartz is usually accompanied by Uranium.
During the summer months, when thousands of tourists are taking showers, brushing their teeth, and flushing the toilets in the numerous hotels here, and the many, many restaurants (I count about 45 eateries off the top of my head; an amazing number considering the population of Oakhurst hovers just under 14 thousand) we literally get a notice from the Water District that the water is technically "Undrinkable" under Federal standards, because the Uranium content per million parts is unacceptable. Having done some research, I choose to go ahead and drink the water, but many people buy water (5 gallon water bottles delivered; home water bottle dispensers are not uncommon), but there are also a number of "fill your own for 35Cents" dispensers around town, and there is more than one business is town that are based on installing reverse-osmosis water treatment systems (again, I say this is unusual because of the small population base).
Another thing to consider: We have one of the last privatley owned phone companies in California. This means you can't get Sprint/Comcast/AT&T or other major providers. Basic phone is about $38.00 a month. DSL is between $30- $60, depending on the speed you want. There is a cable service (Northern cable) but it's not that reliable. Most folks in this area choose to use either Dish or DirectTV. I happen to have my telephone and DSL through the local SierraTel offering; my basic monthly bill for both runs about $120.00 / month. However, probably because of the Casino's influence, cell phone reception up here is now excellent. I have personally considered getting rid of my "land line" and going celluar only --- except the local telephone company does not offer DSL only service --- you must subscribe to a land line. I've heard the Cable Company now offers Cable Modem service without needing to subscribe to their television offering, but I haven't actually investigated that.
HOWEVER, having talked about how expensive it actually is to live here, I offer this:
Our schools are rated some of the best in the state, let alone the nation.
It's an AMAZINGLY friendly place to live. People genuinely smile at your, say hello, and mean it when they ask "how are you today?". I have literally spent two hours going to the grocery store to buy milk and bread, because I kept running into friends and such, and we would stop to talk (a local joke is go to VONS to do your shopping if you're in a hurry, and, go to Raley's to find out what your neighbors are up to, heheh).
There is also quite a diverse cultural base up here. Although predominantly Caucasian, there is a bit of an Native American population, Hispanics, Japaneses, Chinese, and others. A lot of this is due to the variety of restaurants (at least 4 Chinese and 3 Japanese, German, European, among others, including chains such as McDonald's, Carl's Junior, KFC, several Mexican restaurants (DO NOT MISS El CIDS if you visit!!) , a few BBQ specialty houses, steak houses, seafood restaurants, etc. off the top of my head). Of course I don't equate restaurants being the only reason there is a minority base up here, but the food industry up here (again, tourist based economy) brings many here.
I'll also point out that there is a 5 star European resort/restaurant up here, (the Elderberry House). It draws a number of famous celebrities. Barbara Streisand, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christopher Lowell, just to name a few. About five years ago, the Elderberry house was a feature article in the United Airlines magazine, as a destination. They do cooking and wine tasting events, and though lunch is somewhat "reasonable", you can expect to spend about $125.00 per person there for dinner. Just another hidden jewel in our community.
To summarize (and I hope you aren't sorry you asked, after re-reading this diatribe), Oakhurst and the surrounding areas (check out Ahwahnee, Nippanawahsee, Coarsegold, and even Yosemite Lakes Park), this is a terrific place to raise kids, or to live, period. Lots of retirees move up here, and there's a dedicated 50+ "manufactured homes" park in Coarsegold (think of a very high-end trailer park in the beautiful foothills).
Bass Lake, another resort/tourist based community is also as close as 9 miles, but it's very high-end homes (Crystal Gale owns a million plus dollar home on the lake, and those houses are packed next to each other so close you could liken them to slices of wonder bread in a plastic bag).
Okay, I think I've said enough.
1. Beautiful place to live.
2. Snow, but usually only a day or two per winter, and it's lovely to watch fall, but by the next morning, it's almost always melted away enough it's not an issue to drive in or get where you're going.
3. Summers can see temperatures over the century mark, but we're almost always at least 20-15 degrees less than the valley.
4. Can be expensive to live here, but there is a major city about 35 -40 minutes drive (WalMart, major malls, Sears, etc).
5. Every service you need (Grocery, car repair, bookstores, clothing, etc.) exists up here, but you will pay premium prices.
6. Our Emergency Services "hospital" is planning to go 24/7 later this year (there are helicopter/medivac services when necessary).
7. There's no police force, but we are supported by a sherrifs department, with a local substation. On the other hand, there's not much call or need for it. Most of the crime reported in the paper are related to someone doing "donuts" in the golf course (of which there are three).
If you're not overwhelmed by this post, and need more info...
TWO new entries:
I forgot to mention that North Fork is very affordable, and that there are several "themed" schools available in Fresno, where you would probably end up working (that's where the Hospitals are).
If you want to live near Yosemite and want a little snow I am moving. I am located near Groveland about 25 minutes from Yosemite's main gates.
From here you could commute to Sonora and work at the Sonora regional hospital.
Any work would be in Sonora if you are a nurse. In the Groveland and Sonora area Goldrush is a good charter school. The local schools in the area I would not send my kids to as it seems that they just don't teach the kids well. It seems like most that graduate just did not get the education they could have if they went to a bigger school or were home schooled. We sent our oldest to Sonora High for a while, but in the end she preferred home schooling ( Goldrush ).
Groveland is about 40-45 minutes from Sonora and you would have to travel the grade on a daily basis. It is not that bad once you get used to it. They are also getting ready to build this area up. They are trying to make this a main route to Yosemite once again.
Best places depend on what you want. If you want something affordable and something near Yosemite, then Groveland, Pine Mountain Lake is the place to be. I step outside at night and look up and see nothing but stars, no city lights or neighbors to block the view. If you want more of a fast paced life then Sonora would be it. It really depends on what you are looking for.
We get a little snow here also every year as we sit about 3500 feet, just right at the snow line. The snowfall depends on the year. Sometimes we get a few inches to about 12 inches at most. The nice thing is that here in Groveland it doesn't stick around to long. All I have to do it get in the car, drive 20 minutes and be in heaven and Yosemite Valley in the winter, WOW, just amazing.
That is something I am going to miss.
As far as the heat, it can get hot but it inst to bad. So far this year the hottest it has gotten has been around 100. We are cooler then Sonora and the other lower lying areas due to the elevation. Normally it gets between 89-95 in the summer around here.
You will do almost all your shipping in Sonora and it is not very expensive. They have a Walmart, Pack and Save, Starbucks, Movie Theater, etc.. Sonora is a pretty good sized city. Also if you like to ski you are close to dodge ridge and Bear Valley.
It really is a nice place to live.
In the summer I love going over Tioga Pass to 395. It takes you right out to Mono Lake and from there you are free to explore the glorious Eastern Sierras! I can leave my house, go over the pass and be on the back side in about an hour and a half. It is heaven for sure! From Sonora it is much further as you have to head over Sonora Pass, which is a pretty drive, but I much prefer the Tioga Pass route.
If you have any other question please let me know.
WOW --- been about 10 years since I've been to Sonora; didn't realize they had a Walmart and such. ;-) That's great!
How far away from Sonora is Black Oak Casino? Do you think that's had a lot to do with the growth? Last time I was there, we were on a motorcycle run to the cemetery and back...
A little more about the casino: 198 hotel rooms (we're currently the 5th largest Hospitality renovation in California, as we're adding another 211 rooms in an 11 story tower (tallest structure in Madera County; next is the Best Western in Madera at 3 stories), an 805 five story parking structure, a 300,000+ gallon per day water treatment plant and an additional Fine Dining Italian-themes restaurant (will take us to to 8 restaurants total), at a cost of $96 million dollars --- and we just celebrated our 4 year anniversary this past June '07.
Theme of the property is "bringing the outdoors indoors" --- mostly you'd think you've stepped into a Tahoe Resort/Casino off the lake --- African Mahogany wood floors adorn the hotel lobby; local Mariposite Slate mixed in; lots of multi-tiered canvas-lantern style chandeliers, Carousel Slot machines themed to Steam trains, redwoods, etc., a specialty Mexican restaurant serving 50+ different tequilas, the Center Bar with four waterfalls careening down from the 2 story roof, Vintage, a high-end Steak and Seafood venue with the most diverse wine list in Madera County, 2000 slot machines, 48 table games, the California Market Buffet, featuring a large Salad/Soup Bar, and separate Mexican, American, Italian and Asian food stations (including a "cook it before your eyes Mongolian style BBQ) and an amazing dessert bar (featuring a wide variety of SUGAR FREE offerings), Deuces Diner, a 50's theme Burger and Malt venue, the Bakery, where your hearts desire of specialty coffee drinks and Fruit Smoothies, along with decadent snacks and hearty sandwiches are prepared in-house daily (don't miss the beef brisket on a French roll, or the Nathan’s Dog for just $2.50)! ... to Goldfields; oversized portions of your favorite comfort foods (The Fried Chicken and chicken-fried steak are AMAZING, as well as the Prime Rib Sub; I haven't tried the St. Louis styled ribs yet, and the Cob Salad could feed FOUR (it's open 24 hours/ 365).
This year, due to construction, the entertainment venue is an outside pavilion, with acts such as Tower or Power, Kool and the Gang, America, Crystal Gale, and Bill Cosby. Bob Newhart was here a couple of weekends ago and did a private show in Casa de Fuego, our Mexican restaurant/cantina for a private show for 129 guests. Talk is we're building an amphitheatre near the planned golf course a few years out. Jay Leno has been to the property twice, to perform. Others in the past include Cindy Lauper, ZZTop, Diamond Rio, a Chinese circus similar to Cirque de Solei (can't remember there name) and countless others.
Every weekend there's a DJ in Casa de Fuego spinning tunes from 10pm-2am, and they draw quite the crowd. We have also offered Karaoke Night and Salsa dancing lessons (all free of charge) at various times.
And, we're the only casino in the area to offer complimentary soft drinks, coffee, teas, bottled waters, fruit juices, and if you like, alcoholic beverages (state law requires we charge for those).
Can ya guess I work there? And can you guess I used to be in the Marketing Department? <heheheh>.
All in all, there's ALWAYS something to do at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino.
(and if that's not enough, Reba comes to Chukchansi Park, in Fresno on the 24th of August --- and we're going to donate a home to Habitat for Humanity. This year alone, we've donated 13 million dollars to local county charities, and infused 15 million into Chukchansi Park and the Grizzlies et.al.).
So yeah, drive around --- but spend some time at our resort!
Last edited by OakhurstDan; 08-08-2007 at 07:58 PM..
Reason: Spelling Check
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What's up with all the sex offenders and the crime rate being twice the national average in Sonora?
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