Local Lawrence Bowie Shares Tips for Enjoying His Backyard
Meet Mammoth Lakes local Lawrence Bowie, who’s been living the mountain life since 2015. Lawrence shares some of his favorite parts about Mammoth Lakes — the big, beautiful backyard he calls home.
How long have you lived in Mammoth Lakes?
Bowie, a St. Louis native, has lived in Mammoth for 5 years. Growing up in the Midwest, Bowie was a snowboard novice when he began dabbling in the mountain lifestyle. “I fell in love with Mammoth Lakes as soon as I first saw it. It was my dream to live here.”
What brought you to Mammoth Lakes?
Bowie came to Mammoth Lakes via Los Angeles (a skier girlfriend first brought him to town), but his route to the mountains was circuitous. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Bowie studied music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and eventually moved to Santa Cruz at the ripe old age of 24 for an “early retirement” and a beach bum/musician lifestyle. He relocated to Los Angeles to work in the music industry, and, finally, wound up forming bands in Mammoth Lakes when he’s not working as a Special Service Administrator for Mammoth Mountain.
“I make more money playing live music in Mammoth Lakes than I ever did in L.A.,” says Bowie. A drummer by trade, Bowie prides himself on setting up collaborations with other local musicians. Formerly a member of Dreddie Poppins and the Professionals, he recently founded the blues-jazz-hip hip project Boyz in the Woodz. “It’s a rotating roster of musicians,” says Bowie, with members that include Liberty Bar and Thai’d Up owner Mike Coco, saxophonist Dave Benami, and rapper Jesse Lynch.
What’s your favorite thing about your backyard?
“The amount of options for activities,” says Bowie. “You hit highway 395 and, whether you go north or south, the opportunities are limitless.” Bowie says the direction he takes depends on the season, who he’s with, and the whim of the day. Some days, he’ll hang a right and head south to the hot springs off Benton Crossing Road, the next he’ll take the northbound ramp towards Sonora Pass hauling a snowmobile trailer.
When friends or family visit in the winter, what are you must-do activities and places to go?
None of Bowie’s family has visited him yet from St. Louis. “My mother thought I was in the witness protection program when I told her I was moving here,” he says. “Nobody in the Midwest knows about Mammoth Lakes!” He says he gave her Yosemite National Park as a point of reference so she could find Mammoth Lakes on a map. Occasionally, he says, “Mammoth Lakes will pop up in the news,” as was the case in February of 2019, when Mammoth Lakes had the highest snowfall in the nation, “and she’s like, ‘What on earth are you doing there?’”
However, Bowie says, “friends visit from L.A. all the time.” He likes to take visitors on moderate hikes like Convict Lake, Devils Postpile and Rainbow Falls, or to the Long Valley Caldera for a natural hot spring experience. “Wild Willy’s hot spring,” he says, “is the best thing they’ve ever seen in their life!”
What are your favorite runs at Mammoth Mountain, and what do you love about them?
Bowie likes it “steep and deep,” so his picks are Scotty’s, the Paranoids, the Wipeout Chutes and the Avi Chutes on Lincoln Mountain (accessible by the powder worshippers from cool-kid Chair 22). “Depending on the day, I also like Dave’s Run, if you don’t have to traverse too much,” says Bowie. Snowboarders have a tougher time making the traverse from the Top of the Mountain to Dave’s than do skiers, but when the snow is good on Dave’s, says Bowie, “the juice is worth the squeeze.”
What’s your favorite spot for Apres and why?
“If I’m hungry,” Bowie says, “I like the Austria Hof, they have a great happy hour.” The “Hof,” as it’s known, is conveniently located at the north end of the Canyon Lodge parking lot. The picturesque hotel houses a low-ceilinged bar where you’re likely to find a gaggle of locals tying one on after a big day. “If I’m trying to be cheap with my ski bum buddies, I’ll go to Slocums,” which is a dark, floral wallpapered bar with brass door handles—the kind of joint where the waitresses wear high heels and ties and they serve a nice dry martini. Their happy hour is notorious as one of the best deals in town (the $5 Fresca is enough reason to visit). “If I’m just trying to get a beer,” Bowie says, “Distant [formerly Black Doubt Brewing] is where I’ll head.”
What’s your favorite post-ski/ride place to grab a bite? Favorite items on the menu?
The above-mentioned Austria Hof is a favorite of Bowie’s—they serve a mix of gastro-pub-ish starters and classic fare like filet mignon and cioppino, plus German specialties like Wienerschnitzel. Bowie’s go-to is the crispy fried caramel pork belly with fried rice. He also loves Slocums happy hour. Their $4 hamburger is basically unbeatable for a cheap fill-up.
What’s your favorite non-ski/ride winter activity?
Bowie loves snowmobiling in the Inyo National Forest, a veritable paradise for tooling around on treads. Bowie doesn’t own a snowmobile (if you don’t either, both Mammoth Mountain gives you the chance to try it out for a day), but he’s got enough “sledneck” buddies that he’s been able to cultivate the hobby. The U.S. Forest Service has created an amazing Eastern Sierra Winter Recreation Map to showcase the multitude of trails and staging areas available to snowmobilers.
Any winter events in town you never miss?
Bowie loves Night of Lights, but he claims you only have to see it once (“it’s too cold! If you’re going to see it more than once, you better be prepared!”). We disagree, but ok. He never misses the Pond Skim (the yearly party in celebration of the closing of Canyon Lodge). Bowie also loves Demo Days (also known as Oakley Week), where a contingent of brand ambassadors set up shop in the Canyon Lodge parking lot for a weekend. It’s a fun, festive atmosphere and a chance to try out the new skis or snowboard you’ve been eyeing all season. “Also, I always look forward to the World Cup,” says Bowie. This event is an Olympic qualifier for skiers and snowboarders, and was last held before the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018. “I can’t say I never miss it, because it doesn’t happen every year, but how can you pass up the opportunity to see Olympians from all over the world compete? My mom will be watching TV, like, ‘Can I see my son in the crowd?’”
What keeps you around the Eastern Sierra in summer?
Bowie’s answer is easy: “All the live music.” He’s also partial to the sunsets. “Hot Creek is my favorite place to watch the sunset,” says Bowie, describing the magic hour where steam rising from the geological site frames a massive landscape consisting of Mt. Morrison, Mammoth Mountain, Ritter, Banner and the rest of the Sierra range. “I also love the hot springs at night, laying back in a pool of hot water and seeing the milky way with your naked eye.”
Can you share your best local secret to enjoying Mammoth Lakes?
“Rent a boat from Pokonobe Marina and just hang out on Lake Mary,” says Bowie. This chill suggestion exemplifies his style—take it easy, don’t try to see too many things at once, and you’re bound to have a special experience. “I’ve been chilling on Lake Mary and watched a bald eagle splash down and catch a fish right next to me!” He also loves catching lunch or brunch at The Lakefront Restaurant, located within the almost unbearably cozy Tamarack Lodge. Dinners at the Lakefront can be spendy, but dining al fresco on their wood porch on a lazy summer Sunday is the ultimate indulgence, and won’t break the bank.