Kickback: John Calhoun

Our Kickback with John Calhoun was a blast! Working behind the scenes of Real Estate Development, Journalism and enjoying action sports for decades his expertise and life makes him a great read for any genre. 

When we met John immediately, we knew we had to incorporate him into our Lifestyle Blog. While the snow was coming down, we wore our finest winter threads, yet he was rocking shorts, high top vans and an impeccable life story that landed him here in Sandpoint.

John Calhoun speaks to what brings him joy in developing hometown ski resorts like Schweitzer Mountain.

His bright green colored sunglasses accentuate his past almost as much as his life’s work. He started his journey when he moved out West to Boulder to attend the University of Colorado. While in attendance at CU he was on a team working to pioneer genetics, an avid ice climber he started to take dance as an elective and had a blast working on flexibility. While you read on you will hear about his accreditations both on and off the dance floor. From his days as a writer reporting on Rodeos finest, to getting licensed to hop on a bull himself John truly is the man of the hour. 

Read on for more about his journey here and how he found himself with a one-armed dove and other fun critters that he calls family. 


John, what a ride to get to Sandpoint! Can you tell our readers more about you and what brought you here?

“At this time last year I was working at Aspen Snowmass, yet lived in Basalt. Just an 18 Mile drive yet it took two hours to get to Snowmass. It was always a fight for what you were doing; parking, consulting, riding, etc.

Lance, my boss contacted me regarding an opportunity, over 22 years ago for a development called CORDILLERA. Literally, when I headed up to Edwards, Colorado the place was crawling with Cattle and it felt like the true West. Instead of driving in rigs to check out the land it was an adventure on a 4-wheeler. Later on, I got the call from SIFER SMITH AND FRAMPTON as they were interested in me working within a development for the Golf community. For me I was reluctant to go after some “Corporate Pigs” idea of real estate and I didn’t even tell my family what I was doing. I just thought “I am going to go after selling these 35 Acre parcels and see what happens.” Why not?!

Mind you there was cow shit everywhere, I had no idea when a true driveway would be established. I know I can sell but trying to get a person on a 4-wheeler to ride out to a very expensive property seemed like it had its limitations. Welp, we sold that “you know what” and ultimately, built a team and I became an exclusive member to retail the remaining 400 acres of real estate.

How I found myself in Sandpoint, is because that very same Lance, called me up. I drove up here, almost hit the border of Canada and found myself enamored with the surrounding areas more than the job description.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort
What is something that brings you joy working on the development of hometown mountains such as Schweitzer Mountain Resort?

Lance called, “come on up!”

The hook was getting back together with a friend! What I loved about Sandpoint was during the week, clearly it’s beautiful, no lines, zero crowds, friendly, small town vibe, and you got guys like Tom Chasse who is running this place living up here everyday enthralled in his employees, the community and resort. Everyone of the big dogs is right here on the mountain, which is a refreshing variance to the Park City, Deer Valley, Snowmass scene.

The clincher was I was up here for 1 day, turned around, headed back down the hill, looked at Lake Pend Oreille and cruised Sandpoint for 2hrs just enamored with all it had to offer.

BAR JOKE: What letter is not in any state name…. (LET US KNOW YOUR ANSWERS IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW!)

It was an easy decision and I pulled the trigger. If you opened up a dictionary, looked at real estate and development, I am a different breed. Shorts year round, Energy at the table, Combo of buddy and privately owned place. Customers are drawn here to get a taste of not having to deal with the corporate economic bottom line. My thought is if you take care of them, they will take care of you.

“FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN” We are all about music to transpose us into another space while working. What are some of the music you have on hand to inspire you?

“Really?!” As he points to his Grateful Dead Socks!

Music does take you to another place. The Dead is truly the only band I can listen to over and over again. I have watched, participated and viewed 350 of every Grateful Dead show. They present a different energy, never do the same show twice, any genera can relate and get into it. I have seen everyone from little kids to 80 year olds getting down! There is something about them without being a deadhead that you can get into.

Every Time I got into a concert was a world unto itself. A lot of energy vs no energy, etc. it translates and helps me daily. There’s a Non pretentious audience with the same depth of responsibility for the vibe.

Listen, I got a ‘67 VW Bus with Original Black California Plates and I love that when I roll up nobody cares, we are just there to get into the experience!

A realistic model of Schweitzer Mountain and the surrounding terrain in Sandpoint, Idaho.
What are some hobbies you enjoy outside of work?

For me, my biggest interests are cycling, rock climbing, ice climbing, surfing, and the rush of a rodeo!

I am a PRCA member – PRO RODEO ASSOCIATION. I was working at ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS in Denver. They asked me to cover the World Champ Cody Custer. I was supposed to interview this World Champion bull rider and rolled up in my normal get up and had this “take me as I am” attitude Grateful Dead T-Shirt, Vans, and Shorts. I was there to get the job done and never knew what it would blossom into.

After series reporting on him, Cody goes: “Hey, I’m not talking to you anymore because you ask questions that could be answered just from riding a bull.” Literally, that day I entered bull riding school. I trained for 2 days, the 3rd day meant getting on a bull.  I asked five groups of guys: “Do you mind if I am the first one out?” I took on the wrap, and had the biggest rush of adrenaline! I lasted 2 seconds but I was HOOKED! I rode the rest of the weekend. I got a permit and was the only dude pulling up in a VW bus! All the shit on your mind goes away when you get on an animal like that. There is a state of euphoria, and you ride long enough to come back time and time again!!! 

Can you give us a rundown of how you acquired that lab collection of animals? Can you list them for us, tell us their names, and how you found them in your ownership?

2 horses – Champ and Strider

Joshua – 1 wing pigeon, I acquired on the Highway outside of Twentynine Palms Highway (also known as California Route 62) is a 151-mile route that runs essentially east-west from Parker, Arizona to just outside Palm Springs and Indio in the Coachella Valley.

Ca mountain king snakes (MY BAD: When he said snakes I lost my hearing!!)

And not your average Canary!!

The craziest story was driving down the 5 Freeway in California, when I saw this Pigeon get hit by a massive truck in front of me. I pulled off and thought, this thing won’t survive but I will take him home and if he is gone give him a burial. 

I strongly believe that animals need our assistance. The guy I brought Joshua to was over 100 Miles away one way. The damage assessment took 15 seconds. His wing was infected and he gave it a week to live. He goes: “$5.00 bucks and I will put him down”.

I just kept wondering if that animal was cool with just being at home with me? When you rescue something or take on an animal you always wonder and question yourself – ”Is he going to be ok with this situation?”

Joshua, is hilarious. I come home on the regular to people just talking to him while he is out on the balcony! I launched a website to know more about his species and have a curation of people that check in:

Anything additional to sign off with?

This Summer I am planning on taking Joshua and I out and paddling the whole lakeshore of Lake Pend Oreille. We are going to go for it. I have been dying to check out the whole lake and want to camp on the shoreline and take it in with just me and hopefully I will cruise and meet some people with amazing stories!

I am always down for an adventure and see this being my way to connect on another level to not only this location but the people who call it home. Hope to see you all out there!

Be sure to visit our Kickback with Ryan at MVMNT GYM! He will get you ready for skiing, hiking, biking or any other activity!

Queue up some Grateful Dead on Alexa, pour a glass of wine or tune up some whiskey and get ready to read about a man who needs no introduction.

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