construction goes modular in Telluride
NUCLA — For 20 years
Michael McLaughlin had been designing and building high-end
homes in the Telluride area. But McLaughlin, a self-described
“idea guy,” thought there was a better way to build
those luxury houses – modular construction.
most people connotes inferior, slapped-together houses that
start falling apart if you look at them. But McLaughlin says
what really matters is the quality of materials.
“For me, modular doesn’t
have negative connotations – you think cheap homes because,
yes, that’s the way it has been,” McLaughlin told
Marta Tarbell of The Telluride Watch (Aug. 23). “But the
technology is brilliant. Instead of hauling all the raw material,
all the labor, instead of making someone work up at 10,000 feet
on a mountainside through the winter, at 40 percent efficiency,
we’re working in the factory, at 100 percent efficiency.”
Because most of Telluride’s
carpenters, plasterers and drywallers live in the Norwood and
Nucla area, 30 to 40 miles west of Telluride, it made sense
to put the factory there. It also saves his employees eight
to 10 hours of driving every week. At the factory, TimberHaven
Log Homes’ 30 employees put together 3,500-square-foot
homes, including such components as 200-year-old hand-hewn oak-barn
beams and soapstone-granite countertops.
McLaughlin says the concept
allows him to buy everything in larger quantities, saving money
and speeding up construction. A house in Telluride normally
takes 14 months to build; he figures his take four.
Bicyclists urged to create
rush hour jam
JACKSON, WYO. — A handbill that urged
bicycle riders to rally in a manner called “Plug’n
the Hole” was being circulated around Jackson Hole. The
handbills said the goal was to “raise awareness of the
excess use of autos within the town of Jackson by creating the
largest traffic jam ever seen!”
Nobody owned up to passing around the fliers,
but various bicycle shop owners and others spoke to the intent
– and urged their fellow bicycle riders to boycott it.
“It’s a great way to create hostility toward cyclists,”
said Alex Worthington, a bicycle mechanic. He told the Jackson
Hole News (Aug. 26) that he had witnessed similar rallies in
Missoula, Mont. A letter writer, who identified himself as an
“almost-obsessed cycling advocate,” argued that
bicycle riders were better off not angering those who drive
and other toy sales take off
NEW YORK CITY — Suppose the economy
is sliding badly, then you got attacked by terrorists, after
which the stock market takes a real nasty dive. What would you
The response of many baby-boomer Americans
has been to buy the most expensive all-terrain vehicle, motorhome
or motorcycle they can find. The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 27)
reports that Polaris, Brunswick and other manufacturers of recreational
equipment are unexpectedly thriving.
For example, executives at Arctic Cat,
a Minnesota maker of snowmobiles and ATVs, were fretting last
year,after 9/11, certain sales would go down the toilet. But
after a brief pall, orders began rushing in – an 11 percent
gain for the year that ended March 31.
And buyers are going for top models. Through
June, sales at Polaris’ top-of-the-line ATV models, which
cost $7,000 and $7,400, were up 50 percent from year-earlier
What’s going on? Demographics, of
course. Most buyers are baby boomers now at the peak of their
earnings. They’re buying these toys partly to share with
their kids. Also, there are more double-income families, and
low interest rates have led to mortgage refinancings that provided
some money on the side. And, seeing their stock market investments
slide, some consumers are thinking they might as well spend
the money instead.
Ski areas continue to duke
it out for Front Range skiers
I-70 CORRIDOR — The price wars are
back in Colorado this winter as Vail Resorts Inc. and Intrawest
continue to duke it out trying to lure Front Range skiers.
Vail Resorts is again offering a $319 season pass ($299 if renewed
from last year) that is good at Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge
and Keystone, plus 10 days at Vail or Beaver Creek. For regular
skiers, that means it’s cheaper to ski at Vail than buy
a slope-side hamburger, notes The Vail Daily (Aug. 24).
Copper Mountain, which is operated by Intrawest,
is also offering bargain-basement deals. It is expected to bundle
a pass with Winter Park if Intrawest, as is expected, soon inks
a deal with Denver to take over operations there.
Even the Aspen Skiing Co. seems to have
been affected, with its four-mountain ski pass dropping to $999
for the coming season, down from $1,350 a decade ago. However,
Aspen’s ticket window price is $68, and at Vail it will
Ski company executives say they may be
almost giving away the passes, but the low prices attract buyers
who don’t use the passes all that much. Bill Jensen, chief
operating officer for Vail Mountain, says the average Vail Resorts
passholder skis only 8.1 days a year, so the company gets close
to $40 a day for the passes. “The industry has found that
if you can get people to commit up-front it’s more profitable,”
Vail Resorts now also has an interstate
deal, offering a Perfect 10 pass for $329 that includes Heavenly
Valley in California, which it recently purchased, as well as
its four Colorado resorts.
Climbers hit three times
by lighting on Grand Teton
JACKSON, WYO. — A trio of climbers
were struck three times by lightning as they hunkered down 200
feet below the 13,770-foot summit of the Grand Teton.
“I see this blue-green ball coming
down the rope at me,” recalled Dave Schwietert, who was
third. ‘It was like the size of a beach ball. Then boom!
Another climber, Fletcher Brinkerhoff,
told the Jackson Hole News (Aug. 28) the experience was like
getting shocked from an outlet. “Usually it shocks you
to your shoulder, and it really hurts,” he said. “This
was more intense and went through the whole body.”
The third climber, Mike Gauthier, who is
the head climbing ranger at Washington’s Mountain Rainier
National Park, said it was as if “someone was kicking
me in the back of my head really hard.”
Struck once, the three climbers hunkered
down in a nook and removed their caribiners and other metal
objects. The second strike hit them there, actually lifting
them up. That, according to one, was when they began truly fearing
for their lives. They were hit yet a third time during the 30-minute
The climbers were burned in several places
on their bodies. However, they suggested they would continue
climbing, but with a greater sense of life’s precariousness.
“That was my eight lives,” said one.
Telluride figuring out
how to purchase valley floor
TELLURIDE — The meadow along the
San Miguel River leading into Telluride is as pretty an entrance
as will ever be found in a cathedral. And, while the rest of
Telluride grew, that entry remained undeveloped, green and grazed
But a development agreement had been struck long before, and
in the late 1990s the landowner, San Miguel Valley Corp., indicated
it was getting ready to move dirt on the 570-acre plot.
Town residents have been indignant about
the prospect of development there, and after the company’s
representatives indicated they had no interest in selling, 61
percent of town residents voted to condemn. Both sides are now
girding for the fight.
The land corporation has filed a lawsuit,
reports The Telluride Watch (Aug. 19). The lawsuit charges that
the town’s condemnation violates the 1986 agreement that
said the town would not prevent development by withholding the
availability of sewage treatment.
Meanwhile, as part of its “good-faith
effort” to buy the land before it can go through with
condemnation, town officials are asking voters in November to
authorize $4.36 million in new bonds. If approved, that would
give the town $15.5 million to work with, not counting private
– compiled by Allen Best