Monsoon allows fiery finale to the village Grump

CRESTED BUTTE – Summer monsoons arrived to the Colorado Rockies late in the season but perhaps early enough to ensure a fiery finale for the Grump of Crested Butte.

The Grump is a large statute that is held responsible for all the misfortune of the past year. Ordinarily during September, the Grump is put to trial, with a pre-supposed verdict. Usual sentencing is burning at the town’s four-way stop, followed by a community bonfire. The burning was up in the air until recently because of a statewide ban on open fires. However, the ban was lifted just in time for the ceremony.

The Grump’s purging pyre is part of Crested Butte’s fall harvest festival, called Vinotok, in recognition of the Slavic heritage of the coal miners who originally settled there. As explained by the Crested Butte News (Sept. 6), any and all storytellers are invited to spin tall tales, with the truth to be determined by the crowd. During that same evening, the Green Man is chosen – a symbol of virility, strength and fertility, as well as growth and a human life source. “It is an intimidating and intimate title for any local man to uphold,” noted the News.

Americans scorned abroad because of flag on Durango

BANFF, ALBERTA – After parking their RVs at a campground, three retired couples then drove to Banff to shop. Their Dodge Durango had large, magnetic U.S. flags proudly displayed on each side. Returning to the sport-utility vehicle, they found a scornful note on their windshield:

“Americans, why don’t you and your ugly ‘American-Mobile’ go the (expletive) back to that dirty rotten country you call home? 9/11 was payback, not terrorism. Stick your flag up your (expletive).”

The couples removed the flagrant flags for the duration of their Canadian visit but wondered if all Canadians felt that way toward Americans. One resident, a town councilor in Banff, assured them they didn’t. He speculated that the note-writer wasn’t even Canadian, reports the Banff Crag & Canyon (Sept. 9).

‘Club’ members in Aspen not playing by the rules

ASPEN – The Aspen Times had some decidedly tart things to say about its second-home owners this summer. “We are no longer primarily a ski town,” observed the newspaper (Aug. 10-11). “Nor are we an enclave of free-spirited mountaineers conducting an enlightened social experiment. No, we are a virtual country club. The price of membership is the price of real estate. If you can buy in, then you’re in. If you can’t, then you are in employee housing or doing the downvalley shuffle.”

But there are obligations on both sides, explained the newspaper. Locals try to keep Aspen/Snowmass pleasant, controlling growth so the upper valley’s natural beauty remains, building employee housing so that the country club has a work force. Country club members support the arts with their generous donations, buy and furnish lavish homes, and spend freely in the restaurants and stores.

Trouble is, said The Times, “some of the power elite are not just jetting into Aspen to unwind. No, upon landing, they are applying their energy and expertise to profit from the local real estate market. They are violating what should be a key rule for club members: Make your money somewhere else. Just because you can profit by developing here doesn’t mean you should.”

Man looks death in the eye while out bison hunting

JACKSON HOLE, WYO. — What would be your impulse if a grizzly bear ripped part of your face off? Jesshua Amun, a 39-year-old resident of Sedona, Ariz., was in the Yellowstone National Park area recently to track bison when he apparently surprised a grizzly sow.

“I had a pretty interesting experience when she bit my face,” he told the Jackson Hole News (Sept. 4-10). “I went to a very quiet, very peaceful place. There was no darkness or light. There was no judgment. Basically, I thought I was dead.”

The bear tore most of his face apart, and he remembers his upper lip “just hanging on by a piece of skin.” Doctors later put in 300 stitches to hold his face together. He was also bleeding profusely and suffered other wounds.

Yet, speaking from a hospital bed, he demanded that public land managers not kill the animal, also known as ursus arctos horribilis. “The bear shouldn’t be punished or who they are,” he said, slurring his words because of the stitches. “We all share the same woods. To think we are separate from our surroundings is as ludicrous as it comes.”

Public land managers were fearing the woods are too small for bears and people. Even by late August several bears had charged hikers and bitten people, with the worst expected to come when bow-hunters steathily take to the woods.

Just what role for Hispanics in the future of ski resorts?

I-70 CORRIDOR — Aside from Winter Park, the role of Hispanics at ski resorts is an emerging issue elsewhere in Colorado.

The new White River National Forest master plan allocates significant potential new acreage for Summit County ski areas, which are closer to Denver. The assumption behind the potential acreage is that destination business of Colorado ski areas in the decade ahead will be flat, but that Colorado’s burgeoning Front Range growth will continue, producing more skiers in Summit County and, to a lesser extent, Vail and Beaver Creek.

But Colorado Wild’s Jeff Berman argues the Forest Service’s methodology is shoddy. As in the past decade, a high percentage of Colorado’s new residents will be Hispanic. Given that Hispanics have traditionally been of lower income and less likely to ski, it’s logical to assume that the demand projected by the Forest Service will not materialize. Hence, Berman’s group wants less land allocated to potential ski area expansions.

Yoga is OK, but coffee and sugar may be on way out

ASPEN — Public school officials somewhat unexpectedly found themselves in the public eye when several parents objected to a new yoga program at Aspen Elementary School.

The regimen of breathing and stretching exercises, said the parents, were accompanied by words and expressions from the Hindu religion, from which yoga originates. By virtue of that fact, yoga violates separation of church and school. In response, school officials are having the yoga curriculum gutted of all material that could be construed as religious.

Meanwhile, at the high school, students may eventually have to face their days without either sugared or caffeinated beverages, reports The Aspen Times (Sept. 10). School officials have reviewed national reports that link diets high in caffeine with restlessness, nervousness and hyperactivity among students. School nurses warn of osteoporosis dangers growing girls will face later in life.

FedEx terminal planned for former sawmill in Kremmling

KREMMLING — Early in the 20th century Zane Grey visited this sagebrush-crowded town and wrote a novel, Mysterious Rider, a tale that evoked all the sweetness and hardness of the mythical Old West. In many ways, Kremmling hasn’t changed all that much since then.

Lumber mills have come and gone. A big molybdenum mine now employs some people. And increasingly, the town has become a lower-cost bedroom for people who work in the big-name ski resorts that surround it. It looks, however, like a place that the New West forgot.

Now, real estate agent Paul Ohri is trying to nudge the town into being a service center for Winter Park, Steamboat Springs and Summit County, all of which lie within an hour’s drive, with Vail only a little farther. His first success, reports the Winter Park Manifest (Sept. 4) is getting FedEx to move its ground satellite terminal from Silverthorne, 38 miles away, to the old sawmill in Kremmling.

-compiled by Allen Best
Something similar has gone on at former ranching lumber and mining towns that have become the locations for laundries and other such businesses that cater to resort areas.






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