Cyclist finishes ride around world

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. - Twenty-three years and 63,633 miles later, Steve Williams can claim the first crossing of all six inhabited continents by bicycle.

Williams, now 50, set out on this quest when he was 27. A failed professional cyclist, he still had a strong wanderlust and thought riding around the world "sounded like a really cool thing to do," he told the Jackson Hole News & Guide .

Williams made his way around the world, stopping at places like Cape Town and Chamonix to work for several months at a time before continuing on. It cost him about $1,000 a month to be on the road. He got only one grant, for $4,000, during all his years of riding.

Although Williams and two companions completed most of the cycling in the 1980s, it gnawed at him that he had failed to complete the 15,000 miles from Kunming, China, to Bangkok, Thailand, a route infested with seven kinds of vipers, drug lords and a kaleidoscope of cultures. He then did it alone.

That done, he realized two more remaining legs - from Argentina to Tierra del Fuego and from Inuvik, Alaska, to Jackson Hole. These he did during the last three years.

Why do all this? "Culture has always been the key motivating interest - culture and geography," said Williams, who lives in Boulder, Colo. "How people live, what their cultures look like, what side of the hill they live on."

Telluride sees real estate recovery

TELLURIDE, Colo. - Real estate brokers in the Telluride area are reporting the best year since the banner year of 2000.

Year-to-date sales through September were $275 million, compared to $431 million in that record year. Still, September tallies were strong enough to inspire hopes that the real estate market is in for a long rally, reports The Telluride Watch .

Sales of condominiums paced the comeback. The condos had originally been put on the market as fractional units but were pulled when the project went into receivership. There seems to have been some "price adjustments" to speed sales, although a broker told the newspaper that it wasn't a fire sale, by any means.

Aspen Pure set for broad release

ASPEN, Colo. - It's not from Aspen, and anybody who knows anything about farming may wonder how pure it is. Still, a new line of bottled water called Aspen Pure seems to be making waves.

The product is now on the shelves in 11 states, with expansion scheduled to 15 more states by Thanksgiving. And the business's founder, Barry Gordon, has now enlisted a part-time Aspen resident with strong credentials, Pizza Hut founder Dan Carney.

Carney called Aspen Pure the "next Fiji or Evian. With the worldwide brand recognition of Aspen, this product will sell."

The water actually comes from an aquifer below a former potato field near Alamosa, a Colorado town about 200 miles from Aspen. Bottled on site, the water goes through a five-step filtration process.

"Our water sells better out of state than in state," Gordon told The Aspen Times . "When you think of Aspen, you think of the Rocky Mountains: pure, clean and healthy. And Aspen has a bit of Hollywood attached to it, so by taking a bottle, you've just bought a piece of Aspen mystique."

Among the best outlets in Colorado is at the Denver airport, where travelers buy bottles as souvenirs.

This isn't the first time that water entrepreneurs have attempted to cash in on the cachet of resort towns. In the late 1980s, an entrepreneur from the Sun Valley area announced plans for an Aspen water, a Vail water and a Sun Valley water. Plans for at least the first two seemed to have washed up.

Mt. Shasta glaciers double in size

SIERRA NEVADA, Calif. - On California's Mt. Shasta, several glaciers have grown dramatically in the last several decades -an unexpected development given that the majority of the world's glaciers are in retreat.

All seven glaciers on the 14,162-foot Mt. Shasta have been growing in recent decades, and three of them have doubled in size since 1950, reports the Los Angeles Times . Why is this? One theory points to Shasta's lonely position - it stands out by itself near the Oregon border. It reaches out to passing fronts, which in recent decades have been warmer and, because they are warmer, are able to carry more moisture. That can result in more precipitation in some areas, such as at Mt. Shasta, and can be released as snow.

Glacial retreat is found elsewhere in California. Seven Sierra Nevada glaciers that were surveyed and photographed over the summer are all smaller than they were a century ago. One, Darwin Glacier, located near Bishop, Calif., is an estimated 50 to 100 feet thinner today than it appears to have been a century ago.

Western golf courses go upscale

TETON COUNTY, Wyo. - A discussion about golf courses sounds vaguely like that about affordable housing. A lot of golf courses are getting built in Jackson Hole, but none that a working man can afford.

While several golf clubs have provisions for public play, those options are limited and expensive, notes the Jackson Hole News & Guide . One course charges $150 for 18 holes, or alternatively, a $9,500 initiation fee. Another course, the Teton Pines, has a semi-public initiation fee of about $50,000. The only truly affordable golfing opportunities are on the west side of the Teton Range, in Idaho, which is also largely the story on housing.

Meanwhile, the Elkhorn Golf Club, which was built in the 1970s in Sun Valley, Idaho, is getting a $6 million facelift, including replacement of all 18 greens. In the process, the course is going private, with 100 of the 255 memberships being reserved for future property owners in a townhouse development being planned.

This news does not sit well with the Idaho Mountain Express . With this change, only one of the five golf courses in the Wood River Valley will be available for general public play, which the newspaper believes will "rip a gaping hole in the area's recreational constellation."

Gang violence rolls into Park City

PARK CITY, Utah - Gang violence hit a nightclub along Interstate 80 near Park City recently. A man standing near the stage at the concert, with a sheriff's deputy less than 50 feet away, was shot with a .22-caliber handgun and killed. Altogether, there were eight cops at the concert when the shooting occurred.

Sheriff's investigators blamed the shooting on a rivalry between two Polynesian gangs from the Salt Lake City area, located about 35 miles away, reports The Park Record . Several suspects were nabbed.

Roadkill used to educate students

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - Several fifth-graders are getting an early look into some of the basic issues in conservation biology. Taking part in a Critter Control project, they are using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology to help monitor roadkill along Highway 40, which bisects the community. One of their goals is to figure out why particular animals cross the highway in specific areas.

The project, says The Steamboat Pilot , has been wildly successful and has received attention locally and nationally.

Edwards unveils affordable housing

EDWARDS, Colo. - The first residents in a new affordable-housing community called Miller Ranch moved in Oct. 28, the largest deed-restricted affordable housing project to date in Eagle County. The project is located about halfway between Vail and Eagle.

Altogether, 282 homes are planned in the project. However, little more than a third of them have been sold so far, reports the Vail Daily , mostly through a lottery system that gives priority to qualifying workers in Eagle County. Prices range from $120,000 to $260,000 for the units, which range from lofts to single-family homes, sized from 820 square feet to 1,511 square feet.

As well, the complex has soccer fields with artificial turf and will have a campus for the local Colorado Mountain College branch.

- compiled by Allen Best





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