Telluride plays to the Front Range

TELLURIDE, Colo. The "We're Not Another Congested I-70 Resort" theme that has been noted in Crested Butte, Steamboat and Aspen has now spread to Telluride and Mountain Village.

There, the new executive director of the convention and visitors' bureau, Leary O'Gorman, is aiming to close the gaps on the shoulder seasons. One of the initiatives aims at the Front Range: trying to entice visitors for long weekends. "People are taking shorter vacations, and four-day excursions are close enough to use the car," he told The Telluride Watch . Telluride is about seven hours from Denver.

In its advertisements in newspapers and on buses in Denver, Telluride is iterating the "Colorado as it used to be theme."

"Telluride is what Colorado was 50 years ago," he says. "Remember the first time you drove over Loveland Pass and saw Summit County? Now you drive through the tunnel and see the strip malls of Summit County."

Avalanche offers evidence of ESP

LEADVILLE, Colo. For the unbelievers, a tragic case from one of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks offers yet more evidence on behalf of extra-sensory perception.

Three climbers had summited La Plata Peak, Colorado's fourth highest mountain, and were on their way down when caught by an avalanche. One man was buried under what searchers later found was 7 feet of snow. The other two men survived and made their way back to the trailhead.

The Leadville Chronicle reports that a woman, who was apparently the girlfriend of the 22-year-old fatality, called the emergency dispatch in that area after the avalanche but before authorities knew about it. She said she had a premonition that something was not right.

Sheriff Dick Dove' passes away

ASPEN, Colo. Hunter S. Thompson, the famous gonzo writer, ran for sheriff of Pitkin County in 1968, attempting to overthrow what The Aspen Times now says was a "traditional small-town, red-necked law enforcement style."

Thompson lost the race. However, one of his chief collaborators, Dick Keinast, who was to have been undersheriff to Thompson, did get elected in 1976. Once in office, Keinast's "humanistic" approach caused the crew-cut men in uniforms to be steadily replaced by longer-haired people wearing jeans who attended feel-good symposiums put on by John Denver. Rather than career law-enforcement officers, Keinast wanted people from all walks of life as deputies.

Kienast, who recently died of complications from heart bypass surgery, stayed in office until 1986, when he was replaced by one of his longer-haired recruits, Bob Braudis. As sheriff, Keinast was known as "Dick Dove and the Deputies of Love." He appeared on the national television program "60 Minutes" to explain why he would not cooperate with federal drug agents. National attention was also focused on Keinast when, soon into his first term, the serial killer Ted Bundy escaped from a second-story window in the courthouse in Aspen. Bundy was caught eight days later.

Whistler tries to quit diesel habit

WHISTLER, B.C. Top municipal officials in Whistler are trying to devise a strategy that will wean the city's transportation fleet from diesel.

Diesel is seen as a problem for several reasons. First, emissions pose health risks. Second, diesel engines create more noise pollution. And third, because diesel burns so poorly, it gunks up engines, requiring more maintenance. But, on the other hand, it's a known quantity.

Led by Mayor Hugh O'Reilly, the Whistler entourage went to California's Palm Desert and Los Angeles to observe what is being done there. What they saw had O'Reilly talking with even more fervor he seems to have been studying energy issues for the last three years about creating an alternative in the Sea to Sky Corridor that connects Vancouver with Whistler.

In particular, reports Pique newsmagazine, Whistler is following the trends in natural gas. While the first generation of buses powered by natural gas engines had problems, the newer fleet of engines are just as reliable as diesel engines. They cost more but are easier to maintain and operate, according to Brian Barnet, general manager of engineering and public works for Whistler.

Ski tour operators report big gains

MOUNTAIN VILLAGE, Colo. The Ski Tour Operators Association met slopeside at Telluride in late March, and the polling of members suggests nearly all the larger destination ski resorts in the West gained this winter.

Aspen was among the largest gainers. Also gaining were Vail, Telluride, Steamboat and Winter Park. So did Jackson Hole, Sun Valley, Big Sky, Park City and Whistler or at least that's what the ski tour companies were telling The Aspen Times .

But unlike the gains of 25 to 30 percent at Aspen and elsewhere, Colorado's Summit County seemed to decline. The speculation reported by The Aspen Times was that consumers didn't want to go to Summit County resorts because of the crowds from the Front Range. Ironically, the crowds from the Front Range were significantly down this year because the snow wasn't very good.

As for why Aspen did so well? The Aspen Times reports that hoteliers seem to have adjusted their rates downward. The same thing happened in Breckenridge and in Vail in the wake of 9/11, and lodging rates this year didn't march back up.

Town sees major political changes

RED CLIFF, Colo. Ten to 20 years ago, there were often fewer candidates than there were vacancies on the Red Cliff Town Board. This year, it's different in the old mining town that is located, as one T-shirt proclaims, "on Vail's Back Side."

Not only are there enough candidates, but competition as well. In fact, several candidates have assembled brochures, placards and other campaign devices.

Some think this is evidence of the greater politicization of the United States this year. However, others see it as the natural result of demographic changes peculiar to Red Cliff. Although largely Hispanic 20 to 30 years ago, the town now has many Generation X Anglos who are more highly educated and obviously affluent. Homes that a decade ago were selling for $50,000 are now fetching $250,000 and up. As well, after years of a moratorium on growth because of water supply problems, new homes are sprouting up.

In yet another sign of change in the town of 300 people, an old restaurant called Reno's has been closed. Long a favorite of out-of-town cross-country skiers who finished a 12-mile trip across nearby Shrine Pass, it served Mexican food at a time when Mexican food wasn't all that common. Locals, however, tended to disdain the food as inferior. The building is said to be the future storage site for portable latrines.

Paul McCartney takes Truckee stage

TRUCKEE, Calif. For the second year in a row, Paul McCartney dropped in to play some music at a local bar, Sierra Moody's Bistro and Lounge.

McCartney was reportedly on a ski vacation last year when he dropped in, improvising a song he called the "Truckee Blues." This time, McCartney played a couple of songs with the local regulars, retrofitting the lyrics of "Kansas City" to the local environs. "I'm going to Tahoe City, going to get me some skiing," he sang.

One of the regular musicians, Caleb Dolister, told the Tahoe Daily Tribune that playing with McCartney was "surprisingly easy."

"What I mean by that," Dolister said, "is some people that are famous for doing a certain thing oftentimes aren't that comfortable outside of their element. But he was really able to adapt and it was kind of like just having another guy in the band, except it was Paul McCartney, which was incredible."

Jackson sees new urban crime trend

JACKSON, Wyo. A robbery at Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers in Jackson is being cited as evidence of Jackson's increasing urbanization.

The incidence of serious crimes has been increasing, police say. "We're breaking that distinction from being a small town to being a small city," said Jackson Police Sgt. Alan John. Still, it was only the first armed robbery in Jackson Hole since 1994, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide . No one was hurt, although three employees spent an hour chilling in the store's walk-in refrigerator before pushing their way out.

compiled by Allen Best






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