Hunter S. Thompson funeral set

ASPEN – An odd apparition has taken shape at Owl Farm, the home of the late writer Hunter S. Thompson, in the Woody Creek area near Aspen. A crane has hoisted steel cylinders covered with gray cloth to resemble a clothed arm, and atop these cylinders will be a clenched fist made of fiberglass, two thumbs holding a peyote button.

All of this will be 153 feet high, about two feet higher than the Statute of Liberty in the harbor at New York City.

As the typewriter-ribbon-sniffing fans of Thompson will immediately recognize, this is the fist that Thompson used as a symbol of “gonzo” writing. In a 1978 television documentary, Thompson revealed his desire to have his ashes blasted from a cannon at his home. And so it will be on Saturday, Aug. 20.

The actor Johnny Depp, who portrayed Thompson in a movie based on Thompson’s bookFear and Loathing in Las Vegas, is paying for the unusual cannon. Costs are estimated at $1 million to $2 million, reports the Rocky Mountain News.

Just who gets to see all this, at least close at hand, remains at issue. The affair will be strictly private, inasmuch as a 153-foot cannon can ever be private. Writers and journalists on the guest list for the funeral have been asked to refrain from writing about the event. Just the same, everybody from theNew York Times to CNN has expressed a desire to be there.

Meanwhile, fans of Thompson – both invited and uninvited – are streaming in from across the world, some by jet, others on foot. Among the latter is Rick McKinney, who earlier this year began walking south from Yellowstone National Park with plans to attend the funeral. Arriving in late July in Steamboat Springs, he explained he had been so affected by Thompson’s writing that, at age 19, he had gotten Thompson’s trademark gonzo fist tattooed on his right forearm.

Telluride lots go for $4.2 million

TELLURIDE – In a way, Telluride has been the poor man’s Aspen. That’s not to say you can afford to buy real estate anywhere close to Telluride unless you’re among the richest of Americans, but it does identify the pecking order.

Just the same, things can get pricey, as The Telluride Watch revealed in a story about a high-end, high-elevation project called Sunnyside Ranch. The ranch was split into 25 lots, with roads and telephone lines in to the 35-acre parcels and pleasing ponds scattered about.

The cost for all this exclusivity begins at $4.2 million. The houses are extra. Package costs start at probably $10 million, although two spec homes under construction are priced respectively at $12.5 million and $12.9 million.

The homes have views, views, views, of course. Another selling point being advanced by the real estate agent in Telluride is that anything comparable in Vail or Aspen would mean neighbors so close you could hear their arguments.

Flyfishing community goes forward

GRANBY – It has been decades since Granby was really a ranch town. More recently it was a service sector for the resort areas from Winter Park to Rocky Mountain National Park and, increasingly during the last several years, it has been gaining vacation homes of its own that are geared toward residents of the Denver area, two hours away.

Now, it’s moving toward the high end with a project called Orvis Shorefox. The town has started annexing the 1,550 acres in the project, located along the Colorado River immediately west of the existing town. Developers envision a project geared to jet-setters who like to flyfish and shoot at targets as well as the more usual activities of mountain resorts such as golfing and skiing.

The new project will have a store operated by Orvis, the flyfishing company, as well as two hotels, one of them 80 feet tall, and 700 housing units in a variety of configurations and costs. There will be, of course, a gate to block general access.

Telluride may decriminalize pot

TELLURIDE – Telluride voters in November will be determining whether local police should be directed to give their lowest priority to enforcing laws controlling the personal use of marijuana by adults. Oakland and Seattle are reported to already have such policies, and Denver voters this fall will be asked the same question.

The Telluride Watch notes that proponents say marijuana should be no more criminal than the use of alcohol, and that regulation could better prevent its use by children. But opponents say that more open use would send the wrong message.

Marveen Reagan, a counselor, said she already sees children in the community confused by the open use of marijuana by adults. “Many people use substances to fill emotional holes,” she told the Town Council. “There are ways to fill them that are positive, but filling them with alternative substances is not how we want to role model it.”

I-70 toll road becomes possibility

VAIL – Nobody seems to be getting too excited about it, but a company called the Denver Eagle Toll Roads has recently been created. The Vail Daily reports that the company identifies the purpose being to construct a toll road “along, within and adjacent to the I-70 corridor,” possibly using Loveland Pass and/or Berthoud Pass. Filing the incorporation was Lindsay Case, who was identified as a Colorado Springs developer.

Access to the mountain resorts and transportation across Colorado has become an increasing problem, of course. I-70 steadily resembles a city highway, even during mid-week. While state and federal transportation officials have been toying with how to expand capacity for 17 years, every solution will require lots of money – at a time when gas taxes are yielding less money due to improved operating efficiencies of cars.

Given this narrative, the Colorado legislature in 2002 authorized a study of toll roads in Colorado, including along the I-70 corridor. Because current state law prohibits levying of tolls on roads already paid for by gasoline taxes, few toll roads are likely to make enough money to pay for themselves. However, a recently enacted state law – as well as the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in support of eminent domain – may make it easer for tolling entities to appropriate land for their ventures. Still, the idea of a toll road from Denver to Eagle remains an iffy proposition.

Whistler plans Slow Food Cycle

WHISTLER, B.C. – Farmers’ markets have become all the rage in ski towns, as well as elsewhere. A couple of people in Whistler want to do it the other way around. They are planning a Slow Food Cycle.

In this event, people are going to join in a 50-kilometer bicycle cavalcade to the Pemberton Valley, which is located up-valley from Whistler. Farmers and other food merchants will be setting up displays along the road and will offer to talk about what they do. Several weeks out, the organizers had an organic garlic grower scheduled, as well as several bakers.

The purpose, explained one organizer, Lisa Richardson, is to help people “develop a sense of connection with the land where food is grown.”

Others in the Whistler community are chewing into the slow-food movement. The idea is to eat organic and eat local. It is even being promoted by one columnist inPique as a partial antidote to the declining tourist visits in Whistler and in vibe with the alternate thinking culture of Whistler’s “hippie jocks” and other clean-living sorts.

Rodman raises hell on Colorado visit

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Dennis Rodman, the former rainbow-colored rebounding stud of professional basketball, is partially off the hook for a variety of complaints lodged against him during a recent drive across Colorado as part of a charity rally involving public figures in high-priced vehicles.

He had been accused of stealing a cowboy hat from a store in Glenwood Springs, but explained that he thought he had been given the hat in exchange for an autograph. The same excuse cannot be had for why he left only $20 on a $40 gas tab. However, an unidentified woman later paid the bill, reports the Glenwood Post Independent. Still lingering is the charge that he whistled through Frisco at a speed of 98 mph in a zone posted for 65.

Climbers claimed by July avalanche

BANFF, Alberta – Two climbers from Europe were killed by an avalanche in late July on Mount Robson. At 12,972 feet (3,954 meters), it’s the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

The Rocky Mountain Outlook reports that avalanche dangers this summer have been unusually high. Record rainfalls down in the valleys during June and into July probably yielded record snowfalls up high. As a result, snow persists in areas of Banff National Park and elsewhere that normally are free of snow by now. Climbers were being advised to monitor the overnight weather conditions. When it is cold enough for the snow to freeze, it’s less likely to avalanche.

– compiled by Allen Best

In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
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January 26, 2024
Paper chase

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January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows