Prostate exams and vintage cars

TELLURIDE – It makes sense, if you think about it. A new resident of Telluride is proposing a new festival in 2015 that is intended to draw people of great wealth who are in love with cars of distinction.

“We have Babe Ruth’s car, the ambulance and the hearse used to transport JFK (after his assassination), and a Formula One race car that people can sit in and have their picture taken,” Ray Cody told the Town Council.

In Cody’s envisioned “Festival of Cars and Colors,” some customers will be helicoptered in because – well, they will be well heeled.

Here’s where it gets a bit weird. Cody proposes to offer free prostate tests for men. “This is a sausage fest, a guy thing,” he explained, “So why not focus a little bit of attention on men’s health issues while they are here.”

What makes more intuitive sense is working with local restaurants to come up with festival-specific menus or items during the festival.

So far, the Telluride Town Council seems to be with him all the way, but the devil is always in the details.

Visitors buying most pot in Colorado

CRESTED BUTTE – Non-residents are proving to be the major buyers of marijuana in Colorado.

Writing in the Denver Post, editorial page editor Vincent Carroll cites a new report from the Colorado Department of Revenue that finds 90 percent of retail sales of marijuana in mountain resorts so far have been to out-of-staters. Statewide, it’s running 50 percent.

But Colorado’s heaviest marijuana users appear to be sticking with medical marijuana, which is taxed at a much lower rate.

Tax revenues through April were little more than half of what was projected.

In Crested Butte, the three cannabis stores now in operation are doing a booming business, reports the Crested Butte News. And, as has been observed in other ski towns, editor Mark Reaman finds that it’s primarily visitors, and especially those who are older, checking out the bud and edibles.

“We get kids who are 21 and people coming in on their walkers,” said David Niccum, general manager of a store called Acme. “I had an 86-year-old grandmother in the Ridgway store come in to try it for the first time. She was with her daughters, who were in their 60s. They were shopping as a family. In fact, I’d say the majority of our customers are older than 50. Our smallest group is probably the 21- to 25-year-olds.”

He added: “There’s no stereotypical stoner out there. They are young and old, conservative and liberal, rich and poor. We are finding out that everyone smokes marijuana. It can be sort of a funny crowd out there sometimes.”

Another store owner previously had a store in Boulder.  There, the clientele was “a bunch of 20-somethings with bad backs,” said Chuck Reynolds, co-owner of Soma. “Here we are seeing a big part of the business coming from people probably 45 and older. We see a lot of people in their 60s and they love that it’s legal now. They say they never thought they’d see the day.”

Across the Elk Range in Snowmass, the Aspen Marijuana conference will be held Sept. 15-17. Topics will range from how to cook with marijuana to how to find a job in the industry.

Uncommon rafting on Rio Grande

TAOS, N.M. – Just a few months ago, people of New Mexico were complaining about the parsimonious nature of Colorado when it came to the Rio Grande. The river originates above Creede before flowing into the San Luis Valley at the foot of Wolf Creek Pass.

Colorado is required to release water to New Mexico as specified by an interstate compact. The compact doesn’t say when the water needs to arrive in New Mexico, and it tends to be in winter.

At Taos, farmers, fisherman and floaters would like to see more water in summer. And this year, due to healthy rains in May and June, they’re getting it.

“It took us all by surprise, and happily so,” rafting company owner Steve Miller tells the Taos News.

Talk abundant as town hosts everybody

ASPEN – Summer is the season for talk in Aspen. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, said to be a possible Republican candidate for president in 2016, is scheduled to be there this week along with other Republican governors.

Democratic governors arrive in August. And Hillary Clinton was there in June to talk up her expected presidential candidacy.

Politicians make frequent trips to Aspen, sometimes to raise money. But mostly it’s because Aspen is a nice place to be in the summer – and it has excellent air connections.

It also has the Aspen Institute, which is partly why the Republican governors meet there. The institute also sponsors the Ideas Festival and many other conferences and programs.

This week, for example, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was to talk. A one-day session will be devoted to public education and democracy. And a session about security draws top officials from the Central Intelligence Agency and others.

Other conferences are held independent of the Aspen Institute. For example, last weekend there was the Aspen Disruption Summit. “Disruptions create progress, and define our future,” the conference website explains. “Join us in exploring the new ideas, designs and discoveries changing our world.”

Speakers were scheduled to talk about quantum computing, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the epidemic of sports concussions, along with disruptive engineering, DNA and physics. Cost of admission is $199, but the ticket to be a speaker seemed to be a Ph.D.

Oil spills replace grain as chief worry

WHITEFISH, Mont. – In 1989 and 1991, large amounts of grain were spilled from passing trains on the Great Northern Railroad that passes through Whitefish and Glacier National Park. That problem has largely been solved, but the group formed to address the grain spills now has another problem: the potential for derailed trains carrying oil from the Bakken fields.

The Great Northern Environmental Stewardship Area group met recently to talk about preventing spilled oil, as opposed to cleaning it up. Slowing trains, improving tracks, and shortening the 100-car train lengths were all mentioned, reports the Whitefish Pilot.

Sheriff smoked pot and told the truth

ASPEN – Bob Braudis was the sheriff of Pitkin County from 1989-2011. He was also a buddy of writer Hunter S. Thompson, known for his steady indulgences in drugs.

At a recent panel in Aspen, Braudis acknowledged that he, himself, smoked pot when it was illegal. In 1977, the new sheriff, Dick Kienast, wanted to hire him as a deputy. So he had him take a pre-employment polygraph test in Vail. On the way there, while driving in Glenwood Canyon, said Braudis, he smoked a joint.

“The guy wires me up with sensors. The first question he asked me was, ‘When was the last time you used drugs?’ which I told him was about an hour ago. I thought, ‘I really screwed this up.’”

Returning to Aspen the sheriff had no questions. “He said he was looking for non-deceptive personalities and told me I was pretty honest,” Braudis said. “He gradually hired a whole bunch of other freaks like me. Dick Kienast is my personal hero.”

Lightning deaths drop, but still nasty

FRISCO – After two people were killed and 10 people suffered injuries from lightning in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Summit Daily News got curious about lightning.

The United States averaged 51 deaths a year from lightning strikes between 1984-13. Colorado has had about three deaths annually for decades.

But the number of deaths is actually declining, which experts attribute to more education about the risks of, for example, hanging around on mountain tops during thunderstorms.

But suppose you get hit. What are your odds? Nine of 10 people survive being struck, but roughly a quarter suffer long-term effects.

For more, go to  – Allen Best