Ski Town Roundup: Stranded legends, affordable housing and very large birds |

Ski Town Roundup: Stranded legends, affordable housing and very large birds

Compiled by
Lauren Glendenning

TRUCKEE, Calif. — It’s not every day you come across a rock music legend stranded in the Sierra.

But that’s what happened on Friday, Aug. 23, when singer-songwriter Neil Young’s one-of-a-kind, $1 million hybrid electric vehicle broke down on Interstate 80 near Donner Summit.

Officers with the Truckee branch of the California Highway Patrol came upon the stranded Young and helped him get the remastered 1959 Lincoln Continental off the highway.

After posing for a few photos and signing autographs, Young repaired the custom-built LincVolt car and was back on the road, said CHP public information officer Pete Mann.

“It’s the reason that Telluride has the character that it has, because we are made up of primary residents.”
Stu Fraser
Telluride mayor

The car is touted as the world’s first full-sized luxury series hybrid electric car powered by biomass, according to the LincVolt website. Learn more at

The Toronto native told CHP he drives the LincVolt across North America promoting green, sustainable living and encouraging less dependency on oil. He was on his way to a green festival in Canada, he told officers.

Young — whose full name is Neil Percival Young — is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer both as a solo artist and as a member of Buffalo Springfield.

He is best-known for the songs “Heart of Gold,” “Down by the River,” “Cowgirl in the Sand,” “Ohio” and “Rockin’ in the Free World,” among several other major hits.

— The Sierra Sun

Whistler records record room nights in June

WHISTLER, British Columbia — Tourism Whistler confirmed this is one for the record books.

June’s room nights were up 15 percent over last year, making it the busiest June on record, according to Pique News Magazine.

July’s room nights were up 7 percent over last year in room nights booked, and July 2013 also broke a record.

Early August numbers suggest a busier month than last year, too.

“We continue to see significant increases in room nights from both our regional and destination markets,” said Barrett Fisher, Tourism Whistler’s president and CEO. “Summer 2013 is shaping up to be Whistler’s strongest summer on record.”

In June, all key performance indicators including RevPAR (revenue per available room), ADR (average daily room rate) and paid occupancy were above the 10-year average.

While the destination market was flat compared with last June, the regional market was up significantly, the magazine reports.

“Increased travel demand, recovering group business and increased marketing efforts to encourage early summer bookings have resulted in strong results for the resort,” said Fisher.“A robust calendar of festivals and events throughout the summer — including the addition of Ironman Canada — coupled with strong weather also had a positive impact on our results.”

— Pique News Magazine

Telluride’s affordable-housing model sets example

TELLURIDE — Deed-restricted or affordable housing is often the only option when it comes to living and working in expensive resort communities. Telluride’s affordable housing model is being presented this week as an example to other communities in Colorado that are considering similar projects.

Local businesses, organizations and representatives attended the second annual Colorado Mountain Housing Coalition’s Rural Western and Mountain Region Workshops in Glenwood Springs on Friday. Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser and town attorney Kevin Geiger were keynote speakers and talked about Telluride’s deed-restricted housing projects.

Shirley Diaz, executive director of the San Miguel Regional Housing Authority, said the workshops were put together to help communities find solutions to housing issues. Diaz said many of the communities in western Colorado expressed a desire to learn about making deed-restricted housing work and developing small housing projects.

“One of the things that we struggle with in small rural communities are federal projects,” Diaz said. “To utilize some of the federal products you need to build a large number of units, like over 60. We don’t need that many, so one section of the workshop is going to focus on how to make small projects work in rural areas.”

Fraser spoke about Telluride’s strategy when it comes to affordable housing, including how its projects are designed and financed.

“It’s the reason that Telluride has the character that it has, because we are made up of primary residents,” Fraser said. “We have made sure that all stratas of people can live here. It’s part of economic development, we have people living here, paying taxes here and buying things here. It’s a community.”

— Telluride Daily Planet

Crane festival returns to Steamboat

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — They are the biggest of their type. They can mate for life. Their mythology and symbolism are marked in cultures across the world.

And they can dance.

“They’re the best dancers in the animal kingdom,” said Nancy Merrill, the president of the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition and one of the co-organizers of the second annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival.

For Merrill, the meaning of the crane is deep and rich. They greet her every morning near her ranch in Hayden.

And what started as an informal meeting of friends around this time of year eventually turned into a full-blown festival.

“We thought it would be great to have a crane festival,” Merrill said. “It’s a great draw for bird watchers and nature lovers. But also, cranes are culturally transcendent. They have a great appeal.”

The event made its debut last year in response to Colorado Parks and Wildlife considering a limited hunting season for cranes.

After the proposal was withdrawn, Merrill and co-organizer Barb Hughes decided to turn their decade-long idea into a reality.

“We were very surprised by the turnout last year,” Hughes said. “We had people from 28 cities around Colorado and 12 states. That was with minimal publicity.”

This year, with more time and planning, the second rendition is packed full of events across the Yampa Valley.

In addition to guided trips to see cranes at sunrise and dusk, there are speakers, movies, events for children and crane art and photography, including pieces around town during First Friday Artwalk.

Several of the guided trips still have seats available on shuttles. There are seats for sunrise crane viewings Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Those shuttles leave at 5:45 a.m. from the Stock Bridge Transit Center. Saturday’s sunset crane viewing, which includes a stop at the Carpenter Ranch picnic and a quick draw event with six artists, also has space. That leaves at 4:30 p.m. from Stock Bridge Transit Center.

The cost for the shuttles is $5, and space can be reserved by calling Merrill at (970) 846-5556.

— Steamboat Pilot & Today

One pass for Valiais Ski area this winter

This year the Valais ski area will become arguably the biggest ski region in the world, with the decision in June to offer a single-season pass covering all of the ski areas within the region. The cost will be about $2,000 with a 15 percent discount for local residents, and passes should be available on sale from November 2013.

The areas included in this new pass will be:

  • Aletsch
  • Portes du Soleil-Chablais
  • Crans Montana
  • Goms
  • Grächen-St Niklaus
  • Leukerbad
  • Lauchernalp & Jeizinen
  • Martigny
  • Saas Fee – Saastal
  • Sion
  • Sierre Anniviers
  • 4 Vallees
  • Verbier
  • Visp
  • Zermatt reports that “the size of this ski area must rival that offered by the Epic Ski pass,” which is already on sale in the states giving buyers the chance to ski with unlimited access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Afton Alps, Mount Brighton, Arapahoe Basin and Eldora, and five free days at Verbier, five free consecutive days at Arlberg, Austria, and five free days in the 3 Valleys.

— Verbinet

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