Do you remember the time Ivanka snuck out… |

Do you remember the time Ivanka snuck out…

ASPEN, Colo. – Like a lot of other 1 percenters from Manhattan, the Trump class continues its love affair with Aspen.

Minus the family patriarch, the Trump clan flew to Colorado on Saturday for some R&R. The plans revealed in advance were to fly into Eagle County Regional Airport, which is 35 miles west of Vail, then drive the roughly 90 minutes to Aspen. The Eagle County airport can accommodate President Trump’s 757, but the plane’s wingspan of 95 feet is too wide for the airport at Aspen.

The two daily newspapers in Aspen reported that the entourage was expected to include Donald three of Trump’s children — Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka — and Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, and their children. One of them, a grandson of the president, suffered a broken leg while skiing. The president went golfing in Florida, as he had done for the seven consecutive previous weekends.

The Aspen Times reported that a hastily called protest was held in a park near downtown Aspen on Sunday. “I’m mad about everything,” declared the sign of one protestor. “The EPA, fracking, education, everything,” explained local resident Mark Hesselschwerdt.

“Hey Jared. Putin called. He wants you in Sochi. Not Aspen,” said another sign.

On Facebook, the reaction was mixed. “Such hypocrites in Aspen. Democrats act like they welcome all immigrants, and people of every race and religion to our valley (so long as those immigrants don’t move to Aspen, but stay down valley) but they can’t even welcome the children of the president of the United States to our town?!?” wrote one woman, a transplant from Houston.

But another local lodged this insult: “Trump skis in jeans,” he said.

The Trump family has vacationed in Aspen frequently through the years. Some years they have drawn more attention than others. One local cop told the Aspen Daily News confidentially that police were summoned once when Ivanka, then a teenager, disappeared. She was later found in another hotel room with a boy.

President Trump did get into the news in 1989, when he was still married to Ivana Trump (Ivanka’s mother) but was having an affair with Marla Maples, whom he later married. The two women got into a shouting match at a restaurant on Aspen Mountain.

Last year, when campaigning, Trump returned to Aspen to pass the hat among other 1 percenters. Democrats have frequently done the same.

Can mud season march draw much of a crowd?

PARK CITY, Utah – On Earth Day, protestors are expected to gather for a local iteration of the National March for Science. Organizers say they expect anywhere from 500 people to 9,000 people.

The latter is about the size of the crowd in January, the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. president. That was during the Sundance Film Festival, when the town was packed.

Earth Day arrives when most people seem to be camping at the ocean, propped up at beach resorts, or otherwise gone.

Mountain towns saving buildings from the past

BANFF, Alberta – The old icebox at the railroad depot in Banff has been spared the bulldozer. It’s 106 years old, and Canadian Pacific Railway would have leveled it if Banff town officials had not issued a thou-shalt-not.

This icebox is from a time when ice was loaded onto freight trains to refrigerate cargo that needed to be kept chilled. Just how the building will be refashioned to have further life isn’t clear, but Banff officials are very protective about the community’s historical manifestations.

In Park City, Utah, it’s much the same story. The California-Comstock Mine is located on the slopes of what is now Park City Mountain Resort. Mining infrastructure was in deplorable shape, said Sally Elliott, from a group called Friends of Ski Mountain Mining History. The building was stabilized last summer. The heavy snow of this winter might have left the building “close to flat,” she told The Park Record.

In Colorado, new uses for the very old Tabor Opera House are being sorted out in two-mile-high Leadville. Renovations costing $600,000 have been completed. The three-story building was completed in 1876, just as Leadville was booming with newfound wealth in the form of silver ore. Prospectors looking for more found quite a lot when they made their way over the Sawatch Range to a settlement that was first called Ute City. It was later renamed Aspen.

Grizzly bears, rolling rocks

& other evidence of spring

GARDINER, Mont. – Spring officially arrived with the equinox on Monday, but spring-like conditions were being noted up and down the Rocky Mountains last week.

There were small wildfires near Aspen and also west of Boulder last weekend. In the Telluride area “rogue rocks” rolled onto roads, leading to punctured tires and other problems for drivers. One rock was as big as a bear, the Telluride Daily Planet noted.

Bears were the harbingers of spring in Yellowstone National Park. The Jackson Hole Daily News notes that the first grizzly bears of the year were seen in the northern part of the park, near Mammoth Hot Springs. That’s a few miles from the park entrance at Gardiner, Montana. However, if not the bruins themselves, grizzly tracks were seen as early as Feb. 22.

The Yellowstone plateau remains heavily shrouded in snow, as is the case to the south in Jackson Hole. But biologists believe that weather itself has little to do with when bears emerge from their dens. Instead, notes the News&Guide, the physiological condition of the bears, such as what kind of body fat reserves remain, more strongly influences when they get out and about.

But in Alberta, the lead story in the Lake Louise area was about an avalanche that killed two 32-year-old snowshoers from Boston. The couple had failed to check out of their motel, prompting the question of why, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook. The rental car revealed their whereabouts and, at great length, because of the continued threats of avalanches that closed Highway 93.

The avalanche transceivers worn by the couple revealed the locations of the bodies.

Reserved for wildlife?

That doesn’t mean me

JASPER, Alberta – Humans: We just want to be everywhere. That’s the theme of two stories from two mountain towns in the Canadian Rockies.

In Jasper National Park, three people were charged $700 each after pleading guilty to entering an area closed to protect Jasper’s dwindling caribou herds. The Fitzhugh notes that the fines, if significant, had dropped compared to the $1,500 penalty of those previously found guilty of the same infraction.

Nearly four hours to the south, managers of the corridors reserved for wildlife at Canmore, the gateway to Banff National Park, report an “alarming” amount of human use and off-leash dogs.

A study conducted with aid of cameras to detect movements in the wildlife corridors revealed that humans constitute 94 percent of the use in the wildlife corridors.

John Paczkowski, a wildlife biologist with Alberta Environment and Parks, said he expected the results but was still shocked. Humans, he told the Rocky Mountain Outlook, use the wildlife corridors 20 times more frequently than do wildlife. Dogs were frequently with the humans, and in many cases they were off-leash.

The provincial government is now working with Canmore town officials to see if human use can be discouraged through greater enforcement and more effective signs. Many people seem not to understand where the wildlife corridors are located.

More express lanes in

works for Colorado’s I-70

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. – The eastbound express lanes have worked so well on improving traffic flows for Interstate 70 travelers returning to Denver from mountain resorts on weekends that Colorado transportation officials plan to do the same now for traffic going to the mountains on Fridays and Saturday mornings.

Just two years ago, traffic moved along at speeds of 5 to 10 mph during peak periods. After the tolled express lanes were installed at a cost of around $300 million, traffic has sped up to 35 to 40 mph, despite increased volumes, according to Joe Mahoney, from the Colorado Department of Transportation. The comparisons were cited at a public information meeting covered by the Summit Daily News.

A third-party analytics firm found that travel times decreased by 20 to 50 percent during peak hours.

State transportation officials say they now want to do the same for west-bound traffic. The plan is still being worked out, but also involves making use of highway shoulders and expanding into adjacent areas in some places. Again, the cost is expected to be about $300 million.

Environmental studies are expected to begin this summer, with construction underway in three years.

When not to drone on in

skies of mountain towns

TELLURIDE, Colo. – In additional to everything, Telluride officials are now thinking about drones.

The unmanned aircraft systems were used last year to film in the town’s open space called Valley Floor, but they spooked a herd of elk. In nearby Silverton, there was a worse problem. A drone was flown at the starting line of a skijoring event, which spooked a horse, causing it to run into a nearby crowd. Three people were injured.

The Telluride Daily Planet says that town councilors are mulling how to get the word out that drones need to be used with common sense with the above and other stories in mind.

Lake Tahoe expected to

fill for 1st time in 11 years

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – For the first time in 11 years, Lake Tahoe is expected to fill. That’s no small feat, notes the San Francisco Chronicle, as the lake covers 191 square miles, making it the sixth largest lake in the United States. The lake needs 88 billion gallons of water to rise 2.26 feet to be completely full. Water officials are sure this will happen.

Avalanches leading cause

of outdoor deaths in BC

WHISTLER, B.C. – A new study in British Columbia found that deaths in the backcountry from 2007-2008 to 2015-2016 had not increased. This was, says Pique Newsmagazine, despite a substantial increase in use of the backcountry. The newspaper did not report how much backcountry use has increased.

In that span, there were 210 fatalities across the province, including at its ski areas. Nearly half were the result of snowmobiling, a third occurred while skiing, and snowboarders accounted for 12 percent. This was not just in the backcountry, but included fatalities at ski areas as well.

Avalanches, presumably in the backcountry, were responsible for about 45 percent altogether.

The statistics from BC Coroners Service also found that about 90 percent of snowmobilers who died were men, as were about 80 percent of skiers. The median age in both cases was between 40 and 45 years of age.

Shipping containers

promoted for housing

CANMORE, Alberta – Shipping containers, such as are used to transport trinkets from China to retail stores in North America, are getting a close look in the Banff-Canmore area for use as cheap housing.

Affordability there, as in all resort mountain areas, is a major challenge. The shipping containers are steel cubes of 8 by 40 feet that can be refurbished in ways that make them nice, if not necessarily large, housing. The price for the finished product is $150 to $200 per square foot (Cdn), a developer tells the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Chuck Lemieux, owner and president of Blocks Container Structures, says the units can be stacked together rapidly, producing housing in months, not years. “This thing, when it’s done, it will be better insulated (spray foam) and stronger than any house, and it’ll be done in six months, start to finish,” he said. He added that the homes can be furnished with recycled materials and outfitted with solar panels.

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