Heard Around the West
Rancher Rod Hall was checking cattle when he stumbled onto a wild pool party in his stock pond in the foothills above Hotchkiss, Colo. It wasn’t people whooping it up but 30 cow elk beating the heat and having a blast. “One cow started charging around the pond, and others followed in great bounding leaps with water flying everywhere,” reports Spencer Anderson in the Delta County Independent. “While some elk flailed the surface with their front feet, others reared back and threw themselves forward to throw up geysers of water.” Racher Hall says the elk weren’t neglecting their charges. About every three minutes, one would leave the water to make sure the babies were fine.
Can anything Aspen ever fail to fascinate? There’s been a close-to-wretched movie titled “Aspen Extreme;” then a cologne dubbed Aspen came along. Now, the pilot of a weekly television show starring the town is in production. Its title: “Aspen: the sitcom.” The Aspen Times says the plot revolves around a wealthy but delightfully wacky couple who invite friends to live in their mansion. Apparently “the humor will come from observing the ways of a wealthy mountain town.” We don’t know about the laughs to come, but “wealthy” might be an understatement. The most expensive homeplace ever listed in the nation was built in the Aspen area, reports the Denver Post. The 650-acre Mandalay Ranch can be yours for the asking price of $63 million.
There’s a cheaper ranch in Wyoming to get a toehold in, thanks to eBay, the online auction house. On July 15, 10 people bid $25 each to crowd onto one square-foot of land on the Gauthier Ranch near Rawlins. The toehold on what the owner called a “micro-acre” included hunting privileges.
In Idaho, Lynne Hutton got a ticket for speeding 53 miles per hour in a zone marked 35 mph and insists she was merely going 45 mph. But what really ticked her off, she told the Spokane Spokesman-Review, was the intrusion of religion. The patrolman who pulled her over asked questions about her Charles Darwin stickers, she said, and wondered if she were a hippie. But when he told her, “I’ll see you in heaven,” she reportedly replied, “No, you’ll see me in court!” Her day in court wasn’t much better. Hutton says the traffic judge fined everyone for speeding except “a tall Marine in uniform.”
Public-land managers over the years have engaged in a war of jargon against our publicly owned forests. Clearcuts, for instance, those surgical strikes against large swaths of trees, were justified because they were said to benefit a host of other forest users, from deer and elk to nature-lovers. Why, once you counted in all those gains from a spaghetti of forest roads and runoff released from thirsty trees, logging almost paid for itself! Or so argued federal bean-counters. But Dorothy Taylor in Oregon tells us that during the late 1970s and early “80s, the Bureau of Land Management came up with an even more enterprising boon to be gained from clearcuts. A widespread scalping of trees, declared the agency, brought the benefit of “Full Sunlight Release.”
If you believe that California leads the nation, then organic lunches are coming to schools in the West. Berkeley switched to chemical-free ingredients and more locally grown food almost two years ago, and, now, Palo Alto hopes to follow suit. The school district is taste-tasting lunches with kids – pasta rates a rave while chickenless nuggets rate a “yucky”- and working with Sodexho, a major food distributor based in Maryland. Cost may be a problem, however, and organic milk is particularly pricey, reports the Associated Press. Meanwhile, some states have moved toward a healthier diet for children by banning the sale of junk food within schools. In California, perhaps surprisingly, that effort failed. The teachers union fought it hard, saying the ban would take money from schools.
A cheer for the National Park Service and its opposition to a new visitor’s center outside the main entrance to Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park. Money is tight, said an agency deputy director at a Washington hearing, and instead of a 96,000-square-foot building, what the fire-singed park really requires is restoration. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., said he believes the agency will eventually come around.
Flagstaff Voice, the newsletter of Friends of Flagstaff’s Future, listed what Becky Daggett learned during her town’s Bike to Work week. Though fun ranked first, her last-place pick might have been a tougher lesson: “My office is uphill both ways.”
In the mid-’60s, Julia Child owned the public-TV airwaves with her cheerily authoritative show, “The French Chef.” Recently, she celebrated her 90th birthday with the help of nationwide dinners, including several in the West. Former Denver Post food editor Bill St. John recalled recently how Child loved to shock. At a fancy Aspen Food and Wine Classic, he said, the chef told the audience of “prissy ladies” how to cook a lobster at high altitude. Forget steaming, she said: “‘Put it in a microwave, and when he stops clawing at the door, he’s done.'” When the gasping ceased, Julia Child beamed at the audience.
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