Publisher/Art Director: Matt Scharf firstname.lastname@example.org
Publisher/Art Director: Matt Scharf email@example.com
to the 107th Season Page 4By Brad Setter/ Howelsen Hill Ski & Rodeo Manager
Thank You, Voters Page 5By Dylan Roberts
Commuting Patterns of South Routt Page 6By Scott L. Ford
Business Pitch Contest in Hayden Page 7 By Brodie Farquhar
It's A Way of Life Page 8
By Ellen and Paul Bonnifield
Awful Masonry Page 9 By Fran Conlon
One Hundred Years in Routt County Page 10
By Elaine Callas Williams
Picture Books are Just Right Page 11
By Barbara Hughes
Desperate Ice Skating Page 12
By Ken Proper Snow in NM Page 13
By Tom Scharf
Are You Local Enough to Know? Page 14 By Johnny Walker
All I Want for Christmas Page 15 By Karen Vail
The Grinch Who Stole Our Tree Page 16 By Marian Tolles
SIMEON Page 16 By Joan Remy
Commitment - Doing Your Best Page 16 By Wolf Bennett
No Conflict, No Drama Page 17 By Stuart Handloff
Witnessing people driving in conditions they know nothing about…
The Florida Man’s announcement was like watching a colorized version of an old B&W movie which one did not enjoy the first time…
Yet more incoherent ravings from a man who desires to be king…
Are you sitting down? The price of Christmas trees this year…
Having to jump start the plow truck every time you get in it…
Forgetting your fuel bottle twelve miles out… The invisible trash bins at the post office…
A great opening day for skiing…
To all our plow drivers in Routt County for keeping the roads clear every winter…
Getting to know the old time locals and hearing the real “poop.”…
A big shout out to the Routt County Humane Society. Thank you for all you do for the animals…
The little ski pole art on the side of the trail… Blinkers. Blinkers. The wonderful world of blinkers… Think of the possibility of a continuous bike trail from Hayden to Stagecoach…
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Your Monthly Message Page 18 By Chelsea Yepello Comics Page 19
“What’s up with the bank tellers that are always happier than you?”
“What keeps Routt County alive and happy are the Newbie’s energy and optimism.”
“I want to ski but not in bad weather.”
“Excuse me sir, what are snowshoes?”
We’re out of the starting gate! Mother Nature has smiled upon historic Howelsen Hill with great early-season snow, cold temperatures ideal for snowmaking and continued wintry weather that has skiers and riders delighting just a week into the 107th season.
Ski area crews continue to work around the clock to get additional terrain ready and make final adjustments to some cool new improvements like the fun and exciting tubing area and enclosed conveyor lift.
Howelsen Hill holds a special place in all our hearts for its heritage and history across the community. It's the oldest operating ski area in North America and the crown jewel in the city’s park system.
The ski hill has served as the training ground for 100 Olympians as well as members of the National & Colorado Ski Hall of Fames. More importantly, it’s firmly established itself as the community gathering place and has shared the love of snow for more than a century.
This winter, the popular Ski Free Sunday program is back providing free skiing/riding every Sunday of the winter. Bring the entire family out and take a few runs down the hill; use the magic carpet at the beginner area to get your ski legs back; or come with friends and learn the sport altogether. There’s no excuse for not showing on Sunday since your lift ticket is free!
Planning to be on the hill more than just on Sunday? Consider purchasing a season pass, it’s one of the most affordable passes in Colorado. As daily lift tickets around the state top out over $200 per day, Howelsen Hill lift tickets and season passes offer an extremely affordable way to enjoy the sport, whether you ski, ride, cross country, snowshoe, fat bike or ski jump. There are pass options for individuals, full-time college students and families
One never forgets the exhilaration of sledding growing up! Tube Howelsen, making its debut in mid-December, shares that same excitement and brings tubing thrills
to the slopes while enjoying Steamboat Springs' hometown ski hill in a totally new way. Families and kids of all ages will slide into winter and create memories that will last a lifetime! Check out steamboatsprings.net/tubefor more details and information.
If that wasn’t delicious enough, The Outrun returns with a full menu to fuel your day on the slopes. This locals’ favorite watering hole dishes up a wide variety of delicious items including snacks, sandwiches, and soups, all at affordable prices. Plus, a full line of beer, wine, cocktails, and specialty drinks as well as daily happy hour specials are the icing on the cake.
The free community sledding hill will be back sometime in December. Until it is complete and ready, please leave your sleds at home as sledding is not allowed within ski area boundaries.
Knowing how to properly use your safety equipment could save someone’s life so hone your skills in using your avalanche beacon at Beacon Basin near the base of the triple chairlift. The Basin is possible through a partnership with Routt County Search & Rescue and will open when there is enough snow in its location.
If you don't ski/ride/glide, then swing by and watch night jumping. Enjoy a hot chocolate in the lodge or take in the spirit of Olympian Hall and the flags that adorn this special place. This is a unique and special part of the community and best enjoyed with friends, family, and guests to our community.
If you have never been to Howelsen Hill or haven't been by in several years, this is your invitation to enjoy your city park. The ski area is open daily through March 26 from 11am-8pm on weekdays and 10am-4pm on weekends, including skiing and riding under lights in the evening during the week! Tubing plans to slide daily through the winter from 10am to 6pm.
We all like playing in the outdoors and when your job is outside, it really isn’t a job, is it? The ski area has a variety of winter seasonal positions open including lift operator, snowmaker, winch cat operator and tubing hill attendant. Join our team and enjoy what we all came to Steamboat Springs for - the great outdoors. Plus, you'll be part of a fantastic team and have a front row seat to all the action.
Don't forget to say THANKS to our Parks & Rec staff when you see them on the hill. Their efforts start long before the first chair turned, and they provide a great experience all season long for all of us.
See you at Historic Howelsen Hill!
To the voters of Colorado’s State Senate District 8: thank you.
This past election, you made your voices heard on the issues that matter most in our corner of Colorado. Tens of thousands of voters across central and northwest Colorado filled out their ballots with our state’s future in mind and I am honored to have earned your trust to serve as your next State Senator.
Whether or not you voted for me, I thank you for your participation in our electoral process and for helping to shape our government. I also would like to thank my opponent, Matt Solomon, who ran a vigorous campaign where we both traveled thousands of miles and attended countless events to share our views and answer your questions.
One of the best parts about the campaign was the opportunity to meet and hear from people across the ten counties in Senate District Eight. At every town hall, candidate forum, and door on which I knocked, I heard from you about the challenges you face, the ideas you have, and what makes Routt County a place you are proud to live.
After hearing from so many of you on the campaign trail, I am energized to get to work to protect our way of life and offer solutions to the challenges Routt County faces. In anticipation of the upcoming legislative session, I have already been working with leaders across the district and my Republican and Democratic colleagues to draft bills that address our district’s unique needs. Among my top priorities for this upcoming legislative session are developing more workforce housing, revitalizing our rural economies, and protecting our water and forests.
I heard loud and clear that the cost of living on the Western Slope is unsustainable for many of our working families. With a dearth of affordable housing and the cost of basic goods increasing due to global inflation, too many families have had to make significant financial sacrifices to remain in our mountain towns. In my time as a State Representative, I’ve had a relentless focus on lowering the cost of living and will not let up now. We secured over $500 million to help build and maintain more affordable housing, created more affordable Colorado health insurance options for individuals and small businesses, and cut taxes for childcare centers – among many other efforts to help you keep more of the money you earn. I am ready to keep building off this work to ensure that working families across our region can afford to live and thrive here.
On the campaign trail, I also spoke to many of you about the importance of our environment and the critical role our natural resources play in our local economy. As we experience more droughts, wildfires and other effects of climate change, I will continue to prioritize protecting our precious water and forests. We have already passed legislation to invest in our state’s water plan, mitigate drought by incentivizing turf lawn replacement and expanding the in-stream flow program that greatly benefits the Yampa River. Looking ahead, I plan to advocate that we invest even more in protecting our water and our water delivery systems to ensure the Western Slope maintains an essential water supply in light of drought and out-of-state demands.
On January 9th, thirty-five State Senators and sixty-five State House Representatives from across the state will convene at the Capitol for our 120 day session to introduce, debate, and vote on bills. I am deeply humbled by the honor to serve the 10 counties of Senate District 8, especially Routt County where I grew up, in the Colorado State Senate. Thank you for this privilege.
Asalways,yourideasandfeedbackgreatlyinformmy workasalegislator.Pleasereachouttomeanytimeat firstname.lastname@example.org at970-846-3054.
Senator-electDylanRobertscurrentlyservesEagle CountyandRouttCountyintheColoradoStateHouse. StartingJanuary9th,hewillserveasStateSenatorfor SenateDistrict8,comprisedofClearCreek,Eagle, Garfield,Gilpin,Grand,Jackson,Moffat,RioBlanco, Routt,andSummitcounties.
Further, I am convinced more now than ever that we all have so much more in common that what divides us. Elections bring out sharp differences, nasty words, and unending (and annoying) hyperbole on television, in our mailboxes, and online – and it seems to get worse each election. Yet, in person, I know we can work together to find common ground and focus on solving problems. That is why I see this job as being a voice for everyone, not just those who voted for me. I renew my pledge here to always put the needs of our region above politics. Not everyone will agree with me 100% of the time but you can count on me to cast votes and introduce legislation with the needs of our communities at the forefront. Don't
This is the second column in a series that is attempting to provide some much-needed data analysis of the commuting patterns of folks that live in the communities surrounding Steamboat Springs. Collectively, we seem to spend an inordinate amount of time guessing about the commuting patterns of South Routt. Without question guessing or speculating is often a lot more fun than embracing facts. Guessing allows one to create the world they think exist vs. the one that does.
Last month I explored the commuting patterns of employed individuals living within the boundaries of the West Routt RE-1 School District. For the purpose of this analysis, I described this area as simply Hayden. To summarize this analysis as of 2020 Hayden had a workforce (age 16+) of 2,525. Of this number about 1,850 were employed year-round and full-time. This is a workforce participation rate of just shy of 75%.
Slightly over 40% of the workers living in Hayden also worked in Hayden. The remaining 60% commuted to their place of employment. About 90% of these commuters used a car/truck/van and slightly over 80% were the only occupant in the vehicle. About 60% of these folks left for work between the hours of 6:00 AM and 8:00 AM. For about 80% of these commuters their destination was Steamboat. All this simply means that during a two-hour period in the morning about 800 vehicles left Hayden
How do these folks that are employed get to their place of work?
Drove alone 72%
Carpooled 10% Public transportation 0% Walked 3%
Bicycle 0% Worked from home 15%
About 3% of the employed population living in Oak Creek walked to work. Another 15% worked from home. This means that about 82% commuted by vehicle and of this group 72% were the only occupant.
The next question is when did they leave for work? Again, we do not need to guess. Based on the data in the table below we see that about 60% of the employed population left for work in the three-hour period beginning at 6:00 AM and ending at 9:00 AM.
12:00 a.m. to 4:59 a.m. 6% 5:00 a.m. to 5:29 a.m. 4%
Once they left for work how long did it take them to get to work? About 45% of the employed population took between 20 and 45 minutes to get to work. On average Oak Creek commuters spent about 26 minutes traveling to work.
Less than 10 minutes 13%
10 to 14 minutes 14%
15 to 19 minutes 16%
20 to 24 minutes 15%
25 to 29 minutes 7%
30 to 34 minutes 14%
35 to 44 minutes 7%
45 to 59 minutes 8%
60 or more minutes 8%
We now know the means of how they get to work, when they leave and how long it takes them. The remaining question is exactly where they are going. To do this we need to use an obscure data base called the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics. This is one of the few data sets available that combines information from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. One needs to be an economic data geek to enjoy what this database has to say.
About 35% of those employed live and work within the boundaries of Oak Creek. The other 65% living in Oak Creek work outside of Oak Creek. All this means is that Oak Creek is a bit more of a bedroom community, although smaller, than Hayden is.
What is the commuting direction of those that live in Oak Creek but do not work there? Based on the data, it is safe to assume that about 80% of the workforce that is commuting are driving North/Northwest which is toward Steamboat.
HAYDEN – The 2022 Business Pitch Competition, held November 12 in Hayden, produced three businesses that won start-up cash, as well as demonstrated a tremendous vitality of entrepreneurship in the area.
It was the second year of the contest-- oriented toward new businesses in 2022 (or businesses that had yet to start up), or an existing business with a business expansion idea.
A total of 17 applications were received by the Town of Hayden, and 14 were able to compete.
• First place Alpenglow Beverage, a startup mead brewing company by Derek and Anna Martin. They won $15,000 in startup funding.
• Second place Mountain Bluebird Farm and a purse of $5,000, founded by Sydney Ellbogen and Noah Price, who want to expand their market garden to operate year round.
• Third place LA Central Grab and Go and a purse of $3,000 went to Brian and Florencia Morales’ LA Central Grab and Go – a startup commercial kitchen that can prepare ready-made hot or cold breakfast, lunch and dinner items for customers to take home.
All participating businesses were required to be within the Hayden school district, and to have completed at least one consulting appointment or educational event through the Small Business Development Council (SBDC), the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center (YVEC), or a related professional organization prior to the pitch competition.
Sponsors for the event were Xcel Energy Foundation, Mountain Valley Bank, Sunrise Engineering, City of Steamboat Springs, and Colorado SBDC.
Tegan Ebbert, Community Development Director, said the pitch contest, aimed at four judges, was enjoyed by all concerned.
Alpenglow Beverage will be located behind A1 Liquor in downtown Hayden, where Yampa Brewery got started.
Mead is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey and mixed with water. Sometimes, fruits, spices, grains and hops are added, and the alcoholic potency can range from 3.6 to 20 percent alcohol.
The Martins hope to produce meads in traditional wine bottles, which will highlight varietals such as wildflower, orange blossom, blueberry blossom, alfalfa blossom and local honey in the Yampa River valley.
Derek Martin said he is finished with the renovations of our space and have now begun setting up equipment.
“We have three, 1,100 gallon fermentation tanks that will need to be put into place and hooked up to our glycol system. Hope to have everything completely setup by the end of the year pending delays. Right now our plan is to have our first batches of mead complete by late next spring and will have an open house around that time as well.
Martin said he has been in the wine/mead business for over eight years – full-time for the past six years at his family’s winery in Hermann MO.
“The community of Hayden is what made us land our business there. Hayden is by far the most supportive community I have worked with. Even just the concept of starting a business in town, the Town of Hayden immediately showed their support and helped us find a space.” Misfit Mead is the name brand they’ll operate under.
Mountain Bluebird Farm wants to expand from seasonal to near year-round production of organic produce and flowers, through the acquisition of poly tunnel or hoop greenhouses. The business expansion concept would allow Ellbogen and Price to supply produce year-round to restaurants and families via a farm share program. The Bluebird operation has already moved onto the grounds of the old farm located in east Hayden.
The LA Central Grab and Go will develop a commercial kitchen next door to the barbershop, in downtown Hayden.
Chef Brian Morales will provide a wide range of services, including catering. Customers can order from a weekly menu for grab and go convenience. Comfort food and Latin American cuisine will be featured throughout the year.
Recently our granddaughter, who is attending the University of Montana, was in a discussion with other students who asked, “Are any cowboys and cowgirls left? Real hands?” Sammie was born and raised in North Park. She knows for a fact that if it weren’t for ranches, ranch hands and an assortment of other “damn fools,” there wouldn’t be anyone living in North Park. North Park is a harsh place. Blizzard winds and below zero temperatures are common in the winter. The nearest large store, hospital, or any outside school activities are sixty miles one way. Yet George Crockett, a sixty-five-year-old farrier would live no other place. North Park is not just a place to live or leave. It is a way of life.
Recently a long-time resident and successful businessman commented, “You go to Vail to ski, to Aspen to hobnob, but to the Yampa Valley to live.” There is a great deal of truth in that statement. Here, it is easy to find ranchers in tune with the rhythm of the seasons, his “nose to the wind” smelling the moods of nature – rain, dry, heat or cold, wind or snow– winter feeding, spring calving, summer irrigating and haying, fall gathering and shipping.
It is the rhythm of birth, growth, and death. It is not a place where dreams come true. It is a place where dreams are lived in everyday life.
It is not all dreams coming true. There are, all too often, “bad wrecks.” A few years, ago a South Routt rancher roped a cow to load in a trailer. Something went “bad wrong” and he spent a long time in the hospital. Another cowboy, working cattle in the spring, was bucked off, kicked in the head, and spent the next several years recovering. A retired man in Oak Creek tells about the time he attended a jackpot roping in Walden. His horse tripped and went down. When the cowboy finally woke up, his mind was that of a threeyear-old. He spent years recovering. Another cowboy and his wife were moving a little bunch of steers on King Mountain out of Toponas. They planned to go out that night to celebrate their first anniversary. He started to move a “brisket steer” (congestive heart problem). Again, things went dreadfully wrong when the steer collapsed in front of him, and the horse tripped throwing the man on his head.
The ambulance hauled him to the emergency room. He survived, but the marriage did not.
Real-life dings, bings, and bangs are the spice of the romance. A couple of personal notes: For the past two summers, I often see a young woman who works for a ranch near Toponas. She drives by my horse pasture, and we wave and now and then she stops to chat. She beams with excitement as she explains that she gets to drive big tractors, operate backhoes to move dirt, drive big trucks, ride horseback from day light to dark, rope, sort, and load cattle. She gets to work with young horses and old veterans. She gets to play with the “hands” at the ranch rodeo. She is living the life of her dreams.
This summer while standing in a crowd along a street in Yampa, I overheard a conversation. A woman, probably in her thirties, remembered when she and a ranch hand spent the day working livestock in Allen Basin. Although time passed, it remains some of the greatest days in her life.
A few years ago, three of us were checking some steers on King Mountain and the horseflies were terrible. As we rode along the edge of Grimes-Brooks reservoir, a herd of thirty or so cow- and calf elk came out of the timber on the opposite side. They waded into the lake until their backs were well under water, only their heads remained above the water. Each one began ducking their head under the water, holding it for a moment, then raising and catching a breath before doing it again. The three of us watched in amazement. Leaving the elk, we rode on to do our work. A little later, one of the riders commented, “to think we get paid to do this.”
It’s a way of life that permeates the whole of Routt County with a creative and thrilling aspect. Uncertain where it started or who started it, chariot racing in summer and cutter racing in winter were big events from the 1960's to the 1980's. It is believed the first race in Routt County was held in 1962. Art Hudspeth was a serious competitor, and at one time he owned the ranch in Pleasant Valley where the dam for Catamount Reservoir is currently located. In the winter anyone driving the county road was alert for Art. He trained his horses by racing down the county road. When drivers saw him coming toward them, they pulled to the side of the road and stopped. Art and his horses owned the road, and they came with reckless abandonment. No one thought of saying anything to the authorities or asking him to stop racing on the county road. It was far more exciting to watch him.
In the early years of the sport, frequent races were held in hay meadows as well as on racetracks. Hinman’s meadow along Highway 131 north of Yampa was one of the racecourses. However, cars parking at various angles along the highway and competitors unloading horses and cutters blocked traffic. Officers of the law (members of the sheriff’s posse), frequent spectators themselves or even competitors, were compelled to remove the cars including their own vehicles. The problem resulted in the demise of Yampa cutter races after two years. Races were soon run only on racetracks.
Cutter horses were trained runners off racetracks, and they could run. It required a highly skilled driver to keep two horses running at the same pace. The fast horse was trained to outrun the slower horse. Leo Snowden was among the top drivers, and he often drove horses for Rusty Baker and others. Rusty also drove his own chariot or cutter. Doug Monger’s team was state champion one winter. Clarence Wheeler, Dick Green, and Doc Utterback were enthusiasts. Doc was easy to spot. He always wore a Roman toga. Clarence Wheeler rarely had the fastest horses, but he was always game for a horse race. No one ever made any money in chariot or cutter racing. It was never intended that way. It was a low key, high thrill sport where friends raced friends for the shear “hell of the race.”
In the late1950's, the Western Slope Rodeo Association failed, although rodeos continued at Steamboat on July 3 and 4, the Routt County Fair, and Ride-an’-Tie Days at Craig. Into the void came the Steamboat Jackpot Rodeo every Friday afternoon. Without lights, all rodeos had to end before dark. This caused hard feelings for a while because the city installed lighting on the ballfields, but not the rodeo grounds. Despite the hardship, rodeos grew. In 1976, the Jackpot Rodeo Association began holding fund raising dances to facilitate the installation of lights.
For those who live here and for those who wish they did.
(In those days you could get a good-sized crowd for a fundraising dance.) Energy Fuels (Bob Adams) donated money and equipment to purchase lights. Volunteers and help from local businesses installed them. Soon, the Jackpot rodeo became a big deal.
Doug Monger became an unofficial leader, but he had a lot of help. Every Thursday Doug and crew, using a borrowed truck, went to the Wheelers to load the bucking horses. This required two trips. The Wheelers had a deal to pasture the horses. Bob Adams supplied the bulls and kept them at his ranch south of Steamboat. Doug hauled them in. Volunteers maintained the books and kept the entries straight. Pick up men in the arena were local hands, clowns to protect the bull riders worked for free, judges and other hands worked the chutes for the bucking and roping events. These rodeos were a major operation requiring many people doing various jobs in harmony. No one was paid and no one complained.
Anyone could compete. Excellent rodeo cowboys and girls showed up. Tina Lenard was a top competitor who traveled thousands of miles each year; she competed in Steamboat and was a member of the Jackpot Rodeo management team. She claimed she began barrel racing at nine years old. Also, tourists visiting Steamboat would decide they wanted to ride a bronc or a bull. They would pay their $7 entry fee, and someone would get them a bull rope, bareback riggin’ or saddle, and help them mount. The Jackpot Rodeo Association had a serious challenge keeping consistent and good bucking horses. Often a bucking horse will quit bucking or become a dangerous chute-fighter. Fighting bulls are especially dangerous without skilled clowns to deflect them from fallen riders. Volunteers are not the solution.
Unlike many jackpot rodeo series that sprang up across the west, the Steamboat series grew in popularity among contestants and community support. By 1980 it had outgrown itself. Luck smiled on Steamboat, and Brent Romick became the leading light of the rodeo series. With city support, the arena was rebuilt, and the grandstand enlarged and improved. For a few years in the late '70s it was a pro-am (professional-amateur) rodeo; however, it soon became a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) sanctioned rodeo series. Brent is all rodeo, organizer, and a bundle of energy. Within a hundred-fifty-mile radius are several top rodeo athletes. For others who travel the rodeo circuit, Steamboat is ideally located. Brent, with city and corporate support, has kept the prize money high enough to attract top hands. With the cooperation of Harry Void, and later other stock contractors, the Steamboat rodeo series has maintained high quality stock. The PRCA has recognized it as one of the top small rodeos.
The rodeo has gone pro, but it remains locally orientated with events for the wider audience. Recently, miniature stock is used for kids to ride. There is a place for children in barrel racing. Men and women team ropers are common competitors. Many local cowboys and cowgirls started at Steamboat. Perhaps the one thing that sets Steamboat apart from other resort communities is the summer rodeo series. None can compete with Steamboat. The key to its success is the ingrained connection to the Yampa Valley’s way of life.
To block the view: awful masonry, Windows yield another world, A change given oft’ graciously, Where zephyrs are softly heard.
Sometimes I want to block the change, Stave off the impending storm, A new view is at first so strange, The old familiar is, oh, so warm.
Yet, nature has its circadian rhythm, Seasons shift in their order, The pattern seems to be a given, Developed to the edge or border.
I’ll wash the glass; polish the pane, Masonry can support the sill, Consistency of effort I will maintain,
Oak Creek boomed at the start of the war. Two shifts were common in all of the coal mines, and people started moving back into the mining camps and into Oak Creek. Grandfather Steve had earlier opened a liquor store business next to the pool hall and it boomed. According to Uncle Spiro, in the 1940’s there were seventeen bars, three liquor stores, a jewelry shop, shoe shop, dry goods store, two drugstores, a women’s dress shop, a tailor shop, three gas stations, two car repair shops, two barber shops, a theatre, two dance halls, three grocery stores, a hardware and lumber store and two houses of ill repute.
The streets were still paved with gravel in 1941, and life was still more primitive than life in the city. Within several years, roads were paved, city infrastructure, such as water pipes, laid, and people were spending money. Over 2,000 people lived in Oak Creek in 1944.
In 1942, my dad George headed off to war and Uncle Spiro shortly thereafter. They both fought in the Pacific Theater. Uncle Spiro’s military service was on the front lines where as he later recounted, his life was spared at least three times—mostly because of being in the right place at the right time. Uncle Spiro really suffered during the war and came home with malaria from the jungles. My dad George’s military service was less dangerous but just as soul crushing. He was stationed in Guam and the Philippine Islands in early MASH units. He did intake of wounded soldiers, determining injuries, and tallied the dead soldiers on their way to the makeshift jungle morgue.
I think it was during the war that my Dad George decided to become a pharmacist. When he returned home around 1946, Dad attended the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy. Dad was a registered pharmacist with his own pharmacy in Denver in 1950 before he wed my mother, Irene. He was a highly respected pharmacist for the rest of his career.
Uncle Spiro returned home to Oak Creek in 1946. With a friend, he started a cinder block plant with cinders from the Moffat mine. Many buildings in Oak Creek still stand with those manufactured cinder blocks. The present liquor store and outdoor gear, Spiro’s, has outside walls made from those cinder blocks. Bonfiglio Drugstore and the Hegerman’s Auto Body shop on Main Street are also constructed of these cinder blocks.
Uncle Spiro was a loyal and dutiful son to his parents. He owned a hardware store in Craig for a few years until his mother, my grandmother Helen, passed away in 1959. He then returned to Oak Creek to help my grandfather Steve until Steve’s death in 1966, when the liquor store became Uncle Spiro’s.
Family lore has it that my grandparents obtained their American citizenship in the early 1940’s. My grandmother Helen, who spoke no English, had gone before the judge in Steamboat Springs. He delivered the standard citizenship questions to her and had actually prompted her through the entire test. When the question and “answer” period of the civics test had concluded, the judge
For those who live here and for those who wish they did.
declared my grandmother Eleni a new American citizen. The others in the room were visibly astonished that she had somehow passed the test without uttering a word of English. The judge looked onto the puzzled faces in his courtroom and stated that “any parent who has two sons fighting in World War II is worthy of being an American citizen”. It took my grandfather several tries before he obtained his citizenship. Both were very proud to be Americans!
Petros, Steve’s brother, went back to Crete to marry. He married and brought back his wife, Artemisia, also from Chania, in about 1931-1932. They returned to Oak Creek and lived a short time with my grandparents until they bought their own house. Their children, Mary, George, Eleni and Panayoti Callas, were all born in Oak Creek. After World War II, Oak Creek once again was beginning to stagnate and Petros’ or Pete’s Barber Shop on Sharp Street was not as busy as it had been. Petros and his wife and family moved from Oak Creek at his wife’s urging in the early 1950’s. The children were getting older and Artemisia wanted to make sure they received a college education. They decided to move to Boulder. Two of these children, Mary and Eleni became high school teachers, fluent in not only Greek, but also French and Russian. George was an aerospace engineer for NASA, and Panayoti, a renowned horticulturist, is currently Director of Outreach at the Denver Botanic Gardens. This family of my dad’s first cousins and their families are very close to me today, as are Uncle Spiro’s sons, Steve and Kosta. One of the many memories I have of my grandfather Steve was his frugality, borne of the poverty of his homeland and tough times in Oak Creek. My grandfather would always stuff his shoes full of newspapers to keep the cold out during the winter. I always wondered why he did that, but we were taught to be seen and not heard. I think Uncle Spiro had enough of his dad suffering from the bone chilling cold in the liquor store so in about 1962, he convinced my grandfather to renovate the liquor store and put in central heating. It made a huge difference.
Uncle Spiro married Maria Giatrakis from Salt Lake City in the summer of 1963. They lived in my grandparents’ house and began raising their two sons, my cousins Steve and Kosta. The liquor store was never cleaner because my aunt Maria was a meticulous housekeeper. They made a great team. My Aunt Maria was born in Hannah, Wyoming and lost her father in a mining accident when she was seven years old. Her mother moved her and her brother back to Crete where she was born.
The family spent World War II isolated in Crete. Her brother Paul was able to return to the U.S. and joined the U.S. Army in Europe. My Aunt Maria, an American citizen, and her mother were unable to return to the U.S. until after the war. They experienced the occupation of the Nazis and their atrocities in Crete during the war. My Aunt Maria’s story is another very important chapter of our family history.
Do you remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? In the story Goldilocks found the first bowl of porridge was too hot, the second bowl was too cold and the third was just right. Dr. John Hutton, pediatrician, professor, author, and Director of Reading Literacy Discovery Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital performed research using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to view brain development. He found that audio books where a child listens to a story with no pictures were too cold. Animated stories were too hot, and illustrated picture books were just right. He found that connections and networks in the brain that support imagery, language and attention were strongest when reading illustrated picture books. That is why Women United of Routt County United Way is an affiliate of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL). The Dollywood Foundation uses a staff of early literacy professionals to select age-appropriate illustrated children’s books every year. When you register your children from birth to age 5 for the Dolly Parton
Imagination Library, each of your children will receive a FREE book mailed directly to them every month until they reach age 5. Colorado’s legislature and Governor Polis support the program and split the monthly fees with Women United. The books change from year to year so that even if you have one child in the program, a second child will receive different books to build his/ her own home library. The one exception is the first book which will always be The Little Engine That Could and the last book which will be Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!
According to Chalkbeat Colo rado, a non-profit news agency that covers school news, fewer than 40% of Colorado thirdgraders are reading at grade level. Research has found that the brain is developing most rapidly from birth to age 5 and that 85% of brain development occurs by age 3. By signing your child up for FREE books now and reading to them every day, we hope that those statis tics will change in the future. In a survey of parents and guardians of present and past Routt County participants in the DPIL program conducted by Women United in January 2020, we found that 90% of children over 18 months to 3 years of age asked to be read to. Here are a few quotes from local parents about the program:
“This is my first time to sign up a child; we signed up our youngest of 3. We are seeing that he enjoys reading more than our other children at this age. What a great program!”
“My daughter loves the books so much that she thinks Dolly Parton is a close personal friend who sends her things.”
As of October 2022 one out of every 10 children in the U.S. under the age of 5 now receives an Imagination Library book in the mail each month. Here in Routt County there are currently 611 children out of approximately 1000 eligible children signed up for the program. Women United would like to see every eligible child in Routt County registered. To sign up now please visit https:// RouttCountyUnitedWay.org/Imagination-Libraryor scan the QR code available here and on posters at the UCHealth Birth Center at Yampa Valley Medical Center and local daycares and preschools or stop by the United Way office at 443 Oak Street, Steamboat Springs.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead
(Icouldnotdeceivesweet,naïve,charming,courteous,kind, obedientandmorallystraightJulius.Herefusedmyseductiveadvancesandattemptsforunprotectedsex,whichran contrarytoeverythingIwastaughtasachild.Howhedid notperceivemypregnancy,withalltheclueshewasgiven, itgobsmackedme,trulypickedmeoffmyperch.Fromthe beginning,AngelainsistedIshouldtellhimandletthecards fallwherefatedetermined.Ifearedhisanger,reaction,and theinevitableconfrontationwithJJ.Iconceivedadesperate plan.Iwillremindyoureader,thatIamtheeditorofthis tragicdiaryaboutme,andIchangedthetitleofthenext entrybecauseImust.CorinaEngelhart)
December 17, 1914
Maggie said, “What are you doing this afternoon?”
I replied, “I haven’t thought about…”
“It doesn’t matter. You’re going ice skating with Angela and Corina,” she interrupted.
“I’ve never ice skated.”
“No better time to learn.”
It was brass monkeys cold. The Earth froze weeks ago. Fluid quicksilver clouds swirled in the sky as the sun tried to peek through. Rays of light appeared on the hillside, disappeared, and reappeared haphazardly. It was silent except for the squeak of our boots and whistling snorts of the elk lying in the sagebrush. Dusted with snow, they gazed down at us walking the two tracks up Spring Creek to the city ponds.
“I was here yesterday. Someone swept the snow off the ice,” Corina reported.
“I love to skate, I haven’t done it awhile,” Angela said quietly.
“I’ve never skated or seen a bull elk so close,” I returned just as inaudibly.
“I don’t know. It seems like a good way to get injured.” Corina jested, “I brought a pillow to stuff in your trousers, Julius.”
“Funny, a bunch of tosh.”
Both girls giggled.
A plank nailed on the tops of two aspen rounds served as our changing bench. I watched them lace up their skates and I did the same.
“Tie a double knot at the top so they keep tight on your feet,” Corina said while picking up a makeshift hockey stick near the bank. With two swift kicks, she glided quickly and pushed a stone around with the stick. She saw I was laced up and skated back to me. “Come here, hold on to the stick.”
I stood, wobbled, reached for the stick.
“No, no you must be on the ice first,” and she pulled it back.
Angela leapt from the bank, carved a 180 degree turn and faced me saying, “Come on, I’ll help.”
I was on the ice holding their hands. We moved across the pond and back. It was a pretty smooth ride with only a few bumps. “What ya think? Angela said.
“I like it.”
“Now watch. Push off with one foot and glide with the other. Then make the transition to the opposite side. Keep your knees kind of springy and all the movement should be from the hips down,” Angela demonstrated.
“If you want power and speed, it’s like running. You swing your arms, but keep your torso quiet,” Corina instructed. She flicked a rock from the bank, then zoomed off controlling the stone with her stick by pushing it side to side, and then stopped on a dime spraying ice. She ran back. “Now, put both hands on the stick. Angela, take the other end. Kick, glide, switch, and kick. You’re doing it, hunky-dory” she exclaimed, and we slowly sailed around the pond.
“Now give me back my hockey stick.”
“But I’ll fall.”
“Happens to everyone.”
I pushed off, went about twenty feet, fell almost on my face, got back up and worked on the unnatural balancing act. The girls raced around laughing. I tired quickly and returned to the bench. They were both good skaters.
Corina shouted, “Keep practicing. We’ll play crack the whip with you on the end!”
Angela laughed knowingly. I smiled and waved them on. Soon it became a spectacle on ice. They were jumping, twirling, long dresses spinning in the air, and crashing down on one skate. Back and forward they went, faster and higher. I heard Angela ask, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yes, it’s early and besides, I don’t care,” Corina replied.
Angela collapsed, exhausted on the bench with me and we watched. Corina twirled, fell, and smashed to the hard ice
twice. The first time she popped up and whizzed around the pond. The second time she got up painfully.
She skated to us and revealed, “I think I broke my left wrist.” It was red, very swollen and at an odd angle.
“Corina, you knucklehead,” Angela scolded. “We’re going to the doctor. Julius get your skates off and help me.”
We marched to the doctor’s office. Corina, without a whimper, sat through the examination.
He brought out a syringe, filled it from a small bottle, squirted a bit out in the air and pushed the needle into her arm just below the cloth he had tightly tied just above the elbow.
He set her wrist straight and informed us, “I gave her morphine to ease the pain,” while wrapping gauze around her forearm. White powder was poured from a sack into a bowl, water added, and he stirred the mixture to a smooth paste. He patted and covered the gauze with handfuls of the plaster and made a cast.
“Sit still and let it dry,” he ordered. The whole process went surprisingly fast.
“Sign my cast?” Corina asked.
The doctor instructed, “You take it easy and don’t do this again.” He looked at us and continued, “I want you to make sure she gets home. The medication will last a few hours.”
“Yes sir, we will sir,” Angela confirmed.
We started walking her home. Angela gave me a nodding signal and made the turn for her place saying, to Corina, “Rest up now.”
Corina and I continued up Oak Street mostly silent. She pensively watched birds in the bare trees with glazy eyes. Then she gazed at me, opened her front door, and forced a smiled. “We didn’t get to go skiing.”
“We will,” I ventured.
“Why not? You’ll heal quickly.”
”Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight.” “What does that mean?”
“It means you coupled with all those women in England, Julius, why won’t you do it again with me?”
Stunned, I answered weakly, “That’s why I’m banished. I promised my mother I would wait until I’m married, and I broke that promise with you. She’ll ask me the next time I see her. I must tell her the confessed truth. I cannot lie to her again or fail. I just can’t.” Then I realized I was fibbing by omission. Would I be faithful or run amuck with my lust?
Corina contemplated and gazed at me for a while and finally stated, “Julius you’re ruining everything.” She started crying and through her sobs admitted, “Oh, I can’t deceive you either.”
She kissed me with lips dripping with tears. “I fear the day is coming when I’m going to really miss you.”
She wobbled into her house and closed the door.
I spent my formative years in a high desert city that was hot and dusty. Brown everywhere, except for the ugly asphalt and concrete that sliced through it, and ran over it. Lawns gave way to rocks, trees surrendered to tumbleweeds, and most of us gave in to the heat. Heat waves created water mirages on all the roadways and the engine heat and the exhaust from the automobiles made them look blurry, ready to evaporate or blow up before our eyes.
On hot summer days, most people looked like zombies, lumbering through the city in slow, reluctant paces. The teens wore long pants and black t-shirts with aggressive graphics, menacing the population with the images of their favorite hard rock bands. It took me a while to understand that they weren’t oblivious to the fact that black attracts heat. They were just saying “Go to hell!” to the Sun and other irritants.
On Christmas mornings, we closed the curtains, keeping the house dark as we listened to the strains of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”. We closed the curtains because we couldn’t square the brown reality of our landscape with the white dream that Bing Crosby shared with us. After a time, we started opening presents on Christmas Eve, counting on the dark to not betray our winter wonderland fantasy. Our windows reflected the Christmas tree lights, making it harder to see outside and doubling the magic inside.
One year, we built a Christmas tree out of tumbleweeds and painted it white with a flocking spray. It was a unique and sentimental Southwestern twist until it quickly became a nightmare. After the holiday, we threw the flammable tree into the fireplace, and nearly burned the house down.
It seldom snowed in our small city, and the few times that it did, we were transformed. The snow fell to the earth pure and white, and disappeared quickly, usually within a day. It was still white and hopeful as it seeped into the ground and made the earth smell worth it. It was not like the East Coast, where I lived for a time, with ugly snow hanging around in piles, getting soot-black and increasingly stubborn as the long winters wore on.
I was six in 1968 when my family and I went out to dinner on Christmas Eve. We seldom dined out, so this was an extraordinary event for all of us. When we ordered our food, we looked out the window and it had begun to snow. It snowed hard for hours. As our Cadillac slipped down the country road back home, I couldn’t remember a more exciting time for my siblings and me. When we pulled into the driveway, we saw footprints in the snow, leading to our door.
Once inside, we were convinced that the footprints belonged to Santa Claus who came early to put our presents under the tree. Mother had us gather around the tree, and we sang a few songs and hymns, including “White Christmas”. We opened our gifts passionately.
The first manned space mission entered lunar orbit that night. We listened to the radio and heard Jim Lovell say "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth."
We were going into space. Santa had come. And it snowed. Anything was possible. We kept the curtains – and our hearts open - all week long.
TomScharf(Myyoungerbrother)isatalentedwriter andmusicianinDenver,Colorado.Hewroteatender ChristmassongaboutthelackofsnowinNewMexico andhowtobegratefulinthatenvironment.Scanthe QRcodetoseeandhearitonYouTube.
It’sabrownChristmasagain I’vehadaofsurprisesthisyear Butthisisn’toneofthem Andthedarkmakesusallevenagain Itcrispandclearasabell Thestarsareexplodingabovethispinyonfire Here’stowishinguswell
Itsthatthingsslowtoacrawl Sometimesyou’vegottothinkyou’re inthemiddleofnothing Torememberyou’vegotitall
Let’sleavethetreewhereitis Rightthereintheground It’llneverhostbetterlight Withthatdesertsungoingdown Farolitosonadobewalls Andonthepathrighttoyourdoor Descansocrossesonthesideoftheroad
Rememberwethoughtwe’dhaveeverything? Thatwasjustsettingusupforafall Whenthevoicessingthatwedon’thaveenough Let’stell‘emwe’vegotitall
ANavajoputreddirtinmypocket SaidhegotitfromChimayo Saidifyou’relookingformiraclesson Thisisallyouneedtoknow Softshoesonthewoodenfloor Hardheartsfadeaway
Dancetothemandolin Here’stowishingyou’llstay whatwewantisn’twhatweneed Let’snotanswerthatcall There’snopriceforthissilentnight Nowwe’vegotitall
There’snosnowinNewMexico Butit’scrispandclearasabell Starsexplodingabovethepinyonfire Here’stowishinguswell….
Those who cannot understand how to put their thoughts on ice should not enter into the heat of debate. — Friedrich Nietzsche
Choosing to live outdoors the summer months and the winters on board a small sailboat was of choice of pleasure and economics.
In 1982 we sold our trailer in Dream Island and made enough money to put down on a “fixer-upper” on Merritt Street. The old log house needed everything from another bathroom to an upgraded foundation. Ah, but it was a home in town on a large lot with a view and a quiet street. A perfect house to raise our family.
I was a carpenter and Gigi was a therapist for a new organization called Horizons. We rented our living room to a friend (converted to a bedroom), and worked nights on the house to make it a livable home and eventually it might be affordable.
For those who live here and for those who wish they did.
All seemed well, until at the end of that first summer we realized that we had very little time left over to enjoy the great outdoors of Routt County. It was then that we decided to rent the house, borrow a tipi, borrow some land and live outdoors for the three months of summer. Forty years later the idea still works. We now own a few acres of that land that’s surrounded by a couple thousand more acres of “wilderness.”
Land ownership within the national forest was not always so perfect. Some summers have been rainy and cold, more recent summers seem to be quite hot. We can’t “deny” that the climate is changing, but nature has always presented us with challenges. We have competed against free-range cattle and herds of sheep. The toughest challenge was our neighboring dog sled operation. The 38 dogs were excessively noisy and trained on the dirt road year-around. The dogs made our 2-mile driveway (actually an old county road) nearly impossible to travel on foot or bicycle. The general public was afraid to walk on the road.
In 1990 the perfect solution presented itself. Steamboat Springs had been leasing the adjacent 800 acres since 1910 from the National Forest to create a “watershed” for the city’s growing demands for fresh water. Two reservoirs were built to hold the clean water through the summer months. In the 1970s the City transferred its waters needs to the Fish Creek watershed and abandoned its water draw from the reservoirs. The 800 acres watershed remained abandoned and unaccessible except for hunting, off-road vehicles, and commercial grazing. The reservoirs were fenced off for “safety” reasons, but our little camp was hidden between this 800 acres and a 1000 more of National Forest.
We decided that all of this was in need of protection. The reservoirs, the canyon and the old road were gems that were about to be discovered. Most of the other ten landowners had a vision of a very expensive land development, we’d all make some money (and ruin it in the process).
A woman named, Jackie Loughridge, came up with the idea of creating a “mountain park.” A place where we could protect the area from over-grazing, destructive motor vehicles and land developers. In 1992, the management plan, written by Jackie and myself, was accepted by City Council. The lower park was then created in one weekend by over 300 volunteers including many school aged children. The upper park was kept wild with only the creation of a central non-motorized trail.
Thirty years have passed. The mountain park has gone through a few threats to its wild environment. Nine of the ten the private parcels were bought by one environmentally oriented landowner and our family still lives there in the tipi. The bicycles are under control and many families hike and play along the stream. Yes, those are all “impacts,” but that beautiful 800 acres will never become a private road accessing a multitude of mega-mansions! After 30 years the park still looks good. Thanks to all of you who continue to support this wild idea.
You probably know what I’m talking about. Please walk or ride quietly and give it the respect it deserves.
You’ll likely see me there.
I want rocks, just the right size for me to snuggle under and weasel can’t weasel into. Oh, and they need to be covered with lots of insulating snow. Oh, and I want a nice BIG hay pile. And I don’t want my neighbor to steal it! I spent a LOT of energy all of our short summer collecting luscious grasses and plants drying them and storing them in my precious hay pile. I will NOT share it! And I WILL be watching all winter, so don’t even think about it! No winter snooze for this guy!
I think a nice soil covered with a blanket of snow would be wonderful, don’t you think? I would like to keep those nasty pocket gophers away…they are so rude, aren’t they?! Sleeping through winter underground is nice, isn’t it? Dark and quiet and the temperature is just right with all that nice snow. I am just getting everything in order for my grand debut in spring. Oh, you will just love my magnificent showing of sunshine yellow. But until then a nice winter slumber. Shoo, you pesky pocket gopher!
Sooo sleepy! I just want a nice nook, maybe under a strong piece of bark or the hollow of a tree. I can find a comfy
place to tuck in and…. yawn, oh so sleepy… and snooze away the winter. I am special, you know. I overwinter as an adult, but others like me are sleeping away the winter in their little sleeping bags. If it gets nice and warm in winter I like to come out and slurp up sugary tree sap, have a look around, then tuck back into my little cubby hideaway. Maybe I will see you in January on a balmy day – yawn –but it’s time to…zzzzzz
So, you know, I love to talk and fly and eat and talk, did I say I like to eat and fly? Man, I am always hungry! Did I say I like to eat? But boy oh boy, it gets so cold at night I just can’t take it. I just shut down and look kinda’ dead. Scary, huh?! But then I am the miracle bird and come to life again! Gotta’ eat! Got lots to do! Just give me some good bugs hidden under the bark, some tasty berries, I’ll even go after that dead thing on the ground. And I like having my buddies around. We make a good team, don’t we. Look ing for food – I like to eat! We can snuggle together at night when it’s really cold. I like that! Nice warm bodies huddled together. Gotta go –time to eat!
Well, if I must, I will travel. Ho hum, I would just love to stay here, but, oh my, food is scarce down here. Sigh, I want a special sleigh to take me up to those ever green trees way up high. OK, if I can’t have a sleigh, I will fly on my stubby wings. It’s a lot of work flying from my home down below to the big trees up higher. Yep, I have to fly uphill in the fall! Sigh! That’s where my food is – the tips of those big ever green trees.
I am kind of picky too, I’ll eat only the outer two-thirds of the needle. The buds and needles have so much energy rich sugar that I can live off them all winter. Sigh, I wish that sleigh would come and take me away!
Just give me a nice deep pond or stream where I can lollygag on the bottom, barely moving. Sounds like a nice winter vacation, huh?! Whoa, how can I stay underwater for months at a time? Well, I choose water with higher oxygen content, and I breathe both through my lungs and skin. At first, when the water is warmer, I like to move around a bit. But when it gets really chilly I move slower
and slower. No freezing for me, though! Sometimes I disguise myself with a little stuff thrown over the top of me – stay away you nasty fish!- but I like to stay out of the deep mud.
Give me snow, lots of snow! This is my time to shine –although I would prefer to not really been seen at all. But, hey, that’s why I’m white! Ha, Ha. Just look at how fast I move through the forest! On top of the snow. Ha, Ha! Take that you floundering coyote! Wait, I have to be careful. The tides could turn and that crusty snow spells my doom. But my humungous feet are my special weapon right now in this fluffy stuff. Ha Ha. Run, run, I am so fast! Whew, a little break under this big tree – maybe a nice snack on this green tree too. I am sure glad I have a nice warm coat living way up high in the mountains. Hmm, maybe a little snooze…
From all the wonderful wild wise things, a very happy winter solstice and holiday season to you! I’ll see you on the trails!
It has long been a tradition in our family to go out into the forest to cut our own Christmas tree, though when I look back on our first tree-cutting expedition I’m surprised we didn’t give up on the idea then and there.
Our children were small, Allison just a baby whom we pulled in a sled, as baby backpacks had not yet come into vogue. That year the permit area was way out beyond Clark. The day was cold and blustery. By the time we finally found a decent tree we were all freezing, the kids were crying, and cutting our own tree didn’t seem like much fun. When we drove home we passed a Christmas tree lot in town, and I thought to myself how much easier it would be to just go down and buy one.
I traveled far
Ended up on Earth
A shocking experience
Left, Right, outside Infamous words
Venom colliding Jumping over San Andreas
I bumped into you Magic and Stardust swirling
My great distraction
I get this one
However the next year the children were eager to do it again, and as they grew older the tree cutting became a highly anticipated family adventure. The permit area now included Rabbit Ears Pass, which was a lot closer to home, and the children were old enough to ski or snowshoe further off the highway. George never liked to cut a tree that was visible from the road.
We always had to find the perfect tree, one we could all agree on. It took us a while to learn that trees look a lot smaller in the forest than they do in your house.
One year we had to cut so much off both the top and the bottom of the tree to make it fit that only the bushy middle section was left. That’s when we finally got smart and started taking a tape measure.
Whatever their size and shape, the home-cut trees always filled our house with the scent of a pine forest. They remained fresh throughout the Christmas season without raining needles on the floor like store bought trees do. Also they were next to free, and money was something we never had enough of, especially at Christmas time.
One year George and Robin went up to cut the tree by themselves because everyone else was busy. Snow was falling lightly when they left home, but by the time they got up on the pass a full blizzard had blown in and visibility was zero. Then the car broke down. They thought someone might stop to help but no one did, so finally they decided to hike to the highway maintenance building. The snow intensified. By the time the lights of the maintenance building came into view they were both soaked, freezing and Robin was in tears because she desperately needed to go to the bathroom. The maintenance crew took them in, let them use their phone and warmed them with coffee and hot chocolate while they waited for the tow truck. The towing fee was $75. We bought a tree in town for $25, making it our most expensive Christmas tree.
A few years ago George went to cut the tree by himself, as I was working and the girls were away at school. The sun shone and the new snow was beautiful and deep. He found a perfect tree, one that would just reach the ceiling of our living room. When he started pulling it back through the deep snow he realized he had skied farther than he thought. Finally he made it back to the highway, but came out a ways down from where he had parked. Rather than drag the tree to the car he decided to leave it there and ski to the car, then return to pick it up. He tied the blaze orange permit tag on the tree and stuck it in the snow bank. When he arrived at the car he looked back just in time to see a pickup truck making a U-turn and speeding away toward Denver with our tree loaded in the back. We bought a tree that year too.
Not a Christmas goes by that someone doesn’t bring up the story of the Grinch who stole our Christmas tree.
For those who live here and for those who wish they did.
There are a lot of things in life that only work when you commit. We typically feel like we do our best, well, close to our best, sort of, every day. I don’t mean doing something and then pretend we’re putting forth lots of effort. I don’t mean try a little bit or half-hearted effort or testing the waters. I mean to fully commit, all in, all the time.
When I teach skiing to kids and adults we are often cruising down some green run like WhyNotand just moving along in a straight line. I will commonly ask, “So, what are you practicing right now?” I invariably get the answer, “I’m not practicing anything.” I point out that they are certainly practicing something and it isn’t turning, balance, stance, edge control, fun or a dozen other things that would actually help their skiing. They are just practicing being lazy or at best, mildly committed to their own growth. If they would only commit to simply learning a little bit more whenever they could, the improvement will become noticeable very soon. Somehow most people think that just getting by and not committing at all that somehow they will magically get better with no effort.
It is easy to trick yourself into thinking that if you put in half (or less) of the effort then you will get high level results. That really doesn’t work very well and it certainly doesn’t work for anything important. Practicing being lazy yields results of poor performance in any endeavor. Half-hearted commitment always produces half-hearted results.
The key to doing anything well is commitment. Not only does commitment help you become better at what you do, but it also makes other people want to help you. The best relationships are the ones where both partners go all in, all the time, to make the relationship amazing. All in doesn’t mean every ounce of energy every moment. It is actually pretty easy to simply do a little bit more and buy in. Not always doing the giant things and the grand gestures, but the little stuff committed to consistently bring great rewards.
One of the biggest problems with half-in and half committed is simply that it will never get you the results that you really want. It will never get you to the podium, much less to the races. When you see only the biggest events and ignoring the small simply diminishes the larger. The touchdowns are not the game. The finish line is not the race. Just getting the trophy without the race isn’t satisfying. The wedding is not the marriage. Birthdays are not the life. They are just measuring points along the way. You see, you have to commit to the whole thing, which frankly is the best stuff out there.
The difference between a professional and an amateur is simply a higher percentage of better scores. It isn’t the winning of one race that makes a champion but the consistency of high performances. The Tour de France is an amazing race because it combines so many different types of riding over so many days and thousands of miles. Commitment is way more than one fast ride and gritting it out.
"Ifyouseeyourjobaspunchingtheclockandgettinga paycheck,notonlywillyouneverbegreatatit,butyour employerwon’tinvestinyou."
If committing sounds like a lot of work, well, initially it might seem so as you are changing habits. It gets easier pretty fast as others will start to help you achieve ever more because it breeds enthusiasm. You’re changing habits and that takes energy. There are so many people who are half-in because all-in appears to be hard or the goals too lofty. No one ever starts at top speed or win medals at first, so obviously adding ability and strength bit by bit is the path to success. The goals will come to you as you learn to commit more and more. It is OK to be a beginner and to simply start. It is OK to be halfway to a goal. You must start with commitment to the bigger picture.
Commitment is learning as much as you can about all things in your journey. Committing and simply showing up is the first step, then take that next step and the next, always learning how to walk. Speed will happen. Success will come and you’ll find it is almost anticlimactic as the journey itself is what fills you. The faster you try to go, the slower you will actually be, so relax a bit, find something that interests you and commit to making it better. As you learn to commit more fully, other things will drop into place. Jump aboard. Risk a little. Buy in emotionally and mentally. Have fun.
George Bernard Shaw, noted Irish playwright and Nobel Prize winner for his literary accomplishments, is known for a lot of pithy phrases but, “No conflict, no drama” is a truth that extends far beyond the stage. Now, on the stage, you can imagine that Hallmark card moment when two families, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona where we lay our scene, both get along famously with happy holiday scenes and everyone singing Christmas carols together in multipart harmonies. When their two teenage children start hitting it off - un huh, no surprise there! - why it’s just one more happy moment. Sure, the potential for teenage romance to turn into a long-lasting relationship is slim but for this holiday season, what a pleasant comedy we’ve got.
This was the original version of Shakespeare’s Romeo andJulietwhich fortunately never got beyond the first rehearsal because none of the actors could stay awake for the two-hour traffic of our stage. You can bet it wouldn’t have lasted the hundreds of years that the actual play has been stirring the hearts and minds of audiences because [spoiler alert] the two families HATE each other and the idea of the children marrying would have been the start of a battle of biblical proportions. It’s the conflict that spawns the tragic drama that has riveted our attention over the millennia.
It’s much the same for Shakespearean comedy. The TamingoftheShrew(the featured attraction at the Bud Werner Library’s annual winter online workshop, by the way) has the couple who love to hate - Kate and Petruchio - going at it for the entire play, both passively and aggressively, to hilarious effect. The ending is controversial, as it appears that Petruchio emerges as the victor over the finally submissive Kate, but no director worthy of the job would play the text that way now. If, indeed, anyone did in Shakespeare’s day. Again, it’s the conflict, both the slapstick and intellectual battle of wits, that entertains a wide range of audiences.
In some of the history plays the characters seem more single minded in their pursuits. Richard the Third, like the more recent tyrant from Mar-a-Lago, focuses on megalomania and denial from beginning until end. King Henry the Fifth, upon the death of his father (Henry IV) unhesitatingly repudiates his carousing lifestyle with the raucous and debauched Falstaff:
“Iknowtheenot,oldman:falltothyprayers; Howillwhitehairsbecomeafoolandjester! Ihavelongdream'dofsuchakindofman, Sosurfeit-swell'd,sooldandsoprofane; But,beingawaked,Idodespisemydream. PresumenotthatIamthethingIwas; ForGoddothknow,soshalltheworldperceive, ThatIhaveturn'dawaymyformerself.”
No conflict here! Prince Hal assumes the throne and instantly becomes:
“….thewarlikeHarry,likehimself, AssumetheportofMars;andathisheels, Leash'dinlikehounds,shouldfamine,swordandfire Crouchforemployment.”
Of course, these historical characters were the ancestors of the ruling class in Shakespeare’s time so allowing them to show any sign of weakness or equivocation probably wouldn’t have been a wise choice even if it was the more dramatic one.
The conflict that breeds and heightens drama isn’t always with a separate antagonist. In the greatest of Shakespeare’s works, Hamlet is at war with himself for most of the five acts of the play. He is a mass of conflicting thoughts and emotions: do I listen to the Ghost or risk losing my immortal soul to hell and damnation? Do I kill the king and assume the throne despite the will of the Danish nobility who elected him? My beloved Ophelia is trying to trick me!!! Vengeance or forgiveness, since she is really just obeying her father? These inner battles are the ones to which we can all relate:
It is so easy to lose the name of action in the face of inner conflict. “I want my world to change! But, hmmm, that’s kind of scary. Maybe I should stick with my world the way it is. But, uhhhh, it’s kind of boring and stagnant.” Thus, the battle goes back and forth, our conscience reminding us of our responsibilities to others; while enterprises of great pith and moment beckon us forward. Get busy livin’.... or get busy dyin’ is the line from that famous movie, TheShawshankRedemption . A life without the everyday drama of hope and disappointment vying for our attention is not a life worth living. Which is why sometimes the most courageous thing we will do all day is get out of bed in the morning. Io Triumph!
Aries March 21 - April 19
It starts as a faint whisper on the wind, almost inaudible to the human ear. Slowly it gets louder, it’s a familiar tune but you can’t identify where you’ve heard it before. Then as the lyrics become clearer, you feel an unnerving sense of dread and an uncontrollable urge to bash your head into the nearest hard surface. As your last shred of sanity escapes you, you recognize the banshee song as Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You”.
Taurus April 20 - May 20
This fortnight you will accomplish your life’s goal; sneezing with your eyes open. Your parents knew there was a reason they put you through college.
Gemini May 20 - June 20
You decide to surprise your friends and arrive to your surprise party through the kitchen window instead of the front door, that will show them for trying to surprise you. Unfortunately, you will still be surprised when it turns out that it’s not a surprise party, its an intervention.
Cancer June 21 - July 22
No one believed you could control the weather but one day you will look out the window and confidently exclaim “It might snow soon.”
Some people will think it was just a coincidence when it starts snowing twelve hours later, but you will silence those non-believers.
Leo July 23 - August 23
You will feel a sense of mischievous excitement and limitless possibilities when Santa appears in a swirl of sugar plums and tinsel beside your bed. Then, he winks at you with both eyes…at the same time.
Virgo August 23 - September 22
You will be flattered and slightly disturbed when you find a gift on your doorstep. It is a thousandpiece puzzle sent from the serial killer, “The Puzzler.” The gimmick is murdering you as soon as you innocently finish the puzzle. Jokes on him because you don’t have the patience to put a thousand-piece puzzle together and you almost always loose a couple of the pieces.
Libra September 23 - October 23
You will convince your dear grandma that you have become one of the rich and famous elites.
You give her a picture of you on the red carpet with the other so-and-so’s which she brags to her bridge club about. That is, until the adhesive peels off the picture revealing the movie star’s face where you crudely glued your picture.
Scorpio October 24 - November 21
Tis the season to be able to flip off everyone without consequence because your oversized mittens make you look like you’re just waving instead of flipping the bird.
Sagittarius November 22 - December 21
Your neighbors think that all the Amazon packages arriving at your door this holiday season are a product of your gift giving generosity. However, the truth is, despite your many attempts at finding them gifts, you instead bought yourself a substantial amount of presents and plan to give free pens from your local bank to your loved ones.
Capricorn December 22 - January 19
This year, you are making a stand and taking back your birthday. You will walk into every holiday party like it's a surprise party for you. You will thank everyone for decorating their houses just for your birthday. All presents, treats and desserts will be only for you. This year, Baby Jesus can have the combined Christmas/birthday presents and half planned celebrations.
Aquarius January 20 - February 18
You will feel like the local home security company has proved its point when you discover their pamphlet was mysteriously placed on the bathroom counter while you were in the shower.
Pisces February 19 - March 20
It occurs to you that Santa is the original hipster. He's got a big beard, drives an eco-friendly vehicle, only works one day out of the year and spends the rest of his time judging strangers.
For those who live here and for those who wish they did.
It was a cold night before the big dump. Not a creature was stirring. We thought it might be Santa, but, noooo... It was the almighty Ullr. Ullr left 27”on February 20th 2012. Yea 27 inches!
That‛s the most snow I have ever seen in my life! Where I‛m from we don‛t see that much... Oh dear...
"Freedom is located somewhere outside the box."
"No one is ever too old to be something really dumb."
"There was something magical about my camera that automatically lowered a skier’s IQ."
"Don’t you wish you’d have that second thought first?"
"In spite of the high cost of living, it is still very popular."
"You ski as well as your kids do for 1 day of your life."
"Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional."
"Don’t ever forget that you will work all of your life to be a success overnight."
"Don’t take life seriously, because you won’t come out of it alive."
"Remember your first day on skis? This looks like it is going to be another one of those days."
Adventure is the invitation for common people to be uncommon.
"You can’t get hurt skiing unless you fall."
"The definition of extreme is to go past your known limits by an unknown amount."
"The family that skis together bitches together."
"When it comes to skiing, there is a difference between what you think it’s going to be like, what it’s really like, and what you tell your friends it was like."
"The best place in the world to ski is where you are skiing that day."
"I never ruin a good story with the absolute truth."
"If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do."
"See you next year, same time, same place. Thank you, and good night."
We heard that nobody likes the short term rental gig around here... That‛s why we went VRBO.
I‛ll give him a ten for the landing but not for the butt crack!
Be safe out there foam brains, that‛s not a helmet!
Today is... It‛s all about me, it‛s all about me...
I don‛t care where you are from. Please get off my ski.