Valley Voice February 2023

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February 2023 . Issue 12.2 a member managed llc FREE Steamboat Springs Hayden Oak Creek Yampa Winter Wonder Grass

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2 Valley Voice
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Publisher/Art Director: Matt Scharf


Valley Voice is published monthly and distributed on the last Wednesday of each month. Please address letters, questions, comments or concerns to: Valley Voice, LLC, P.O. Box 770743 or come by and see us at 1125 Lincoln Ave, Unit 2C, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477. Or contact Matt Scharf: 970-846-3801

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Brown Ranch Annexation

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Commuting Patterns into Steamboat Page 5

The Grassroots of WWG

Hayden Events

Meeker Mustang Makeover

Music in the Yampa Valley

A Fresh Start

Buffalo Nickel

Welcome to Steamboat Springs

Angela Bobs Her Hair

Try Some Friluftsliv

Romance in the Snow

Pacific Rim Pilsners

The Bitter and the Sweet

How to Watch a Play


Your Monthly Message


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Riding the atmospheric river one blizzard at a time… Finally reaching the point when taking the express bus to the mountain is faster than driving and trying to park… Waking up to a burst water pipe and a flooded basement – all the while its only -22. One of the many “joys” of mountain living in paradise…

Lift lines on January 28th were long enough to start thinking about a new hobby…

Way to go! Dropping all your trusses on RCR 41 requiring a 35 mile detour…

High-marking on private property without permission…


Hitting the 300” plus mark by January…

110th Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival…

Hurray! Witnessing a real, honest to goodness, four wire winter…

Thanks to the new volunteer cleaning crew at the post office in Steamboat Springs.

Thanks to all our service industry folks in Routt County…

Thanks to Routt County for plowing the Emerald Loop on the weekend…

Say What?...

Overheard at a local parish sermon; "Blessed are plow truck drivers for they will be seated at thy Master's table in heaven on the right hand of God. But if they plow in a neighbor's driveway, they shall be turned into a pillar of road salt at the gates of Sodom.”

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.

“Who wouldn’t like Mr. Nasty.”

“I think it’s a 4.2 wire winter.”

3 February 2023 Valley Voice
Advertise in the in the Valley Voice! Contact: Matt Scharf at or 970-846-3801 Please send us your RANTS, RAVES and SAY WHATs! The Valley Voice wants to hear your thoughts as we struggle to find our center. Send to: One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. — Bob Marley Send in your submissions by February 20th! for the March 2023 edition! Send to:

Brown Ranch AnnexationCommittee Irons Out Agreement Details

The Brown Ranch Annexation Committee (BRAC) has started charting the course in negotiating an agreement between the city and Yampa Valley Housing Authority (YVHA) to annex 420-acres of the Brown Ranch into the City of Steamboat Springs.

Our initial meeting laid the groundwork for the group as well as the expectations throughout the process. During the twenty-week timeline, we’re interested in public participation and comment, ensuring easy access to information and transparency.

BRAC meetings will run every two weeks on Wednesday from 9am to 12pm starting February 1, 2023. • February 1

February 15 • March 1

March 15

March 29

April 12

• April 26

• May 10

• May 24

• June 7

• June 21

Public comment will be accepted at each meeting at 11:30am or the end of earlier agenda items, whichever comes first. Comments should be relevant to the meeting topic. In addition, public comments can be made through

Committee sessions will take place in the Carver Conference Room in Centennial Hall, 124 10th Street. All BRAC meetings will be live streamed via Zoom and carried on the city website ( and YouTube channel ( Additional information can be found at or

The Brown Ranch Annexation Committee is an open public body that follows similar meeting requirements to city boards & commissions like City Council or Planning Commission. The committee is charged with negotiating the terms of a comprehensive agreement governing the proposed annexation.

The BRAC consists of City Councilors Robin Crossan and Joella West, YVHA Board of Directors Leah Wood and Kathi Mayer, City Manager Gary Suiter, and YVHA Executive Director Jason Peasley. Former City Council President and local attorney Jason Lacy will serve as the third-party independent facilitator for the group.

Meeting synopsis’s, agendas, video recordings and other pertinent material will be accessible online through the city website, YVHA website and Annex.

The Yampa Valley Housing Authority (YVHA) released its full draft Brown Ranch Community Development Plan and submitted it to the city late last year. The Plan outlines the aspects of the new neighborhood, including street design, housing typologies, parks and open space, infrastructure, and project economics, all guided by sustainability and equity best practices. The Plan also includes the Housing Demand research.

“Brown Ranch offers residents of Steamboat Springs an unprecedented opportunity to take control of our housing future and design the community in which we want to live,” said Jason Peasley, executive director of YVHA and the applicant in the submitted development plan to the city. “Brown Ranch is designed by the community, for the community, to maintain and build upon the best part of Steamboat Springs and Routt County – the community itself.”

In working through the process, the BRAC will dive into specifics in the following areas: General Plan Development, City Services/Operations/Maintenance, Affordability/ Attainability of Housing, Exactions/Dedication of Land, Sustainability Measures and Contingencies. The goal is to complete an annexation agreement in a manner that is acceptable for YVHA, the city, and the community as a whole.

Once the draft agreement has been finalized by the BRAC, Steamboat Springs City Council will review, discuss, and vote on the annexation agreement. During this portion of the process, additional public comment on the proposed final agreement will be available.

In addition to the BRAC meetings, town halls are on the docket as a way for the community so share its views on the agreement and again before City Council makes a final decision.

Public input is vital throughout the process, and we look forward to your active participation as this agreement is developed.

For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

4 February 2023 Valley Voice
City of Steamboat Springs
Aerial view of the Brown Ranch site

Estimating the Number of Daily Commuters into Steamboat Springs

Over the past three months we have taken a deep dive into the commuting patterns of the residents of Craig, Hayden, and Oak Creek. The geographical areas studied were the same as school district boundaries those towns reside within. The whole purpose of this deep data dive was to focus on facts vs. playing an endless guessing game. And worse yet having our elected officials make policy decisions based on anecdotal observations.

To begin with at best the commuting data from each community are reasonable estimates. Pinpoint accuracy is not realistic. What is realistic is an understanding of the magnitude of commuting. Even with all the limitations associated with US Census data it is a lot better than simply continuing to guess.

To quickly recap what we have learned. From the city of Craig, it is estimated that about 2,700 workers are commuting into Steamboat Springs. From Hayden it is about 800. From Oak Creek it is about 850. Public transportation is either not available or is utilization is very small. From Craig and Hayden about three percent of commuters use public transit. There is a lot of reasons for the limited use of public transportation, however, that discussion is beyond the scope of this column.

About 85% of daily commuters make their trip into Steamboat in their vehicle all by themselves. These numbers do not include individuals that own a business in one of the outlying communities that also travel in to Steamboat as a part of their business. Nor does this data include vehicle trips associated with folks coming into Steamboat for medical appointments, school or other activities.

Most commuters are on the road between the hours of 6:00 am to 8:59 am. This 3-hour period constitutes the Yampa Valley’s rush hour. Essentially, we jam an additional 3,000 vehicles on to the roads heading for Steamboat during these three morning hours.

The most impacted local roadway is US Highway 40. (US Hwy. 40 becomes Lincoln Avenue as it enters the Steamboat city limits.) Although efforts have been made to facilitate improved traffic flow along Lincoln Avenue it remains highly congested during the morning rush hour. An example of these improvements was the reconfiguration of traffic lanes that resulted in two eastbound lanes from Elk River Road to 13th Street. In addition, the traffic lights thru town have been upgraded to “smart” signals. These “smart” signals have sensors that communicate with other signals along the roadway that improve traffic flow. Has all this helped? Some to be sure. However, realistically there is not too much that can be done about this congestion.

The impact on traffic congestion from the proposed Brown Ranch development will have one of the more important discussions with City Council in regards to the possible annexation. This is not going to be an easy discussion with easy solutions. Good luck you all!


5 February 2023 Valley Voice They say the universe is expanding. That should help with the traffic. —
970 .879 .5717 2620 S. Copper Frontage Steamboat Springs, CO Help the Environment! Reuse any plastic laundry container with a re ll of quality, eco-friendly laundry detergent. 198 East Lincoln Ave. Hayden, Colorado All our baked goods are made here at the Granary! Be Local ! Yummy! 970-276-4250 Eat Local! Go Figure
Steven Wright
International Direction of Travel Avg. Annual Daily Tra c (AADT) US Hwy. 40 @ Elk River Road East Bound 24,000 US Hwy. 40 @ 13th Street East Bound 27,000 US Hwy. 40 @ 7th Street East Bound 25,000 US Hwy. 40 @ Pine Grove Rd. East Bound 31,000 US Hwy 40 Cross IntersectionsStreet
Tra c Flows
Estimated Number of People Commuting into Steamboat Springs Daily Hayden Craig Oak Creek 800 2,700 850 Direction of Travel Avg. Annual Daily Tra c (AADT) US Hwy. 40 @ Elk River Road East Bound 24,000 US Hwy. 40 @ 13th Street East Bound 27,000 US Hwy. 40 @ 7th Street East Bound 25,000 US Hwy. 40 @ Pine Grove Rd. East Bound 31,000 US Hwy 40 Cross IntersectionsStreet Daily Tra c Flows as of 2021 Estimated Number of People Commuting into Steamboat Springs Daily Hayden Craig Oak Creek 800 2,700 850
as of 2021

The Grassroots of WWG

This was my high school yearbook quote. I had just started seeing live music and dabbling with the Grateful Dead. At the time, I was more enamored with the parking lot scene, the wild free bohemian vibe, and mesmerizing drum circles. Eventually, I bought my own drum, and in 1990 (Albany) I finally committed to my first psychedelic Dead experience, everything becoming abundantly clear during the first set closer of The Deal. The music, the scene, the community, the freedom and the feeling of being transported collectively set my path in motion. Only years later did I realize it.

I followed the band, peddling my take on grilled cheese (adding broccoli and garlic), and selling Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The entrepreneurial spirit was everywhere, and I felt a part of something greater than myself for the first time.

I moved to Colorado, joined a band, learned how to sing and play guitar, moved to LA, got spit out by Hollywood, and returned to regroup. It became clear that my talent in the music business was best aligned with organizing people. I brought the ethos of positivity, awareness, protection of the planet, and kindness into a space reserved for often, rather large egos. I was a rookie, but remembered the hardships of life on the road, writing songs, playing night after night to tiny crowds, not eating well, driving all night, drinking too much, and generally struggling to make rent.

I feel that that time gave me a tiny glimpse into what touring artists deal with daily, week by week, and month by month, and I wanted to support them.

On a drive to LA where I was renting a leaky sailboat in Marina Del Ray, working on the Snowball Music Festival, I had an epiphany. Currently residing between Vail, CO and Venice Beach, CA, I was searching for something fulfilling. Where could I support a community longing for music, the artists seeking a better venue, and the energy of those days on the road with The Dead. I was tired of great beer festivals with shitty music and great music festivals with crappy beer, over branded gatherings more interested in promotion brands, then providing the best experience, products, and staff. On that lonely late-night drive through the desert, the name hit me, ‘Winter, Winter, WinterWonderGrass!”

2013 was a hope, a dream, a plan, and some luck. The people came and came in droves. It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life to have worked so hard, risked everything and delivered a dream that to this day, really does not make a lot of sense. A bluegrass-focused, acoustic driven music festival in the middle of the winter, in Colorado. The community loved it. I quickly realized that the challenge of weather became an ally, those that are willing to endure the elements for their medicine, to prepare for Mother Nature’s contribution, truly are the heartiest souls. The energy they bring, the commitment to the mountain culture, the kids, the grandparents, all for one and one for all.

For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

Back in my touring days, I was blessed to cross path and eventually be mentored by the late great Mark Vann, may he rest in peace. Mark opened the door to the bluegrass community, the unwavering kindness, openness, and the spirit of collaboration. I was new to that scene but the overwhelmingly positive energy of the music, the artists and the crowds reeled me in. When searching for inspiration along that lonely highway, wondering how, and who to bring together, it became clear that this is where my heart would go.

The bands that signed up in 2013 have continued to evolve and remain close to the WWG family: Greensky Bluegrass and The Infamous Stringdusters. As we evolved and finally found our perfect home, nestled in the community of Steamboat Springs, more acts folded into the family: Billy Strings, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon, Fruition, The Lil Smokies and more.

We never made a plan to expand, believing in quality over quantity, but when I stood below the tram face of Squaw Valley (Palisades Tahoe), I was stunned.

This was certainly a magical place, where stories lurked in every corner, and the mountains towered like ice bergs. It felt natural to blend the WWG community into this mystic village, and we were right.

I often get asked how I book the bands we book, and why not all bluegrass. My answer is simple. I love working with bands that can play if the power goes out, that enjoy the natural beauty of the mountains, and who will spend a few days in the community, meshing with the people and inspiring the fans.

Writing now, on a flight back from Istanbul, following the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, I am feeling a great honor. Headed into the tenth anniversary of WinterWonderGrass Colorado, the David Byrne line rattles in my head, “I ask myself, how did I get here?” I feel nervousness, a drive to be better each and every time, reminding myself that, more than any other reason; we do this for the fans. It is our community, family, that deserves to be respected and honored, being given an experience of a lifetime, each and every festival. We all have our struggles, no story is the same, but we embark on a journey toward the same destination where the snowy mountains, hot springs, cold beers, and sweet string music continue to strum that ancient chord within us all.

See ya in the Mountains!

6 February 2023 Valley Voice
Winter Wonder Grass
“Sometimesthelightsallshiningonme,othertimes Icanbarelysee.”

Hayden Events

HAYDEN--A wide range of arts events are planned for the year, after a brainstorming session between Hayden Center Arts Director Rachel Wattles and a citizen committee.

The biggest event of the year looks to be Bluegrass and Brews for August 6. Details are still in the works, but bluegrass music, local beer brews and Arts in the Park event are being planned for one of the town parks.

The town's Farmer's Market in downtown Hayden will be the site of two events: a street dance June 8 and sometime in June or July, an arts night to celebrate and feature the arts in Hayden and Routt County.

Hayden Daze, set for July 14-15, will be augmented by art demonstrations and performances.

Finally, in September or October, there will be a Farm to Table Dinner for the community, featuring local foods grown or raised in the county.

On November 4, the group will support local artisans during the Hayden Holiday Craft Fair.

"We are also working with groups such as Opera Steamboat, the Academy at Perry Mansfield (for youth dance), and others to bring additional arts opportunities to Hayden" said Wattles. "We have a monthly (1st Monday of the month) Social Knit, and bi-monthly rehearsals for Yampa Valley Community Orchestra (2nd & 4th Sundays of each month) and about 50 youth dancers in our dance program."

Wattles is working closely with the Hayden Arts Commission (HAC), which advises the Council, Town Manager and Arts Director regarding the Town of Hayden’s (Town) arts programs and educational opportunities including visual arts, literary arts, performing arts and other similar activities based at the Hayden Center and throughout the community. When requested, the HAC will also advise the Town on any art related issues such as promoting the arts in Hayden, partnerships between the Town and other arts organizations, and the facilitation and management of arts related events. Broadly, listed below are tasks that the HAC will work to achieve:

• Formulation of arts goals and objectives based on established strategic plan/plans as adopted by the Town Council;

• Adoption of an arts strategic business plan (as set forth and adopted by the Town Council) and implementation of that plan through arts strategies.

• Promotion of arts in the Town of Hayden; and

• Fundraising for arts purposes.

• Assist with volunteer solicitation and coordination.

• Any other activities related to arts that could provide or help with the implementation of the Town’s arts strategic plan/plans.

Ever Dreamed of Being a Champion Mustang Horse Trainer?

It’s your moment:

Trainer Application Open for 2023 Event

If you’ve ever dreamed of training a wild horse, this may be your moment! In the Northwest corner of Colorado sits wild and still undiscovered Rio Blanco County. This area boasts the headwaters of the White River, set in the stunning vista of Trappers Lake. For the past four years the community has held an exciting competition to expose the public to the amazing wild horses that roam the surrounding countryside. This year, local horses and other areas of Colorado will be highlighted in the competition. The application is now open to interested horse trainers to be part of the 5th Annual Meeker Mustang Makeover. Horse trainers, both amateur and professional, are encouraged to apply. While the Meeker Mustang Makeover provides clinics to help trainers through the process, applicants should have horse experience as these horses are wild. The application period runs from January 1, 2023 to April 15th, 2023. More information and applications are available at

This year 25 trainers from across Colorado, once they are selected, will pick up their Mustangs in Meeker on April 29th, attend a “Getting Started Clinic”, and 120 days later, perform and compete to show how far they have come from wild horse to willing partner, in front of a crowd at the Meeker Rodeo Fairgrounds.

All horses are then sold at the end with trainers receiving 50% of the proceeds of their horse, in addition to taking home prize money, and scholarship funds.

The selected trainers will have the opportunity to attend two free clinics by Wild Horse professional Steve Mantle. There is a YOUTH division with yearlings in hand (halter) for kids ages 10 to 17, and a saddle competition with three-year-old mustangs for anyone aged 15 and up.

The competition will be held on Saturday, August 26th, followed by an online and live auction of all the horses to their forever homes. Trainers receive half of the auction proceeds. Longhorn Video Auctions is our auctioneer and last year attracted 22,000 views on the website.



7 February 2023 Valley Voice Hayden Happenings
Monthly Magazine A Local Favorite! A community magazine promoting Routt County and its residents. Participate by submitting your stories, art, photography, poems and rants to... Valley Voice, LC P.O. Box 770743 Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80477 970.846.3801 Promote Your Business in the Valley Voice! Meeker Happenings

Sketches of Music in the Yampa Valley

fast water of spring runoff. Keeping the organ safe and dry was a major undertaking. At the time Mrs. Crawford had a one-year-old baby to care for. The river was too high for the wagon to cross, although a small row boat allowed the family to cross when they arrived at Steamboat. The organ and wagon were abandoned in the weather for ten days before crossing.

Once the organ arrived at the cabin, Lulie tells us, "I played the organ right away – fast music first and then slow, and then we sang. The fast music was the Grangers Grand March and the Snowflake Waltz." James had an excellent bass voice, but apparently Mrs. Crawford did not play an instrument and only had an average voice. Growing up, Logan developed a good tenor voice, and father and son were often asked to sing. The day following the arrival of the organ, Crawfords held Sunday School in their home. It was the first Sunday School in the valley.

farming communities existed; there were only three small towns. Roads were simply wheel marks and few bridges crossed any stream. Monsons were only able to ride the D&RG narrow gage to Leadville. (The tracks were not extended to Wolcott until 1887.) Hauling Monson’s box grand piano from Leadville required crossing Tennessee Pass, Battle Mountain, down the Eagle River valley to Wolcott (which did not exist at the time), over Wolcott Divide to McCoy where it ferried across the river. It’s a wonder the piano survived the trip, and also a statement of how important excellent music was to the early pioneers.

As Routt County filled with settlers, the Crawford organ and Monson piano quickly became catalysts for other music lovers and literary groups. Soon rough pioneers were meeting to read poetry, prose, sing, play music, discuss philosophy, politics, dance, and eat fine meals.

Northwestern Colorado experienced a surge of settlement in the early 1880s. However, in 1887, the Burlington Railroad abandoned construction of a line directly west of Denver. Development of the valley entered a slow period with more people leaving than arriving.

Music is like breathing – so common that no one thinks about it, yet, vital for the very existence of society. Everyone has hummed a tune, danced to a rhythm, or listened to someone else sing or play an instrument. Music is everywhere but the written record in the Yampa Valley is a thin volume.

Expecting the Denver, Georgetown & Utah Railroad to build a line through the Yampa Valley within five years, James Crawford located Steamboat in 1874. The following year he built a cabin near Soda Creek and brought his wife Maggie and their two children, Lulie and Logan, to the Yampa Valley. Mary was born later. Lulie tells us, during the early years for the children to go to school the family moved to either Denver or Boulder during the winter. Here Lulie took music lessons. While studying music in Boulder, her parents purchased an organ for her.

"The organ was a Burdette, a very good kind and rather expensive. I feel sure my mother and father did without many things they needed in order to have this organ in our home." Lulie wrote. The organ was loaded on the center of a freight wagon and secured. There were no roads from Hot Sulphur Springs west and the road from Georgetown over Berthoud Pass was only a rude cut trail. William Byers had probably built his bridge over the Grand River (Colorado) at the mouth of Byers Canyon. With that one exception all streams were forded during the high,

Crawfords were surprised by the interest taken in the organ and music. "We practically kept open house, scarcely an evening passed but some cowboy or miner would be there to hear [Lulie] play and sing, often joining in." Some brought instruments, usually a violin, and played along. When church services began, the organ was loaded on a wagon and taken to “The Grove” where people gathered around to sing hymns and the preacher spoke from the wagon. James built the Union Church, and the organ made a weekly trip from their home to the church. After the Methodist Church was built, the organ made its weekly trip there. Eventually the church became its permanent home.

Equally important in the story of music during the early pioneer period is that of Routt County’s first piano. Mrs. Ida Harnett Monson’s “grand square piano” was built by Kranich, Bach & Company in 1868. A year later her father purchased the piano as a gift for Ida’s fourteenth birthday. In time she moved from New York to California and the grand piano was shipped around the Horn to California. In 1871, she married Henry C. Monson in Yuba City, California. Monson operated a successful freighting and livery business supplying the mining camps in California and Nevada.

Learning about the new country opening up and the Burlington Railroad intention to construct a railroad from Denver to Salt Lake, in 1886 Monsons moved to Denver and on to Routt County. He took up land in a beautiful valley south of Steamboat Springs. Ida fell in love with their new home and named it Pleasant Valley. The name remains to this day.

In 1885, northwestern Colorado was an isolated empire. Homesteading began only four years earlier; none of the

For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

In the mid-1890s, new discoveries of gold at Hahns Peak, David Moffat and friends made noises of building a railroad, and settlement activities once again surged. In Steamboat Springs’ suburb, Brooklyn’s social center appeared - the red-light district. Gus Durbin’s Carrie Nation Emporium was dedicated to enjoying booze, gambling, and women. Music was essential. In 1895 he purchased a Rahway music box. It was a marvel. By turning a crank and cylinder, tunes came forth. Durbin purchased several cylinders with many popular tunes of the day.

Women charged a dime a dance, taxi dances. Gus’s player also played when a coin was dropped in. Being an enterprising man, he received a coin every time a girl danced plus a percentage of her action, and he did not have to employ a piano player. Unknown is how other Houses in Brooklyn supplied music for taxi dancing. Brooklyn’s business district closed with prohibition and World War I. Oak Creek had more brothels which lasted until the 1950s; at first live music was offered in at least two of them. The introduction of the jukebox replaced live music in most bars and cafes. Following “Repeal” in 1933, bars in Oak Creek opened their upstairs dance floors for public dancing and taxi dancing faded into the past. The upstairs dances always had live music, although the quality of music was often suspect, and organized crime received a percentage of the gate.

Settlement in northwestern Colorado ebbed and flowed from 1880 to 1900 with people moving in and out. From 1900 to 1921, homesteaders rushed in and established communities, often with a store and always with a school. Community dances were the primary means of social life. Usually, the dances offered other forms of entertainment. Ramona Kirby recalled that her dad didn’t like to dance, but he would go if a poker game was in a backroom. Dances at Willow Creek offered readings, skits, singing groups, and jig dancers as well as dance music and excellent suppers. One dance ad claimed the musicians had rhythm to dance to. Apparently not all the bands had quality rhythm.

8 February 2023 Valley Voice
Bonnifield Files
The Crawford's organ: From the Tread of Pioneers Museum permanent collection.

The dances on Conger Mesa drew crowds of more than two hundred. With the introduction of cars and better roads, local community dances began to die out; however, dancing remained an important segment of the Valley’s social life.

From about1930 to the mid-1960s, annual dances and fund raisers for fire departments, hospitals, and schools were common. Large annual dances were held on New Year’s Eve, the Fourth of July, and the County Fair. Individual bands sponsored their own dances. The upper Trout Creek School was moved to a convenient location for dancing. During faster tunes the floor began to rise and fall –enough that when a couple got out of time, they knew it.

Loud rock and roll songs and rhythms are not conducive to schoolhouse dances. Drinking was always a problem at dances, usually by men. In the 1960s, crowds became louder, more arrogant, while drugs and politics became a problem. People came to fight, dope, and seduce – not dance. The influx of new people centered on resort community activities introducing a different culture. By the mid-1970s, community dances passed into history.

Music in the valley took a new turn. In 1935, Steamboat Springs became a ski town with downhill runs. As a WPA project, brush and trees were cleared and the old elk fence removed. To add spice to winter carnival, the high school marching band put on skis for the parade. Through the years the skis for the band have been modified allowing marching with control. The long wooden ski with leather bindings and soft edges was nearly impossible to control. The marching band soon became famous, and in 1950 the ski band marched down Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Roller skates on the skis allowed for marching on pavement. From that crude beginning, the band grew in fame and glory.

Accompanying the shift to a rural resort-driven economy and society, Yampa Valley’s music, arts, and culture became more diverse and richer. The Yampa Valley Singers remains open for anyone with a voice.

Larry Monger, a small Hayden rancher and blue-collar employee, has sung with the group for more than forty years. At one performance, three generations of Larry’s family sang. Pat and Ruth McClelland do an excellent job keeping the organization going. Pat has sung in his church choir for over forty years. The Emerald Mountain Opera presents outstanding productions and is also a place where nonprofessionals can join in. The symphony is high quality by any standard. Musicians are paid and many members travel miles to rehearsals and performances. The Strings Music Festival always provides a variety of headline performances.

In Oak Creek during the hippy era, the Phippsburg Banjo Company started in the old mortuary building.

They made high quality banjos. The building burned. Arson was suspected but never followed up. The company moved to the Ozarks and remains in business. Tony Balleck made violins.

Gene Sanders, Belinda Rossi, and Doug DeCosta entertained without charge at all sorts of public and private affairs. Doug passed away with Covid. Belinda, a rancher’s wife, plays multiple instruments, sings, teaches music, leads the church choir, and is always there when called upon.

Gene Sanders is truly a special person. He doesn’t read a note of music, but if he hears it, he can play it on the keyboard, and he plays everywhere.

Years ago, his left hand was crippled so he could only play with his right. Ruby Forester from McCoy had her right hand injured. Neither one read a note of music. Yet, they sat together on the piano bench and presented wonderful gospel music for the church. During Covid, Gene set up on his drive way in the evening and the neighborhood, keeping social distance, enjoyed music until twilight became dark night.

SOROCO High School’s long time music teacher, Kelli Turnipseed, provides a unique experience in her music program through her all-ages jazz band. Once a week after school and sports practice, adults and students, all volunteers, get together and play jazz. Someone brings dinner and after dinner an hour or more is spent enjoying their creative music.

A multitude of other individuals and groups of musicians, dancers, and artists continue providing community entertainment. Enjoy the First Friday Art Walk or one of the musical presentations. Music was an essential ingredient in our pioneer society, and it has become richer and deeper.

Crawford’s organ, Monson’s piano, and Gus Dunbin’s music box are on display at the Tread of the Pioneers Museum. It is worthwhile to stop and view them. As always, Ellen and I give our thanks to the Tread of the Pioneers for their help and archive collection. Without the county museums and library collections, we could not write these articles.


A Fresh Start

A high-lighter pen draws attention, With neon color to enhance my view, Holding a subject in momentary suspension. Can I make the old renew?

So much lies beyond my frame, Busy, busy with siren’s call. My agenda is what’s within my claim, Using reason to the soul enthrall.

Notes to myself I might scrawl, High-lighted markings for the year, ‘Tis modern writing on the wall, Managing my soul; controlling my fear.

A poem this day is a promise, Some rumbling thoughts to be set. More sure than from a doubting Thomas, My real soul with its true asset.

Review the rhyme. Embrace the logic, Isn’t truth always a bit pedagogic?

9 February 2023 Valley Voice Old music is the same as new music - it's just a different way of delivering it. — Jeff Lynne
Monson's piano: From the Tread of Pioneers Museum permanent collection. Gus Dunbin's music box.: From the Tread of Pioneers Museum permanent collection.

Buffalo Nickel

Fort Collins is serious about its beer, its bikes and its local music scene. If you have been there, you will notice a lot of bars and barley. You will also notice that music is everywhere. It bellows from the streets. There are creatively painted pianos placed everywhere downtown for people to play anytime. Some can play, some can’t. There are a lot of recording studios, endless music venues and a large core population that truly loves music. In Fort Collins, music is in the air.

I made a quick weekend trip to the Front Range to see my talented brother, Tom Scharf, perform and launch his latest CD, BuffaloNickel . I didn’t know the CD release was in the works until a couple of days before the show, but I took off (luckily between storms) to get to the Front Range via Cameron Pass. I wasn’t going to miss this one even if I had to drive through a cotton ball. The show was at a music venue called the Downtown Artery. It’s a great place for live music and good local beer. The Artery was walking distance from my room at the Elizabeth hotel. Perfect. Let the show begin! We were happy to have our sister Ellen with us from Evergreen to help shake the tail feather.

The Elizabeth is a very nice place with all the high-end amenities you’d want to see. It has a high-end instrument lending library in the lobby where you check out various quality instruments to your room if you feel the need to jam. Thankfully, I don’t think they have any trumpets. There is also a record player in every room with a small selection of old vinyl that you can listen to. It definitely gets the party started.

BuffaloNickelis music that I would describe as rock & roll bluegrass. Others compare it to a musical marriage between Mark Knopfler and Gordon Lightfoot.

This is not Tom’s first CD. He has five previous CDs that he has produced over the years. This one feels more refined, creative and insightful. This compilation has a bigger sound due to his large backup band, Government Shutdown. “The Fixer,” and “Crossed the Line” have great lyrics and a real catchy flow. One of my favorite lines in “Buffalo Nickel” goes: “Pull my finger, I’ve got your nose, where’d that coin come from do you suppose?” Other solid songs are “Bugle at a Knife Fight,” “Damn That Train” and “Fingerbone.” It’s really good; - I love this collection. There is some family history in some of the songs that I relate to and made me feel closer right away. It was a great show and I would go again anytime.

Tom has been playing the string family almost his whole life. I knew him before he started, having conveniently grown up across the hall. It would be obviously natural for Tom to write and produce his own music. It keeps him greased for all the mechanics of putting together good music everywhere. Please check out Tom Scharf’s new album, BuffaloNickel , online at Enjoy!

For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

10 February 2023 Valley Voice
All Photos by Marc Leverette John Olson - Drums Jesse Bates - Pedal Steel Don Mills - Electric Guitar/ Vocals Mike Lange - Bass Tom Scharf and the Government Shutdown (Not Pictured) Saja Butler - Backup vocals

Welcome to Steamboat Springs

Now I’m unemployed, so I found a private spot to camp down by the Yampa River. Just a few weeks earlier I was living on my sailboat anchored off a beautiful sea island on the coast of South Carolina - It made me realize how drawn I am to natural beauty and clean water. This was a good spot to assess my immediate future as funds were running low and I’ll soon need an airline ticket back to the boat.

I was walking early that next day across the meadow. I could hear a tractor cutting hay in the distance. I thought, “Why not ask?” John Moore, on the tractor, saw me coming from across the meadow. I figure he’d ask me to move on, but he shut down the engine and he asked, “You lost?" I replied, “Nope, I’m looking for work, I can stack hay and I know a bit about cattle.” (Actually, I rode rodeo for a while as a teenager while trying to be a cowboy), John said, “Find me on this tractor first thing tomorrow morning. Make yourself at home, you can camp where you are and “shower” in the river.”

I lived out that summer, now fully employed stacking bails during the day and riding a horse named Goose in the evening. I would swim in the river and dine on fresh trout. My camper truck was my mountain home where I soon learned every corner of that winding Yampa River. This lifestyle seemed, at first, a radical change from my previous three years living and sailing alone on the Tumbleweed.” After a week or so, I could see that these high mountain valleys and streams were oddly similar to the coral reefs and protected coves of the Bahamas. The natural wonders of both presented to me a peaceful and comfortable feeling and I felt somehow connected to both worlds.

is now under water. This took about a week as the cattle were grazing on public lands on Sarvis Creek, Morrison Creek and all of Stagecoach. One evening I drove my camper to Steamboat and spend the night after dinner at the Cove. I needed this visit to Steamboat before flying back to my little Tumbleweed. I picked up a local newspaper and sat at the Cove bar for a glass of wine. The Chinese food tasted great and I spent a good hour just looking at the old sailboat photos on the wall. Before leaving I tore out an ad from the last page of the paper. The ad said, “Bus driver wanted.”

A few days later I was heading back to Hilton Head Island to live and work on the Tumbleweed before a quick sail over to the Bahamas. I had to think over a few things including that ad.

Yes, I answered the ad, and yes, they said you’ve got the job. Show up about mid-November and we’ll send you to Mississippi to pick up, which would become the “Free Bus.” Looks like I’m moving to Ski Town USA for the winter. I was about to be part of the biggest change Steamboat had seen since Carl Howelsen built the first ski jump in 1910.

Change never seems to come easily, especially if it does not seem to benefit you. The first questions that any newcomer to the valley ask me is “How do you feel about all the change that has happened over the last few years and especially post COVID. I always reply that history usually repeats itself after a generation or two and the recent changes were bound to happen. We have seen it coming for years and we always knew that Steamboat would be “discovered.” We all can remember joking about putting up the proverbial “gate” at the top of the pass.

I came to the valley in ‘74 to work at a proposed ski resort called Stagecoach. I lived in my pickup camper near the base of the ski hill that was about to begin its 3rd year of operation. I soon found that the Woodmore Corporation, owner of Stagecoach, was going into bankruptcy and would immediately stop construction of the project and defaulted payment on the existing debts owed too many contractors. Stagecoach came to a sudden halt. The condos sat unfinished and empty. It was a modern day ghost town. The Stagecoach dam was postponed and the ski lifts lay abandoned. The meadows that are now submerged under Stagecoach Lake were leased to a rancher named John Moore. John was an “old school” cowboy right out of the Marlboro commercial. In the bankruptcy hearing, John told the judge that he’d personally shoot down the chair lift cable if they tried to run it without paying their debts. That was John Moore!

A few miles away a little town called Oak Creek had established itself as a hippie mecca in northwest Colorado. Walking Main Street in Oak Creek was truly an interesting experience. The men dressed in baggy pants that looked like my childhood pajamas and the women didn’t shave their legs and wore combat boots. There were two bars in town. The Colorado Bar was for “hippies” and the VFW bar was attended by the locals, mostly miners and ranchers. I felt somewhat out of place in both. After years of listening only to the Bahamian weather forecasts, the Oak Creek local radio FM station (KFMU) was a dream come true. Folk music and bluegrass played all day long along with no commercials and soft spoken DJs.

On the ranch I worked with two south Routt cowboys, Johnny Moore and Doug Werner. On a couple occasions we’d travel over to Steamboat for an evening at the Hatch. The Hatch was the local cowboy bar which was located below the Cove, the hippie bar. A hippie would never visit the Hatch. I had learned early not to mess with cowboys. I didn’t wear pajamas or smelled like pot so I managed to fit in along with my two cowboy locals. I drank beer (Coors, of course) and and took a “2-step” lesson on the dance floor. The people were friendly and I made it back to my camp well after midnight. My next visit to town would be the Cove.

My evenings were pretty quiet out in the hay meadows and the hay was now cut and stacked. The last thing to do, as a hired hand, was to round up the free-ranging cattle and bring them onto winter range near the ranch, which

In the early 70s, when many of us just arrived to the Yampa Valley. We witnessed a cultural change, not just in the cost of living and a housing shortage, but a change in culture. Steamboat was previously a sleepy little town with one stop light and two restaurants. The economy was primarily based on agriculture and mining. Skiing had been part of Steamboat since the early 1900s, but the skiing industry didn’t begin until 1963 and then only provided winter jobs. It wasn’t until the early 70s that began the great migration of middle and upper class, well-educated liberal younger people with progressive ideas moved in from all over the country. We came here to ski and that suited any “ski bum” just fine. Driving the Free Bus was the perfect job. I made a little money, skied a lot and discovered the pleasures of the incredible backcountry. My truck and camper were suitable housing and I found that the old Fish Creek Falls campground was plowed out and made for good nightly sleep in my rolling home - it was about a cozy as my sailboat anchored back in Hilton Head. Life was good. The Steamboat native community generally welcomed us to town. Despite the pot smoking, long hair, and “casual” attire, we did bring some vibrancy to town and we shared a passion for the outdoors with the locals. And, with that, Steamboat was redefined as a ski townfull of lots of friendly people.

Steamboat has been changing ever since. The ski hill became world class, and the back-country has always been an outdoor paradise. We know now that Routt County has been discovered and it’s too late to put up that gate. Years ago our more conservative culture (pre-70s) welcomed us and now it’s our turn to pass it on and keep the smile. I suggest we try to appreciate the incoming changes as our incoming, somewhat affluent culture, also finds Steamboat the perfect place to call home.

We all agree that Routt County needn’t be “loved to death.” We just want to protect the beauty and we have so our grandchildren can love and enjoy our “undeveloped” open space forever. Good luck to all of us.

11 February 2023 Valley Voice Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today. — James Dean Adventure... A Guide to Life's Challenges

Angela Bobs Her Hair

February 22, 1915

“You bobbed your hair!” I exclaimed as Angela walked into the kitchen.

“She thinks it’s daring,” Maggie confirmed.

“You wait and see. It will be fashionable and chic,” Angela predicted.

“It reveals your lovely neck, shoulders and high spirit.”

“Thank you, Julius.” Then added, “It’s much easier to wash and comb.” She turned to Maggie, “Are we playing cribbage tonight?”

“Nope, can’t. I need to prep dough for baking in the morning and I ought to keep an eye on the Gun Club’s dinner and dance.”

“The losers of the weekend competition are buying dinners for the winners and their wives. Yet another blue rock shooting contest I’ve missed. I’ll get it done some time,” I lamented. “Better get a girlfriend or wife before you join that club.”

“Maggie!” Angela snapped.

“Oh, sorry, not thinking and I didn’t mean it to be cruel. It’s your birthday Julius. Finish up with the winning sellers of the Winter Carnival Button sales and take the rest of the shift off. I have plenty of staff for tonight.”

“Thanks,” I glanced at Misses Ellie Argo and Jessie Price treating themselves to an early dinner, trying not to spend all their $10- and $5-dollar prizes respectively and feeling very grown up. The two young girls had receded into the shadowy corner, unperceived and unmissed. “I’ll make them feel special.”

“Julius, you are so sweet,” Angela chirped. “I’ll walk with you home and buy you a milkshake, birthday boy.”

The girls chatted quietly. “Do you ladies wish dessert?”

Huge smiles filled their faces from cheek to cheek, then drained slowly away. “No thank you sir,” they replied simultaneously. Miss Ellie continued, “Our parents want us to save some of the money.”

“Well, you really helped out the committee selling so many buttons. I’m going to give your choice of dessert at no charge.” I handed them menus and the huge smiles returned.

Again together, “Thank you sir,” and Miss Jessie added, “We wanted Mr. Howelsen to be proud of us and the Winter Carnival to continue for a hundred years.”

“I’m certain it will with your support.” I took their orders, turned and Carl Howelsen appeared at the front door. He walked directly to the young ladies table, smiled, and shook their hands. They beamed with appreciation.

I prepared their desserts and returned also with a pot of coffee, tacitly knowing the ski jumper would want a cup. The girls conversed gayly while holding their forks carefully proper and with pinkies up on their teacups.

He sat at an adjacent table and stated, “Thanks Julius, just what I wanted, coffee.” Then asked, “Are you a skier?”

“No sir, I’ve enjoyed snowshoeing.”

“Going up is the same but going down is far more thrilling. Look me up, I have some extra seal skins for climbing and I’ll teach you the telemark turn.”

“Thank you, sir. I will.”

For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

Angela had my coat in hand, “I’m taking you out of here.” We snuck out the backdoor and started down Lincoln Avenue. As always, I stopped at the Soda Creek Bridge and glazed at the water flowing tightly through icy shelves. Angela, apparently deep in thought, watched the pellucid orange clouds drift above Emerald Mountain. Finally, she spoke, “I hope you realize that Corina’s assault and pregnancy would have forced a poorer woman into prostitution.”

“Do you think so?”

“Yes, Madame Ollie would have brought her into the fold in a heartbeat. Beautiful, intelligent, and educated women are the type she wants in her brothel. A shamed, unwed mother, with no local family, would starve to death unless she made that choice. Corina has money, but not enough and although her options are terrible, she nonetheless, has them. She married a despicable man and will bargain for his eventual departure and their divorce.”

“Why didn’t she tell me?”

“At first, we all thought it better for you not to know. When she knew her condition, she tried to seduce you again but without a condom.”

“I’m embarrassed you knew about the first time.”

“Women talk, Julius. Your continued refusal was painful to endure. Then she refused to deceive you and said over and over, ‘I can’t trick him, the child is not his. What will he think of me? He will never respect me.’ I told her just as many times, to tell you the truth and plead with you to marry her.”

“And she was too proud to beg?”

“No… well yes, granted, Corina is a prideful woman. I think she just hoped it would go away and of course, it didn’t. Then Madame’s solution and guarantee of protection was better than shame.”

“She knew I would find out eventually!”

“Oddly, she preferred breaking your heart more than deceiving you or forcing on you a lifetime of raising a child that wasn’t yours.”

“It should have been my choice.”

“Well it wasn’t. You can only hope maybe it will be in the future.”

“Bloody hell.”

“As part of the black-market drug deal, Madame hired JJ as a travelling salesman. He takes orders in Wyoming, gets a percentage, and delivers. He’s out of town a lot,” she stared at me for a reaction, “Well?”

“Good one, really!” Followed by mumbling, “Corina is a married woman.” The legacy of my grandfather and my fear boiled to the top of my emotional cauldron, “Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.” I lifted my hat to cool down.

“Julius, you are exasperating. She would welcome you to her bed.”

“She’s a married woman.” I paused, “Do women like shagging while pregnant?”

“Of course, I mean, I guess it depends on the woman, if it’s early. I don’t know. This issue is covered. Perk up and make the best of it. She is still fond of you.

12 February 2023 Valley Voice
Victims of Love

Come on, I’ll buy us milkshakes at the drug store.”

We strolled leisurely in silence. At the soda fountain, all the people stared at Angela’s bobbed hair. We sat on the counter stools, and I turned toward the audible snickers. It was the three female siblings, in black dresses, large black hats, white shirts and looking cobra-like, ready to strike again. They dropped their heads in unison and gazed at their uninteresting hands.

Angela asked, “Is your Uncle Thomas coming back for The Trey O’ Hearts at the Mutual Theater?”

“He didn’t realize it starts on March 9 and it’s a weekly serial,” I chucked. “I don’t know if he’ll want to travel here that often.”

“The train ride isn’t that long from Hot Sulphur, but he would have to stay overnight. They are talking about a pullman coach and a night train.”

“A lot of effort to watch a movie.”

Angela twirled her straw, “I read in the Pilot Selig Moving Pictures has the skijoring contest film ready for newsreels all over America. Do you think it will run here?”

“Maybe, great advertising for tourists, but we saw it in person.” Me on my ass, flashed in my memory.

“She looks like a whore,” floated from the three sisters.

Angela snapped at them, “You look like rude spinsters and are dressed like nuns. Maybe that’s your calling!”

Their beady eyes stared at us as I imagined forked tongues slithering in and out.

Angela turned to me, “I’d shave my head bald, if I wanted to.” Then hissed back at the snakes, “It’s my hair and I’ll do anything I damn well please. You aren’t wearing it.”

“Unless they go bald,” I added and then smirked, “I mean, settle down Angela.”

It was silent except for the slurps from our straws. Angela gave me a kind of funny, derisive look and loudly proclaimed, “I think a woman should be able to kiss a man with passion and not expected to be his wife or mistress.” She paused, “Or kiss a woman.”

I heard the gasp but waited to see what was next. Then boom, she kissed me on the lips. It wasn’t just a peck, but with full pressure. My shocked eyes, large as silver dollars, stared into hers. She grabbed my hands, cooed, “Hey kiddo take me home,” and dragged me out the door. Outside in the snow, she laughed and started running, slipping, and sliding saying. “That should throw them off the gossip trail for a while.” I chased after her. At her house door she turned to me suggesting, “Bring a hankie the next time we play cribbage.”


“Because I’m going to beat you so bad, it will be a crying shame.”

I chuckled, “We’ll see.”

She smiled, “Happy Birthday Julius,” and then closed the door.

I smiled too and laughed all the way home. Angela was a wild woman.

Mensan Musings Try Some Friluftsliv

The title, "Try some Friluftsliv" has some details that came from Outside Magazine. This is an idea I have been pushing for decades. I was raised by an insecure, lower income single mom and had the good fortune to fall into Boy Scouting. I fell in love with the outdoors. Not because of the camaraderie, which was good, but because I simply got to be in the forests and under the stars and never missing a camp out. Those things touched me deeply and gave me a place to find myself. I went on to bigger groups, leading, higher level skills and farther afield. The Appalachian Trail helped to spur me into many years with Outward Bound and a lot of my own adventures. I have known about the deep life lessons found in the outdoors. Thousands of river miles, hiking through deserts and mountains. Winter mountaineering taught me things I could have never learned in schools (though education is of critical importance). I became a better person. My own girls did their first river trips before they were one. We camped, hiked, skied, looked for stars, rock climbed and cycled. It is just what we did, even to the chagrin of their mom and family. Zoe is at West Point and doing very well there. Aspen has great grades, very active, great boater and just a good person. Both have big hearts, high awareness, intelligence and work ethics. Yes, I’m dad and biased. The accomplishments speak for themselves. Our friends have similar amazing children.

There are studies identifying a variety of physical and mental metrics among children around the world. Happiness, health, nutrition and life satisfaction were all measured and compared. Norway ranked 1st and the US ranked 39th. The question is begged as to why Norwegians are doing so much better than Americans? Their culture sets them up for success. Friluftsliv is a core component of that life philosophy. It is a Norwegian word that defined means - “open air life.” It describes essentially the Norwegian philosophy of access to the outdoors and has a high value placed on play. The interplay between children and the local environment is an important part of life. Those outdoor activities result in resilience within their culture that is readily evident in the performance of athletes but also in the identity of people themselves.

The outdoors being so far north can be difficult and yet being outside in all conditions is just the norm. Friluftsliv has been encouraged and supported for over a hundred years. Play, just simple play is a crucial component. Not without errors but it just builds something inside people that makes them good people. Play and skills acquisition

Do You Know What Skoria is?

is more important than competition. By law the purpose of sports is to gain skills, make friends, and have fun. Winning is irrelevant. The guidelines ban rankings, keeping score and timed competition before the age of 11 and no championship style events before 13.

It is hard to ignore the results and performance. Norwegians consistently turn out people who are physically fit, emotionally healthy and mentally well-adjusted. Their nation is one of the happiest in the world. With only 5 million people other statistics are quite amazing. They dominated the last two winter Olympics fielding 84 athletes winning 16 Golds while the USA fielded 224 athletes and only took 8 gold medals and 11 fewer medals overall. Educational levels are quite high. Quality of life is excellent. Certainly not perfect but obviously way above the average American. Steamboatians have an amazing community here with some great core things.

Look at the middle and high school students here in Steamboat being dropped off for school on a zero degree day. Yep, shorts, t-shirts and it’s just what they do. A good number of people ride their bikes year round (studded snow tires are great) with the cold and snow, no big deal. Winter Sports Club kids are often the same as the sport is more important than the conditions. I have seen few places where that attitude prevails so widely. Individuals yes, groups rarely, communities almost never and yet here, we have a big bite.

Outward Bound core values are an enterprising curiosity, indefatigable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all compassion. There’s nothing there about climbing, outdoors, adventure or survival in there, but if you take those principles and apply them then you can go anywhere and achieve awesome things because of what is inside you. The ability to deal with Mother Nature has simply become a benchmark.

It takes work though. Nothing happens for free. Hubris harms us. Mistakes will happen. We learn to deal with inconvenience and some discomfort. It is important that we tune into and develop all our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects to find balance. There are many ways to find center. Good counseling, healthy lifestyles, honesty, compassion and empathy. Learning to deal with ourselves in nature proves to us Chief Seattle’s point that we are merely a small part of the web. So get out there and enjoy some Friluftsliv.

The City of Steamboat Springs and Routt County do not spread sand/salt mixture or some other chemical blend to provide traction on local snow packed and icy roads. Instead, they use something called SCORIA. The word scoria comes from the Greek “skoria” = rust. Although it does come in different colors, the Scoria used in the Steamboat area is typically dark red. The formation of Scoria happens at the top of a lava flow when gases in the magma expand to form bubbles as it reaches the surface. These bubbles are then retained as the lava solidifies. It is relatively low density due to its abundance of bubble voids, but it is not as light as pumice. The Scoria on the roads in the local area has been crushed to achieve a uniform size that aids in the spreading of it. The Road and Bridge folks like it because it is irregular sharp shape because it stabs into the snow and ice, stays put and provides excellent traction.

13 February 2023 Valley Voice Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts. — Jim Morrison

Romance in the Snow

Love is in the winter air. Yes, it seems like an odd time of the year for romance, but a few animals might disagree. Great horned owls, coyotes, red foxes and raccoons are all astir with romance between January and March. What a great time to observe with leafless trees above and a white palette below. Snuggle up and let’s take a look at winter

Hooooo hoo hoo. A deep resonant call wafts through the cold air. I was out for an evening dog walk in late January and heard the call from a roof top. Great horned owls are the iconic “wise” owl with large ear tufts (the “great horns”) and large facial discs with huge yellow eyes and a large fluffy appearance. In the deep of winter, mated pairs begin the process of pair bonding and nest building, often using other large birds’ nests and adding a comfy layer of feather down. Most great horned owls pair for life, but the courtship is important in solidifying that bond before mating. Why are they nesting in January and laying eggs in February, in the dead of winter? The negatives are many: freezing temperatures necessitating the eggs are constantly covered, snow covering the nest, the female having to stay on the nest for prolonged periods before her mate gives her a break. But owls are big birds and it takes the young longer to grow and mature. Early hatching means the young are ready to fly and practice their hunting skill with mild weather and abundant prey. This month head out at night and listen carefully. Great horned owls love edges – a forest next to a meadow for example – and tall perches for a good vantage point.

Yip, yip, awoooo. Another chorus in winter alerts us to another romantic tryst in the snow. I was on a moonlight snowshoe tour a few years ago on Emerald Mountain and heard a distant yip from a ridge across a small gulley. Soon there was a veritable chorus of yips and howls. I thought at the time we were hearing a small pack of coyotes, but now believe it was maybe a bonded pair offering a nice concert. Brian Mitchell, a coyote researcher specializing in vocalizations, writes that this is an auditory illusion called the “beau geste” effect. With the variety of sounds coyotes make, and the way sound waves distort through the environment, two coyotes can sound like a larger group.

Our coyote serenade was probably a pair letting other coyotes know they had established their territory.

One of the most terrifying sounds I heard was when I was very young and thought I was hearing a baby wailing near a forest edge. It was horrible and sounded like the baby was being tortured and in total anguish. I soon found that this scream in January was a mating “scream” used by female foxes (and occasionally males) to attract a mate. On YouTube check out “Rural vixen female fox screaming – with sounds.” When the pair is mating, they experience a copulatory lock or tie where the male and female are stuck together. This lock could be for up to an hour and during this time the female screams and squeals – out of pain? Joy? Hmm, I haven’t asked them. Also, while you are out exploring in February you might notice distinctive “skunklike” scents. Foxes, especially during breeding times, mark their territory or announce their availability for breeding by spraying a musky scent often on a slightly elevated landmark like a stump or rock. Other times of the year the scent is slight, but now, during the breeding season, it is very strong and easy to catch a whiff of when passing by.

I was walking early morning last week with a skiff of fresh snow on the ground and found fresh racoon tracks waddling down a side road. What the heck are you doing out at this time of the winter? I followed the track and it ended at the base of a very large tree my neighbor has with a gaping hole on the side. A nice cozy raccoon hideaway for winter. They tend to sleep during periods of intense cold or high snow accumulation – so I guess our buddy has had quite the restful winter so far and came out to explore on one of the first sunny days! Breeding for raccoons is from October to June, with the supposed peak in February. I have never heard raccoon mating calls, but they are said to make repetitive high-pitched screeching or whistling noises. Some liken the sound to a screeching owl. I have heard male raccoons battling it out in the night with ferocious vocalizations. These intense fights can end in severe injury or death. The things animals do for love!

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and all the animals doing

14 February 2023 Valley Voice For those who live here and for those who wish they did. 'Boat Almanac
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Pacific Rim Pilsners

malted barley. Rice offers a lighter body to the beer and helps to maintain its clarity and golden color. There are few dark beer choices with Asian beers.

Political climates have changed in many Pacific Rim countries and governments and wars have affected beer production in Asia. Perhaps one of the most interesting has been the effect it has had on the Chinese and Japanese beer industries. Obviously World War Two had an impact on both countries but China has had several changes in government, directly affecting businesses.

After the Chinese civil war in 1949, Communist rule made all businesses state run and breweries fell into the hands of the Chinese government. With China’s involvement during the Korean War, an embargo was placed on all grain and hop shipments to that country from the west. In response, according to Wikipedia, peasants in Shandong province were given barley seeds and hop rhizomes by the government in an effort to maintain beer production. Whether this was successful or not was not mentioned.

Due to Chinese economic reforms of the 1980s, the Chinese beer industry, like many other Asian brews, has experienced robust growth and increased market share.

Asian Triad

Someone posed an interesting question to A Beer Fairy a few weeks ago, asking if you eat Asian food and are hungry an hour later, what happens when you drink an Asian beer? Are you thirsty an hour later?

Of course!

A Beer Fairy indulged in a study of several Asian-based beers and found some good pairings that team well with Asian food, whether it be fried rice, Korean BBQ, sushi, or fiery kung pao chicken. All the pilsner-style beers did a great job of knocking down the heat in these spicy dishes and even tamed the sharpest wasabi when dabbed on a California sushi roll.

This article will offer a review of the Asian brewing industry and its roots as well as offer a close examination of three Asian beers from three different countries.

Foreign Influence

As world trade shrank the world and allowed for foreign influence, European immigrants relocating to the Far East wanted to bring one of their favorite beverages, beer, with them. Breweries in Asia were founded around 1900 and recipes adopted from the immigrants’ home countries. One drawback was the natural ingredients had to be imported as Asia did not grow barley or hops used in beer production. Rice, an Asian staple crop, could be used as an additive, or adjunct, to substitute for some of the required

Three beers were selected for review; China’s Tsing Tao (pronounced Ching Dow), Thailand’s Singha and Japaninfluenced Sapporo. All beers are pilsner styles and their recipes mirror those of German made examples. These beers should all be served very cold and by the time your glass is almost empty, you can appreciate the bouquet of grain and hops in the beer.

The first beer is Tsing Tao, brewed in China since 1903. According to Wikipedia, it is the second-most consumed beer in the world, commanding 2.8% of the world beer market. The beer has a beautiful golden color when poured and the snow white head holds up. There are hops and cereal grains in the nose and the taste is more sweeter than bitter. It is an easy drinking beer capable of standing up to bold Asian spices and flavors. But the drawback with this beer is the price. At $14 a six pack, there is little value and far better, world-class beers can be had for that price, even cheaper in many cases.

Second is Singha from Thailand and produced by the Boon Rawd brewery who has been brewing beer since 1933. According to Wikipedia, the brewery now includes nine factories in Thailand and employs 3,500 people. The beer also has a deep golden color when poured and the signature lacy white pilsner head. It is a beer that satisfies, but A Beer Fairy recalls Singha of the past used to include the moniker of malt liquor on the label and the beer contained much more body. It is moderately priced and is a great

match for Thai chicken satay (chicken chunks marinated in coconut milk, placed on bamboo skewers and served with a spicy peanut sauce).

The final beer sampled is Sapporo pilsner. A Beer Fairy was surprised when he read the bottle label and saw that it is brewed and bottled in Canada. The company website does not mention this at all and boasts of how the Seibei Nakagawa, their first brew master, was trained in Europe and returned to open the Sapporo brewery in Japan in 1876.

A Beer Fairy does not like being hoodwinked by misleading marketing and was prepared to torch this beer in the review. However, the beer is surprisingly good. Again, deep golden color and pillowy white head. A nice balance of barley and hops make this beer one to be sampled as it was the cheapest of the group at about $8 a six pack.


Pairing Asian food with a suitable beverage like beer is a great dining choice, as the sweeter malts and dancing carbonation are a unique but subtle taste sensation. Although Asian brewing history is not as deep as their European counterparts, Asian brewers are producing quality beers that offer a refreshing change and option to heavily overhopped American craft brews.


15 February 2023 Valley Voice No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. — Hal Borland Thursday - Saturday: 10am - 11pm Sunday - Wednesday: 10am - 10pm 970-879-7355 Yummy Beer! Beer, Wine and Spirits! Huge Selection! Suds Central

The Bitter and the Sweet

If we get snow on the first of May; heavy, wet snow, the ground will be good for livestock and crops, and the dust will be held down for a while. These last few years have seen less rain and snow than in the past. It’s troubling to see this change, especially for those of us who ranch and grow crops.

I follow a plowed county road off of Twenty Mile in these months leading to summer, walking with my cane to make sure I am steady. My boots and my warm coat accompany me on these cold day walks at my beloved Ranch here in Routt County. As I walk, so many memories stir inside me. My head is always cleared by walking Fish Creek. My knees sometimes bother me, especially when my steroid shots wear out, but I still walk every day if I can. Here at the Ranch, I walk unafraid and pleasantly surprised at how well I still get around. I never see anything that scares me on my walks; not a bear, or a mountain lion, or even a human being. When the snow melts, once in a while I see Phil Salazar who has a meadow close to the Ranch. He is irrigating his land.

I always get such good feelings being outside. It is so much a part of my present and my past. My daily walks at the Ranch give me not only good exercise, but strength too!

My daughter Stella told me that all the years I spent outside have given me such peace and gratitude. She is right. My life has been full of the usual ups and downs, but with each step I take, I clearly see the path I took so very long ago. Life is about the choices we make. Choices can lead to a happy life, or a very unhappy life. Life is about living according to what you value. Life is about your faith in God. Life makes you the way you are, and God puts you where you belong. I realized that leading a happy life is also living a simple life. Value the everyday small things, like a good cup of coffee, talking to a family member or friend, or having a good cry.

Most days I spend at the Ranch are good days, whatever the season. With summer comes the blooming of flowers and serviceberry bushes. It is even more beautiful then. But the weather can turn in a second.

Even yesterday, it started as a beautiful day, but the winds started blowing. The winds became so fierce that I could barely close the front door. I knew it was time to head back to Craig. This is the second time ferocious weather has frightened me. Both times the wind and rain have forced me to go home early. I know that if I drive slowly, I make it home fine. Sunny skies usually await me in Craig, where we also have a home. That’s how different the weather can be only 45 miles away.

My heart always wants to be at our Ranch, so I am there frequently. Although my husband Andy has been gone almost two years, my memories of our life together comfort me each day. We lived the most wonderful life we both could have imagined. If I could live my life again, I would live it exactly the same way. I know that from the moment I was born, God prepared me for my life as a rancher’s wife and as a rancher myself.

Andy was a kind, thoughtful, loving and generous man. He was a very special person to many, many people. My hope is that his spirit lives on in his grandchildren and their children. Andy and I were partners, and I always respected his plans and opinions. He listened to my concerns and never doubted what I said to him. I always spoke my truth and Andy depended on it. Our lives were threaded with children, grandchildren, many people, friendships, experiences, and above all, hard work. We never wondered what we were to do on any given day, but that could change in a minute. That’s the way ranch life is-- predictable most days, but unpredictable at times. Ranchers need to be flexible, resilient, and resourceful to respond to everchanging work and family demands.

My tears run bittersweet remembering all of the happiness and tragedies we shared as a family. My youngest daughter Bia died at 45 years old in 2008. Her three daughters were in second grade and preschool when she died. Bia was diagnosed five years earlier with breast cancer. She fought it with all her might and tried to live as normally as possible. Remarkably, Bia was strong almost to the end, and continued her ranching life until very shortly before she succumbed to the disease that had eaten her from the inside out.

The day before he died, Andy asked me to open the drapes in our bedroom because he said Bia was coming down with the sheep and he wanted to see her. I knew that his time was near. Our family was with us the night before he died. We all enjoyed dinner together. The next morning, I awoke early and went to the kitchen to make coffee. Andy was still sleeping. In a couple of hours Andy’s nurse arrived and we both went into the bedroom to wake Andy for his shower. At the moment we entered the room, I instinctually knew Andy was breathing his last breaths. I took his hand and put my other hand on his face. Andy squeezed my hand and a minute later, he peacefully and quietly passed away. It was one of the most beautiful moments I ever experienced.

I know that the body is what remains after the soul leaves it. I also know that Bia and her dad are finally together and free of their physical limitations, riding their beloved horses, with their dogs behind them, laughing and at peace. Andyandme.

For those who live here and for those who wish they did.

16 February 2023 Valley Voice
Ranching in Routt County

How to Watch a Play

Probably the first question to ask yourself as you sit in your seat, in a darkening room, shared with dozens, or even hundreds of strangers, including at least one who is likely to be an asymptomatic COVID carrier, is why are you here in the first place? Theatre isn’t cheap. The children/family production I attended a couple of nights ago of A Year With Frog and Toad had tickets for adults at $25. The children's tickets were considerably less but, for those of you who attended the Piknik Theatre performance of the same show, you recall our production was admission free for both children and adults. Still, $25 is about two movie theatre tickets and possibly popcorn, if it’s an afternoon showing.

But you made the decision, pulled out the credit card, and with your ticket confirmation firmly embedded in your email (somewhere?) you get in line, wearing a mask iflike me - you’re at high risk for COVID complications. You find your way to your seat, having already purchased the mandatory Frog and Toad cookie. You look around and check out the layout of the theater: where is the audience in relation to the performing area? For Frog and Toad, the audience was surrounding the acting area on three sides, typically called a thrust staging, and usually successful in engaging the audience with the actors.

Next, maybe you check out the audience. For Frog and Toad, there were three types in the house: kids, parents/ grandparents, and theatre people supporting their fellow actors or checking out the production.

The guy sitting next to me had no children, so quickly I assumed we were both involved in the performing arts. I was checking out the production, since it was one we had performed only a few months before. My new friend, Sean, had some of his theatre buddies in the show. That made our conversation more professional, in a way, because we were watching with a “critical eye.”

So, what’s a “critical eye?” Are we hoping the actors screw up and forget their lines or sing badly or dance clumsily so we can sneer and say, “HA! Gotcha. You suck.” Perhaps for those whose egos badly outsize their artistic skill, that might be the result of putting on the critic’s glasses. But watching critically is a lot like thinking critically. You engage with the performance from an artistic perspective: does the writing work? Is it entertaining and fun (whether tragedy or comedy, the work should engage the fun factor in some way)? Are the performances convincing? Do the characters come to life? Is the staging effective? Does the lighting and sound support the action? If you’re going to spend an hour or two of your life sitting in a darkened room, use your intelligence to analyze what you’re experiencing.

Does that make the experience more like a visit to a proctologist than an evening of entertainment? I don’t think so. Borrowing from my ChatGPT theatre colleague “the immediacy of live theatre, a sense of presence and authenticity, is compelling and emotionally affecting. The performers are present in the same space as the audience, evoking a sense of shared experience and connection.” Using your critical eyes shouldn’t close you off to this experience. What it does is give you a sense of conscious awareness of how effective the presence and authenticity affect you. I get weepy eyed at musicals. That’s the effect the music, the emotions of the moment, and the ability of the actor/singer to communicate in a compelling way have on me.

Or maybe not. Watching Frog and Toad there were moments I was expecting an emotionally affecting experience, from my knowledge of the show, and it wasn’t there. The staging of the show had minimized the rapport between audience and actor to the degree that we didn’t buy into some of the efforts the performers made to bring us into their story.

Some plays have a “fourth wall,” the imaginary barrier between audience and actor. The actors behave as if they weren’t on a stage performing; the audience accepts that we are a silent and unseen observer. That’s a common trope of 20th century American theatre, like the Arthur Miller productions of Death of a Salesman, while Shakespeare’s plays, hundreds of years earlier, frequently engaged the audience as an active listener or participant in the action.

Frog and Toad should make you feel like you’re in the story. You get the joke about “snail mail” and laugh at the snail character playing the role of a USPS employee. “Breaking” the fourth wall barrier becomes an element of the character, building that bond between the actor and the audience. Without this strong emotional connection, I had the feeling I was watching a very clever sitcom with a laugh track (since the music for the show was pre-recorded and not performed by live musicians). Given that this was primarily a show (according to the marketing) for children 3-10 years old, I would have expected much more play between the actors and the children in the audience. It’s fun for the adults to watch the children’s reaction as much as to feel their own experiences. One of our young audience members last summer was devastated at the end of the performance: “I wanted to see snail again! Snail is my life!” It’s one of the best reviews I’ve ever heard of our work.

Yet here’s the real essence of developing a critical eye when experiencing the performing arts: you’re making judgements about your perception of an actor's ability to create a believable character. How well does this human convince me they’re telling someone’s story as if it were their own? We should be looking at the work, the product of the creative effort, not judging the human. Actors demonstrate extraordinary courage simply standing on a stage and reciting lines. Any effort above and beyond that becomes icing on the cake. Would we prefer a delicious, flourless chocolate cake to one that’s store bought? Of course. But both are really good desserts. It’s just that the chocolate one is unforgettable and evokes the essence of what cake should be. Ultimately that’s the reason we all go see live performance; for the very real possibility that we’ll see a performance that’s captivating, suspends the disbelief that we’re watching actors, and feels as satisfying as a really good cookie.

17 February 2023 Valley Voice
There's theater in life, obviously, and there's life in theater. — Charlie Kaufman
Piknik Theatre
905 Weiss Drive - across HWY 40 from the Holiday Inn 879.5929
Hayden Steamboat Springs Walden Meeker

Your Monthly Message

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18 February 2023 Valley Voice For those who live here and for those who wish they did.
Time is going by slow today The icecaps surround me A reason to stay Within my sorrow Listening to “Steely Dan” It rocks thoughts aside Another good friend left Earth is without his vibe Sadness I can’t ignore Will I ever accept “Death” Not talking physically again However Dimensions don’t separate Poetry
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19 February 2023 Valley Voice
A Few Ski Area NO-N0s
Skiing Out of Bounds Skiing too Fast Skiing all wrong
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