Valley Voice March 2022

Page 1

March 2022 . Issue 11.3


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Steamboat Springs Hayden Oak Creek Yampa

Howelsen Hill / Photo by Daniel Sanders


March 2022

Valley Voice

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Valley Voice

March 2022


Contents Ski Free Sundays at Howelsen Hill

Page 4

Checking In From the Capitol

Page 5

Routt County's Agriculture

Page 6

The Forest of Dreams

Page 6

Greater Sandhill Crane Week

Page 7

Farming in NW Colorado: Part II

Page 8

Looking o'er The Oddities

Page 9

By Brad Setter/ Howelsen Hill Ski & Rodeo Manager By Dylan Roberts By Scott L. Ford By Joan Remy

By Erin Gelling

By Ellen and Paul Bonnifield


VV Assistant:

Eric Kemper

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. Website Subscription rate is $40 per year (12 issues). All content © 2021 Valley Voice, L.L.C. No portion of the contents of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the written permission from the Valley Voice.

Official Fine Print Advertisers assume full responsibility for the entire content and subject matter of their ads. In the event of error or omission in the advertisement, the publisher’s sole responsibility shall be to publish the advertisement at a later date. Advertisements and articles are accepted and published upon the representation that the author, agency and/or advertiser is authorized to publish the entire contents and subject matter thereof. The author, agency, and/ or advertiser will indemnify and save Valley Voice, LLC harmless from all claims and legal action resulting from the contents of the articles or advertisements including claims or suits resulting from libel, defamation, plagiarism, rights to privacy and copyright infringements.

Tokyo Rose Tucker… The reality of full on war in this day and age… All the fun in town that you can’t attend because you have to work… Getting shot in the gut because you were at the wrong house… To the weirdo who started a fire in their hotel room to make popcorn… Pogo sticks and hard candy…


The Stories Trees Tell Us

Page 14

The Aspen Park Coney Dog on South Park… Howelsen Hill for offering free skiing on Sundays… Hayden saving their history for the ages… To the city and the powers that be slowing down the illegal nightly rentals… Dilly Pickles, Diamond and Pearl, Molly, Toad, Pip and Vic, Bailey and Ivy and Elwood… Powder days...

Perfection: The Enemy of Good

Page 15

Say What?...

"Obon" A Day with the Ancestors

Page 16

By Fran Conlon

Publisher/Art Director: Matt Scharf


A Paid Vacation Page 10 By Ken Proper

Tumbleweed and the WildRose By Johnny Walker

Page 12

All About Stout Page 13 By Sean Derning By Karen Vail

By Stuart Handloff By Phil Giffin

The Grump Page 17 By Aimee Kimmey

Your Monthly Message By Chelsea Yepello

Page 18

Comics Page 19

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:

“Holding the Winter Olympics in a place where it actually snows.” “Beijing 2022 felt like Berlin 1936 if Jesse Owens had been disqualified on a technicality to avoid offending the sensibilities of the hosts or bring politics into the games.” “The people who carelessly drive off the road and fly into the ditch – we call ‘shooters’.” “Do you think the Pilgrims would have been scared of leaving Routt County?” "Is this Colorado any more?"

We go to press March 25th for the April 2022 Edition! Send in your submissions by March 18th!

The views and opinions expressed reflect the views and opinions of the authors and may not necessarily reflect the views and opinion of the editor, staff or advertisers in Steamboat Springs’s Valley Voice. Direct all correspondence, articles, editorials or advertisements to the address below. The author’s signature and phone number must accompany letters to the editor. Names will be withheld upon request (at the discretion of the publisher). Submission is no guarantee of publication. Subscription rate is a donation of 40 measly dollars per year. However, if you wish to send more because you know we desperately need your money, don’t be shy, send us all you can! Advertisers rates vary by size, call 970-846-3801 and we’ll come visit you. Please make checks payable to: Valley Voice, LLC P.O. Box 770743 • Steamboat Springs, CO 80477 Thank you for your support!

“For those of you who are new to town - this is what couch surfing looks like”

We must use time as a tool, not as a couch. — John F. Kennedy


March 2022

Valley Voice

City of Steamboat Springs


Brad Setter/ Howelsen Hill Ski & Rodeo Manager


Ski Free Sunday - Get It Before It's Gone!

Photo by Sarah Glassmeyer Hard to believe that the midpoint of the 106th winter season at Howelsen Hill is in the rearview mirror and the close of the ski and snowboard season is on the horizon for the historic hill, slated for the first weekend of April.

We hate to say it but as we turn toward spring, there are only five more Ski Free Sundays left in the season with four in March and the final one on April 3, which is also closing day.

It goes without saying that the efforts of staff made all the difference in ensuring that historic ski area was able to open this winter. This was never more evident than through the herculean efforts of hill crews as they focused on early season snowmaking and grooming that was required to get the slopes going until Mother Nature kicked in!

This is the first time; Howelsen Hill will operate into April and makes for one of the longest operating seasons for the downtown ski hill. In addition to the longest running winter season, the ski area is open seven days a week for all to enjoy.

The popular Ski Free Sunday quickly followed suit, with the first free day in early December. The Sunday tradition has kept pace all winter and we can’t say THANK YOU enough to everyone who has taken advantage of the program!

On top of Ski Free Sunday, Howelsen Hill offers some of the most affordable options for individuals and families looking for lift tickets and season passes in Colorado. So, whether you’ve taken advantage of the free program or one of the hill’s attractive ticket prices or passes, Steamboat Springs’ hometown hill remains one of the few places families and friends can hit the slopes without having their pocketbooks take a hit too.

The new lift’s official welcome was showcased on none other than Ski Free Sunday – so all could enjoy and take part. The partnership between the city, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, The VF Foundation and Smartwool was on full display during the ribbon cutting and community day January 23 which ushered in a new era for the community and the ski hill. The on-slope momentum just keeps bubbling up like one of the famous namesake springs in the area. The ski area finalized several on-mountain improvements in addition to the new lift including a stand-alone slope side ticket office as well as served up a new food concessionaire. The Outrun has changed the atmosphere at the hill with fun happy hours, menu specials/deals and so much more! Even with these enhancements to the experience, we’ve already set our sights on next year and eagerly look forward to the addition of snow tubing and a new ticket/ pass software system.

Visit for information, pricing, Ski Free Sunday details and updates or call 970.879.8499. Howelsen Hill is open 11am to 8pm Monday through Friday and 10am to 4pm on weekends. Howelsen Park embodies the heart and soul of our community. The skiing and ranching history and town culture it has inspired are legendary across the globe. Generations of residents have learned to ski, jump, skate, and ride here, and lessons learned have taken 100 of our friends and neighbors to the Winter Games. These improvements ensure the heartbeat of this special place beats long and loud. Ski Free Sunday guarantees everyone across the community can take advantage of this historic ski hill and a sport that has defined the valley for over a century. I hope you will join us for all or some of the remaining Ski Free Sundays and look forward to seeing you at Howelsen Hill.

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


Valley Voice

March 2022


State Representative/ Eagle and Routt Counties

Checking In From the Capitol By Dylan Roberts

The Colorado General Assembly has been in session for just about one month, leaving a little more than three more months to go. Right now, my colleagues and I are working through the dozens of bills that have been proposed and will soon begin voting on moving some forward and rejecting others. I am happy to report that my top priorities, all ideas directly from residents in the district I represent, are moving forward with bipartisan support and significant momentum. Affordable Housing

Another bill of mine focused on affordable housing and supporting our workforce has been introduced as HB1117. This bipartisan bill will allow local communities, with voter approval, to use lodging tax revenue for tourism workforce needs like housing, childcare, and more. It just makes sense to let communities decide how to use the revenue brought to us by tourists and make sure we are supporting the workforce that serves our visitors. Saving Coloradans Money I have also introduced HB1006, a bipartisan bill that will provide a property tax exemption for landlords who lease to a child care center, prospectively resulting in an increased number of affordable child care centers across the state while supporting small businesses and landowners. Just last week, this bill took a major step forward when it passed its first committee hearing with a sweeping and bipartisan 11-1 vote. Thank you to Eagle County Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney for providing compelling testimony in support of the bill. I am also following and supporting more cost-saving measures like reducing gas fees, business fees, and measures intending to support our rural health care workforce and our public school teachers. School Funding Another major topic that the legislature will address this session is how to adequately and fairly fund our public education system and the amazing teachers serving our children and communities. I am optimistic that our state budget will make significant, if not historic, investments in education this year, including a two-year plan to eliminate the so-called “negative factor” and set our state on a course towards an equitable and fully-funded public education system. Our school funding decisions will occur when we debate and pass our state budget in late March so I look forward to providing more updates on this work in the coming months.

As Chair of the Affordable Housing Transformational Task Force, I am pleased that we released our final recommendations last week, all of which received bipartisan support. The report and its recommendations set forth our intention to leverage a once-in-a-generation $400 million opportunity to put in place housing policies that will provide immediate and long-lasting change on this critically important issue to our mountain and rural communities. These recommendations include ways to make significant strides by increasing access to flexible capital, fostering innovation, enhancing market stability, and promoting equitable access to homeownership and rental housing for people in every corner of the state. We expect these investments, partnered with existing and future local government, nonprofit, and private development to create more affordable housing for our workforce, teachers, police officers, and everyone that needs a safe and affordable place to live. I look forward to working with my colleagues in converting these proposals into bills that will begin the legislative process, and making these recommendations a reality this summer.

Increasing Public Safety Several of my bills intending to help reduce and prevent crime have been introduced and assigned to their respective committees. I have introduced bills, all with bipartisan support, cracking-down on retail theft, tightening regulations on funeral home abuses that we unfortunately experienced in our communities, and making our roads safer from drunk and impaired drivers. I am also looking forward to partnering with colleagues to tackle other important public safety issues like increasing penalties for fentanyl distribution and investing in important behavioral and mental health services that often lead to unnecessary crime. Fighting Climate Change and Investing in Wildfire and Drought Prevention There has also been significant movement on the issue of wildfire, water resources, and climate change as we begin this legislative session. Protecting our state’s water and investing in forest health and management are top of mind in several pieces of legislation that I am sponsoring. I look forward to making significant strides on these important issues. Our way of life in the mountains and rural Colorado will remain threatened by drought, climate change, and out-of-state water demands, but the state legislature can - and should - play an important role in protecting our environmental, agricultural, and water future. This session shows no signs of slowing down and I am optimistic that the bipartisan and deliberate work we are doing will start improving lives in our region, and across the state. As always, my work is a reflection of your feedback so please reach out any time at Dylan.Roberts. or on my cell at 970-846-3054.

Rep. Dylan Roberts serves Eagle County and Routt County in the Colorado State House.

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Smile, it's free therapy. — Douglas Horton


March 2022

Go Figure

Agriculture in Routt County It is a Tough Business to Be In By Scott L. Ford

Livestock by Type Number Pct. of Total Valley Voice • Cattle/calves 24,882 56.5% C • Sheep/lambs 14,163 32.1% I hesitate to broach this subject because it is a maze of • Horses/ponies 2,736However, it6.2% programs and special subsidies. is sufficient to• say that in 2019 Routt County farms/ranches Poultry 1,958 4.4% in aggregate received $1,353,244 from various government • Goats The source of these 243funds is primarily 0.5% from the programs. US Department of Agriculture (USDA). • Hogs/pigs 90 0.2%



Routt County 2000 2019 are categorized as follows: These-payments

In this month’s column I am continuing my deep dive into what is frequently referred to as the three legs of Routt County’s economy. Those three legs being Agriculture, Mining and Tourism. I continue this month with a focus on Agriculture. To re-cap, last month we learned that the number of farms/ranches has increased by about 175% over the past 40 years as a result of the agriculture landscape becoming increasingly fragmented into smaller and smaller farms/ranches. In addition, as of 2019, Agriculture, as an industry sector, represents about 1.7% of Routt County’s total GDP of $2.1 billion. This month the focus will be on what the farms/ranches are doing to generate revenue. Locally the farms/ranches in Routt County have three main sources of revenue. Those are: • Market Value of Agriculture Products Sold • Farm Related Activities (leases and services) • Government Payments In 2017 the total revenue from the three categories listed above were about $43 million.


The Forest of Dreams By Joan Remy

Walking silently Magic sunrays glistened I started to run fast with

Inflation Adjusted Profit/ Loss of Total Agriculture Operations

Market Value of Products Sold $80,000of 74% of Total Ag Revenue) (Source

$70,000 To keep things uncomplicated, farms/ranches have two types of revenue generating products which are livestock $60,000 and crops. At the time of the 2017 Agriculture Census the $50,000 sale of crops represented 16% and livestock 84%. $40,000 Crops locally are Timothy Hay, Alfalfa Hay and some small grains (wheat, oats and barley) and a teeny amount of $30,000 vegetables. The hays that are sold are used for feeding of $20,000 cattle and horses. As of 2017, the farm/ranch acreage dedicated $10,000 to hay production represented 98%, total small grains at 1.9% and vegetables at .03%. $0 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004As2005 2006 2007 2008 The livestock inventory is more varied. of December 31, 2017, the breakdown was as follows:

Livestock by Type • Cattle/calves • Sheep/lambs • Horses/ponies • Poultry • Goats • Hogs/pigs

Farm Related Service Sales Use ofofGovernment Amount (Source 24% of TotalFunds Ag Revenue)

hunting and/or fishing, etc.

Government Payments (Source of 2% of Total Ag Revenue)

Amount Pct. Of Total Sales Expenses $597,182 44.1% $498,494 36.8% $215,456 15.9% $42,112 3.1%

In Colorado there are 64 counties and the farms/ranches in 59 of these counties received some form of USDA funds in 2019. Statewide in 2019 Colorado farm/ranches received slightly over $343 million. Payment to Routt County farms/ranches represented 0.4% of the statewide total ranked 34th.2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2009 2010and 2011 2012 2013 Without question Agriculture is a tough business to be in in Routt County. Success is dependent on a host of variables such as weather and market conditions, of which folks have truly little control of. Over the past 20 years, adjusted for inflation, on an aggregate basis the agricultural industry sector has barely broken even in four years and lost money in nine of those years. In addition, when adjusted for inflation, Ag sales in 2014 are about the same as they were in 2000. Looking back even further to 1970, when adjusted for inflation, Ag revenue in Routt County is about $9 million lower. In a local economy with a $2.1 billion GDP, this is not much. All this means is that Agriculture as an industry sector has remained about the same size in abslute dollars over the past 50 years. However, the growth of the overall local economy has eclipse it, resulting in Agriculture being only 1.7% of the county’s GDP.

Inflation Adjusted Profit/ Loss of Total Agriculture Operations

Bursting through the illusions


Great Warriors are gathering




$60,000 $50,000

To save this strange world we love


Tyranny is falling off the throne

$30,000 $10,000

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

I g w g e e l n

S i e a r a m

$20,000 $0

G m a S l To put it as simply and as bluntly as possible, the value l of the agriculture industry sector in Routt County is not u about the money it generates in the local economy. It has b value that is not easily measured in dollars. The value has far more to do with the preservation of open space and a G nostalgic link to a time when Agriculture was the R economic/cultural king of Routt County. I t

Routt County 2000 - 2019

Under a Twilight Moon

A “Spartacus Moment”

Pct. of Total 56.5% 32.1% 6.2% 4.4% 0.5% 0.2%

Pct. Of Total • Disaster Relief $597,182 44.1% This category of revenue is a catch-all that would include, but• Conservation not limited to, renting of farm production equipment $498,494 36.8% to a third party, providing services such as cutting hay Subsidypayments $215,456 15.9% for• Commodity another landowner, for boarding of animals, leasing of pastureland for grazing, leasing of access • Crop Insurance Subsidy $42,112 3.1%for

Sweet Wolves

Standing strong against all odds

Number 24,882 14,163 2,736 1,958 243 90

Use of Government Funds • Disaster Relief • Conservation • Commodity Subsidy • Crop Insurance Subsidy

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

Valley Voice

March 2022



Cranes Arrive in the Yampa Valley for Greater Sandhill Crane Week By Erin Gelling

By summer’s end, crane chicks are now called colts and they can fly. Cranes from all over the Yampa Valley join together in “staging” areas near Steamboat, Hayden, and Craig to rest and feed. When staging, cranes spend their days in the agricultural fields and spend their nights roosting in the rivers, such as the Yampa River. During the day, cranes feed in agricultural fields, gaining energy by eating waste grain crops. This staging time in the fall is critical for them to gain the energy needed for their southern migration to their wintering grounds. In the 1970s, cranes were listed as state endangered as the population was significantly reduced. However, the cranes in Colorado have made a comeback, though are still listed as a Tier One Species of Concern in Colorado. Habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, and human disturbance continue to threaten cranes and other wildlife.

“Sandhill Soulmates” by Leilani Ward, the winning entry in the Visual Arts category for the 2021 Creative Arts Scholarship Contest.

Greater Sandhill Crane Week is March 1-8. This week was created to spread awareness of Sandhill Cranes and to welcome the cranes back to the Yampa Valley. Several activities are starting in March in celebration of cranes:

Greater Sandhill Cranes are iconic birds of the west. You may have noticed these tall gray or rust-colored birds around the Yampa Valley during spring, summer, or fall. Sandhill Cranes are considered to be one of the oldest living bird species, dating back 2.5 million years. They are large, lanky birds with loud bugling calls that can be heard up to 2 miles away. They are also considered one of the best dancers in the animal kingdom.

First Crane Sighting Contest. The first person to spot a Sandhill Crane in the Yampa Valley and to document their sighting with a photo or video can submit their entry as part of this contest. A prize will be awarded to each individual with the photo or video of the earliest sighting in West Routt, North Routt, South Routt, Steamboat Springs, Craig, and West Moffat. This contest has already started and continues until there is a winner in each category.

Greater Sandhill Cranes spend their entire lives in the Rocky Mountains. They breed in Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Idaho, and the northwest corner of Colorado. They spend their winters in New Mexico and Arizona.

Crane Book for StoryWalk®. Stroll over to StoryWalk® along the Core Trail near the Stockbridge Transit Center in Steamboat Springs to read A Busy Week for Salvador the Sandhill Crane by Margie Carroll. This children’s book has rich photography that documents the first week in the life of a crane chick. StoryWalk® is presented by the Bud Werner Memorial Library. This book will be displayed during March.

In early spring, Sandhill Cranes return to their breeding grounds including the Yampa Valley. They find a suitable wetland and create a large simple nest placed on the ground and generally surrounded by water. They lay 2 eggs in their nest and both parents help to incubate the eggs for about 30 days. Soon after the chicks hatch, they leave the nest with their parents and forage in the fields nearby their nest. Sandhill Crane chicks can see and walk soon after hatching, and this helps them to quickly leave the nest and escape predators. Crane chicks grow at an alarming rate, almost 1 inch every day within the first few months. This rapid growth helps the young cranes to become as tall as their parents by the time they start flying, almost 3 months after they hatched.

Creative Arts Scholarship Contest. Our crane-inspired Creative Arts Scholarship Contest is open to Routt and Moffat County high school seniors to earn money for continuing education. Students can submit entries in one of two categories: Written Art, consisting of a nonfictional essay or fictional story of 750-1500 words or a group of three poems; or Visual Art, consisting of a painting, sketch, photograph, or digital art. Entries are due by March 25, 2022. Crane Nest Camera. In mid-April, our Sandhill Crane Nest Camera will take center stage. Last year was the pilot year for the nest camera, but we still acquired amazing footage of Sandhill Cranes during the nesting season. Join us for our 2nd season of the nest camera as we tune into Rocky and Athena and their nesting journey. The livestream is available on our website and will be on display at the Bud Werner Memorial and Oak Creek libraries. Yampa Valley Crane Festival. Join us for the 11th annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival happening Sept 1-4, 2022. Join us for guided crane-viewings, bird walks, speakers, children’s activities, live raptors, and more. Many events are free but some require a small fee and registration. Be on the lookout for cranes from March to September throughout the Yampa Valley. Learn about all these contests and activities and about Sandhill Cranes on our website: Contact us with any questions:

Coloring Contest. Our annual Coloring Contest kicks off on March 1st! Stop by the Bud Werner, Oak Creek, Hayden, and Craig Libraries to pick up a coloring page, or download and print the page from our website. Children of all ages are welcome to draw and decorate the coloring page and submit it for the chance to win a prize. Entries are due August 15, 2022. Photo Contest. Get your camera ready! Our annual Photo Contest is open to both amateur and professional photographers and includes photos of Greater Sandhill Cranes in the Yampa Valley and throughout the Rocky Mountain Population. Photos due August 15, 2022.

“Sandhill Crane Couple” by Debbie McCulliss, winning photo in Category 2 of the 2021 Photo Contest.

If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right. — M. S. Swaminathan


March 2022

Valley Voice

Bonnifield Files

Farming in Northwestern Colorado: Part II By Ellen and Paul Bonnifield

Photo by Shawna Warbington It is impossible for us at this distance in history to grasp fully the depth of the agricultural depression beginning in the 1920s and continuing for several decades. Far more than an economic depression, for millions of Americans it was the end of the American way of life. From the days of Jefferson and Hamilton one of the great divides in the nation’s history, with its numerous variations, centered on the struggle between urban and rural. Manager of the Craig Farmers and Milling Co, Ed C. Johnson in 1925 wrote in the Empire Courier, “Wheat is the most important production of mankind. Bread is the staff of life.” At the end of World War I, wheat prices were nearly $1.40 per bushel and wartime demand was high. Disaster came in many forms. Winter 1919-20 in northwestern Colorado was extremely hard and long with snow piling up, ranchers and farmers running out of hay, and their livestock starving. The Denver & Salt Lake Railroad was snow bound, and even when it wasn’t, the system was in such poor repair that trains often wrecked. It was impossible to import livestock feed for the starving animals. A homesteader near Craig purchased a load of hay, but before he reached his home, starving animals along the route overwhelmed him and his team and ate most of the hay. He and hundreds of families were forced to watch their beloved animals suffer and die. It was only the first blow. Returning to Johnson’s comments, “Then came the period of liquidation following World War I. It cost 52 cents per

bushel to ship wheat to Kansas City. It only received 22 cents per bushel. Little wonder that 85 percent of the farmers walked off their fields.” The annual Mormon Cricket invasions began in 1921 and each year became more devastating. Hope always springs from the heart of America’s Next Year People – next year will bring a bumper crop and high prices. Farmers banded together and spread a mixture of bran and poison to check the invasion. After a successful campaign in 1923, the farm families on Price Creek near Maybell held an all day and all-night celebration. The next year the crickets were back in force. In 1927, the Mormon Cricket invasion consumed Moffat County and advanced on Routt County. Ferry Carpenter recommended using airplanes to spread poison gas. The county refused, preferring not to gas themselves; however, in Routt County miles long sections of solid fences were put in place to stop the invasion. It is not clear how successful the fences were. The Denver Chamber of Commerce donated several thousand dollars to purchase bran and poison; meanwhile, county governments remained tight fisted. If low wheat prices and cricket invasions were not enough, jackrabbits threatened to over-run the region. In 1922, Craig and Baggs competed to see who could round up and kill the most rabbits. Hunters formed a large circle and drove their prey towards the center where men clubbed them to death. The goal was set at 5,000 rabbits. The hunters shipped 2,231 rabbits to the poor in Denver who were not grateful to receive rotted and spoiled rabbits to eat.

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

e Another large rabbit drive was held at Toponas where small caliber weapons and shotguns were used. Over 500 c rabbits were reported shipped to Denver’s poor. Luckily, no N person was shot. c 2 It wasn’t all doom and gloom. Although the open range cattle ranchers either went broke or sold and round-up r wagons stopped rolling, the sheep business quickly filled o p the void. Isadore Bolton along with other immigrants from eastern and southern Europe became prosperous a sheep ranchers after enduring the exceptionally violent o last years of the sheep and cattle wars. By 1930, Moffat a a County’s open range was sheep country and shipment T of wool and lambs turned Craig from a cow town to a sheepman’s community. Free-riders or range pirates as l c they were called ravished the range. The range pirates owned no land, paid no tax, and heeded no rancher’s claim a s to the range. They simply followed the grass and went where they pleased. Often large herds of several thousand B sheep were guarded by heavily armed men. Stopping the C free-riders was one the principal reasons Ferry Carpenter a supported the Taylor Grazing Act. He was also the first z o administrator of the Taylor Grazing Act. a The 1920's witnessed the lettuce boom in south Routt F County, Avon in Eagle County, and Granby in Grand County. The leading lettuce area was south of Buena Vista. a To cool the lettuce while shipping, Espy Ice Company built t icehouses near Yampa, Kremmling, and Rollinsville. Each c c winter, ponds were frozen. Later, blocks of ice were cut and stored. “Cutting ice” often became a source of winter e work for struggling small ranchers. Colorado’s peak let- y tuce production year was 1927 with 13,240 acres with t a value of $2,373,100. Raising lettuce proved a high-risk g crop – summer hailstorms often injured the heads, frosts p b destroyed crops, grasshoppers attack the heads, labor m shortages, and uneven markets abounded. Eight years later, 1935, Colorado farmers raised lettuce on only 5,100 ( T acres with a value of $394,000. The lettuce boom had busted; however, it resurged briefly during World War II. b The end came when Jack Holden at Toponas gave up in the A early 1950's. h A renewed sense of hope came with when counties along h the D&SL approved a bond issue for construction of the p t Moffat Tunnel and improved freight service and rates n were promised. In 1925, Ed Johnson foresaw Moffat County annually raising ten million bushels of wheat. The Routt County Sentinel proudly boasted the county raised T more wheat per acre than any county in the state. Moffat T l County dryland farmers in 1925 harvested 135,000 acres of grain and potatoes; Routt County farmers plowed i 51,089 acres. (In 2019, nine thousand acres were farmed t s in the Mountain Counties District with no potatoes or e lettuce.) c o Although the farm population was rapidly decreasing, farmers were attempting offset the weak market by rais- f ing more grain. Advancement in machinery and tractors I f made that possible. Marketing grain became a difficult challenge. The Hayden elevator saw a series of managers H t come and go. In 1925, Hungarian Floor Mill of Denver i leased the Hayden elevator. It proved short termed. By t 1928, only a limited supply of wheat arrived at the

Valley Voice

March 2022



elevator and the following year it closed and remained closed until 1937 when Charles Deaver purchased it. North of Hayden in the Elkhead/California Park/Anthracite school district approximately fifty households (about 200 people) proved up on homesteads. The 1930 census reported forty-five people living in the district. By 1950, only two or three families remained. Following the same pattern, families across Routt and Moffat counties and across the entire West abandoned their dream of land ownership – their special place in the sun. Between 1900 and 1920, tens of thousands of homesteads were filed on across the western United States and western Canada. The agricultural depression began in 1920 and a decade later, homesteading was dead. In some areas, families couldn’t even give their land away. They simply walked away and never looked back. The farm organizations sought congressional assistance with the McNary-Haugen Bill in 1927 and again in 1928 only to have President Coolidge veto it, saying, “Farmers have never made money, and I don’t believe we can do much about it.” Farm organizations and co-ops attempted to reduce grain production on a volunteer basis but failed. Instead, both number of acres and production per acre increased. Five years after Coolidge’s veto, farmers were destitute. In a three-year period, 1930-1933, farm income decreased by two-thirds while prices of goods they bought only decreased by fifty-two percent. The Routt County Treasurer collected only seventy-three percent of the 1932 tax revenue and the 1931 collection was ten percent below the year earlier. Unknown is how many farmers failed to pay their tax but remained on the farm. They had no place to go and nothing to do. The county let them stay and, when possible, hired them and their teams to work on roads. All but one county bank closed its doors and depositors lost money before the Federal Credit Corporation became law. (At least four bankers went to prison on various charges. The bank in Oak Creek, although weak, survived and became the mother of Routt County National Bank.) After becoming governor, Ed Johnson returned to his home in Craig. Speaking before a group of loyal supporters, he predicted revolution and strongly opposed New Deal programs as wasteful. Although running on a Democrat ticket in 1943, he labeled President Roosevelt a communist. This was in the heat of World War II.

The early federal farm programs accepted the biblical seven years of feast when surplus grain was stored and seven years of famine. When the nation entered World War II, it had enough grain to feed the war effort and allow for increased farm prices. The war years were good years for farmers. Following the war farmers had enough money and federal loans to purchase new and modern equipment and improved seed. They learned improved farming methods. The result was an even greater farm surplus. In 1960, the carry-over of wheat was 1.3 billion bushels. Recognizing the on-rushing disaster of surplus wheat, the Soil Bank Agriculture Act of 1957 began paying farmers not to plant all their fields. Nationally in 1965, fifty-five million acres of wheat were taken out of production and the carry-over was reduced to 819 million bushels. After 1970, agricultural production programs began taking more land out of production. The Conservation Reserve Program and the Grassland Reserve Program beginning in the 1980s allowed for long-term leases of grain land. Vast acres were no longer farmed. Paul Kenney closed the Hayden Grain Elevator in 1988 due to shortage of gain coming in for storage. The elevator at Steamboat had already closed, and within a decade, only one small elevator was left at Craig. Today only a handful of farmers are raising wheat in northwestern Colorado. zirkel-valleyvoice-ad-3.1667x5.5-071421.pdf



Looking o'er the Oddities By Fran Conlon

Looking o'er the oddities of this scene, I seem to rest somewhere near the middle, Little else roams the area in between, The last man standing inherits the riddle. The ancients sought the Golden Mean, Between the extremes lay a path, Of rational choice to fit the seam, My soul can decide without wrath. Skip the choices of wild discord, A sojourner in land not his own, The mountain home is its own reward, 'Til settling by streams of nature’s home. Bright morning sun; the rays are free, No shadows need block the view, The zephyr touches with a plea, For gentle balance that will renew. Nothing 's wrong with being near the middle, The last man standing need not fiddle.

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The New Deal was a revolutionary change for agriculture. The goal according to Roosevelt was to assure food prices low enough for destitute people to purchase while assuring farmers income security. Over the next decade, a multitude of acts passed to assist in price support, elevator storage, conservation, farm loans, crop insurance, rural electricity, farm-market roads, and hot lunches for schoolchildren. In Routt and Moffat counties, hot lunch was the only meal several children received each day. Surplus farm commodities were distributed to starving families. In 1939, thirty-five percent of the net farm income came from government programs. After several idle years, the Hayden Elevator reopened in 1937, and although through the following years, it experienced boom and bust periods, it expanded the storage capacity and improved its operation.





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Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field. — Dwight D. Eisenhower


March 2022

Valley Voice

Happy Feet, Happy Life The only podiatrist in the region!

Happy feet carry you through your day and let you do the things you love. Derek Harper, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, sees patients for general foot and ankle issues and performs simple and complex surgeries.

Victims of Love

A Paid Vacation By Ken Proper

“Is this seat taken?” Derek Harper, DPM

I turned in shock and replied, “No, it’s not.”


Her smile was apprehensive, “Hi.” 2201 Curve Plaza • Steamboat


(West of Ace Hardware)

“How have you been?” I stammered, “I’m doing good, I mean, doing well.” “I hoped so, may I join you?” Corina cooed deviously. “But of course, what are you doing here? I’m surprised to see you on this train. What about your arrest and appearance before the court?”


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She sat and responded presently, “That’s a good story. I appeared before the judge on Monday. My lawyer explained, my husband gave the material to the sheriff, it wasn’t mine and I was innocent of the charges. Then he added, I have documented suffering with tuberculous. The judge was furious and shouted at JJ saying, ‘Have you no shame sir? What are your intentions, a divorce?’ JJ stunned and knowing he would lose everything if he said yes, replied, ‘No.’ The judge slammed the gavel down and stated, ‘Case dismissed. Madame you are free to go to a sanatorium, if you wish.’ So, I’m going to the National Jewish Hospital for Consumption in Denver.” She feigned a cough, “I need to practice, I’m not very convincing. It’s a free facility, but I’m donating to get in. It’s the least I can do.”


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March 3, 1915 My work as a waiter requires continuous rote tasks which helped me to not think of Corina. It is somewhat of a salvation. I’ve been engaged daily at the dining room and shielded from my thoughts. I cleared tables after a busy breakfast when Maggie came out of the kitchen with two cups of coffee and encouraged me to relax. She pointed at a table and we sat. “James Norvell now owns a 100% of the Cabin Hotel stock.” I answered, “I heard that, and he changed the board of directors to his liking.” “Correct and they want to upgrade all the bedding, sheets and pillows. You have an eye for quality, and I don’t, so I want you to go to Denver and bring back a few soft and luxurious samples for their review. Fish with your Uncle in Hot Sulphur, if you like, and it will be a paid vacation. You’ve been working hard and it’s a good break for you.” “Really? Alright, I’ll take the trip. It’s my job,” I said, though dreading the time to stew about Corina.

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“I purchased your fare and arranged for two nights at the Windsor Hotel. You leave tomorrow.” That conversation was yesterday. Today I sat in the dining car ready to order luncheon, when a heavenly voice asked,

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“Most amazing, and this was a setup to get me to travel with you.” Her green eyes shined and with the mischievous smile she confirmed, “Yes, but you still need to choose bedding samples. Let’s order lunch, I’m starving. I’m feeding two, you know.” Our causal conversation continued light and easy. She mentioned she had morning sickness occasionally, but generally it passed quickly. She knew I had put in many hours at the hotel. I did not remark it was an attempt to place her out of my mind. We finished eating and she asked if we could sit together in the coach. I answered by taking her hand, steadied her while we walked and picked two seats. I sat on the aisle and she settled in next to the window. “It’s so cold,” she whispered. I asked the porter for blankets, a pillow, and a foot warmer. When snuggled and warm, she confided, “True confession time.” I glanced at her green eyes. “I signed a 15-month contract with Madame Ollie in early October. So, I’m indentured too.” I’m not sure if I hissed or whispered the questions, “An agreement for illegal activity? Did you sign it with blood?” “Well, yes, how did you know? A signature with a cut and bloody index finger was required to enter the sisterhood.” I sighed in disbelief. “All the women signed and gave their word of honor to obey in the beginning. Obviously, each

Valley Voice

pact was different. Mine was as a secret vendor of contraception products, which was to be renewed or expired on January 1, 1916, depending on the passing of Prohibition. I was and still am committed to the timeline. Financially, it represented a great deal of money, for only specific tasks. I couldn’t pass it up.”

March 2022

“He turned you in for obscenity!”

“I’ve never told you how my grandfather died.” She eyed me curiously. “He was shot dead in a married woman’s bed. You are married and not to me. I will not repeat his legacy.” She winked saying, “That rhymes. You have such a poetic way with words. We have our work cut out for us and we can stitch it together.” Corina pushed the pillow close to me, smiled brightly, mumbled, “Did you like my allegory?” and fell asleep with her literary device on my shoulder. The steep rails climbed up James’s Peak and the slow, but persistent locomotive labored through the spirals, trestles, and switchbacks. We emerged out of a tunnel near the top. The bright sunlight filtering through the frosted windows woke her. “The crystals on the windows are beautiful, but a little disturbing, one can’t see out.” “It’s mostly white with the mournful crows mocking and gliding in the updrafts.” “The rails are steeper in the Rocky Mountains than the Alps,” she acknowledged.

“Indeed, I signed, then drank wine with you, celebrated and spent the night making love to you. I feared you would see or feel the cut on my finger.”

The train rolled to a stop at the summit. She asked, “Do you need to use the water closet?”

“The business was pretty much set up by the time I knew I was pregnant. Madame was furious at JJ for assaulting me. A great deal of threating went back and forth, but JJ knows Madame will kill him if he messes up again.”

A new fictional novel about the early years in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

“That was a stroke of genius on Madame’s part and it almost worked.” After my questioning gaze, she continued, “She seduced him with the thought of my imprisonment and with me out of the picture, he would make all the money, except he had no contract with her. At the last moment, he realized our divorce, or my conviction, would leave him on the street empty handed. Madame implied, close but no cigar, honey. She’ll keep things orderly in Steamboat until the summer season and encouraged me to take a maternity leave. It can be you and me in Denver, kiddo. That would be exciting.”

“You signed before you knew you were pregnant.”

Once again dumbfounded, I sat and reflected. During all my encounters with women, I strived to be one step ahead, with the gestures, timing, and motivations. With Corina, I constantly remained one step behind. “So, what’s the plan?”


“No, I’m fine.” “Nor I,” and she snuggled in closer and fell into a deep slumber again. The skies in the approach to Denver were a dark blue and the sun had melted the frost on the windows creating a flowing abstracted colorful view. Evening darkness shrouded Union Station, I ordered a cab under the promenade street lights for Jackson Street and East Colfax Avenue. The still warm air and aromas of steaming horses clopping on the pavement were welcome. Corina instructed the driver to go the Grabfelder Research Building. “I’ll make my donation there,” she stated to me. She was surrounded by doctors as I watched from a distance. She smiled at me, wrote a donation bank draft, and then returned with a nurse. “I’ll get settled now in the Women’s Pavilion. Come visit me tomorrow.” “I will.” The cabbie took me to the Windsor Hotel and unloaded my luggage too. I gave him a royal tip for his patience, sat in my room, exhausted after a full day of travel, and stared into space for a long time. Does Corina represent a bridge I want to cross or burn? Then I realized I missed her and speculated, Which option is better and necessary?

Ken Proper’s novel Victims of Love is available at:

. Off the Beaten Path . Tread of Pioneer Museum . Ski Haus . Steamboat Creates at the Depot . Steamboat Trading Co. .

March is Senior Pet Awareness Month Their affection is timeless, devotion is ageless and their love is forever…

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The man who does more than he is paid for will soon be paid for more than he does. — Napoleon Hill


March 2022

Valley Voice

Adventure... A Guide to Life's Challenges

Tumbleweed and the WildRose (and the K.I.S.S. Method) By Johnny Walker

adventure while recovering from an industrial accident (as told in last month’s issue) and read every novel, article, and essay I could find about sailing the world alone in a small sailboat. I read all of Jack London, Farley Mowat, and Joshua Slocum and, of course, the 640 pages of Chapman’s Piloting and Seamanship. They all have one theme in common: Simplicity is a virtue. Most larger and more complicated yachts seem to miss this point. This oversight has brought many a voyage to an end. With this wisdom (and my budget considerations), the “yacht” for my voyage would not need an engine, electricity, refrigeration, or electronic navigational aids. With the K.I.S.S. method (keep it simple, stupid), a good set of sails, proper hand tools, some fishing gear, a chart and compass were the most expensive equipment I would need on board the Tumbleweed. With that said, we (Tumbleweed and I) would be ready to sail. And thus what followed was a generation of adventure. Plenty has been written of this voyage in my book called “Adventure” so I’ll leave that for another reading. After several voyages, recorded in many years of Tumbleweed’s log books (most of which are water stained from heavy weather, big waves and nine days on the bottom) I share tales of life, love and laughter. But as a young lad I was beginning to long for some solid ground and earthly security. Sailing big oceans to find small islands is, of course, not without peril and always full of adventure.

Gigi and an Aspen Some dreamers tend to follow a path. Some choose the hard way, but as Jack London eloquently put it, “some follow the path of least resistance.” I chose the latter, maybe because I was just lazy or maybe my personal goals just didn’t line up with the conventional wisdom. At a time when I was young, cruising on board the little sloop, Tumbleweed, seemed to be a well suited mode of transportation. A small sailboat would enable a young man to see the world and maybe find himself. My tiny budget dictated something small, something simple, and something cheap, yet comfortable and safe for ocean voyaging. I had previously spent the year (1970) reading non-fiction

In 1974, Routt County seemed to me to be an inviting chunk of solid earth. Land wasn’t cheap (even back then) but with a little good luck and considerable wandering through the national forest with my new love, Gigi, we stumbled across an old rusty “for sale” sign lying face down in an aspen meadow. Maybe, hidden within these forests, there is a piece of ground for sale. With a little research we learned that, yes there were a few acres for sale and owned by an older lady in Ft. Collins. We called her up and she agreed to meet for lunch. Before we could finish our meal, she accepted our offer of $6000. Of course, we didn’t have that kind of money. But Helen Prout wouldn’t give up. She sold us that 2 acres and insisted we buy another adjacent piece for another $6000 with $1200 down and to be paid off over 6 years.

We had the $1200 and could barely afford the monthly payment, and that beautiful piece of land, a remote wooded “island” within the national forest, at the end of a dirt road, was soon ours! This land was now christened the WildRose, named after a young girl’s adventure club I had begun when Chula was younger, and, of course, the abundance of wild roses. A tipi was erected and an open-air summer camp eventually evolved. Our intention was that it shall forever remain a sanctuary of peace and quiet. Its development would be nothing more than the tipi and maybe a winter hut. The kitchen, shower, and outhouse would not have walls that would obstruct the view of the valley below and the surrounding nature. It should never become a burden, unaffordable or just too much trouble. Keeping it simple comes natural when your greatest pleasures come from nature itself. Life at the WildRose was not unlike those years of cruising on board the Tumbleweed. We were still living under “canvas”… ‘Just taking the path of least resistance.” It’s been over forty years at the WildRose. Our kids are grown and now the grandkids come up for a night or two and play in the same woods as did their parents. Gigi and I relax and watch every sunset for the three months of summer. During the winter I taught Industrial Arts and built wooden sail boats and surfboards. We rarely travel without one on the car top. Gigi always has her paint kit nearby to capture on paper the nature that comes our way. We have learned that the best things in life come not from the things you buy but the things you create. The energy that goes into a created object stays there forever and ripens with time. The WildRose just gets better every season, but I still have to remind myself: ...Just keep it simple, stupid!

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Valley Voice

March 2022


Suds Central

All About Stout By Sean Derning aka A Beer Fairy

Today, American craft brewers offer dozens of different takes on stouts, as stouts are able to impart their own flavor and let the added ingredients come through. Stout ingredient additions can include cocoa, molasses, chilies, coffee, peanut butter, fruits and even marshmallows. In another twist, brewers are aging their stouts in bourbon and rum barrels, with the nose giving off the telltale aroma of aged spirits. One such offering of several stout varieties is the Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont, CO. Stout fans who visit their tasting room can sample at least a half dozen different stouts, in addition to other styles.

March Gladness; Left Hand’s Nitro, Telluride’s Ski In Ski Out and Deschutes’ Obsidian.

As March is arriving, with it comes one of the most celebrated ethnic holidays on the U.S. calendar; St. Patrick’s Day. And what is one of the most popular beverages served on that day? Stout beer, of course. Most beer drinkers in this country identify stout with Guinness, the import from Ireland, as the benchmark that has been brewing beer at St. James’s Gate outside of Dublin, Ireland since 1759. However, there are numerous examples of American versions of stouts in beer coolers, with several fine examples of stout produced domestically. This article will offer a brief overview of the history of stouts, explore the different types, and sample several domestic choices in an effort to see how they stand up to old granddaddy Guinness. A dark history A close cousin to porter beer styles popular in the U.K. and Ireland, stouts get their dark, opaque color from similar roasted malted barley used in other beers, but the malted barley in stout has been roasted longer, in a process similar to the difference between light and dark toasted bread. Darker malts became more commercially available in England after Englishman Daniel Wheeler invented the roasting kiln in 1817, according to and not only affected the color of the beer, but the taste, as it was bolder. Stronger. Stout. Hence the name. More of the sugars in stout’s malted barley kernels are carmelized and the end result is a more intense and sometimes bitter, or burnt, flavor. In order to mellow this bitterness, brewers added certain ingredients to take the edge off. Ingredients such as lactose (milk sugar) and oats have been added to sweeten and mellow the product and increase mouthfeel, a sensation produced by the addition of oats. According to Wikipedia, the smoothness of oatmeal stouts comes from the oat’s high content of proteins, lipids (includes fats and waxes), and gums imparted by the use of oats. The gums from unmalted oats increase the viscosity and body of the beer, adding to the sense of smoothness and drinkability, according to a 2012 scientific paper by Birgit Schnitzenbaumer on Impact Areas of Unmalted Oats in Worts, Mashes and Beers.

However, for this article, we are going to stick with stouts that offer few to no flavor additions and allow any exceptional notes or flaws to come through. A trinity of stouts Three locally available beers were chosen for this month’s taste test; Telluride Brewing CO’s Ski In Ski Out stout, Left Hand Brewing CO’s Left Hand Nitro milk stout and Deschutes’ Obsidian stout. A Beer Fairy likes the domestic choices as the beer doesn’t have to travel halfway around the world like Guinness, and leaves a smaller, more sustainable carbon footprint. The first choice is Telluride’s Ski In Ski Out stout, a beer flavored with coffee and cocoa nibs. Color is pitch black and a creamy mocha colored head stands up when poured. The coffee and cocoa are not very noticeable in the nose and does not bolster the beer’s roasted malt profile in any way. The beer was a bit of a disappointment and only earned a 71 on Drinkers would be much better off purchasing Telluride’s award-winning Face Down brown ale that was reviewed in the September, 2021 edition of the Valley Voice, as it is a nice St. Pat’s day alternative if you want a darker beer for St. Pat’s Day but are not a fan of stouts.

Wee facts and fallacies In closing, stouts, in their simplest form, can be something worth seeking out. Their global appeal is firmly established, with Nigeria, and not Ireland, brewing 40% of the world’s Guinness, according to And stout history reflects a style that goes back hundreds of years in European history, even finding favor with Russian Empress Catherine the Great. Stouts are also a versatile choice as they can be enjoyed year ‘round if there isn’t much ice left in the cooler. Their drinking temperature range is much greater than lagers and pilsners. Next time you’re at an outdoor summer event, try drinking a stout and discover that the beer is still drinkable when it approaches 60F. Stouts are not as filling or full of calories as the falsehoods say, and a 12 oz bottle of Guinness has 125 calories, only 15 more calories than a Bud Light. A Beer Fairy urges readers who are serious about their beer to conduct a simple taste test; pick up a six pack of Guinness and Deschutes Obsidian bottles and see which one appeals most. The result might surprise you.

-Sean Derning is A Beer Fairy and offers beer/brewery reviews and videos at

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Next up is Left Hand Brewing CO’s Nitro milk stout. Very creamy with the signature black color and tightly beaded tan head due to nitrogen being used in the carbonation process, this beer stands up and offers dark malts and the smoothness of oats to give the beer that silky, slippery feeling that doesn’t cling to the tongue. The finish is dry and after scoring a 93 on, this beer deserves exploration or a road trip excuse for stout fans here to visit Left Hand’s brewery. The final choice is Bend, OR’s Deschutes Obsidian stout and this beer is a must purchase. It has all the attributes of a world-class stout; rich, creamy taupe head, dark grains on the nose with a hint of raisins. It’s a beer that begs for a second and third sip and deserves another round for stout fans. Others appear to approve and the beer received a 98 score on

Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer. — Henry Lawson


March 2022

Valley Voice

'Boat Almanac


The Stories Trees Tell Us By Karen Vail


Photo by Karen Vail

We can count these rings after a tree has been cut down and view the exposed stump. We also take a core of the tree’s rings using a hollow tree corer that drills into the wood to the center of the tree then is pulled out producing a nice sample of rings looking like a long pencil. Rings can tell us the years a tree has survived fire. Fire often leaves scars that are healed over and can be seen as a gap in the storyline. They can also tell us if the forest has changed. A tree might show extremely narrow rings in its first years of life, then suddenly the rings abound into nice wide rings. Something as small as a tree falling, opening the canopy to sunlight, water and nutrients can elicit this growth spurt. A lopsided set of rings, where the rings on one side of the trunk are narrower than the other side tell the story of a tree growing on a steep slope. The narrow rings are on the uphill side, wider rings to the downhill side.

This lodgepole pine had a happy childhood, then slowed down in its older years, as seen by the narrowing rings. To the right is a branch, and the dark stain is blue-stain fungus from mountain pine beetle infestation. Can you count how old this tree was? What if a tree can tell you that a fire raged through the area 220 years ago, that a drought plagued a region 1200 years ago, or a tree fell in the forest near a struggling little seedling 350 years ago? Dendrochronology is the study of tree rings, or, as I like to think, the study of tree stories. I had just finished reading a new book, “Tree Story; The History of the World Written in Tree Rings” by Valerie Trout, when the radio announced that dendrochronology had determined that we are in the twenty second year of

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the worst drought since the 1200s. There’s a lot of stories to be told here! But we will start with the basics. As a kid, I loved to count the rings of exposed tree trunks, always amazed at how defined each ring was and what information a ring told about that year for that tree. Dendrochronology comes from “dendro,” from the Greek “dendron” meaning tree, and “chronology” as the study of time. A tree in temperate climates adds a new layer of cells each year near the bark. The fast growing spring growth, called early wood, is light colored with larger cells, and the fall growth, called latewood, is slower growing and denser with darker wood. Each year there is a defined ring with light and dark to highlight that year’s growth, and these rings, as the tree grows, can show us the age of a tree very accurately. These rings also highlight many other things; the health of the tree, climatic conditions, damage to the tree, even if the tree was growing on a slope. Years of optimal growth will show wide rings, years of stress will show narrow rings. It sounds all so very simple, but nature always throws in a curve ball. There can be multiple rings in a season when, for example, a mid summer drought ceases growth, only to have another narrow ring added when growth resumes with late summer moisture. Or there could be missing rings altogether. Some trees aren’t very stress tolerant, so they just give up growing during extremely dry years and produce no ring. Trees found at their upper limits of growth in the krummholz have rings so narrow they are often studied under a microscope.

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

Within a certain region, bad climate years, whether from drought, cold or other nasty weather events, will affect most trees in the same way and leave a distinct narrow band across the board. This is kind of like a Morse Code, with alternating happy versus unhappy years that create M a signature for the region’s trees. Within this signature t are significant pointer years that really stand out; maybe m a very severe drought year producing almost no ring. That h pointer year is what dendrochronologists use to crossdate y other ring samples and anchor a ring in time. For example,p Valerie Trout worked on samples from the Sierra Nevada e in California and found a unique tree signature as follows: d 1783 narrow, 1792 wide, 1795 narrow, 1796 very narrow, h 1809 wide, 1822 narrow, 1829 very narrow. When look- S ing at other samples from the area she could home in on m those two very narrow rings (two extreme drought years) h then check rings on both sides to see if they matched up b and, voila, a match! This dating can be used on ancient p preserved wood, even fossils. In Germany they have used g buried wood preserved in anaerobic conditions and were o able to crossdate samples from the present back to 8480 c BCE; that is over 10,500 years of stories preserved in tree g rings! p w “Trees remember. They record history and they don’t lie.” This quote from “Tree Story” points to why the stories P trees tell us through their rings are so important to us to- b day. Tree rings in the news recently have brought to light a how the drought we have seen the past 22 years is worse t than the 16-year drought from the 1200s that likely s contributed to the abandonment of Mesa Verde by the An- f cestral Pueblo people and a 23-year megadrought ending in the late 1500s. I highly recommending visiting this site T to check out their excellent visual of historical droughts and where we are today. • us-news/ng-interactive/2021/jun/17/tree-rings-america- r megadrough•t-visual Also check out https://www.climate. gov/news-features/blogs/beyond-data/how-tree-rings• tell-time-and-climate-history from NOAA discussing the s International Tree-Ring Data Bank. These tree ring stories are a wakeup call for what the west is experiencing today. • o Next time you are out and find a cut log, take some time to examine the exposed rings and the story they tell. How • old was the tree, did it have a nice happy life, or was there o some strife in its history? Can you see signs of fire or other changes? I’ll see you out on the tree ring trail!

Valley Voice

March 2022


Piknik Theatre

Perfection: The Enemy of Good By Stuart Handloff

Much has been made of the lack of perfection gained through COVID vaccination. Some folks expect the medical profession and public health professionals to have firm and unchanging answers to this pandemic. If you’ve followed the conversation since the end of 2020 in professional medical journals, you’ve seen uncertainty at every step. This virus is as mysterious as it is potentially dangerous and life threatening, especially to those of us at higher risk. Hard and fast answers simply don’t exist. Statistics say getting vaccinated is the best way to mitigate risk; almost no vaccinated people end up in the hospital or the morgue. But having seen firsthand some breakthrough infections that have caused serious health problems, vaccinations aren’t perfect. But does that mean getting vaccinated is a poor option for public health? Obviously not. If you get fully vaccinated, you’re less likely to cause your neighbors and friends who work in the Emergency Department and ICU headaches. And somebody is paying big bucks to keep you alive when a free vaccine would have been a whole lot less expensive. Plans for the performing arts amphitheater at the Strawberry Park school campus are moving quickly. We’ve got architects, engineers, and a general contractor lined up to begin work in early June as soon as school is out of session for the summer. This is a modest performing arts facility.

• Suitable for opera, dance, chamber orchestra, choir, lecture hall • Boost to arts economy in the downtown business district • Complement to vibrant outdoor recreational culture and economy All in all, this is the best suitable and economical option for an outdoor performance facility of this size and programming choices. Best of all, is the support the amphitheater has earned from so many different constituents. At the January 24, 2022, school board meeting, the board members for School District RE-2 were unanimously supportive of pursuing this project. They cited the importance for students to expand both the quantity and quality of the performing arts and educational opportunities. They also recognized the value the amphitheater will bring to the greater Steamboat community. Nearly every performing arts group in the area has written a letter of support for the project, as well as the Main Street Steamboat business promotional organization for the downtown area. Opera Steamboat, Perry-Mansfield, the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra, and local dance groups have already committed to use the facility in addition to Piknik Theatre and the school district. It’s rare that a cultural amenity unites schools, businesses, and performing arts organizations, but this opportunity now has arisen which provides immense value to all. But this facility is not perfect; it’s AN amphitheater, not THE amphitheater. There will be a need for a facility that serves the raucous outdoor Free Concert series, larger scale performances, events incompatible with a school district (i.e., drug and alcohol consumption), and nighttime activities, for example. Is that a reason to reject this first step toward meeting the needs of the collaborative groups who are aligned in support of the facility? Obviously not. There is a great need for additional performance venues in the community and until Moses once again descends

from Mt. Sinai with stone tablets and a check for tens of millions of dollars to build a traditional performing arts center, these groups will struggle to be sustainable. Piknik Theatre, for example, has enjoyed the hospitality of the Yampa River Botanic Park for the past ten years. But increasing noise from the highway and the adjacent athletic fields have made performing there problematic and expensive for an admission free event. The Steamboat Symphony Orchestra and Opera Steamboat have been performing due to the kindness of strangers for several years. Local dancers have made do with their one annual dance concert. As importantly as this facility is for local performing arts groups, it’s equally important for the local students. The high school auditorium is great for the two or three major productions for this age group but there is nowhere for these kids to perform smaller, less formal material. For younger students, there are even fewer choices. Outdoor performance and education aren’t confined to the performing arts either. There are tons of studies that link the outdoors to higher academic achievement in a variety of disciplines. So don’t expect perfection. We live in a community that has invested tens of millions of dollars in recreational amenities including golf courses, ice rinks, airports, a tennis bubble, an elaborate and varied trail system for pedestrians and cyclists, and a host of other outdoor activities. This modest amphitheater is the first step to balancing the needs of a healthy community: recreation with arts and culture; physical with emotional and spiritual development. Many new residents of the community remark on the advantages for family living and that’s true if your family is into competitive skiing and bicycling. Children who have artistic interests are frequently frustrated with the poor educational opportunities and inadequate facilities. We’ve invested a scant fraction in arts and culture compared to recreational facilities, and to our cost in terms of mental health and a well-rounded community. We’re rapidly becoming “Aspen without the culture” with expensive housing and recreation but no artistic balance; just another ski town with a drinking problem. When this amphitheater is built, it will be such an avidly desired facility by such a wide variety of community users that we will be fighting each other for opportunities to produce work or hold outdoor events. It won’t be perfect, but it will be damn good!

The project summary reads like this: • All acoustic venue (no amplified sound or stage lighting required) • Designed and engineered for low maintenance and sustainability • 100 bench style seats with space for 100 more in an open, landscaped area • Three-season access for student performances and outdoor education

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. — Abraham Lincoln


March 2022

Valley Voice

Looking Back

"Obon" A Day with the Ancestors By Phil Giffin©

denly in his kimono and wooden geta (sandals) and ask about the neighborhood “gaijin” (foreigner), me. He soon discovered that we had both served in military camps at Taegu, Korean. Imaisan was a fighter pilot in the Imperial Japanese Air Force during the Pacific War (WW II). Twenty-five years later I was a young lieutenant at an American ordnance base outside Taegu. Imaisan loved to drink sake and tell tales of the skill and gallantry of the American fighter pilots who dueled with him in the skies over Korea and Japan.

Family photo by author: (L to R) Mr Imai, sister (Sanae), author, Ocaasan (mama) Otoosan (papa) In the Buddhist world July 13-15 is the Festival of the Ancestors, “Obon” in Japanese. As an American and Christian, it never meant anything to me, until I had a Japanese family of my own. But let me restart this story at the beginning. In 1969 as a recently retired Army Captain and not-tooeager graduate student I left my university to spend a year studying the Japanese language at Waseda University Tokyo and living with a Japanese family on the GI Bill. My professors weren’t pleased, it wasn’t in their curriculum. Looking back now, it was one of the best, most-productive times of my life. I arrived at Haneda Airport Tokyo in mid-July 1969, on the last day of Obon. It was hot and humid, and the long drive to the suburbs with my host family was uncomfortably quiet. My Japanese was rudimentary, and they spoke little English. With a thousand apologies they dropped me at their home, alone, and drove off to spend the afternoon paying respects at the cemetery. I wasn’t invited. That evening over dinner with a pencil, paper, and dictionary we began to communicate. Most nights Otosan (Papa) and I would share a bottle of sake. Ocaasan (Mama) would take a sip and Papa would see what he could discover about this strange foreigner. It didn’t take me long to discover that he was Chairman of a small publishing company. He had a steady stream of politicians, “Shakaito” (opposition Socialists) visitors to the house, and he supported a stable of translators and European economists writing books for him. Ocaasan spent her days reading through piles of newspapers, magazines, and manuscripts. It seemed he was running the business and she was choosing the titles. Most nights after dinner, an old Samurai, who lived next door, would join us for drinks. Mr. Imai would appear sud-

I was told that prior to my arrival Imaisan had a cool relationship with my Japanese family as Papa had been opposed to the war. His brother had migrated to Winnipeg before the war and Otosan had wanted to join him, but being the older brother, he had to stay in Tokyo to take care of their aging parents. In 1943 when he graduated from Waseda University, he had refused to join the Imperial Army. It was an incredibly dangerous thing to do in fascist Japan, and he was soon arrested. He told me that Jimmy Doolittle had saved his life. As a conscientious objector he had been scheduled to be shot by the Japanese military, but as Doolittle’s bombs rained down on Tokyo, he was sent out with a shovel to dig bomb shelters for the battered inhabitants of the town. Fortunately, on the night of March 9, 1945, he was in the distant northern suburbs digging a deep trench for a bomb shelter. It saved his life. He remembered that dark night, the roar of American bombers, the brilliant phosphorus explosions of incendiary bombs, and the raging fires that destroyed some sixteen square miles of the city, including: some 267,000 homes and 88,000 citizens with another 41,000 suffering horrible burns and wounds. It was the most massive destruction and death toll of civilians on any single day of warfare in history (Hiroshima deaths totaled 66,000 on day one). During the war Ocaasan (mother) was a bright, trim country girl from Nagasaki, a winner of a national scholarship to the school of journalism at the prestigious National Women’s University in Tokyo. She must have been completely out of her element at that stodgy, old, institution; she a brilliant scholar, surrounded by the vacuous daughters of the old nobility. After graduating she became one of the first female reporters for the Yomiuri Shinbun (a major liberal Japanese daily newspaper). It was a job she lost quickly in 1945 as an army of male veterans returned home to claim all decent jobs. She never talked about the destruction of her hometown, Nagasaki, that ended the war on August 9, 1945. She must have lost family and friends to the American atomic bomb, but it was never mentioned. We talked about everything else, about authors and books (she collected the works of American political cartoonists), Kabuki (Japanese theater), movies (she loved “Yojimbo” and “Dirty Harry”), and recipes (her stuffed eggplant was my favorite). She told me that in 1946 after the surrender her boyfriend, soon to be her husband, was released from prison

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

1969 Waseda U. "Shimpo" (radical students) opposed to the US - Japan Defense Treaty.. by the American occupation authorities. However, they soon changed their mind and locked him up again as a suspected communist. They rationalized that only dangerous extremists were opposed the war, so he must be a communist. He told me he was never a communist. He didn’t like extremists of any kind. His bride went to work and managed to arrange for his release from General Macarthur’s jails. There were no jobs in Tokyo after the war, except cleaning up the rubble. Eventually the newly-weds focused their enthusiasm and passion on establishing their own company, a publishing house, “Godo Shupansha” (“Let’s Pull Together Publishing Company”). Did the family know that my American father, a medical doctor, had been in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific during the War? I doubt if it mattered as much to them as our mutual disgust with the War in Vietnam. I had spent my two years in the Army (1966-68), while a great many of my protesting friends avoided the draft or moved to Canada. Otoosan, Ocaasan, and I agreed on the futility and the horror of War, but I knew I didn’t “measure up” to the anti-war standards they had applied in the 1940’s. When I was called to duty in 1966, I went where I was ordered, to Korea, pleased to be missing the mess in Vietnam. Of course, by the time I knew them they were in their fifties, and I doubt if they were using the same measuring stick as they had in their twenties. I used to tease Otoosan that his politics had moved to the right from Communist to “conservative socialist” as his income had increased. Now, a half century later, I find I’m neither as sure of myself, nor as critical of the world, as I was in college in the ‘Sixties. But I was right about that year overseas. Recently for Obon, my loving wife Jil, daughter Erin, and I are remembering an extraordinary Japanese family. Over the years we have had several young, foreign college students living in our basement (from Japan, Taiwan, and Turkey). It’s almost as much fun as doing it yourself.

(Note: Come join the Steamboat Writers Group in the old Train Station Arts Center every Friday at Noon).

Valley Voice

March 2022


Tales from the Front Desk

The Grump

The Grump stood up, unhappy glare radiating off of her like a fog light, “It’s about time! Leaving me in here with these women!”

By Aimee Kimmey

The story you are about to read is true… more or less. Monday. 2:46 pm. Front Desk. They say first impressions matter--a lot! The clerk’s first impression of the Grump was the sound of wretched painful hacking. For just a second everything in the lobby froze, both clerks and the cluster of guests in front of them turned to the door a frumpy woman without a mask leaned on the door frame as coughs wracked through her body. "What the hell?" the clerk wondered. What is this clearly unhealthy woman doing in this public space, especially without a mask?! By this point in the pandemic, the clerk had long since given up badgering people to wear a mask. She had caught COVID last fall and was not eager to catch it again. But constantly reminding the hoards of people who walked through the lobby to mask up was exhausting. So she just wore an extra mask, and did her best to stay healthy. But this woman standing in the door looked like she should be going to the hospital, not a hotel. Clearly some disdain showed in the clerk’s eyes, the woman pointed at her and screeched, “Don’t look at me!” Her shrill voice echoed through the lobby, a surge of guilt rushed through the clerk. She hadn’t meant to make this woman feel unwelcome. After all, she didn’t know her. Swallowing her distaste, the clerk turned back to the guests in front of her. “Here’s your room key. Enjoy your stay.” She slid the key cards across the counter. The guests gathered their things and hurried out of the lobby, steering wide of the woman. The clerk watched them feeling even worse about her initial reaction. The woman hobbled toward her, a fierce glare on her face. Mustering all of her customer service skills, the clerk smiled warmly, “Hi, how can I help you?”

“She could be a minute, I would be happy--” “No! I want her, not you!” The woman’s shrill cry clawed at her like nails on a chalk board. All she could do was shrug helplessly. Across the counter, her partner threw her a look that said, Wow! Even the guests she was waiting on looked uncomfortable. The Grump hobbled over to the lounge chairs in the corner. She leaned heavily on one of them as she broke into another coughing fit. The clerk winced, it sounded horrendous enough to make the her lungs hurt. She walked around the counter, approaching the Grump cautiously, smiling and moving slowly, as if approaching a dangerous beast. “Can I get you some water?” “No, go away! I told you, I don’t want your help!” The woman snapped. Raising her hands in surrender, the clerk backed away. But the woman kept barking, “My son is parking the car! When he gets here, he can deal with you!” The clerk retreated to the counter, but the Grump didn’t let up. “With your buggy eyes, staring at me, I don’t need you!”

Frowning the man whipped out his credit card. “We need a room…” While her partner worked, the clerk withdrew as far as she could in the front desk area. She tried not to look, but she couldn’t help but notice how anxious the man was to get his mother a hotel room. When they finished the transaction, he looked over and caught her eye, “Thank you!” He nodded directly at her. The clerk smiled, clearly he was as eager to get rid of this grumpy woman as she was. Somehow that made her feel a whole lot better; whatever the Grump had stuck in her craw, it didn’t have anything to do with he clerk. After they left the clerk’s partner turned to her, “Wow!” The clerk nodded, “Where’d you put her?” Her partner grinned mischievously, “One eleven.” The clerk snickered; one eleven, the least favorite room of the hotel. No view, right by the loud boiler room and far and away the crummiest shower in the building. Most days they tried to avoid using it. But for certain special occasions, it was ideal!

The clerk certainly didn’t expect that everyone in the world was going to like her, but generally she got along with most people. At least enough to get them into their damn room. This woman’s brutally adverse response left her at a loss.


Her partner flashed her a quick shrug--what can you do? She leaned against the counter feeling utterly useless while the woman continued mumbling angry words from the sitting area.

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The clerk’s partner finished with her customers. They hurried out of the lobby, gawking at the Grump. Grimacing the clerk’s partner took a deep breath, “Um, hi? Can I help you?” The Grump broke into a another loud fit of coughing. Both clerks winced. The door bell chimed and a harried young man with deep bags under his eyes bustled into the lobby. “Mother?” The Grump stood up, unhappy glare radiating off of her like a fog light, “It’s about time! Leaving me in here with these women!” The man smiled meekly at the clerks and mumbled, “Sorry…”

“Don’t look at me!” The woman shrieked, “I want her to help me!” The woman shuffled past the clerk, waggling her finger at clerk’s partner, who was busy with a group of guests.

“You deal with this one, not the other one.” The Grump snarled at him, jabbing a bony finger at the clerk’s partner.

The clerk didn’t know what to say, her partner was deeply involved, while she was completely open for business.

“What?” The Grump growled, “She’s staring at me!”

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“Mother!” The man looked mortified.


111 9th Street Downtown Steamboat Springs

The line between angry young woman and grumpy old lady is very fine. — Judy Horacek


March 2022

Valley Voice


Your Monthly Message By Chelsea Yepello Aries

March 21 - April 19

It would be relatively embarrassing if anyone found out the urban myth of a naked humanlike-creature, creeping around local shopping malls at night, licking windows and exuding incoherent guttural noises is actually a true story. You feel that it might be better if people didn’t know that it was you at the mall after a long night of drinking, snorting Adderall and crying about your ex.


April 20 - May 20


May 20 - June 20

It said that people who talk to themselves may seem crazy, but actually have a higher IQ than others. That generalization can hold some truth, but the guy under the bridge who talks to himself and claims to be disclosing society’s weaknesses and the secret location of world leaders to his future clone in his own private language, may just be crazy. You may find yourself yelling at the top of your lungs that people are being culturally insensitive and taking a broad, ignorant view of an historically relevant society. You may protest that it is an immature and frustrating simpli-

fication of an observance. Most people observing the observance don’t really understand what they are observing. You may try to express that Americans just created yet another reason to binge drink and make bad decisions. Yet, regardless of your educated objections, you inevitably find yourself surrounded by a bunch of drunks with their mouths-stained green, wearing giant green hats and “Kiss Me” shirts.

no closer to finding answers. Maybe next year, you will plan a more thorough search and start your pursuit for the mogul shed at the elevation where deer turn into elk.


August 23 - September 22

After setting up a security camera, you discover that the nuisance going through your trashcans in the middle of the night was not the assumed bear, raccoon, possum, dog or cat. It was actually the weird guy next door. The one who scrambles into his house after you causally say hello to him if you happen to be outside at the same time. What’s really going to be disturbing is when you discover what he is putting into your trashcans instead of taking out.


September 23 - October 23


Another year has passed, your body is slowly degrading and your mind is not far behind. Maturity and tediousness are inevitable. Then you find yourself dancing to the B-52s in your underwear and having a serious debate with your dog about how old a person has to be to actively plan matching lawn furniture and grill set purchase. Luckily, your dog said that you aren’t old enough yet.


June 21 - July 22

July 23 - August 23

This spring, you will search for the infamous shed that they keep the moguls in in the summer. After several days of searching, you will find yourself exhausted and frustrated but still

Furniture - Art - Antiques Lighting - Home Decor - Gifts

Confucius says: A crusty plate which remains crusty after being run a through a dishwasher is no longer a crusty dirty plate… It is clean crust on a plate. You’ve always felt like you’ve been fashion forward and find it necessary to follow trends. When an ill-timed picture of a celebrity with pink eye pops up on Instagram, Gucci starts a sunglass campaign promoted by models with puffy, bloodshot oozing eyes. You resort to rubbing your face on waiting room chairs and random pillows to catch the trend.


October 24 - November 21


November 22 - December 21

You will be exhausted yet invigorated when you take up the obscure, but well-respected sport of Canadian extreme zorbing.


December 22 - January 19

This spring you will gift yourself a well-deserved vacation to Vegas. Unfortunately, watching countless hours of the World Poker Tour and calling everyone “money” and “baby” does not give you an immediate talent to count cards and you will return from Vegas with a lot less money or working thumbs.


January 20 - February 18

It's true. Everything feels much better after someone gives you a lollipop.


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February 19 - March 20

You were that hero kid that tried to stop the other kids from stepping on ant hills just to watch their little ant world collapse around them. You were the kid that tried to explain to the bullies that just because the ants are powerless against them, they did not have real power over the ants. Unfortunately, despite your wise and diplomatic words, you were still talking to a bunch of seven-year-olds and ended up with your nose filled with a handful of displaced ants.

Valley Voice

March 2022


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Man who invented the hamburger was smart; man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius. — Matthew McConaughey


March 2022

Valley Voice


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

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