Valley Voice May 2022

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May 2022 . Issue 11.5


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Steamboat Springs Hayden Oak Creek Yampa


May 2022

Valley Voice

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Valley Voice

May 2022


Contents Be the Spark!

Page 4

A Strong and Balanced Budget

Page 5

By Winnie DelliQuadri By Dylan Roberts

Free Expression Page 6 By Eric Kemper

Coal Production Declines

Page 7

Fossils and Bob O'Donnell

Page 8

A First Dandilion

Page 9

In the Realm of Saints

Page 12

Rules of Adventure

Page 13

By Scott L. Ford

By Ellen and Paul Bonnifield By Fran Conlon By Ken Proper

Publisher/Art Director: Matt Scharf Sales:

By Johnny Walker

Stardust Page 13 By Joan Remy

Unfurling Fronds

Page 14

The Theater of War

Page 15

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.

In Defense of Malt Liquor

Page 16

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.

Comics Page 19

VV Assistant:

Eric Kemper

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.

By Karen Vail

By Stuart Handloff By Sean Derning

The Bathrobe Page 17 By Aimee Kimmey

Your Monthly Message By Chelsea Yepello

Page 18

If you are interested in advertising your business in the Valley Voice, please contact Matt Scharf at or 970-846-3801 (We are the most affordable in town!)

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:

The constant feeling that this place is on the way to the point of no return… The tearing up the medians for something new that saves water, while spending an extra 1.1 million dollars for fuel costs. Not to mention all the headaches it causes the local population… The slow uptick in prices as the choices becomes fewer… When spring cleaning turns into something else – like a full blown garage sale… Our eighth mud season this year…

Raves... Seeing all the green fields come to life… The feeling that there is live music brewing in the air… Producing the Valley Voice for a full 10 years with the help of a creative community… Another season approaching for some saddle time on the motorcycle… Never a line at the DMV…

Say What?... “What’s the center lane for?” “How can you tell the difference between a four stroke and a two stroke?” “After the next big growth spurt in town, where does everybody plan to work – if at all?" “Does the local public get to vote for median design through town?" “Have you seen my breath? I lost it!"

We go to press May 27th for the June 2022 Edition! Send in your submissions by May 18th!

Steamboat Spring’s Furniture and Mattress Headquarters!

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!



1707 Lincoln Avenue


May 2022

Valley Voice


City of Steamboat Springs

Be the Spark!

battery/electric by 2050. This demo/test was conducted with this goal in mind. SST has been moving toward alternative vehicles and currently features 11 hybrid buses in the transit fleet and plans to purchase additional renewable vehicles in the next few years.

By Winnie DelliQuadri



Significant SST ridership lowers the carbon and other pollutants produced in the community, and contributes to cleaner air, reduced traffic congestion, and less dependence on gasoline and autos, which means a more active and healthier community. In addition to SST’s interest, the on-demand rideshare service, Yellow Zone, utilizes an EV vehicle as part of its local program. The Hyundai KONA Electric gets an estimated 258 miles with zero emissions on a single charge. The program is available simply with a click of a button through the Yellow Zone app on your device. SST isn’t the only city department looking at EVs. In fact, the first electric vehicle was purchased for the staff in Planning & Community Development and is anticipated to charge into town this summer/fall. The new Chevy Volt, with an estimated 250-mile range on a charge, will be housed behind Centennial Hall, where a new charging port was installed for the inaugural municipal EV. A single spark is often all it takes to get things moving and that same idea looks to ignite interest in electric vehicles (EV) and their use. Driving an electric vehicle in, around and to/from the mountains is getting easier and easier and the model and charging options are quickly expanding. Charging stations for electric vehicles are conveniently spread across the city from the mountain to downtown to west of town. The city has approximately 33 public charging stations, 14 of which are free EV charging stations and a total of three DC Fast Chargers. The most recent installation of charging stations broke out of the Howelsen Rodeo Complex where a half dozen charging parking spots recently came to life.

Steamboat Springs Transit (SST) put a Proterra battery/ electric bus through the paces this past winter as part of demonstration for a possible new renewable energy vehicle for the fleet. “We were very interested in seeing how this new model performed on all our routes as well as its battery life in real-world, challenging mountain conditions,” commented Transit Manger Jonathan Flint. “Much has changed from when we first drove an EV version five years ago.” Governor Polis put forward the goal of having 1,000 battery/electric buses by 2030 and the expectation that 100% of heavy-duty transit buses must be

In addition, several high-speed charging stations, including the one at the Kum & Go on Anglers Dr., now dot the highway between Granby and Craig as well as across the state. The move is part of a statewide effort to install more high-speed chargers 30 to 50 miles apart for those traveling across the state in electric vehicles.

The incentives don’t stop at the state. A US Federal tax credit gives you up to $7,500 for purchasing an all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. In addition, Washington will also give you a federal tax credit (up to 30%) for purchasing and installing a ChargePoint EV charging station.

As more and more EVs hit the road, counties across Colorado are working toward goals that significantly increase the number of public chargers by 2025 and 2030. Routt County efforts focus on achieving the following:

2025 236

2030 1,109

2025 18

2030 84

Public Level 2

2025 13

The next Ride & Drive event is May 14 at the Howelsen Rodeo Grounds parking lot from 10am to 3pm. Advance sign-up is required so drive over to ev for details and to register for the event. Can’t make this one, another Ride & Drive event is scheduled for September 17.

In Colorado, tax credits are available for the purchase or lease of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. There are nearly a dozen models in each category that qualify for this credit from the Colorado Energy Office.

The updated policy follows the adopted Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan which identifies barriers to, and strategies supporting EV adoption through Steamboat Springs, Routt County, and the Yampa Valley region.


This is the ideal opportunity to experience electric vehicles from the inside! Get your hands on the wheel or ride in several popular brands of EVs and see if it’s as electrifying as everyone says. The event will also feature two different e-bikes to demo.

You should keep in mind that many organizations provide tax credits for EV purchases. Locally, YVEA has a $250 rebate for residential level 2 charges as well as rebates on electric bikes, electric lawn maintenance equipment and electric snow blowers (see YVEA website for qualifying criteria).

To help make it even easier to put EV charging stations in residential and commercial locations, the Routt County Regional Building Department and the City of Steamboat Springs updated the permit process in 2021. The streamlined effort looks to see more charging stations incorporated in residential units moving forward.


With so much energy building up around EVs, you may say I’m still not sure. Well, the city along with partners Northwest Colorado Clean Cities, Yampa Valley Electric Association, and Yampa Valley Sustainability Council are hosting several EV Ride & Drive events this summer and fall.

2030 43

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

DC Fast Non-Corridor

2025 1

2030 3

DC Fast Corridor

2025 3

2030 8

Still have questions or want to learn more, plug into the city’s website for additional information, links to resources and partner materials and online educational seminars.

Valley Voice

May 2022


State Representative/ Eagle and Routt Counties

A Strong and Balanced Budget By Dylan Roberts

I am pleased to report that we just passed a historic, balanced, and bipartisan annual state budget at the legislature. After much work, debate, and attention to detail, the FY 22-23 budget we sent to the Governor will decrease costs for people and businesses while strengthening our economy, make record investments in education, and promote a healthier and safer Colorado. Historic Education Support When the pandemic forced harsh cuts to our budget just two years ago, Republicans and Democrats alike never thought we’d be able to reduce our state’s debt to the public school system, known as the budget stabilization factor (BSF) any time soon. Yet, we worked together to change that trajectory and created a budget that has the largest investment in K-12 education in over a decade. This budget eliminates $250 million of the BSF, bringing it to its lowest level ever. This means that record levels of support will be distributed to public schools in a sustainable manner, resulting in our schools being able to reduce classroom sizes, increase teacher pay, and equip our kids with the resources they need to thrive. Additionally, the budget invests $6.5 million to fund the new Department of Early Childhood so Colorado can fulfill the goal of offering universal preschool next year, saving parents thousands of dollars. With our region in particular, we’ve increased funding for Colorado Mountain College, which will reduce tuition for students taking the next step in their academic careers at one of these institutions of higher learning.

are experiencing disruptions, and our businesses are facing unprecedented challenges. That’s why we explored every option to decrease costs for families and businesses while bolstering Colorado’s economy and better preparing for economic setbacks in the future. As part of our analyses, we will allocate $157 million towards fee relief for Coloradans, including lowering gas prices, decreasing costs associated with opening a business, and waiving fees associated with many professional licenses for our frontline workers. We also continued our laser focus on the overwhelming need for affordable housing across the state, building off our historic work on the Affordable Housing Transformational Task Force. These measures will help Coloradans save money: an overarching priority of mine. Healthy Communities This year has served as an acute reminder of just how important it is to create a healthier Colorado when it comes to protecting our environment and improving behavioral health. Our environmentally-conscious budget includes funding to improve Colorado’s air quality: steps which will help prevent the hazy fogs over the mountains last year. Additionally, the budget allocates a nearly $6 million increase towards state park operations and wildlife conservation. Creating a healthier state also requires improved transportation networks. That's why the budget directs nearly $50 million towards critical road maintenance and modernizing our transit system. In underpinning this year’s historic behavioral health investment, our budget increases funding for behavioral health community programs by $54 million. Doing so supplements the $450 million behavioral health package progressing through the legislature which increases access to community based behavioral health programs so Coloradans can receive appropriate care where they need it.

presence impacting our region, I prioritize ensuring that our ranchers are adequately equipped for this new reality. That’s why I partnered with my Republican colleague, Rep. Perry Will to write, introduce, and convince enough of our colleagues that ranchers deserve more resources to help mitigate the presence of wolves, protect their livestock, and receive just compensation for their losses to successfully pass an amendment to the budget increasing funding for Colorado ranchers who are grappling with the impacts of wolves. Our amendment to the budget will do just that, and I look forward to continue advocating for our ranchers moving forward. This year’s budget reflects our shared goals of decreasing the cost of living, expanding our economy, improving education, and creating a healthier Colorado. It is bipartisan, fiscally balanced, and an accelerant to our state’s short-term and long-term success. You can read the entire budget and access more information by visiting:

As always, please contact me about this topic or any others. My cell is (970) 846-3054 and my email is dylan. Rep. Dylan Roberts serves Routt County and Eagle County in the Colorado State House

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Standing Up for Agriculture and Water As a legislator representing rural and mountain communities, I always advocate for expanding support for our agriculture industries and water conservation efforts. This year was no different: we will continue investing in our state’s water plan and will provide substantial support for the agriculture industry. Further, as we struggle with the voter-imposed introduction of wolves and their

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May 2022

Valley Voice

Valley Voice/ 10th Anniversary

Free Expression By Eric Kemper

To write is to have an idea important enough to express with thought and effort to hopefully advance a conversation. To print that word is to find the thought important enough to spread, and if the work is done, then somebody needs to be paid. That’s what makes the free newsrack so pure and valuable: the concept that the publisher finds the ideas so important that they will handle the commercial aspect just to make sure the product is free.

What a kick in the gut when we realize we mis-spelled "Inaugural" on the cover of Valley Voice's first issue. I have always been a devotee of the free periodical stand. Whatever has been produced and is available to read, I will almost always check it out. Some favorites over the years have included Denver’s venerable and long running Westword, the classic punk ‘zine the Hooligan, the glossy highbrow/lowbrow humor of Modern Drunkard and of course, The Onion (The fact that I read it on paper shows how old I am at this point). There have been numerous neighborhood and local papers and newsletters that can be interesting and insightful even if it’s a neighborhood I don’t know and will never be in again. This also means I have read political treatises of all perspectives and persuasions; some of them actually quite awful or even horrifying. I read them all anyway, good and bad, because no matter where you are, it represents what’s happening where you are right this now. The printed word, since the time of Gutenberg, has had to balance its proliferation between the commercial and the ideological.

I arrived in Steamboat Springs in May of 2012 with an eye on finding a job. I wanted to live in my family’s cabin up on the Pass, but I needed to find work to make that viable. I had a job and life in Denver, and I needed to be sure the mountain life was possible before I made the leap. As I walked Lincoln handing out résumés and looking for a job in my field at the time, I happened upon the cluster of boxes and racks at 7th. As was my custom, I went around collecting one of everything. The Steamboat Today (The Pilot was only the weekend edition at the time) proved valuable, as it still does to this day. I quickly learned which ones were the Real Estate catalogs I could skip altogether. But there was another one. A tabloid with a glossy cover and fantastic map in the middle, and the word “Inaugural” mis-spelled on the cover. It reminded me of the Westwords I read every week, collected eagerly from the box often on the day it came out. Westword is a free weekly paper in Denver founded in 1977 by a group that included Patricia Calhoun, who continues as its editor to this day. It is a mixture of the serious and irreverent, and has won several awards over the years for its investigative reporting. The Valley Voice had the same character. There were in-jokes, flippant humor and thoughtful, in depth writings that highlighted what was best about this place I was considering a move to. It wasn’t that helpful at the time when it came to finding a job, but it was certainly the one I read and enjoyed the most.

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

The job I did end up getting was at Cellar Liquors on 7th & Lincoln, just steps from the box I first found the Voice in. As I got to know my regulars, I was excited to find out that the Valley Voice had their office right upstairs in the same building! Matt and Paulie came through often and we became fast friends. Cellar closed at the end of 2012, and a change in circumstances had me temporarily working in Denver again, but I kept in touch and kept reading. In late 2016, I was back home in the mountains as our country experienced one in a series of shocks we’ve been enduring for the past few years. The day after the 2016 election, writing was the only thing I could think to do to make sense of what seemed unthinkable (little did I know, but greatly did I fear, what was yet to come). When I was done, I decided to submit my finished essay to the Voice. I hadn’t written anything for public consumption since college. I was somewhat unsure, but putting my words out felt like something I should do, and Matt and Paulie were gracious enough to run it. This led to some interesting conversations with Matt. Paulie was planning to step away from the Valley Voice and Matt needed help to keep it going. Would I be interested? Moving to the other side of the masthead was an amazing experience and much of my rooting in the valley comes back to my time at the Valley Voice. One of the first issues I was privileged enough to work on was the 5th Anniversary, and for that time to have now doubled makes clear what an icon the Valley Voice has become in the area. Ten years is a way of putting a round number to an otherwise arbitrary frame of time. But when considered as a retrospective, it gives one an opportunity to review all the highs and lows; the friends made and lost, the political and social upheavals, the experiences once never imagined and now never to be forgotten. Even the unprecedented experience of a once-in-a-century pandemic that we are still only starting to reckon with the consequences of. All since the day I saw that “Inagural Issue” on the rack. In this digital media age with the diminution of print media, the barrier to entry in the wider marketplace of ideas has been lowered, and like all things, sometimes you get what you pay for. A print publication requires planning and design, and leaves a record for posterity. A piece needs to be deemed worthy for inclusion. I am pleased to know that the Bud Werner Memorial Library keeps a bound record of each year’s issues of the Valley Voice. In a small way, I have left my mark on Steamboat and the Yampa Valley. With great appreciation for all who read, casually or consistently, and for all who have sponsored the paper over the years through their advertisements, thank you. It would not have been possible without you all. Thank you for making the Valley Voice a part of this community.

Valley Voice

May 2022


Go Figure

As Coal Production Declines So Also Tax Revenues and Its Share of County's GDP By Scott L. Ford This month I am continuing to explore the economic components of what is often referred to as the “three-legs” of Routt County’s local economy. Those three legs being Agriculture, Mining and Tourism. The first two columns in this series examined Agriculture. Last month’s column was a historical review of the role mining has played in Routt County and how the arrival of the railroad in 1908 made coal one of the county’s primary exports. This month I will dig deeper into the current role coal plays in the local economy.

ent of Twentymile coal. All that is about to change. The Hayden station is scheduled to be fully closed in 2028. The handwriting is on the wall – coal mining in Routt County is coming to an end relatively soon. What will be the economic impact of this? Without question in local economic development circles the coming closure of Twentymile is a topic of discussions both locally and at the state level. However, will the economic impact be that great on Routt County’s overall economy? To answer that question, we need to be careful to keep things in perspective. Although there will be a loss of high paying mining and mining support jobs, the implications on the loss of property tax overshadows the loss of jobs. For public officials, the loss of jobs is simply easier to talk about vs. loss of tax revenues.

Statewide there are six producing coal mining operations. Routt County has only one remaining coal mine, called Twentymile, located south of Hayden and owned and operated by Peabody Energy. Peabody Energy is the world's largest private sector coal company. Twentymile is an underground mining operation.

Twentymile coal mine owns a lot of stuff ranging from land classified as agriculture to residential property they pay property taxes on. The extracted coal itself is also subject to a property tax. In this situation, the property taxes fall in to two categories. The first category being land and improvements. In 2021 this had a value of $13.9

Coal production at Twentymile reached a peak in 2005 at over nine million tons annually and has steadily declined to where production is now less than two million tons. The power plant most visible to us locally is Xcel Energy’s Hayden Station. This power plant is the primary recipi-







$1,950,000 $1,900,000








$1,700,000 $1,650,000









County wide GDP







Mining’s Pct. Share of County GDP

Percent Share of Total County GDP

GDP in Thousands of Dollars

Routt County’s GDP and Mining’s Share

million. The second category being the value of the coal as it is mined and it had a value of $24.4 million. The value of the coal is subjected to an Ad Valorem property tax. Ad Valorem is a Latin phrase that translates to “according to the value.” According to Routt County Assessor data, Twentymile paid $1.3 million in 2016 in Ad Valorem taxes. By 2021 that amount had dropped to about $480K. The largest government entities that benefit from this Ad Valorem tax are the South Routt School District with a 63% share and Routt County at 25% share. Both are feeling the pinch associated with the decline of coal production. The State of Colorado collects a severance tax on nonrenewable resources such as coal. Rout County receives a portion of these taxes back from the state based on a host of formulas that far exceeds the scope of this column to explain other than to acknowledge that as coal production has decreased so have these taxes. At its peak in 2012 the coal mines in Colorado produce almost 29 million tons and Routt County represented almost 1/3 of this total production. It is important to note that that as of 2021, coal production statewide had declined to slightly over 12 million tons and Twentymile represented only 14% of total production. In 2020 Routt County had a GDP of slightly over $2 billion. Mining as an industry sector contributed 4% of total GDP. The key take away from this information is that Routt County’s GDP is growing and the mining industry sector share of this GDP is declining. This decline is due to a decline in coal production and an economy that is becoming more and more diverse.

Next Month: The Direct and Indirect Economic Impact of the loss of Coal Jobs in Routt County

Colorado Coal Production vs Twentymile 30,000,000

Tons of Coal Mined

25,000,000 20,000,000

"Bubbles" Pawtagonia

15,000,000 10,000,000 5,000,000







Statewide Production



Twentymile Mine






May 2022

Valley Voice

Bonnifield Files

Fossils and Bob O'Donnell By Ellen and Paul Bonnifield

Mastodon femur bone found in 1979 during construction of Yamcolo Reservoir west of Yampa. In the mid 1980s, Ellen agreed to take her second-grade class on a field trip to track dinosaurs. She also volunteered me to assist Bob O’Donnell who led the expedition. I knew absolutely nothing about dinosaur tracks and little about dinosaurs. I met Bob in the elementary school parking lot, and we began our search. When I settled in the car, I did not know I was riding with one of the foremost experts on fossils in the world. His quiet unassuming manner and conversation never gave me a hint. I thought he was just another guy doing something for a grand kid.

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Bob had read the 1920s USGS report on the dinosaur track in the Morrison Formation on the north side of the Colorado River at Yarmony. Yarmony is the railroad siding across the river from Rancho Del Rio where numerous float trips begin or end. Bob had never been to the site, and he wanted to locate the tracks before leading the excited second graders to the area. We had trouble locating the tracks, and I didn’t know a dinosaur track when I saw one. Bob located the first set of tracks in a dry waterfall, a Sauropod also called the Brontosaurus, from the Jurassic Period, 138 to 205 million years ago. Lord, they are huge although badly weathered. He found a second set of tracks where the animals had walked in deep mud, and the tracks were much smaller than the first set. Moving on, he located a third set. These were three toed like a chicken. The center toe of one was about three and a half feet long. A fourth set of much smaller prints was discovered with four toes. Bob noted that all the tracks were traveling in the same direction, and although varied species made them, they were separated by thousands of years of sediment. He also located a fragment of a bone. Judging from its size and placement, he assumed it was a dinosaur bone. Less than a quarter of a mile upriver from the tracks, but vastly different in geological time, are the fossil remains of an ancient lake’s mud flat and a sand dune. Leaving Yarmony, Bob headed for the fossil beds near the McCoy Cemetery. Along the ridge we viewed large and small sea life from the Mississippian era. At a nearby location, small shark teeth had been discovered. Reportedly, the remains of this species of shark are found at a very few locations in the world. (In the forty years since we visited the fossil bed, visitors have nearly robbed the area of its treasure.) For many years, SOROCO elementary students made regular trips to the fossil beds.

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

Cast of Miocene Age dog found on CO Hwy 131 south of State Bridge. Bob O'Donnell found the fossil, made the plaster cast, painted it to reproduce actual color, and made it available to paleontologists to study.

Robert “Bob” O’Donnell is unique in his own right. He and F his twin sister, Claudia, were raised in Denver by their grandparents and graduated from South High School. Bob a claimed the only reason he graduated was that his sister s m was smart. During the Korean War, he was drafted and c served as a weapons instructor in Alabama. Through a buddy, he met his future wife. Returning to Denver, he had fi two job choices – either be a mortician or a taxidermist. He chose taxidermy because it gave him a wide variety A of animal structures to work with and he could put them d b back together. Bob saw an employment ad in a Denver paper announcing the USGS was hiring in the Department a of Paleontology. He applied and failed the entrance exam; v however, everyone else who applied also failed. Because d Bob admitted to Dr. G. Edward Lewis that he didn’t know i S the scientific names, he was given a second chance. A week later Bob passed the test and began a groundbreak- b l ing career.

T Under the guidance of Dr. Lewis, Bob was a quick and serious student of the world of paleontology, geology, and c anthropology. Within a brief period, he was doing serious O field research. While studying the Troublesome formation e between Kremmling and Parshall, he located several fos- o sils of horses and camels. One was a complete horse – one t of the few complete remains ever found. Through the years and several trips to the Troublesome formation, he located B three different species of camels. When his children were a younger, they would rent a cabin at Sheriff’s Ranch near t Kremmling, and the kids enjoyed a wonderful summer va- w cation with dad while he was working. (In those days, the USGS allowed him to take the children with him and they H could tramp and explore together. He was working and the H o kids were having fun finding all kinds of things.) a On a later field study, on the ridge west of Highway 131 w and about a mile south of State Bridge, Bob and Dr. Lewis h located a three toed horse’s hoof and a camel’s leg bone t o six feet apart.

Valley Voice

Collection: From top left, clockwise: White plaster ammonite fossilized coral; shellshells embedded in rock (notice the pearlized shell on lower left); fossilized coral; fossilized shell; fossilized clam found east of Milner, plaster cast of coprolite colored like actual fossil. Further up the ridge and near the top of Walcott Divide another survey team located a fossil of a dog. Based on the size of the fossil, the dog is estimated to be larger than a modern grizzly bear. In Wyoming, Bob located a new species of fish that was named after him. He also located the first complete archaeopteryx, a primitive flying dinosaur. Although his field research was important to the scientific discipline, his work in reproducing exact copies was more beneficial. Many fossils in various scientific collections and museums are fragile. Others, especially marine life, vanish when exposed to sun light. They are especially difficult to save and study. If they remain in the dark and in the same environment, minute details can be studied. Some fossils, often located in mines, are destroyed simply by a miner’s light. They present a challenge to imprint for lab study. Then there are the exceedingly small and delicate that can only be seen with a magnifying glass or microscope. Often this group are among the oldest recorded life on earth. Some rocks record rain drops on a desert dune that occurred thousands of years ago. Then there is the tell-tale trail of a windstorm on a long-ago dune. Bob O’Donnell discovered and developed the highly skilled art of reproducing fossils precise in every detail – even the smallest hiding in the dark. Through the years he worked on many of the most valuable fossils. He was invited to lecture at several universities including Harvard, Yale, University of Denver, and Colorado School of Mines. He instructed individual scientists both national and international. In China, when nests of dinosaur eggs were discovered, Bob was called on to teach the Chinese how to save the eggs and safely remove the shell to study the embryo. Remember, this was before modern technology.


May 2022


I was riding with Bob from Bond toward McCoy and talking about fossils and wind. He stopped, we got out, and walked over to the cut bank. He pointed to the dark trails across the red rock. With his always available magnifying glass he showed me the fossil remains of grass and sticks left in the sand when the wind passed through. Then and now, I can hardly get my head around it. A bone turning to rock is understandable, but the wind, moving air, and in this case fast moving air leaving an eternal record on a very dry desert dune is hard to grasp. Bob especially enjoyed the hard to grasp. Through the years he collected hundreds of fossils ranging from the very smallest, rain drops and wind, to the imprints of the earliest human, on to the larger saber tooth tiger. His fossils recorded the evolution of horses and much more. As part of a USGS program, he took the collection on tour to schools and communities. He set up displays at the Depot in Steamboat, twice at the Yampa Elementary School, and once at SOROCO High School. Once, after viewing numerous tables of fossils, Bob took a group to the State Bridge area where they observed an old Ute camp site, a Ute road for travois, and Indian vision rings as well as fossils. On another trip, visitors looked at fragile fossils under the Steamboat bridge between Twenty Mile Road and West Steamboat and at large clam bed exposed in the railroad cut bank between Saddle Mountain and Milner. Giant snails were seen in the rocks near a county road on private property. Viewers were often surprised when Bob encouraged them to pick up the fossils for studying. School kids, especially elementary students, found the fossils exciting. Some of the actual fossils were small and easily broken. For example, the three toed horse or camel’s cannon bone was only six to eight inches long and about the size of a finger with the toes much smaller. When a fossil was dropped and broken, Bob said, “They are only rock, I’ll glue them back together.” It required taking them to the office and working on them under a microscope. Most people think of dinosaurs as large, but Bob reproduced the image of a small lizard, one of the oldest from the Mississippian period, and gave the reproductions away at various showings. Bob was impressed by the large mammoth fossil located during construction of Yamcolo Dam. It is impressive and is on display in the lobby at the Yampa Forest Service Station.

A First Dandelion By Fran Conlon

A first dandelion amid the gray grass, Harbinger of the coming spring growth, Giving the winter snows a pass, Fulfilling in warmth the season's oath. Mountain tops and their white snows remain, Cool peaks with evergreen trees, Reminders that growth always comes again, Fickle humans are so hard to please. Old thoughts of mind need a stretch, Dust away the worn and tattered view, A new season for plans to sketch, Of a garden and park to renew. Might, too, the soul shake anew, Letting dandelion’s yellow be an inner light, With a beauty, I silently knew, A gleaming idea against the night. The new season calls for a stretch, Casting the soul across nature's wide fetch. zirkel-valleyvoice-ad-3.1667x5.5-071421.pdf



Bob was an accomplished artist, usually in oil. On one work his wife became impatient. He could never get the ear on the woman exactly right although he did it repeatedly. In fact, he never finished the work. He was also a model train buff. As the end of life neared, he came to Yampa for the Fourth of July. On the return to Denver, he had his daughter Debby Williams stop at each of the mine tailings piles from Empire to Idaho Springs and take pictures. He wanted to get the color, size, and shape of each tailings pile just right for an exact scale model of the Colorado Central Railroad from Golden to Georgetown.








Realizing that both age and health were not in his favor, Bob looked for ways to save his extensive collection. Having a special fondness for SOROCO, since his grandchildren attended school there, he gave a small but valuable collection to the school. A few samples went to friends and family. The remainder of the collection went to Northern Colorado State University for scientific study.

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Buff Pass Fish Creek Res. Fish Creek Falls

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© 2022 Valley Voice, LLC. All rights reserved. NOT TO SCALE! No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the written permission of the artist. The publisher does not guarantee the accuracy of this map.

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Dry Lake

Spring Creek Fish Creek Falls Rd.

Burgess Creek

Rollingstone Golf Club

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Steamboat Blvd.

Fish Creek

Amethyst Drive

Tamarack Drive


Amethyst Drive

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RCR 36

Anglers Drive


Ski Time Square

E. Maple Street


Memorial Park Fish Creek Falls Rd.

Strawberry Hot Springs

Old Town Hot Springs

Maple Street

Missouri Ave.


Lincoln Avenue




Ice Rink Rodeo

Yam pa Ave

Oa kS t.

The Boulevard

Merrit Street



Emerald Park Botanic Gardens

Pin eS t.

Pahwintah St.

Weiss Park

4 Asp en St.


Core Trail


et l Stre Laure


Crawford Ave.



The Howler


Emerald Mountain

CMC (College)

12 Lin col nA ven ue




Yam pa Riv er


Howelsen Hill Ski Jumps

BMX Track

13 Blackmere Drive Fart Park


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Depot Art Center

For those A who live hereBand for those who C wish they did. D







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May 2022 T


Rabbit Ears Pass

t. Werner

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e Pin

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Meadows Parking

Casey’s Pond

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Mt. Werner Road

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4 Catamount

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oad eR v o Gr


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Core Trail

RCR 22

Yampa River

Stagecoach Res.

etcher Park


RCR 14

RCR 14f RCR 14

Looking East from River Road/ Mt. Werner Bridge/ Photo by Gwen Skinner 7



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May 2022

Valley Voice

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

Victims of Love

In the Realm of Saints By Ken Proper

“Just your conversation and two chairs to sit “ on.” “ I grabbed dining table chairs and placed them facing me and at the back corner of my yard. “ f The sun backlit Emerald Mountain, my two h lovely courtesan’s hair and their revealing g attire. Nellie spoke the moment she sat. “Where is Anthony?”

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

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April 23, 1915 The snow melted last week at an astonishing rate and the south facing hillsides are brown earth speckled with hints of green growth. I can again see out of most of my new windows, crocuses are blooming and the lilac bush at the corner of my house has buds. I look forward to the fragrance. I fished this morning on the river with Charlie and little snow on the banks. It ran high and a little turbid. Angela saw us and came to the water to chat. She asked to take a long walk with the dog, for protection presumably, the bears were awake, and I agreed. Later, I decided to sit in my backyard, watched the North American Gold Finches and Cedar Waxwings which apparently reached Steamboat with their spring migration. The afternoon sun fell on me with a languorous effect while I gazed at the blue sky and Emerald Mountain. I saw out of the corner of my eye, Flo pointing at me, from the second story porch and speaking with someone inside. Moments later Flo had a spring floral hat on, her long blond hair braided over her right breast and down her plunging neckline to a tropical print dress. She started down the back stairway, followed by Nellie sporting a colourful French parasol, merely an umbrage for a sheet of flamboyant, gossamer island material wrapped loosely around her and tightened at the waist with a hemp rope. They walked directly to me. Flo smiled, “Emily wants to see you.” Nellie laughed. “That’s enough. I’ll stick with Nellie, and I perceive you two have been talking. Well now, what do I owe for this fashion show.”

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N “He’s working today.” Then I smirked, “How do “ g you know him?” e m “In France, Paris and Rouen. I barely know him.” “ Flo laughed, “Bare sounds right, she’s been F talking about him too.” fi “Troubles are like the tides. They go away and w always come back. Sometimes very quickly, especially on the coast of Normandy, France “ and other times only as a gentle lapping of the I waves.” H o “I like him, he’s been a good friend to you, Julius.” “ r “Thanks Flo, strangely, he appeared out of the dark of h night, when I really needed a friend.” a I gazed at Cedar Waxwings in my apple tree eating rotten H hanging fruit. They acted a little drunk with the winter D fermentation. I pointed to them laughing and the girls y turned to see some birds sitting stoically and others making haphazard hops along the branches bumping into more branches and their companions. Giggling, the girls F started naming the birds after some of their frequently “ inebriated patrons.

Laughing, Nellie turned back at me, then looked beyond “ my shoulder and hissed, “Snake.” Startled, Flo snapped her t eyes in the same direction, and they hardened to the same y ferocious level. Tacitly, I watched the ladies’ eyes and did d not move. s

“One that slithers where not welcome.” Nellie’s melodious, “ powerful voice sang and gave me the shivers. “ “Don’t tread on me,” JJ replied. a e “I rather cut your head off,” Flo snapped. I s “Now, now you ladies look fine today, why don’t we go off and have a party right after I finish my business.” D s My snub was not turning in my chair while I locked in for a clues of aggression from my friends’ eyes. I spoke as if talking to the sky, “You’re a married man and your happi- ( ness should be at home. Why are you here?” a c “To ask questions.” a

Valley Voice

May 2022

Adventure... A Guide to Life's Challenges

Rules of Adventure By Johnny Walker

Basic Rules


#1. Discover and define your passion. It will be the fuel that keeps you going.

“Are you poaching my wife?”

“My uncle and I went with her to a friend’s daughter’s funeral. Hardly a good time. Then to a show to brighten her spirits. She seemed lonely. Have you visited her? A good husband would.”

#2. Keep it simple. Don’t take what you don’t need. My early sailing adventures never included electricity, electronics, or even a motor!

“Listen limey, you stay away from my wife.”

#3. Go slow. Let it come to you and let it go when it’s time to let it go. Make space for the next adventure. If it doesn’t work for you then keep on searching!

Nellie sang again, identical to a priest’s chant during Mass, “Mr. Hysser have you heard of voodoo?” Probably, JJ gave a blank look to her, she returned it with song and the essence evil. “It’s a sticky situation that starts with me making a doll and ends with you in pain.”

Disclaimer: *The lessons of adventure can be dangerous, even fatal! *Occasional discomfort is always a factor. *Peer approval is not required. *Life is an adventure – Not a packaged tour!

“You stay out of this witch.”

Flo stood, “I’ve gone through this conversation with a fine-toothed comb and the words that stick out are, ‘not welcome.’ Nellie push the first needle into his crotch.”

“Oh, you are a wicked one.”

I stood and turned in time to see the terror on JJ’s face. He pointed his finger at us, “All of you stay away from her or there will be trouble.”

“That nail on your finger does look dangerous,” Nellie replied with a malicious grin. “Go, be gone.” She flung her hand up like a whisk broom and JJ seemed to be brushed away.

He stumbled and shouted, “The money will be all mine. Don’t get in my way, because I’ll kill you. Try it and see your death.” Then he scurried away without looking back.

Flo put her arm around me, “You did good, Julius.”

“If I had stood earlier, I would have smacked him.”

“You did well to stand and hold your ground, but your troubles will return like the tides,” Nellie predicted. “He is your challenge until one of you is dead. I will make a Hoodoo potion of jimson weed, sulfur and honey. You will sip it slowly after I rub the glass jar against a black cat.”

“What? Surely you jest. Jimson weed is hallucinogenic.”

“Only for a day or so. The dreams will give you direction and amour-propre.” Flo glanced questioning. “Love of selfesteem, I will make a gris-gris charm for your protection. It is beyond your control, Julius and in the realm of the saints.”

Dumbfounded, I stared at her. She simply sang, “You will see.” Then like the turn of an electric light switch, she was again Nellie. “Let’s sit and watch the birds sing again.”

(And then, I had only one adversary, JJ Hysser. Nellie and the sisterhood were in my corner. They wanted me to come out punching. Sadly, I did not realize it until later. My amour-propre lagged. CE)


I was raised on the Great Columbia River not far from where it meets the Pacific. I was a lucky kind of kid. My parents encouraged my explorations and the Columbia became my playground... and my source of many childhood adventures. Our home overlooked the river. My most treasured Christmas gift was a telescope from which I’d studied the river, the boats, and anything afloat. I recorded the home ports of freighters from all over the world and watched the commercial fishing trawlers trying to make a living. Occasionally I would spot a much smaller sailing yacht coming up the river from some faraway place. All ocean-going ships carried the flag of their home port and from behind that telescope; the seeds of adventure were planted. My early discoveries were made on board a little sailing pram that seemed small to most but, in my mind, I could sail the world. I wanted to experience all it. I joined the Sea Scouts (kind of like Boy Scouts, but on the water). I learned the skills of seamanship, navigation, and the nautical skills required to live at sea. I hopped rides on Tugboats. I waterskied for the ski club, preforming for town celebrations doing tricks on skis and was among the first to ski bare-footed. At age 14 I took a summer job as crew on a charter yacht that sailed from Seattle. What I saw from the deck of that boat changed my life. All this came to an end when at 16 my father accepted a federal judge position and we moved to Washington D.C. I never forgot what I had learned on the water and especially my boyhood dreams of sailing to faraway places. I had the skills; I just needed a plan and a boat. Maybe you have been there. Maybe you’re on the way? Here’s some advice. The rules of “adventure” are meant to be followed. The currents, the freighters, reefs, and reckless people can make or break your day. There are rules to follow and rules to make up as you go. Keep a log so not to forget what you’ve learned. Work with the elements of “nature.” They will become your path to finding true adventure. For me it was the river and later it became the ocean. The details and consequences will change but the rules stay the same:

I applied these rules to my first “adult” adventures, age 20, aboard my little blue water sloop, Tumbleweed. This tiny ocean going yacht would carry me, and eventually my adventurous partner, for many years of ocean travel. But, yes, 50 years have past. Now I find contentment paddling and sailing around much smaller bodies of water. My cruising boat is a homebuilt 11’ sailing dory built to sail places that I would no longer dare. She has auxiliary electric power, solar charged of course, and sleeps one (according to Gigi). We now find contentment living in a tipi, over the summer months at the WildRose. The tipi and my little sailboat are not really considered great adventure... Just easy living!


Stardust By Joan Remy In the dark night I sleep Within levels of Eternity Stars splash against my window Full moon feeling Distant lands Time once spent with magic hands My life’s a puzzle Every person fits so well I don’t always like The part they play Sooner or later I’ll learn the game And I’m longing to be one again With the Universe I can feel the power in me My Soul will be free


May 2022

Valley Voice

'Boat Almanac

Unfurling Fronds By Karen Vail

Mother Nature is unfurling one of her most beautiful art displays this spring in delicate coils of green. From the leaf litter of last year’s plants, fuzzy green balls push through the earth slowly uncurling in a dance like a ballerina awakening and unfolding from the earth. It is indeed a magical entrance into the spring world. Ferns greet the spring with tightly curled leaves produced through circinate vernation. Whoa, way to nerdify a beautiful process! You might recognize the word “vernation” from vernal equinox, the spring equinox. Vernation is the formation of new leaves or fronds (fern leaves) in spring. Well, more technically, vernation is the arrangement of young leaves in a bud. In the case of ferns, the young leaves are rolled lengthwise, which is called circinate, leading to a tightly coiled scorpion-tail like emerging leaf. Let’s take a deeper dive into the amazing and bizarre world of ferns. Most people imagine ferns in lush tropical forests, where most ferns are indeed found. In Colorado we have over 60 native species and varieties. Surprising, huh?! They tend to be small and hidden among rock crevices, although a few, like the lady ferns and bracken fern, are showy. If you visited Colorado 360 million years ago, you would have seen many of the ferns found in today's tropics. As the North American continent began to heat and dry the ferns adapted by reducing their size and leaf surface, finding niches like rock crevices to grow in and often changing their leaf structure to reduce water loss. Their life cycle, which has not changed since that time, long preceded the flowering plant's life cycles. These are ancient lineages of plants! Unlike flowering plants with male and female parts combining to form seeds, ferns produce sexually through spores. Most fern plants (the sporophyte) carry their spores in little clumps (called spo-


Photos by Karen Vail

rangia) on the undersides of their leaves, whereas some produce a separate stalk carrying the spores. Spores of many ferns are thick walled and can remain viable up to several decades. (Encyclopedia Britannica, Ferns) These spores have just one set of chromosomes (compared with the parent plant with has two sets of chromosomes) and soon the wind carries them to their new home where they grow into a tiny heart-shaped blob called a gametophyte. I have never had the luck to find one in the wild – I’m still looking! On the gametophytes are separate male and female parts where the sperm and egg are produced and mature at different times to maximize cross-pollination with other gametophytes. Water is typically needed for the movement of the sperm across the gametophyte. Yes, the sperm “swim” to the female archegonium using cilia on their surface. This is a weird animal-like trait for a plant! Once the sperm fertilizes the egg the merger grows into a new fern plant. Many of our ferns of dry habitats bypass fertilization altogether as the lack of moisture inhibits movement of the sperm. If you made it through that, let’s get to the real world – what does a fern look like? Most ferns are rhizomatous, meaning they spread across the ground through underground stems. Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum var. pubescens) is the master roamer, able to cover large areas through rhizomes. All our ferns are perennial, continuing to grow year after year and emerge from the dead leaf matter from the previous years. The stems are often covered in hairs or scales which are used in classification. The leaf, or frond, (or more technically, a pteridophyll) is the lacey greenery we see, and these featherlike leaves at their most basic leaf plan are considered pinnate which is similar to a bird feather (or pinna) with the central axis and smaller side branches. Fern fronds can be simple

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



pinnate, once divided, twice dived, etc. The finest of fronds can have multiple divisions from the basic simple division and look like fine lace. Maidenhair ferns (Adiantum spp.) are a good example. How the leaf emerges from the bud, its vernation, is one way ferns differ from flowering plants. As the frond emerges in the spring, the leaf unrolls from the tip, the apical meristem, in a coil. Compare the opening bud of a chokecherry where the leaves are folded and open by expanding. The coiled fern frond is called a fiddlehead or a crosier, and these delicate embryonic cells are protected by this curling spiral covered by hardened hairs or scales. G As the frond unfurls the tissues harden and expand, and as the blade formation is complete the tip of the frond I ceases growth. t w As summer progresses ferns produce spores in special- w ized structures called sporangium either on the underside r of their leaves or in separate unique structures. These are u unique to each fern species, and I highly encourage you i to take a magnifying glass and take a closer look at these t fuzzy bumps. In fact, the sori (the clusters of sporangium) n and how they are distributed along the leaf and the type p of coverings they might, or might not, have are the most R important factors in classifying ferns. Get out those hand lenses! “ i Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum var. pubescens) is o probably the most widespread fern in the world. Found p here in dry open aspen forests they cover large areas with d their deep-set rhizomes, are often over my head when g walking through them (which I do not recommend doing as they are damnable frustrating to get through). They B change to golds and oranges in the fall for beautiful colors h under the aspen gold. The young fiddleheads are prized e by many but beware as they contain carcinogens linked s to stomach cancer. Lady ferns (Athyrium filix-femina), p like bracken, are found throughout the northern hemiM sphere. As you walk along Spring Creek or other protected s waterways you will find the beautiful arching clumps of a lady ferns. I find this the most graceful fern of our area. B There is an alpine version of lady fern (Athyrium alpt estre), growing along alpine streams and in boulder fields, C softening the harsh landscape above tree line. Christmas h fern (Polystichum lonchitis) is a stunning clump of dark f evergreen fronds found in shaded forests of rich soils with b good moisture. They are tough to find, but quite the treat d when discovered. And then there are the little guys. Look in rock crevices, under rock overhangs and you will find Y the diminutive rock brake fern (Cryptogramma acrosti- G choides), brittle bladder fern (Cystopteris fragilis) and t slender lip fern (Cheilanthes feei). i o Unfurl your own spring explorations and we’ll see you on the trails.

Valley Voice

May 2022


Piknik Theatre

The Theater of War By Stuart Handloff

Gleb Garanich / Reuters I’m sure I have relatives, however distant and unknown, that are fighting and dying in Ukraine. My grandparents were fleeing the Russians over 100 years ago but there were certainly family members left behind. I’ve only recently met other relations here in the USA, heretofore unknown, who left the old country behind even before my immediate family. I’m of the generation that thought with the Cuban Missile Crisis and the fall of the Berlin wall, the nuclear weapons treaties, and the rise of Eastern European independence, that the possibility of conflict with Russia was behind us. Clearly not. “The entire land, sea, and air area that is or may become involved directly in war operations.” It’s the definition of the theater of war. Knowing that an art form, while a powerful cultural force, could be conflated with the death, destruction, and utter waste of humanity that is currently going on every day in Ukraine is so disturbing. Bertolt Brecht wrote a classic play, Mother Courage and her Children. It’s a dark piece of theater that frequently ends up on college campuses more than the Broadway stage. Tony Kushner, one of America’s most renowned playwrights, had this description for the piece: “In 1949, Mother Courage's characters, creator, cast and audience shared a war-weariness and an ashen, heartsick terror at the prospect of more war. It was manifestly one of Brecht's ambitions for the play to expose the transactional, economic nature of war. But by the end of Mother Courage, arguably the bleakest conclusion Brecht wrote, his adage that war is business carried on by other means feels inadequate and hollow. The play reveals war not as business but as apocalypse, as the human nemesis. War devours life.” Yet in the face of the apocalypse, theater perseveres. Google theater in Afghanistan or Iraq, theater in Palestine, theater in any war-torn region and you’ll uncover some incredibly courageous actors telling stories, whether of resistance or heroism or reconciliation or pacifism,

the stories go on. The performing arts hold the potential to heal and give peace to those who grieve. For an example, look to Stephan Wolfert, a Trinity Rep MFA grad, professional actor, and former Army Special Forces medic who works with exmilitary struggling with post-traumatic stress and reintegrating into civilian life: “De-cruiting.” He’s taped his one-man show Cry Havoc (https:// watch?v=Qr-QI_cGRo4) and you can read about his theatre education and training programs in the NY Times. In fact, I strongly encourage you to read about his work whether you’re a veteran or not. Anyone who endures trauma and who doesn't these days - will find an opening to build around the pain through art.

Straining upon the start. The game's afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!' We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition: And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day. It is perhaps these words from King John that should most be whispered in the ear of Vladimir Putin: “Your breath first kindled the dead coal of wars and brought in matter that should feed this fire; and now ’tis far too huge to be blown out with that same weak wind which enkindled it.” The world is facing this blaze that is now far too big to be easily extinguished. The ending is unknown. We stare at the apocalypse before us and we can only hope or pray or persevere in the creation of life affirming theater, not the theater of war.

( While Shakespeare is known for the words whipping the reluctant English soldiers to battle, in Henry V:

Dishonour not your mothers; now attest That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you. Be copy now to men of grosser blood, And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman, Whose limbs were made in England, show us here The mettle of your pasture; let us swear That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not; For there is none of you so mean and base, That hath not noble lustre in your eyes. I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,


Steamboat Springs Walden


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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.

Derek Harper, DPM


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May 2022

Valley Voice

Suds Central

In Defense of Malt Liquor By Sean Derning aka A Beer Fairy

Humble beginnings

Exploring the enigma

Malt liquor was offered soon after World War II to the public as beer drinkers complained that the beers produced following the war tasted watered down, fizzy and weak. True, many breweries had changed their recipes as ingredients and supplies (barley, glass, metal, etc) had been rationed during the war, and they were slow to revert back to pre- and post-Prohibition brews in strength and taste.

For the tasting, three different 40 oz. malt liquors were chosen; Steel Reserve, Olde English 800 and Mickey’s. All three are affordable at about $3/bottle and translates to about $1/pint. Appearance of the three is quite different as Mickey’s is the only beer to be contained in a green colored glass bottle and resealable metal cap. The beer is also still available in 12 oz. six packs with the classic ‘hand grenade’ green glass bottle and wide mouth opening. Less impressive was Steel Reserve and Olde English 800, two beers packaged in clear plastic (poor choice for preservation and carbonation) with a wide resealable plastic cap.

Enter malt liquor, a more potent brew that was originally marketed to an upscale white audience. Images of backyard barbecues, dinner parties and the like in advertising all tried to dress up the beverage and it was contained in smaller cans and bottles than the more traditional lagers and pilsners. Eight ounces was a popular size, but the novelty of malt liquor wore off and sales steadily declined through the 50s and 60s, and several brands were retired due to poor sales.

40 oz. to freedom; Malt liquor offerings from 211 Steel Reserve, Olde English 800 and Mickey’s. Mention malt liquor to anyone over 30 and expect either a gaze waxing nostalgic from hazy memories under the influence (and probably underage) or a face that recalls a poor tasting beverage which left the drinker with a nasty hangover. Yes, malt liquor, the beer that draws an extra strong punch due to inflated alcohol content, is this month’s choice for readers. But the beverage that many shy away from has its merits and a deep history in this country. This article will define malt liquor, present a history of malt liquor in this country, its change in marketing of the product and finally, a review of three domestic malt liquors currently available nationally. What exactly is malt liquor? According to, they identify the style as such; Most Malt Liquors are made with excessive amounts of adjuncts (simple sugars), such as corn, rice, and refined brewing sugar (dextrose or maltose). As a result, there are very few "all malt" malt liquors. Hops are used sparingly, just enough bitterness to balance off any cloyingness..… They are highly attenuated, meaning a higher ratio of fermentable sugars are present compared to some other beers, allowing the brewer to achieve a high alcohol content without using as many ingredients. For the most part, Malt Liquor beers are sold in 40-ounce bottles.

Then brewery ad agencies started to pay closer attention to their marketing of malt liquor. In one of the most remarkable about-faces in advertising history, in the 1970s, Black Americans (mostly male) and people of color were the largest consumers of malt liquor and the breweries scrambled for their market share of this unrealized target audience. And a sizable market it was, with overall sales figures approaching $288 million at the close of the 1980s, according to Racially cringworthy advertising during this time was presented, and ad campaigns featuring Black American musicians and movie stars to sell malt liquor included Richard Roundtree, Kool and the Gang, The Spinners, and Billy Dee Williams, often wearing outrageous or designer fashions and scripts written with urban slang references and gestures. When rap music became popular in the 1990s, breweries then turned to many emerging rap/hip hop stars such as Snoop Dogg, Ice T and DJ Pooh. Malt liquor was portrayed as a drink with masculine appeal, and brand names included those of dangerous animals of the wild kingdom such as cobras, bulls, horses, pit bulls and nods to other animals that turn unpredictable when provoked. Further pigeonholing of malt liquor continued as online beer rating sites continued to torpedo malt liquors, as Steel Reserve, Old English 800 and Mickeys all received point ratings of 58, 52 and 61 (awful to poor), respectively. But what wasn’t revealed is that both Olde English 800 and Mickey’s have both won a total of six medals each from the Great American Beer Festival, according to

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Reading the label, the beers varied in alcohol content (5.6 to 8.1% alcohol by volume -ABV) and made it clear on the label that corn sugar/syrup (called adjuncts) was used in the brewing process to assist with boosting flavor and alcohol content. Steel Reserve (8.1% ABV) was first on the list and first pour revealed a deep golden color and it maintained a nice fluffy white head with big bubbles. Aroma was deep with corn but also some light bread. Taste was rich and did not contain any of the metallic aftertaste many beer judges have been critical of when judging malt liquors. The taste was rich with a wet finish and overall was a beer that exceeded expectations and dispelled negative reviews. Olde English (5.9% ABV) had the exact same attributes as Steel Reserve, despite the lower alcohol content, and if comparing both beers, a seasoned palate has difficulty telling the two apart. It is also a good beer and lacks the escalated alcohol kick of Steel Reserve. Final tester was Mickey’s (5.6 ABV). It pours a nice white head with smaller bubbles that sustain, a nice light gold color, and also features the corn aroma in the nose. But Mickey’s finishes dry and invites another taste. With summer approaching, this beer is the perfect match for a grilled bratwurst with stone ground mustard and relish. Drink for taste In closing, malt liquor’s history in this country is as rich as the beverage itself. The ability to turn a marketing about face, refine their quality and move past negative reviews and stereotypes make malt liquor a dark horse in allowing beer drinkers who are on a budget to still enjoy a quality brew. All of these malt liquors impressed and dispelled poor perception and ratings, and were a far better taste experience than the weak Canadian beers reviewed in last month’s Valley Voice. Perhaps the best advice when drinking malt liquor is how it is presented. Drinking the beer out of a paper bag is not the way to do it. Serve the chilled beer in a frosted glass to maintain the cold temperature, take a deep draw on a hot day and tuck the car keys away.

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

Valley Voice

May 2022

Tales from the Front Desk

The Bathrobe By Aimee Kimmey

The story you are about to read is true... more or less. Of course the clerk had seen the guy from 111 wandering around the hotel in his bathrobe, who hadn't? Sure you expected to see guests going to or from the pool in a robe, but this guy was all over the place. And the robe wasn't any hotel robe, it was red velvet with black satin cuffs and collars. You couldn't miss him. By day this little man was tired and meek; the sort of guy you pitied or looked right past. He wore cheap wrinkled suits and combed a thin strand of hair across his balding head. In the mornings he shuffled reluctantly off to his rental car, like a condemned man headed to the gallows. When he returned in the afternoons he went straight to his room. Not long after they would find the little guy in his red velvet robe, skinny naked legs poking out, strutting around the hotel. He would leer at people walking by, winking at the ladies and dropping cringe worthy pick-up lines from one end of the hotel to the other. People rolled their eyes and hurried away uncomfortably. After three days of this, the staff was seriously beginning to wonder, what was this guy's deal? Was he truly this smarmy? Had he meant to book a room at some sexy spa? Or had he somehow confused the hotel with the Playboy mansion? Nobody could say for sure. They were all just trying to ignore him. That evening the clerk was working the night shift, perched in a chair behind the desk, poring over a magazine. She looked up when the bell chimed to see the red velvet robe sauntering toward her. Ugh, she thought to herself. The little guy leaned on the counter and eyeballed her a bit, half smirk hanging at the corners of his mouth. She couldn't stop her eyebrows from crinkling in distaste.

"Can I help you?" She asked. "Sure," he drawled, flipping the comb over out of his eyes, "You can tell me: am I naked under here?" He stepped back from the counter to give her the full view. His black satin collars, parted uncomfortably low to reveal a skinny, well oiled chest.


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With out bothering to inspect the goods, the clerk cocked her head, frowning at the man. "Did that sound less creepy in your head?" The little guy froze, eyes wide as if suddenly centered under a searing spot light. His smutty grin fell away, and the clerk saw actual shock in the man's eyes. "...Um... Yeah," He said quietly, "Yeah, it did." Tugging the satin collars closed over his slick chest he turned and left the lobby without a word. The clerk shrugged and went back to her reading. The next evening, she was working through another magazine when the door bell chimed. She looked up to see a handsome man in casual slacks and simple sweater walking toward her. As he got close she about fell off her chair: it was the guy from 111! Something was different about the man, and it wasn't just the absence of the robe. He moved with a confidence that she hadn't seen before. As he got closer, she noticed that he had shaved off the comb over, proudly revealing his shiny head. And his eyes... The clerk blinked, and looked closer. The little guy's eyes were bright and beautiful and... genuine. He had expertly applied delicate eyeshadow and luscious long eyelashes. For a second she was completely taken aback. But her shock vanished quickly when he smiled, "Um hi, I was wondering if you could recommend a good place to eat out?" The first time, the little guy seemed at home with himself. She had to admit, it really suited him. "Well sure, what are you in the mood for?" She asked.

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"I-I'm not sure, maybe something... different." He shrugged. "Well..." She thought for just a moment, "There's a great little taco place just down the street, they do crazy good street tacos; all sorts of different things." "Yeah," He nodded, "That sounds like just the ticket. Thanks!" He smiled, it was radiant and infectious, the clerk found herself grinning back at him. She watched in awe as he strolled out the door like a man on top of the world. She felt like she had just watched a butterfly emerge from its cocoon. It was... beautiful, and transformative. Instead of trying so hard to be something that he evidently wasn't at all, it seemed as though he had found a uniqueness all his own and fully embraced it. The little guy from 111 now seemed like a whole new person. The clerk was surprised to realize that it made all the difference in the world, as if he'd stepped out of the robe and into a brand new personality.

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May 2022

Valley Voice


Your Monthly Message By Chelsea Yepello Aries

March 21 - April 19

After a series of unmotivated and discouraging days, you decide to take control of your life and plan a big change. So, you shift your recliner from facing north-east to due north, sit down to watch the deleted scenes of The Office and reflect on the huge transformation you made.


April 20 - May 20

You should really go get scanned for microchips in your brain. Everybody should once in a while, but you should go right now. Like, you got the vaccine and the booster, right? So, it’s only a matter of time before you lose control of your motor functions altogether. It’s actually impressive that you’ve lasted this long.


May 20 - June 20

Avoid foods that are high in healthy fats, protein and natural sugars. Essential vitamins will block preservatives from penetrating vital organs and you will age at a significantly faster rate. After the age of 30, it is crucial to eat at least four servings of crap food a week to promote the cellular stunting you’ve been angling for.


June 21 - July 22

You will throw them a curve ball by telling a story without exaggeration or stretching the truth. Attempting to boost your street cred with an embellished tall tale has never hurt anybody, but people are starting to catch on to your fabrications. Maybe if you tell the story as boring and uneventful as it was, it will seem too simple coming from you and then they will begin to wonder who paid you for your silence and what really happened.


July 23 - August 23

Here you are, toiling away at a job everyday like a sucker, when all you have to do is take a few unsavory pictures of your feet in a vat of chocolate pudding and sell them to fetish websites.


August 23 - September 22

It’s time to consider making that big decision you’ve been mulling over. Pay no attention to the fact that your entire future rests on this one choice and if selected incorrectly, your life will be ruined. Seriously, if you choose poorly, you will age rapidly and crumble into a pile of dust like the bad guys in that one movie with the old James Bond and the Hans Solo guy.

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September 23 - October 23

If there is one positive we can take from a global pandemic, wearing Covid masks really ruined it for the pervie dude on the street corner that says you look much prettier when you smile.


October 24 - November 21

People will say you’ve hit rock bottom, which is depressing and a little frustrating because you were raised to believe that no one can put limits on your ambitions but you, and deep down you are certain that you can get lower than this.


November 22 - December 21

It’s important to reach out to your family and rekindle the bonds that have faded away over the years. Revive those relationships with your relatives, learn about your heritage, appreciate the blood flowing through your veins. Also, old rich family members die all the time and it’s important to weasel your way into their will now, before you miss out on some of the sweet loot.


December 22 - January 19

The doctor told you that a good night’s rest, gargling warm salt water and drinking lots of fluids will help ease your illness, but it also makes you wonder if you might have the world’s worst therapist and maybe they weren’t actually listening to you.


January 20 - February 18

Unfortunately, no matter how long you camp in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, you won’t harness radioactive super powers and be invited to join the X-Men. You will however sprout an extra ear, but it won’t do anything special.


February 19 - March 20

You will gain notoriety and the admiration of your peers when you stand in front of congress to commission a new national holiday on May 2nd for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s birthday.

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Curb Your Enthusiasm

May 2022



May 2022

Valley Voice

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