Thursday, February 26, 2009

Speak your mind next week about "Lake Nightmare"

This reminder from the San Juan Citizens Alliance:
Please save the date on your calendars for March 5th to provide input to the Animas La Plata Water Conservancy District (ALPWCD) regarding the design and development of recreation facilities on Lake Nighthorse. This is your opportunity to share your interests, concerns, and vision for the future.

This meeting will be held THURSDAY, MARCH 5TH, (5:30 -9:30 PM) at the DURANGO PUBLIC LIBRARY.

As you may already know, State Parks has formally declined to take over the operation of the reservoir. While there are no federal project dollars to complete the design and/or build out of the recreation facilities (except for the boat ramp), the ALPWCD would like to get input from the public to guide the development of these facilities.

The tentative agenda includes: an overview on the history of the effort (related to recreation) and where it stands today, an overview of the EIS as related to recreation, a panel discussion of project sponsors on their views and perspectives, a break out for small groups of attendees to discuss their thoughts on the topic, and lastly an opportunity to discuss potential next steps.

Key questions and points for consideration:

Who should manage the recreation? It can be anybody - public or private entity (although public is more typical), or a partnership of both.

What type of recreation should be allowed?

The funds associated with the boat ramp may or MAY NOT require the use of motorized boats on the lake as a stipulation of using the funds. Additionally, although the APLWCD is aware they will need a boat washing station to address the aquatic invasive species risk, it has not been discussed in detail or in relation to where the proposed boat ramp will go (as an aside, they plan on beginning construction of the ramp within the next month).

Could/should it be closed to recreation?

What are some short and long-term steps that could be taken?

What could be the vision for recreation at the new Lake Nighthorse?

What are your concerns about recreation at Lake Nighthorse?

What do you believe are the opportunities for recreation at Lake Nighthorse?

Should the development of the recreation facilities be phased? (As opposed to full build out from the start)

For more information, contact:

Meghan L. Maloney
Phone: (970) 259-3583
Fax: (970) 259-8303

Monday, February 23, 2009

This is LION country

These chilling photos were taken just a couple of days ago by Bryan Peterson, director of Bear Smart.

They were taken on private land up Lightner Creek, west of Durango. They show a fresh-killed yearling deer, loosely buried in debris, and surrounded by large lion tracks.

Needless to say, after taking these quick pics, he didn't hang around long.

And "I not going back to this place anytime soon," Bryan added.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Good news!

I no longer think I am living in a world that is dying.
Now I fervently believe it is being born.

-- Charles Bowden

My son thinks the world is falling apart.

Can't blame him. He's 15 now, and is starting to sense his approaching launch into the Great Big World out there. And what he hears of it isn't pretty.

What he hears, of course, mostly spews from the radio (NPR every morning and evening) and out of the TV and off the internet and up from the newspaper and magazines. The world, the concensus seems to be, is imploding right on the other side of our many speakers and screens and pages. And the world, the news seems to suggest, is in the hands of the experts and leaders and rulers and lawyers, and we can only hope they can keep it all together.

Given this limited but ubiquitous window on the world, I certainly see where he’d draw that very logical, seemingly obvious, almost indisputable conclusion.

It made perfect sense to me, therefore, for him to ask me the other day, "The world is falling apart, huh, Dad?"

So all I could do, as a loving, caring, concerned father, is to tell him the truth.

The world, son, is just fine.

Oh, sure -- there is some tectonic shifting afoot out there. Our wasteful, greedy, unfair and short-sighted economic system is finally crumbling like the unsupportable house of cards it has long been. And payment is coming due on generations of intercultural karma in many parts of the world. And the earth's climate and ecosphere are, like a load shifting in a rolling ship, sliding toward some as-yet-unknown new positions of repose, compensating for the weight of our hyper-cultivated, chemically-altered, and mega-populated civilized world.

And, yes, the world you're going to be living in is going to be a lot different from the world I, or your grandparents, or your ancestors, or perhaps anyone anywhere ever has lived in.

But that's what happens. What has to happen.

But it's still The World. Our world. Your world.

And you can, and will, thrive there.

That is the story my son is not hearing. That is the story that is not delivered in the news.

And I know: That is the story it's my job to tell my kids.

So here's what I tell my son:

  • The real world is a whole helluva lot bigger, better, diverse, creative, interesting, supportive and self-sustaining than in the stories we're told in the news.
  • The real world offers a lot more options and opportunities and adventures and choices than gets funneled down the narrow pipeline or examined under the microscope of the mass media.
  • Treat the world like the ever-unfolding, ever-unfathomable, always-evolving and always-our-habitat that it is, and you'll always be at home in the world where ever you are and whatever the world is like.
  • Like a river, learn how to ride the world, to navigate it, to make your own way with the flow of the world, rather than trying to box it up -- like trying to throw a rope around water -- and the world will float you places rather crashing in on your walls.
  • You yourself -- and only you -- control how you experience in the world, your relationship to the world, how you approach the world, your attitude in and toward the world.
  • You must xperience and prove the truth of all these statments for yourself. Your own way. Any way. Every day. No matter what you face and what you're told.

Yes, even I agree: We're in the midst of a man-made ice age -- the ice is our own massive mass culture. It's just as much of a weight on the world as any glacial ice sheet. And the planet and the societies on it are having to confront and deal with this ice age and its consequences in some real and difficult -- and some really difficult -- ways.

But I also know: People have survived ice ages before. And thrived. They made us what we are. And they will again.

So what do I teach my son, who is readying to navigate a new Great Big World out there? A world that we here now, still, as yet, cannot anticipate or forsee, as it still rumbles and resettles and restores itself?

I seek to offer him the skills to match the story I tell. I seek to teach him skills that will serve him in any world, any time, any place.

  • Abandon. See things for what they are, as they are. See yourself for who you are, what you cannot not be. And then ... work with that. Don't waste time fretting and judging over things. Enjoy them. Make the most of them. Be sincere, find your style, see for yourself what the world around you is like, and make it all work.
  • Savor. Be somewhere. Be aware. Be alive, every day. Live every moment. Because how we live our moments is how we live our days; and how we live our days is how we live our lives.
  • Engage. Don't shy away from being involved in the world, and from taking the helm of your own journey. Learn to be self reliant and responsibile. Be adaptable in how you do those: Acquire the skill of skill acquiring. Take care of yourself. Learn a little about a lot, and a lot about things that really matter to you.
  • Embrace. Learn to balance being both ruthless and compassionate: Be who you most are, ruthlessly -- but be compassionate enough to give others the space to discover and manifest the same about themselves. That is the basis of the most basic of human communities: the Tribe. A Tribe strengthens individuals through a strong colllective, and that collective is in turn strengthened by strong individuals. Learn how to find and build and maintain Tribe.

These aren't business or science or math or job or academic skills that my son is hammered with all day every day at school -- the skills he is told, we are all told, are essential for getting by in the Great Big World out there.

But these four skills, I believe, are the same basic human skills that got humans through ice ages before. And will get us through this one.

These, I believe, are the skills that will build the next world -- the world my son and our kids will build.

And these, I know, are the stories -- the good news -- I want my kids to hear.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Feelin' Scrapple-y

It's that time of year: February, the longest short month of the year. Winter's hunkered down hard, the nights come early and cold, and summer's still oh-so-far away.

A good time to hunker down yourself: crack open a beer, warm up by the woodstove, and spark up ... whatever takes you to where ever you wanna be. And then turn on the TV and fire up a movie.

If your February therapy includes that kind of night for you, I'd like suggest a movie suited perfectly to all those mountain-town moods and needs and hankerings: serve yourself up a heaping of Scrapple.

Scrapple has been called everything from "Babe on Acid" to "A ski bum's version of Easy Rider." In a review I myself wrote when the film came out ten years ago, I sang its dirt-bag praises:
Scrapple [is] a great success of an independent film. The greatest success, though, from the point of view of someone who has witnessed several ski towns sink into the sewer hole of "resort" success (and what is a resort but a place offering a "lifestyle," but with enough modern comforts so you can have the style without the demands of the life once required to live there?) is that it gives a needed reminder for us mountain-town folks of why we live here, what it's really all about, and what the real value of small towns and our tribal subculture is. And still can be.
Filmed in Telluride (and employing back alleys to look like pre-resort Telluride), Scrapple unfolds through the course of one ski-town summer as the main character, Al Dean (played by writer and producer Geoffry Hanson, in a big, beautiful '70s afro) struggles to acquire a house to get his Vietnam-vet brother (Dan Earnshaw) out of a VA hospital. To do this, Dean takes on a variety of mountain-town occupations, from house painting to drug dealing -- particularly taking orders for a mysterious mystical Tibetan concoction called "Temple Balls" that he is sure will yield him his economic jackpot (so to speak).

Meanwhile some other entertaining and classic ski-town plot twists unfold:
  • In a greased-pig contest, one of Al Dean's roommates wins Scrapple the pig, which he and his shack-mates decide to fatten through the summer for an end-of-summer pig roast;
  • bandanna-headed motorcycle-riding stud Tom (Buck Simmonds) wrestles with both the death of his girlfriend (a subplot that casts a dark light on the mountain-town drug culture) and his new-found attraction to her best friend, Beth (Ryan Massey);
  • and the the sleazy developer (is that redundant?) as he wheedles a new airport to transform the town of Ajax (a thinly fictionalized early Telluride) into a major resort. (I think it was Woody Allen who once said, the scariest words in the English language are "it's terminal." In Western ski towns, it's the developer's line: "We have all the necessary ingredients to make Ajax the destination resort in North America.")
And through it all, Scrapple the porker lumbers along in and out of the plots, on his way toward enlightenment and transformation into "the Dharma Pig."

It all makes for a fun, funny, and festive '70's kinda ride.

And all this also makes Scrapple the Big Wednesday, the surfer culture epic, of ski-bum life -- except that rather than highlighting the skiing (there's only a few minutes of skiing in the entire film) Scrapple fictionalizes but truthfully captures the "bumming" part of the culture -- that real Rocky Mountain lifestyle built around accumulating joy rather than money.

As Errol McNamara, the obligatory ski-town Aussie and philosophizing bartender in the film, says of how he arrived in Ajax: "Life is just way too short to end up at 60 with a gold watch and a pension. Headed out looking for Nirvana. This might not be it, but the back yard's not too bad."

So as you're riding out those caFebruary mountain-town cabin-fever blahs, remember why you do it. And, for a night, anyway, let Scrapple be your guide.

Here's a scene from the film where Scrapple transmorgifies from mere bacon to enlightened Dharma Pig:

Scrapple also delivers an outstanding soundtrack that drives many of the scenes, featuring happy-hippie greats old and new, from J.J. Cale to Jonathan Edwards' classic "Shanty," to some great stuff from Taj Mahal, Widespread Panic, and Sam Bush.

Learn more and purchase Scrapple and the soundtrack here.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Home Mountain

We get up there around noon. There's no hurry, though. Although the skies hang low as a living room ceiling all morning, the cloudcover isn't squeezing out any snow yet. This afternoon it'll arrive, the witchdoctors from the National Weather Service promise.

And, you know, with a ski pass, one grows into a bit of a snow snob.

Good call. The flakes arrives as we do. And I don't mean those slow-driving sudden-turning lane-wavering New Mexican drivers -- I mean that frozen manna that we acolytes of the church of the mountains wait for, pray for, worship when it finally comes. Especially after a long drought filled warm, lovely but snow-less weather like we've had.

Even though it's a weekend day, and "Local's Day" at Purgatory, there's not that many other people up here today -- at the base area, we ski right up to the lift and get on a chair. We deduce that it's perhaps because the Durango High School ski club is in Aspen, and the local ski teams are away at competitions -- as behests the offspring of those locals whose day it is here.

At the top of the chair, our own kids leave us as well -- same ski area, but they seek their own turns, with their own friends. So we head off ourselves, just my wife and I, toward our own favorite local's destination: Ye Olde Lift 8.

And the snow picks up, starting to accumulate like a layer of albino volcanic ash. We float the fluff fallen on the groomed green and blue runs traversing toward Purgatory's "backside." It's dreamy, like waterskiing a glassy lake.

We have our favorite combinations of routes across the mountain -- across our mountain The mountain where we've spent most of our married years together. The mountain we raised our kids on. The mountain where our kids make their first moves toward taking off, on their own, to find their own runs, to carve their own turns, with their own pack of "locals." Soon those turns will take them off the mountain, out of our home, and into the world.

Some of these routes we claim as our own by dubbing them with our own names -- "afternoon delight," "dreamsicle, "the tibeal plateau" -- and they are the product of years of exploring and experiences and studying and sharing. And skiing. Lots of skiing.

We ski them all today. The snow deepens. Lift lines never materialize. Sarah and I have a great, grand time bumping and carving and gliding and riding the chair together.

We ride Lift 8, of course, all day: That old triple chair that slowly climbs the steep-walled basin that looks out over Hermosa Park. It's a process getting to Lift 8, and it's a long, pensive ride on the '80s-era mechanism back to the top. (And longer if it suffers one of its not-infrequent breakdowns.) But it's worth it, I think. I like the slow ride. I like the time to think, or talk, or just look around and not think and not talk. I like the time to rest my telemark-tortured legs after careening down one of the many radical runs through the trees of Paul's Park or Poet's Glade, or bumped-out battlefields of Elliots or Boudreau's or Blackburn Bash.

(We once had the pleasure of having dinner with the old-time ski-bum Paul after whom Paul's Park is named. That, my wife said dreamily after, would be the greatest honor she could imagine: to have a run named after you ...)

Hard to get to. Hard to get down. A hassle to get around. (Kind of life in the rural West in a nutshell.) That's why Lift 8 is the locals' chair.

(And this year we savor it more than ever, since next year, the plan is, one of them new-fangled high-speed detachable quads, like Lift 3, is going to be installed here. Sure to make it easier to get to, less of a hassle to ride, more popular to more tourists. Kind of like the rural West in a nutshell.)

The snow accumlates quickly. Thickly. Arriving in ocean-fog-like wafts of dumping snowfall. People indistinguishable in their body armor and powdered with snow pant and grin and nod to each other knowingly.

We run into people we know, too, on the chair, at the top of the mountain, at Dante's, the mid-mountain cafeteria. We run into the same people we always see up here, smiling away on a powder day. And we run into many people we haven't seen in a long time -- river people and coworkers and people from the schools we work at.

And we run into one couple we've known as long as we've lived here, and who have kids just a few years older than ours. Also river runners, travellers, campers, skiers, we've been following their tracks for many years now, looking ahead at what they're doing, what their kids are like, what is happening to them, and awaits us.

They're up here skiing today together. And their kids are off -- elsewhere, off into and around the world. And we can see our next big adventure.

But until then, I'm thankful for and savoring being able to bring our kids up here, to raise them here, with this, our home mountain. Where it's always locals day.


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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Film about photo that changed the world coming to Durango

It's an iconic shot from the Vietnam War -- one, more than three decades later, people still recognize. It changed the course of the war -- and it changed the course of photographer Eddie Adams' life.

An Unlikely Weapon: The Eddie Adams Story, a documentary about the photographer and his photo, and the effects the latter had on the former, will be shown at the 2009 Durango Film Festival. The festival this year will be March 4 - 8. (Exact schedule has yet to be released.)

Watch the trailer here:

An Unlikely Weapon Trailer from senshi on Vimeo.

If you'd like to help support the Durango Film Festival, head to Ska Brewing Wednesday, February 4, 2009 at 5:00 pm at SKA Brewing Company's World Headquarters at 225 Girard St. in Bodo.

~10% of DIFF Beer sales will benefit the 2009 festival
~Food available for purchase from Zia Taqueria
~Musical entertainment provided by Gigi Love & Michael Coble

For more information call (970) 375-7779

Monday, February 2, 2009

Inside Outside Southwest magazine hits the information superhighway

Inside Outside Southwest magazine, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary in November, is now leaping into the 21st century with the launching of an active and interactive on-line version of the magazine this morning.

Inside Outside has had a website since its earliest incarnation, but until today that site consisted of just links to copies of each issue's stories. The website launched today will feature expanded versions of stories featured in the print version of the magazine, as well as stories and columns exclusive to the The website will also (soon) offer a searchable database of all the magazine's issues back to its birth in 1998. will also constantly have fresh and updated stories, including news updates, a regional calendar, webcams, and blogs from both long-time and first-time Inside Outside Southwest writers.

[Including, yes, in the interest of full disclosure, yours truly, in the form of the blog The Monkey Wrench Dad. (In case anyone cares, the column I've been writing for for IOSW since 2001, Neanderthal Crossing, is ending -- the last Neanderthal Crossing is in the current issue.)]

The print version of Inside Outside will still be available around the Four Corners. Instead of coming out bimonthly, though, the print magazine will now be a smaller but more frequent publication, with a new issue every month.

The February issue -- the first of the revamped magazine -- is available now.

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Check out -- and give feedback and suggestions on -- here.

You can sign up to receive updates from here.

Read the first post in The Monkey Wrench Dad blog -- "Fear and loathing -- and optimism -- in Mountain Village."