Blues from Another Planet – The Lazy Alien Blues Band, 29 Years Later

By Mike Rosso and Elliot Jackson

It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon at “The Vic,” or the Victoria Tavern, in Salida – early for barflies, although there are a few of them buzzing quietly over their beers and shots. It’s quiet, mellow, but the atmosphere is about to change. By twos and threes, calling greetings to the owner, the patrons and each other, a group of about ten guys and attendant entourage come sauntering into the bar with the breezy assurance of favored sons – which, it could be argued, they are. Probably no other group of musicians has played the Vic as much as the Lazy Alien Blues Band – going on for thirty years, if some of the lies can be believed. Deke, J.N., Denny, Ernie, Jimmy, Chris – as they cluster around the pool table, invoking a pose from a long-bygone photo shoot, a voice suddenly rises in song:

Going to the hot tub and we’re … gonna get laid …

We recognize the tune: isn’t that “Chapel of Love”?

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Hal Walter – Packing it in

This story is an excerpt from Hal Walter’s forthcoming book, “Wild Burro Tales.” The book includes pen-and-ink sketches by Westcliffe artist Lorie Merfeld-Batson, and should be available in May through local booksellers and Check out for news about the book’s release.

Early day prospectors combed the West looking to strike it rich. I would venture many also were searching for something other than monetary reward — intangible things like freedom, independence, and a close bond with the land. Matching strides with these adventurers were trusty pack burros carrying their gear and food, and providing invaluable companionship.

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Central Colorado Gems: Chaffee County’s Heritage Area and Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway

by Alan Robinson- Chaffee County Heritage Area Advisory Board member

Concern for preserving “heritage resources” (the collective natural, cultural, historic and scenic features which define an area’s sense of place) in Chaffee County took a front seat in 2004 when its county commissioners ambitiously declared the whole county a heritage area. They also appointed an 11-member Advisory Board representing public land managers, historical societies, towns, ranchers, local nature associations and the general public, and charged us not only with identifying heritage, but with educating our fellow citizens about its value in social, ecological and economic terms, and with planning how heritage can be managed to preserve and perpetuate those values. Board members volunteer their services but, recognizing future administrative and technical services, the commissioners also appointed non-profit Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA, and its director as the board’s executive arm.

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Q & A with Gayle Haggard, wife of the Founder and Former Pastor of the New Life Church, Ted Haggard

by Jennifer Dempsey

In November 2009 evangelical preacher Ted Haggard resigned his leadership position with the New Life Church in Colorado Springs as well as his position as president of the National Association of Evangelicals after allegations of solicitation of a male prostitute and use of crystal meth were made public.

His wife Gayle has just released a book, “Why I Stayed,” concerning the events of the past three years and why she chose to remain with her husband.

Writer Jennifer Dempsey, who conducted this interview says, “When I spotted Ted Haggard at a grocery store in Westcliffe last November I thought, ‘Hey, isn’t that’s the right wing mega-preacher from Colorado Springs who had the drug and gay-escort scandal? What a hypocrite.’ Then I spoke to him. Then I read his wife’s book. Today my notion of Ted Haggard and his wife Gayle are completely different.”

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Called Home: Sandhill Cranes and Humans

by Susan Tweit

Driving across the San Luis Valley recently, Richard and I spotted groups of sandhill cranes probing the stubble of harvested fields for seeds and insects. Standing four feet tall, with wide gray wings, long, skinny legs, and necks outstretched, these birds are unmistakable.

They’re also part of this improbable high-desert-and-marsh landscape. Twice a year, some 20,000 sandhill cranes, essentially the entire population that migrates along the Rocky Mountains, descend on the San Luis Valley on their thousand-or-more-mile long migration between nesting grounds as far north as Alberta and wintering habitat as far south as Mexico.

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Quillen’s Corner – “Sherman, Set the Wayback Machine”

by Martha Quillen

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the modern world. When I was in fourth grade we were supposed to write a play about what we wanted to be when we grew up. My group wrote about astronauts meeting Martians for the first time. An interest in space travel was typical then; now dinosaurs are more popular.

In the 1960s, they told us Americans would be the first people to walk on the moon, and ours would be the first generation to see other planets. That was true enough – although seeing Mars at IMAX was a mite disappointing.

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Colorado Art Ranch – Provoking thoughtful inquiry among rural Colorado residents about issues, art and community.

by Susan Bavaria

Imagine a grand opportunity to pursue your creative craft unencumbered by phone, to-do lists or obligatory conversation for 30 days in a picturesque part of Colorado. Sound ideal? An artist residency makes it possible.

Artist residency programs exist worldwide, offering as much variety as there are interpretations of art. Some enjoy illustrious, historic reputations. Author Willa Cather toiled over Death Comes for the Archbishop at MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. Composer Aaron Copeland as well as author Sapphire, who wrote the book that became the movie called Precious, both found inspiration at the Yaddo Artist Colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

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The Caboose

by Forrest Whitman

COLORAIL Loses on Union Station?

Union Station, the premier rail hub in Colorado, won’t have much room for rail passengers if current plans go through. COLORAIL (Colorado Assn. Of Rail Passengers) has sued over the plan. The COLORAIL claim is that Union Station has become little more than another big real estate development and marginalizes passenger rail and inter city bus routes too. For example the light rail platforms will be far from the main station and future expansion on inter-city rail is out of room. COORAIL is gearing up for a long legal fight.

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News from the San Luis Valley

by Marcia Darnell

Outdoor Adventure

Winter fun proved treacherous for three in February. Wayne Brown’s snowboard outing led to his getting lost in Mineral County for three days after a snowstorm. He was found safe and in the process of hiking out. In Conejos County, a couple from New Mexico were also found safe. Donald and Carol Bonney took refuge in a yurt after getting lost while cross-country skiing.

Nature Negotiation

U.S. Rep. John Salazar, perhaps inspired by President Obama’s “let’s have a beer and talk it out” example, hosted a roundtable of 23 participants Feb. 17 over the controversy surrounding the proposed Village at Wolf Creek. No solution was reached, but Salazar vowed to listen to all sides and study the environmental review before deciding whether to sponsor the land-swap legislation.

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REGIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP (and other items of interest)

“Right to Float” Bill Hits Snags

DENVER – Colorado House Bill 1188, the “River Outfitters Viability Act,” was abandoned by the state senate and will be sent to the Colorado Water Congress for evaluation.

The legislation, proposed by Rep. Kathleen Curry, was designed to protect the boating industry from restrictions sought by a private landowner from Texas along the Taylor River.

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‘Taxarado’: Love it or leave

by Hal Walter

Here in politically regressive Custer County I’ve seen a number of interesting bumper stickers reflecting the general dissatisfaction of the majority so-called conservative crowd. Perhaps the most interesting is one that depicts the old green-and-white Colorado mountain license plate, the artwork that became the basis for a generation of bumpers stickers that said “Native,” “Skier,” etc.

This one simply says “Taxarado.”

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A Farmer Far Afield – Job Creation

by John Mattingly

Imagine these two words spoken a thousand years ago, or five hundred, or even a hundred years ago, when most people were so survival-shackled the last thing they wanted was more jobs to be created.

An extreme contrarian might suggest that a 10 percent jobless rate in the U.S. is actually a sign of our success. We’ve reached a state in which one in ten people aren’t working and the nation isn’t falling apart. Not yet, anyway. In fact, this may be the new reality: obsolescence of the human worker. As a species of tool makers, we may have tooled ourselves out of a lot of work. Economists point out that innovation vanquishes certain jobs while creating new ones, but who knows? This time, maybe not. Maybe ten, or even twenty percent of the population won’t have a job.

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Down on the Ground with Urban Reality

by George Sibley

Recently it became official – globally, there are now more city cousins than country cousins. In other words, more than half of all humans live in large urban concentrations. We central Coloradans are now part of a global minority, which is probably not that much of a surprise here, where our state’s population is closer to three-quarters metropolitan.

A short essay in Newsweek (1/25/2010) tried to celebrate the fact that we are “adding the equivalent of seven New Yorks to the planet every year.” This means the most important locus (sic) for 21st-century innovation – technological, economic, and societal – will be our cities. They present the most promising opportunity to make our planet smarter. Cities bring together the systems by which our world works and include education, transportation, public safety, and health care, among others.”

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Reintroducing the Tabors: A Series

by Francisco A. Rios

Horace Tabor’s Loneliness

Whatever promise the mines in Mexico may hold out to Horace, he pays a terrible price in loneliness, and probably guilt, at being away from his family for months at a time, especially when there is a serious illness at home. The modern device of the telegraph allows for rapid communication, but sometimes it makes his absence from Lizzie all the worse, as he writes on Dec. 4, 1893 from an unstated location.

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Hasta La Vista, Suckers

by Patty LaTaille

Time Share Beware.

Okay – so not a timeshare exactly – a “Club Membership” to be precise.

Young, in love, blissful honeymooners, unaware and feeling the buzz from celebratory champagne.

Fresh meat for the El Presidente Intercontinental Club representative sharks.

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Water Update

by John Orr

State Representative Curry’s bill: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

State Representative Kathleen Curry’s bill, HB 10-1188, was designed to clarify the rights of outfitters on Colorado streams that have been traditionally used for rafting. The original bill meant to allow portages during high water and the right to float certain reaches around the state.

After the state house approved the bill by a margin of 40-25 – on pretty much a party-line vote – opponents dug in and started lobbying the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They were hoping to keep the bill bottled up in the committee and avoid a floor vote.

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“A Good Day for a Drive”

an essay by Chris Hunt

First there’s the cramped aisle seat on the commuter. Knees aren’t meant to bend that direction. At least not for that long.

Then off the plane and into the airport. The rush. Harried faces counting gate numbers. Life becomes a watch face. Everybody has a smart phone at their ear, and looks of self-importance cross their faces.

Baggage claim is next – we stand around the carousel like a litter of puppies around a single food bowl, waiting nervously. They lost it. I just know it.

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Book Review – Halfway to Heaven

Halfway to Heaven
By Mark Obmascik

Published in 2009 by Free Press,
a division of Simon and Schuster
ISBN13: 978-1-4165-6699-1

Reviewed by Martha Quillen

Halfway to Heaven is an adventure travelogue featuring harrowing tales of derring-do and death, along with passages about Colorado history, Colorado places (including Leadville and Salida), Colorado fourteeners, and mountain climbers; all held together with stand-up style comedy.

For me, this combination was not an immediate success. At first, I thought Obmascik’s jokes about marriage, aging, baldness, and parenthood blended with his profile on William Henry Jackson about as well as ice cream and lemonade blend to make a sundae.

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Micro-hydro: Why Small is Beautiful

by  Aaron Mandelkorn

Damming water to channel through a turbine for energy generation is almost primitive in its simplicity. Yet from a modern electrical generation standpoint, it can be quite efficient at producing clean, renewable electricity on-site. You don’t have to have the Colorado River running through your yard to get electricity from flowing water. In fact, micro-hydroelectricity is a stable, cost effective and efficient form of on-site energy production.

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