Profile: Florence, Colorado

By Mike Rosso

Florence, Colorado, neighboring the Arkansas River south of Cañon City, sometimes gets an undeserved bad rap. Having a federal prison complex on its outskirts, it is sometimes referred to as a “prison town.” It’s far from it. Having visited Florence a number of times over the years, I thought it might be fun to take a closer look at this small city with a rich history and dynamic future.

My first visit was city hall, and a meeting with newly elected mayor Keith Ore and City Manager Mike Patterson. Ore was selected as mayor pro-tem after former mayor Charles Giebler suddenly died in January 2013. Ore was then elected to serve a full term in November. Like many small cities in Colorado that once had a mining or manufacturing base, Florence has been challenged with a changing economy. There are no big box stores in the community, and the closest U.S. highway is several miles north of town. Even the Arkansas River, a tourist draw in towns like Salida and Buena Vista, is too far from downtown to have any appreciable effect on visitor numbers. In fact, Florence does not consider itself a tourist town, according to Chamber Director Barbara Folger. But Florence does have one very big thing going for it: antiques. In fact, Florence boasts the highest number of antique stores per capita in Colorado – a total of 18.

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Desperate Conversations at the Denver Greyhound Station

By Mark Kneeskern

Desperate conversations are best had on a pay phone at the Denver Greyhound station.

The depot where ambitions go to expire is also a good place to learn about homelessness. I myself look like a vagabond, and drifters, like birds, are drawn to those whose plume (and smell) they recognize.

There is no escaping CNN as I wait in line to get my bus ticket. In fact, no place in this station is safe from the broadcast. I’m tempted to push through the steel doors and past the human chimneys in the cold damp streets to get away from the news. The only consolation is some abbreviated, dark, abstract humor scrolling at the bottom of the screen … a similar humor crawls across the gray tile as I wait for the sassy hip-hopster chick in front of me to finish her tirade. She’s at the counter, bellyaching about how her first bus had a flat, her second bus broke down, the third was delayed, and now her hair is a wreck. The Greyhound representative, whose fingernails look like surfboards, seems to empathize.

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Deep Powder Tracks

By Phil Sasso

Winter storms are fierce. In the old days, my fingers didn’t freeze nearly as fast as these days. Forty years have taken their toll in many ways. Now in the middle of a storm, the truck becomes the mothership, the last warm, windless place. Why am I going out in this? Powder snow. So, given my elderly circulation I look to get as dressed as I can inside the truck – a trick behind the wheel. You can position the doors to provide lee from the wind, or you can choose the windless side of your vehicle. Boots, buckles, snaps, zippers and all manner of clothing have a sequence. Then it’s off to the trailhead and a climb.

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And Yet Still I Write

By Hal Walter

Raven is a bird that is associated with magic and healing, balance between light and dark, creation and wisdom: trickster. My neighbor, who is a golfer and practices his driving on the hillside behind his house, tells me ravens routinely carry away golf balls, thinking they are eggs, before he can retrieve them.

I imagine the raven swooping up to some rocky outcrop with the strangely spherical and dimpled “egg” in its beak, perplexed by the resilience and actual bounce when cracked against the granite.

Recently during an intense period of animal care-taking I had found some frozen eggs in one of my clients’ chicken house. They had expanded and cracked before I found them. So I tossed them out near a big boulder behind the barn knowing that some wild animal would likely appreciate the free meal.

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Profile: Del Norte, Colorado

By Tyler Grimes

Del Norte, Colorado, sits in the southwest corner of the San Luis Valley along the Rio Grande River, just east of the Rio Grande National Forest and San Juan mountains, south of Penitente Canyon and between Monte Vista and South Fork on Hwy. 160. Like many small mountain towns in Colorado, Del Norte has a rich Native American history, a mining boom the town was built on, an extensive ranching past and present, a population and economic downturn in the mid-1900s, and is now slowly growing, thanks to tourism. But it’s Del Norte’s unique individuals, families and businesses that give it a charm of its own. 

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