The Final Gift

By Hal Walter

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a close friend but when Curtis Imrie headed over the pass last month, I found myself scrambling for words and trying to regain my own sense of balance and direction.

My first reaction was, Curtis can’t die. For here was a man who lived life by his own rules. Then again, how better to exit this life than to go while doing something you love, in this case showing donkeys at the National Western Stock Show.

My friend Miles F. Porter IV introduced me to Curtis in 1980 when I ran my first marathon in Denver. Later that summer we visited Curtis’ cabin at 4 Elk near Buena Vista and Curtis convinced me to give pack-burro racing a try. We became fast buddies. Curtis was initially the crazy brother-from-another-mother that every young man should have. Later in life he would evolve into a mentor of sorts. After his passing I realized he was a once-in-a-lifetime friend.

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The Crowded Acre: The Dude

By Jennifer Welch

It’s no secret to most that I am part woman, part wild animal. I walk a paper thin line between human reasoning and animal instinct, between empathy for our man-made problems and disdain for the four walls surrounding me. I find it difficult to relate to most people, especially the ones that don’t have dog hair on their pants. Animal communication is simple, straightforward. Humans are much more complex and I constantly find myself fumbling through the intricacies of interaction. When I am in town I feel slightly out of place, the proverbial fish out of water, as it were. But when I come home there is a small tribe of humans and horses, poultry and swine, goats and cats, that make me feel at peace. There is also a giant dog that insists on climbing into the truck to greet me every time I pull into the driveway. These are the things that make those four walls feel like a home. It may not be the cleanest home on the block, but it’ll do. 

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By Ben Lara

Editor’s note: This tribute to Brett Beasley was read during a Celebration of Life event held on February 10, 2017.
My name is Ben Lara and for the past seven years I had the amazing experience in working with Brett as his immediate supervisor.  Brett started his Forest Service career in 1995 in the Upper Arkansas Valley.  For the next 22 years he would go on to become one of the most recognizable and accomplished natural resource managers in the Upper Arkansas Valley.  His enthusiasm and dedication to the Forest Service was infectious.  You could not spend any amount of time with him and not become his best friend.  He had an amazing capacity to love and care for people.  Beasley, Beas or Brett with two TT’s had many nicknames. One of my favorite came out while working on a volunteer project on the top of Monarch Pass.  We ran into some hikers along the section of trail we were working on. I didn’t recognize them but they asked if the “Legend” Brett Beasley and asked if he was working that day. From then on I would address all my emails and text as “What’s up Legend?,” “Hey Legend.”

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A Public Lands Champion, Brett Beasley: 1970-2017

By Mike Rosso

On February 4, 2017, U.S. Forest Service employee and Salida resident Brett Beasley, along with a teenaged boy, set out from 11,380-foot-high Uncle Bud’s Hut near Leadville for some backcountry skiing.

The weather then turned bad. A fast-moving blizzard blew in and the pair likely became disoriented, resulting in a frigid night huddled in a snow cave. Rescuers were sent out the next morning after being alerted by the friends and families who were also staying at the hut. Both Brett and the teen were experienced skiers but there was nonetheless much concern about their whereabouts and health. Around 2:30 that afternoon, the pair were finally located in the Porcupine Gulch area, nearly three miles from the hut.

The boy was apparently unharmed and was taken by snowmobile to his family. Meanwhile Brett was treated at the scene for severe hypothermia. The weather conditions did not allow for a medical helicopter which may have aided in his rescue and he died on the scene on Feb. 5, his 47th birthday.

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About the Cover Photographer: Beth Grimes

Inspired by the natural world and the human story. Beth Johnston Grimes, owner and operator of Yellow Feather Photography, “captured” this mountain goat on her birthday while hiking in the Chicago Basin. For Beth, a trip to the backcountry is incomplete without a camera in hand. Her lens magnifies the colorful beauty she finds in …

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George Sibley: Down on the Ground With Alternative Realities

By George Sibley

I’ll say upfront that this is not just another anti-Trump screed. Like him or not – and I don’t – the real challenge today, I think, is to figure out how we are going to get back to addressing the very real problems facing the whole planet, toward which The Donald is mostly a lump of obfuscation or outright denial. And we are surely not going to get anywhere at all if we continue to let him dominate our attention, pimping us daily into paroxysms of righteous wrath or gleeful rubber-stamping. The Donald knows the magician’s art of distracting with the left hand to cover what the right hand is doing.

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Quillen’s Corner: Give Me That Old-Time Religion

By Martha Quillen

Trump’s mean-spirited but wildly popular insults have come as a bit of a shock to America and the world. But it’s hard to imagine a really nice guy becoming president. The idea of a peaceful, benevolent leader seems antithetical to American enterprise. Smiling George W. gleefully pitched us into war, and coolly polite Obama launched deadly drones. Even devout Christians question the possibility of peace and forgiveness. It didn’t work in Afghanistan or Iraq, so forget it.

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John Mattingly: Wild Cherry Creek

In the northern San Luis Valley, County Road AA – known sometimes as Alanon Afterway – intersects Colorado Highway 17 about five miles south of the intersection of Highway 17 and U.S. 285. Highway 17 at Road AA is the corner of four surveying quadrangles, the northeastern of which is the Mirage Quad. Looking to the south from that point, you often see mirages rising off the flat floor of the Valley. To the west on Road AA is one access to the Saguache County Landfill, which explains why that stretch of Road AA is frequently littered with trash, blown out of untarped trucks on their way to the landfill.

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Places: Silver Skate Park, Creede

By Ericka Kastner

Growing up in Minnesota, there was one gift my brother and I could always count on each year: a new pair of ice skates for Christmas. Replacing the ones we’d outgrown the previous year, we’d tie the skates together and toss them over our shoulders on the way out the door to school each morning, with plans to skate at the nearby rink at the park later in the day. I grew up loving skating and missed having such easy access to ice for my own children as I raised them in Salida.

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The Real Deal Music Review: Hogan and Moss – In Dreams I Go Back Home

By Brian Rill

Hogan and Moss are BMI artists known for their high paced and powerful live shows. Performing over decades between Central Colorado and Texas they blend a contrite western sound with the upbeat energy of an Appalachian jam. John Hogan sings with a strong instinct of survival as if his very soul depended on the sequence of his songs. They will capture your attention and send you dancing like a frightened grassland grouse.

In Dreams I Go Back Home officially recreates this raw energy from their live performance. Recorded at Def Star Studios in Austin, Texas, the audio quality is super high fidelity, clear, bright and balanced. John Hogan’s vocals soar over the multi-instrumental tracks with Maria Moss backing up the main lines. It is with authoritative authenticity that Hogan and Moss shine; out of classic bluegrass grit they pioneer an amazingly genuine sound. A wide variety of dynamic tension, multiple tempos and numerous beats create a unique experience that rarely becomes bland even after repeated plays. After many listening sessions, the CD In Dreams I Go Back Home reveals new and interesting rhythms offering an abundance of passionate Americana music and enthusiastic prose.

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Book Reviews – The Longest Night: A Novel

By Andria Williams
Random House, ISBN-13: 9780812987423
Hardcover, $27 384pp

Reviewed by Annie Dawid

The debut novel by Colorado Springs author Andria Williams explores in white-knuckled prose the meltdown at a nuclear reactor in Idaho Falls, Idaho, on January 3, 1961. This particular disaster, resulting in the deaths of three young military operators, receded into history, subsumed by the larger nightmare at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island plant 18 years later, in which no lives were lost, and now, by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi fiasco.

Williams teases out the story of the SL-1 accident within the context of the bildungsroman of Nat Collier, a very young Army wife, and her husband, Paul, both of whom will acquire wisdom, wounds and possible radiation damage in the course of their exposure to readers, from 1959 to 1961. A third protagonist, Jeannie, wife of Master Sergeant Richards, who is Paul’s boss and a negligent if not malignant force, adds the outsider’s view to the couple’s at times fractious marital life.

The Longest Night explores the culture of military life in general and the strictures for the military wife in particular during the late 1950s. The novel’s epigraph comes from the 1954 edition of The Army Officer’s Guide: “There can be no greater admiration than that of the husband … to return and find, as he had hoped, that his own wife has met the test of keeping up her end of things.”

What follows is Nat’s valiant attempt to do just that – sometimes successfully, often imperfectly as she attempts to raise two young daughters and becomes pregnant with another child during the couple’s fraught two-year stint in Idaho. Nat grew up on the beaches of San Diego, where she cultivated a freedom-loving existence – not grounded, with no particular direction – which comes to a close at 19 when she meets Paul, an intense military man from Maine. These opposites find a sort of completion in one another, and fulfill a familial love not offered by the parents of either. They marry quickly, launching themselves and their fast arriving progeny into a world of rigorous routine.

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The Way We Really Were

By Virginia McConnell Simmons During Colorado’s gold rush and mining boom, rugged Methodist circuit rider Father John L. Dyer, the “Snow-shoe Itinerant,” is famous for carrying a Bible and packs of mail across 13,135-high Mosquito Pass. Enduring physically, economically, emotionally, and spiritually were his challenges. During his walk from the upper Midwest to Denver in …

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Jack Haverly’s Towns for Suckers

By Jan MacKell Collins

“Jack Haverly, Jack Haverly I wonder where you are. Are your fortunes cast with Sirius, or ‘neath some kindlier star?” – “Memories of Jack Haverly” by Eugene Field, the New York Times circa 1901

We all know certain people in our lives who never seem to hold onto their money, no matter how much they make. During the 1800s, Jack Haverly was just such a person.

Born Christopher Heverly in Pennsylvania in 1837, the budding capitalist first began working his way up in the world by selling peanuts and candy on passenger trains. He went on to work as a “baggage smasher” for the railroads and also as a tailor’s apprentice before finding where his heart truly belonged: the theatre.

Haverly’s first variety theatre, complete with a saloon, opened in Toledo, Ohio in 1864. As it turned out, Haverly made a great showman. His first performing troupe at the theatre, “Haverly’s Minstrels,” drew record crowds. A misspelling on a poster changed his last name, and he became known in entertainment circles as Jack Haverly.

Shortly after Haverly’s Minstrels debuted, Haverly acquired various partners and began taking his shows on the road. His travels took him across America and north to Canada. Along the way he married one of his showgirls, Sara Hechsinger of the famous Duval Sisters. When Sara died in 1867, he married her sister Eliza.

For over a decade, Haverly bought and sold numerous theaters and headed up an amazing thirteen performing troupes. He seldom had trouble finding investors, even as he became known as a compulsive gambler and speculator who sometimes threw his money away as quickly as he made it. He also had a bad habit of filing for bankruptcy, yet somehow always managed to stay afloat. Newspapers lost count of his failings and resurrections, but his friends never hesitated to loan him money when he needed it. They knew he would pay it back the next time fortune smiled upon him again.

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Remembering Curtis Imrie

“Curtis was a gift to all who knew him. Populist to the core, a brilliant, principled person who did everything with a true gusto for life.”

– Linda Brandon Powers, Former Colorado State Senator, former Crested Butte Mayor and City Councillor

“After his flaming near-death wreck on the Interstate a dozen or so years ago, it was all borrowed time. And Curtis used it well. As he lived it. Keeping on. Fighting the environmental battles. Running each year, as one of the country’s premiere burro-racers. Taking on quixotic political campaigns with an unabashedly progressive agenda to help get the word out in the Arkansas watershed that there were candidates who weren’t in the pocket of the party bigwigs … We shared a Haight-Ashbury past. City boys who fell in love with the country. I miss that good man.”

– Art Goodtimes, poet, former San Miguel County Commissioner

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Curtis Imrie: “When in Doubt, Print the Legend”

By Hal Walter

The following may or may not be true. And if it ain’t then it ought to be.”

That is an opening quote from one of Curtis Imrie’s films, The Lost Frontier.

Curtis collapsed and died while preparing to show one of his donkeys at the National Western Stock Show back in January. He was 70 years old and doing what he loved. To borrow from Thoreau, one of Curtis’ favorite authors, here was a man who figuratively “sucked the marrow out of life.”

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Good Cop… Bad Cop


Tom Horn braiding rope in the sheriff’s office shortly before his execution in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1903. Courtesy Wyoming State Archives, Dept. of State Parks and Cultural Resources.

By Judy Buffington Sammons

Both Doc Shores and Tom Horn were law enforcement officers in the frontier era of Colorado’s Western Slope. Shores, upon his death at the age of ninety, had become a celebrated peace officer, who would be recalled thenceforth as “… just, fearless, and above reproach.” Horn, on the other hand, abused his power, besmirched his reputation, and died at the age of forty-three, swinging at the end of a rope. Unlikely as it later seemed, these two men once worked together as a team and were very successful in the apprehension of horse thieves and train robbers.

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About the Cover Photographer: Linda Gibas

I grew up in Denver, but always had the mountains in my blood. As a young girl, I would often ask my parents if we could move to the mountains and get a horse. I attended Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs where my interest in photography was sparked. I took numerous photography classes during …

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