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Welcome to the Mountains, now behave, by Geno Kennedy

Review by Ed Quillen

Mountain Life – April 2004 – Colorado Central Magazine

Welcome to the Mountains !Now Behave!
by Geno Kennedy
Published in 2004 by the author
P.O. Box 171, Rollinsville CO 80474

LITTLE MOUNTAIN TOWNS are strange places, and no one knows that better than their residents, who cope with both isolation and invasion, with five-foot blizzards in May and T-shirt days in December, with backyard wildlife and toxic remnants. Oh, and the people who stick around for years can get more than weird, too.

Geno Kennedy, who hails from Gilpin County, has captured much of the weirdness and the attitude that seems to go with altitude in this book — actually, not much more than a pamphlet at 60 pages.

It’s a collection of stories and advice, mostly aimed at visitors and newcomers, as with these driving tips:

“People out of gas as they head up to go camping, what, you think they have a 7-11 on top of the Continental Divide? Three guys in a van stuck 100 feet into a 500-foot-long snowdrift. What were they thinking? The only thing they had was shorts and beer. A family of four watching their rental car slowly sink into a mud bog while Dad tries to call a tow truck on a cell phone that doesn’t work up here….

“Slow down if you’re heading down. If you burn out your brakes you’re toast. If you’re heading up don’t push it or your vehicle will overheat. Watch out for people heading down with no brakes. If you’re driving a tank or a mobile condo and get a bunch of cars stuck behind you, pull over and let them pass. We’re not on vacation, we’re heading to work.”

Kennedy’s observations are accurate, his stories are entertaining, and his advice is generally sound. His topics include: our weather (“Bring shorts and longjohns. And a shovel.”); water (“The water in the mountains is never warm enough to swim in, never clean enough to drink.”); wind (“Buy a concrete tent if you can find one.”); animals (After a porcupine encounter, “My dogs still won’t talk to me.”); vehicles (“Everyone here has a cracked windshield. It’s like a badge of honor.”); and the locals (Women can find men in mountain bars, since “the odds are good,” but they should keep in mind that “the goods are odd.”)

That’s the good part. The bad part is that this book, like so many other self-published books, needed some work from people besides the writer.

The typography, for instance, is a sequence of centered lines. It looks like poetry at first glance, but most of it isn’t. Sometimes the line breaks make sense, often they don’t. So it’s not as easy to read as it should be.

Then there’s the grammar. I get tired of seeing “would of” instead of “would’ve” or “would have,” and it’s jarring. The same holds with “your” where it should be “you’re,” and both mistakes are common in this text.

Maybe that’s nitpicking, but after years of editing, every time I hit one of those, it stops me, and keeps me from enjoying the prose — and this is prose that I truly enjoyed, since it captured so much of what makes life in these little mountain towns so interesting.

So enjoy it, and encourage your in-laws to read it when they come for their summer visit. Then hope that there’s a second edition that fixes the problems with the first one.

–Ed Quillen