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Winter’s Back. I’m back. Here we go. 30 November 2012

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German Game Shows: Answering Life’s Great Questions 7 December 2011

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Like…. which is faster: a mountain bike or a snowboard?

Aaaaaand we’re back! 19 June 2011

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Okay, it’s summer. We moved. I didn’t have internet access. Those are excuses, so let’s face it, I’ve been bad about posting. Once every few weeks isn’t good enough, so here’s how it’s going to work this summer: a new post every Sunday night, just for you, dear readers. Or at least those of you who’ve stuck around while I dallied.

Here’s what’s in store over the next few weeks:

  1. The sand dunes. If you’re from Colorado, you know about them. But have you been there? And if you’re not from Colorado, well, the idea that middle America is home to sand dunes hundreds of feet high should catch your interest, too.
  2. Bike to Work Day. Denver and Boulder send more commuters to work on bike than most cities in the country, and on June 22nd, both cities will make the two-wheeled commute an even more attractive option with breakfast stops and swag. I may catch up with pro-cyclist Rory Sutherland, who’s riding in Colorado’s USA Pro-Cycling Challenge later this summer.
  3. Cycling St. Vrain Canyon. It’s 20 miles north of Boulder, from Lyons to Ward, and it’s one of the most beautiful routes on the Front Range. Get ready for 6000 feet of vertical.
  4. Cycling Deer Creek Canyon. Head south, pass the Lockheed Martin whateveritis factory and ride from red rock country up to the aspens.
Maybe you’ll get some other things in between, but those are the posts each have a slot on the docket and we’ll get to them, together. But for the time being, my promise to you is a post a week, perhaps more if I get adventurous.
It’s summer here in the high country, so get ready.

Well, Drat. 25 February 2011

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How did it get to be so late without a new post?

No Country for Old Men will do that to a person.

But Moab is country for every man, and I’ll have a post up on it really soon. It’s enough to make you want to put down your skis for a weekend.

Blame Angry Birds 10 February 2011

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Angry Birds” derailed my plans. Without an iPhone, how was I to fall prey to such a thing? Turns out it works on an iTouch, too, so no post tonight. Tomorrow, though.

Unless I buy the full version.

Running out of gas 9 November 2010

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Running out of gas on the highway tends to put a crimp in evening plans. And since those plans had initially included writing an op-ed and blogging, I chose the former, dear readers, because the former paid real dollars. Perhaps I should have blogged from my stalled car: sitting on the shoulder with hundreds of cars zipping by is scary. What life lessons could the experience generate? What telling metaphor had emerged? None that I could divine. Except this: gas light on? Get gas.

Arapaho Basin Opens Monday 23 October 2010

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From Al's Blog


Granted, I’ll be at work.

Check out the rest of the photos at A-Basin’s blog.

Hiking a 14er 7 September 2010

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Moving to a new state is typically an easy affair, a matter of finding a place to live, signing the appropriate tax documents and figuring out where to buy full-strength beer. Not so for would-be Coloradans. Not only must they uncover the sinister deception that is 3.2% grocery-store beer, but a forming a covenant with the state also entails certain obligations beyond the immediately evident.   The list runs long, so I’ll provide some essential samples: you must make plans to buy a Subaru, you must make conversation the moment you notice a meteorological event involving water (e.g. “Say, it’s awfully humid!” or “Is that… rain?”), and you must climb a fourteener.

The first two don’t take much effort, but the third, well, that already assumes an understanding of the task. Not a sure thing. I mean, what’s a fourteener? Some kind of gun? One of 14 peaks discovered by a roving band of vigilantes? I wish. In reality, though, a fourteener is any of the 53 peaks in Colorado rising higher than 14,000 feet. Some of them only nose into the designation by a couple feet; some slip through as a technicality, another bump connected to a taller lump; but the tallest of them scrape the sky, reaching heights above all but a handful of mountains in the lower 48. No other state but Alaska–and it never counts in these sorts of contests–can lay claim to so much acreage north of the 14,000-foot mark.

So, as you might imagine, 14ers hold a special place in Coloradans’ hearts. Too special a place. Any Monday at a Colorado workplace, I gather, involves a discussion of the climbs attempted and completed. Commiseration follows the failures. We have all been turned back at one point or another. But rarely does the conversation turn to hike without at summit at its beginning, middle or end. What’s the point? No sense of achievement, evidently. Climbing above the vaunted 14,000-foot barrier takes sterner stuff than a pair of legs and a backpack. It takes… willpower?

I don’t know.

My own experience with Missouri Mountain the other day was a pleasant one: several miles of hiking, most of them above treeline, and a view from the summit that peered across a vast portion of the state. And even our failed attempt climb Huron Peak earlier that morning came to a halt in a basin fit for postcard photography. Call it a failure if you will, but that assumes reaching the summit would count as a success.  With all the information out there on how to climb such mountains, success by that definition seems mostly a matter of time and desire. To summit a 14er is to keep walking, scrambling and climbing where some other folks might have stopped. To be sure, a few hikers die each year attempting one mountain or the other, and some peaks involve significant dangers, but you can read your way around most if not all of them.

It can’t be about the challenge, then. So many other climbs exist to test Coloradans’ skills that the man vs. nature dynamic fails to explains the allure of these mountains. Instead, it must come down to a man vs. man test of dedication, a competition of commitment to stand on top of Very Tall Things. The 14er craze has bred a community, a culture even, that insists on calculating and comparing. It has insisted on and garnered a relevance unrelated to hiking in general. Call it “achievement hiking.” I’ll climb my mountains, you climb yours, and we’ll compare notes; our shared interest in 14ers gives us something to talk about.

But if it’s okay with you, I’ll concede this contest. Climb your mountains and stand within arm’s reach of the heavens, and I’ll explore the backcountry, the barely touched wilds the summiting crowds have ignored. I will take the chance moose or beaver over another beaten ridge-line trail, the chance to see no one at all over the certainty of a summit logbook. When every meter of these wilderness trails has been photographed, and when every possible misstep has been cataloged, then maybe I’ll turn my back on what was once wild. For now, though, you’ll find me there in the lonesome, somewhere below 14,000 feet.

No entry. 6 September 2010

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Just to let you know I’ve been thinking about you, dear readers… no entry last night or tonight because of time spent away over the long weekend. Expect a post tomorrow night.

Kansas Undercover: Dan Maes Knockin’ Down Kingpins, Protectin’ the Innocent 31 August 2010

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Look. I don’t really do political blogging. But For Dan Maes, I have made and will continue to make exceptions: this is bad politician blogging. How such a bumbler ever bamboozled anyone into thinking he might make a viable governor, overseeing thousands of state employees and representing Colorado before the entire country, I just don’t know. He’s probably a nice man, this Dan Maes, an okay conversationalist over a beer, but in writing his campaign material, he’s broken two of the cardinal rules: 1)that the material must make sense and 2) that it must have at one point flirted with fact.  Consider the following, which does neither. (And read the whole thing. It only gets better)

Maes previously said he was fired as a police officer in Liberal, Kan., after working undercover with the KBI in a gambling and drug probe.

A statement he wrote for his campaign website that was later removed, said: “At one point in my 2 years there I was place (sic) undercover by the Kansas Bureau of Investigations (sic) to gather information inside a bookmaking ring that was also allegedly selling drugs. I got too close to some significant people in the community who were involved in these activities and abruptly was dismissed from my position. I was blindsided and stunned to say the least.”

Maes was asked about his statement that he was placed undercover after law enforcement sources in Kansas disputed the claim in interviews with the Denver Post.

“Some people are probably taking that a little too literally,” he said. “I was a city police officer providing information to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.”

Maes said that he could not offer any records to back that up.

“This was 25 years ago,” he said, adding that, “It’s just not worth covering that much. It’s a non-issue.”

So was he really working “undercover”?

“Those comments might have been incorrect comments,” Maes said.

The director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation said they have no record of Maes working with the agency during his stint as a police officer from 1983 to 1985.

“We’ve checked our records. We’ve talked to people working in that area (southwest Kansas) at the time,” said Bob Blecha, director of the law enforcement agency. “He (Maes) refers to a gambling case and possible drugs. They (agents) don’t recall him working with them on any case like that.”

Blecha said some of the agents, most of whom are now retired, do remember Maes as a police officer. It’s possible Maes at some point cooperated with agents on small matters as other officers might, Blecha said.

But he stressed, “He (Maes) did not work for us or with us on an investigation.”

In the statement posted to his website, Maes elaborated on his work as a police officer:

“… I was a young officer caught in a situation that was much bigger than myself with no where (sic) to go. I am proud to say that I never participated in any illegal activity while undercover. Although this chapter of my life was yet another one where I fought the machine, I will not discuss the details any further as many who were involved in this situation are still alive and in new places in their lives and I want to protect them.”

Poor Dan Maes, but in one sense he’s hit the nail on the head: He really is caught up in something bigger than he is… with nowhere to go.

Go to the Denver Post to read the rest.