I just looked out my window and you know what I didn’t see? Not in any direction did I see a single tree with money growing from the branches. I didn’t notice any bills hanging from the trees during the summer, either. But someone must know where they are.
I was quite a good skier when I was younger, having grown up in Colorado Springs, about two miles from Ski Broadmoor. That is where I learned to ski, and I even remember that the first time I skied there was on the same night in—I believe—1961, that Cassius Clay (Mohammad Ali) fought and defeated Sunny Liston for the heavyweight championship of the world. There is still a question regarding whether Ali hit Liston for the knockout or if Liston took a dive.
It cost $4 for a lift ticket from 6 to 9 p.m., and Ski Broadmoor had one and a half runs—one from top to bottom and a half run from top to midway.
I really got into skiing and went somewhere almost every weekend, be it Breckenridge, Winter Park, Loveland, Ski Broadmoor or occasionally (rarely) to Aspen or Vail. This continued for many years, and I have skied all over the United States and Europe.
I really wanted to be on the U.S. Olympic Ski Team, and, after moving to Aspen in 1973, was able to ski almost daily with U.S. Olympic Team members under head coach Bob Beatty and and assistant Rip McManus, who I got to know in 1961, when he was a sergeant with the Fort Carson Mountain Rescue Team, which began during World War II at Camp Hale, Colo., and which was originally the 10th Mountain Division, the first military unit to enter Italy near Monte Cassino.
Anyway, I grew up skiing. I was used to paying $8 per day for a ski lift ticket at the smaller areas and between $12 and $16 at the larger places like Aspen.
I moved to Aspen for three years, starting in 1973, when ski lift tickets were about $18 per day and when I left in 1976, tickets were up to about $20 a day.
I about fell out of my chair in the living room last week when the Denver TV channels were announcing that places like Aspen, Vail and Copper Mountain were going to raise their lift ticket prices on Jan. 1 to $179 a day per lift ticket and that Breckenridge had already raised its ticket prices to the same neighborhood.
Skiing never was a real cheap sport since you had to buy the long johns, the gloves, a hat, ski boots, ski poles, goggles and, of course, the skis.
I used to catch grief from some friends wondering where my family got all the money so I could afford to ski as much as I did.
My parents were not wealthy folks, but they did whatever they could so I could go skiing. I started with a well-used pair of skis, boots and poles, so the only real expense was the lift ticket.
Strangely enough, I had been thinking this year of trying my luck again at skiing. We’re not that far from Aspen, Vail, Copper Mountain or a number of the smaller areas, and figured all I would need would be a lift ticket and a rented pair of skis.
Well, to make a long story short, I am not going to try skiing again after learning the price of ski lift prices, finding out that a decent condo costs a minimum of $350 a night and, checking around, finding out that a great steak or prime rib, for which I used to pay about $12 or $15 now costs roughly $100 or more for a 16-ouncer.
I haven’t been back to Aspen since the late 1970s, so it may be this coming year, when I can get going early one day, have lunch in Aspen and then return safely to Glenwood Springs or Meeker for the night. That way, I may be able to make the trip to Aspen a bit more often.
But for skiing to be on the increase again as it was in the ‘70s and ‘80s is more than I can conceive.
Can you imagine what it would cost a family of five to ski every day for a week and to spend a week in an Aspen condominium? I can’t either!
So I will just enjoy the good—but getting older—memories of a couple of great years, then just have to use my imagination regarding what it would take to do the same thing today.
After all, I just can’t find any of those money trees people talk about.
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Even the wildlife in the area enjoyed the weekend weather.
It seems they found the 40-degree often-sunny weather a pleasant break.
Getting out to take a couple of different rides on both days was quite nice after so many really cold and dreary days. And with the exception of a brief but heavy snow just above Lake Avery, it was sunny and, as I said, the wildlife was out and about.
Just on County Road 8 alone on Saturday, my wife and I saw about 20 deer within 50 feet of the highway and about nine elk just about the same distance—all cows with the exception of a single 2×2 young bull.
But the real surprise of the weekend was with the turkeys.
Many times during drives through the mountains I have seen turkeys, usually three or four at a time; never more than that.
On Saturday, driving up County Road 8, we spotted more than 100 turkeys in about a 10-mile stretch, and more than half of those were on the highway or within five or 10 feet of the roadway.
There were several times we saw 10 or 12 turkeys in one group, and, it seemed, they were present about every 100 or 200 hundred yards. I had never even thought about going turkey hunting, but knowing there are as many turkeys up that highway, I am starting to have second thoughts.
There were very few toms in the group or at least their beards weren’t very apparent. The hens were out in high numbers.
On Sunday, we drove south on Highway 13, which was surrounded by some fairly deep snow all the way to Rifle.
I have heard many times that Highway 13 is tops or near the top in Colorado for the number of deer/vehicle accidents. Yet, I have never seen deer along that road with the exception of the day I moved here nearly two years ago. That day we spotted about three does alongside the road.
But with the snow everywhere, I figured I might get lucky and see a deer or maybe even a lone elk or two.
But heading back to Meeker, on the west side of Highway 13, not five miles out of Rifle, there was a field with at least 30 more turkeys enjoying their day feeding in a single field.
I was once-again educated to the ways of the Western Slope to realize just how many turkeys there are in the area.
I spent a lot of time in Rio Blanco County as a child, and I remembered the area for its great fishing, for the large numbers of deer and elk, even for the foxes and waterfowl.
But if this area isn’t one of the best in Colorado for turkey hunting—and I haven’t even heard of any locals who go hunting for turkey—I would like to know where there are more.
We hear all about the fishing and the bear, deer and elk hunting in the county, but we may be missing the boat when it comes to turkeys. Sounds like another item to promote that would bring more out-of-area hunters to our corner of the world. And it might even bring more local hunters out to extend and expand their local hunting seasons.
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As the front page story in today’s Herald Times tells us, the White River Museum in Meeker is a pretty impressive body of work.
Not only is the museum contained within the old garrison walls, the actual collection of goodies contained within is mighty impressive.
From old printing equipment to old furnishings and attire to a rare two-headed calf and an original stagecoach, there is just a huge collection of “stuff” relative to our history. The White River Museum is a must-see for anyone at all interested in this part of Colorado.
The museum is also in middle of a membership drive, which, of course, helps to keep the museum running and allows for improvements and new exhibits.
If you haven’t been to the museum in a while, or, if you have never been to the museum, it won’t take long to realize what a treasure the museum is to the Meeker area and really pretty much all of Rio Blanco County.
The winter is a good time for locals to visit the museum, where there is no need to hurry through the treasures contained within, and it is a peaceful journey back into local time without having to battle the throngs of people who visit the museum during the summer.
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I have had my fill of college football—almost—during the past two weeks. I’ve seen enough college bowl games to last me for a year, except I can’t wait for the national championship game on Monday night.
Due to various places and various times, favorite teams over the years have been Colorado, Colorado State, Wyoming, Arkansas and Arizona. But I have gotten where I really enjoy watching Oregon with Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, and I would really like to see the Ducks win the national title.
It will also be a delight to see the Broncos back on the field this weekend, when they hopefully defeat the Indianapolis Colts for the second time this season.
It will also be great to see Meeker and Rangely high schools back in action for basketball and wrestling and see the seasons revving up again at Colorado Northwest Community College.
Sports, thankfully, are mostly a year-round activity. But playoffs and holiday breaks can make for drab times.
Welcome back to action, teams, and here’s to hoping for winning times.
Go Broncos, Spartans, Cowboys and Panthers! Welcome back!