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No ski for you

The owners of Montana Snowbowl near Missoula  really, really don't like criticism. So after a skier complained, they refused to sell him a season ski pass, or even daily tickets at a reduced rate during the pre-season. Jim Sylvester says that he put a comment in a handy suggestion box at the ski area, noting that a concluding run that funnels skiers seemed too congested and rough. When nothing happened, Sylvester, who is a former president of the Missoula Ski Education Foundation, called the Lolo National Forest office to find out the name of Snowbowl's insurance carrier so he could warn it about what he considered the "unsafe skiing conditions," reports the Missoulian. Nobody got back to him, but the run was groomed, and Sylvester thought no more about the matter for some months, until he sought to buy a season ski pass. He was refused twice -- Snowbowl owners called him "disruptive" -- and was also told that he should apologize. A season pass holder at Snowbowl for 31 years, Sylvester refused to make nice: "Do I have to apologize for complaining?" Accusing Snowbowl owner Brad Morris of discrimination, Sylvester now wants the Forest Service to rule that the ski resort, which is almost all on public land, violated the terms of its special use permit. Uncomfortably caught in the middle, the Forest Service allows that it is in "fact-gathering mode right now."

The Arizona Republic recently collected some of its favorite quotes from state politicians. It wasn't easy to choose, but we've winnowed the daily paper's choices down to just two. Not surprisingly, they have to do with the Arizona  Legislature's well-known love of guns: "I pack," said Sen. Lori Klein, R-Anthem, proudly announcing that she routinely carried her .38 Special handgun onto the floor of the Senate. To which Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, replied, "The only thing protecting me from someone in the gallery with a gun is Klein."   n

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write betsym at

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HCN in the outhouses of the West

From my Alaska trip: I flew into a small town that is not reachable by road, then hopped on a motorboat and drove across lakes and rivers for 2.5 hours to reach the scientists' camp way out in the boondocks -- out there they have a few rough cabins and a generator that makes electricity only in the evening and two outhouses -- and lo and behold, for reading material in the outhouses they have issues of the Economist magazines and HCN -- amazing to discover HCN readers way out there!

Ray Ring, HCN Senior Editor