Heard around the West
UTAH Some snowmobilers
have been known to skim their machines over water,
striving for distance. Not surprisingly, sinking happens, not to
mention at least one drowning. But how about vrooming a snowmobile
over dirt? How far could you get? A 35-year-old man found one
answer recently, when he gunned his snowmobile down an unpaved
parking lot in Logan, Utah. What happened next was more like flying
than riding, as the driver went airborne after his snow machine
skidded and flipped over. The dirtmobiler, who’d been
drinking, landed on his face and head, reports the Herald
Several details stood out in a colorful story
about a Las Vegas City Council hearing to shut down a motel that
was an alleged house of prostitution. The manager, for example,
seems unusual — a high school teacher who tripled the
motel’s business to $500,000 a year. At least once a month,
adds the Las Vegas Review-Journal, "a frantic
naked man was seen running through a nearby parking lot," and in
the hearing’s most theatrical moment, two cops wheeled in 150
pounds of condoms seized from the motel during a raid, "dropping
them before the council dais with a thud." One other detail: A
former employee said his job was to place "three condoms and four
peppermints on the bed each time he cleaned the room." Perhaps a
new definition of "condiments?"
WASHINGTON It wasn’t a big
storm that swept through the Twisp, Wash., area, in late
April, but it sure rattled some pots and pans. Vicki Heath was
sitting on her porch watching the fast-moving squall, says the
Methow Valley News, when the wind pulled up a
thick ponderosa pine by its roots and dropped it onto her
husband’s pickup, totaling it. At the same time, the downed
tree, just 15 feet from the house, severed a power line so that
Heath’s residence and 109 others went dark. Then, suddenly,
there was light: About 40 yards from Heath’s house, a prairie
fire ignited. All in all, she says, "It was crazy."
NEW MEXICO AND MONTANA We’re
not sure, but "school lockdowns" were probably not that
common a few years back. In just one week, however, two
schools in the West abruptly closed in the middle of the day. In
Clovis, N.M., lockdown mode was invoked after an eighth-grade
student was spotted carrying a suspiciously large object wrapped in
a shirt. Before the package was revealed as a giant burrito
containing steak, guacamole, salsa, lettuce and jalapeños, 75
kids were evacuated and more than 30 parents descended on the
school, where they gathered, visibly shaken, says the San
Francisco Chronicle. It turns out the burrito was created
for extra credit in a class on advertising; its creator, Michael
Morrissey, says his new nickname is "Burrito Boy." In Montana, a
lockdown was declared after two grizzly bear cubs took up residence
in a back yard less than two blocks away from an elementary school.
But this was relatively ho-hum, reports The Associated Press, since
many of the students come from ranches where they see bears all the
time. A state bear specialist scared the grizzlies away with rubber
bullets and "cracker" shells; then sheriff’s deputies chased
the animals through pastures for "4 or 5 miles with the siren
THE WORLD Global
warming melting glaciers? Not if European skiers succeed
in their plan to protect Switzerland’s Gurschen glacier. A
ski resort just spent $83,000 to wrap part of the shrinking glacier
in reflective foil, reports The New York Times.
This practice, reminiscent of the wrap-and-flap art of Christo and
Jeanne-Claude, will become "common," said a ski company executive.
COLORADO Newly elected Sen.
Ken Salazar, a Democrat, took on a sacred cow in
conservative Colorado Springs recently, calling James
Dobson’s Focus on the Family "the
anti-Christ." The senator later apologized and said the
group’s politicking on behalf of President Bush’s
judicial nominees was merely "un-Christian and self-serving,"
reports the Colorado Springs Independent.
COLORADO Jim Stimpson
thought "somebody would punch his lights out" after a
strap on his pickup broke, releasing 5,000 plaster screws onto
Interstate 25 during rush hour. But Stimpson was so quick to make
amends to the 40 drivers whose tires immediately went flat that
many of them praised him. "The guy was just really sweet about it,"
said one driver, who blew out all four tires on his Camaro.
Stimpson deflected road rage by handing out business cards and
offering to pay the towing and repairs for cars that lost more than
one tire, reports The Denver Post.
Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a
service of High Country News in Paonia,
Colorado. Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often
shared in the column, Heard around the