Coming back to Las Vegas from the Grand Canyon Skywalk on Arizona's Hualapai Reservation, 32 Chinese tourists and their guide got more adventure than they planned for. Their driver, Joseph Razon, suddenly -- and unintentionally -- morphed into the captain of a floating barge when his bus was engulfed in a flash flood estimated at 6 to 8 feet deep and 50 to 100 feet wide. Fortunately, no one was injured, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Razon said later that he'd seen a car make it safely through the water and debris on the road ahead, so he consulted his passengers, who apparently said, "Go for it." (Who knew that the Chinese were flash-flood experts?) Forging ahead was a rash decision: Every year, it seems, several drivers take the plunge into unknown waters on a road, only to find themselves and their vehicles captured by a river. Razon's company, Canyon Coach Lines, praised the driver's behavior as heroic and "a true testament to the type of drivers we employ." Once his bus became waterborne, the company explained, Razon was forced to combat a sudden wave that "T-boned" it, yet he was still able "to maneuver his motor-coach to create a full stop and then tip the bus at an angle to allow the passengers to exit the bus safely to high dry ground." Arizona officials disagree: Because the bus driver ignored flash-flood warning signs, he might be charged with violating Arizona's so-called "Stupid Motorist Law," which says it's illegal to drive across a flooded road. But Pat Moore, chief of the Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District, said, "I don't want to get into a mud-throwing contest. If they think someone can steer a floating tour bus, so be it."
Gushing is a mild way to describe Tina Brown's view of Colorado's plain-Jane Gov. John Hickenlooper, a former brewery entrepreneur. Getting to know the Democrat at a conference in Denver recently, Brown found Hickenlooper "breezy, loose, and accessible … as welcoming as your local neighborhood tavern." And as a centrist who signed three gun-control laws and also oversaw the legalization of marijuana and civil unions this year, he'd be the perfect candidate for vice president, she said, with Hillary Clinton running for the top spot on the Democratic ticket. One handicap, she noted in the dailybeast.com, was a "killer soundbite" about pot that might come back to haunt him. Asked by a New Yorker reporter how he handled the drug, Hickenlooper replied, "I've always felt that you have to get the joint rolled really tightly."
A California tourist was so peeved at getting a parking ticket in Jackson, Wyo., that she fired off a letter to the Jackson Hole News&Guide. Given that Charlotte Langston and her relatives had just spent over $500 in town, she said, receiving a ticket for exceeding the parking limit by just a few minutes was "extremely bad behavior." This kind of gouging for "a leeeetle bit more revenue" would not be tolerated in her town of Loomis, Calif., she added. "Some tourists have strange attitudes," responded Jackson resident Royal Price a week later, pointing out that Langston needs "to accept a 'leeeetle' responsibility for her actions."
Giant sequoias, some of the largest living things on Earth, evolved with fire: The thick-barked trees rely on it to clear out the forest floor and leave room for new seedlings. For the first time in 45 years, however, one giant tree has been smoldering all by itself for more than 12 months. Sequoia National Park officials suspect that an ember from a prescribed burn landed on the tree's crown, igniting it. So far, there are no plans to put the fire out, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
Several Western sites made Popular Science's "Top 25 Nerdiest Road Trips," reports the Montana Standard: The super-contaminated Berkeley Pit in Butte, Mont., and the Free Enterprise Radon Health Mine in Boulder, Mont,, which attracts "radon bathers," who "pay to sit in lounge chairs 85 feet belowground and breathe the (radioactive) radon gas seeping from the rock walls." New Mexico also made the list with its Very Large Array, a 20-mile collection of 27 radio telescopes near Socorro.
After a farmer in Paonia, Colo., discarded 100 or so played-out egg-laying chickens close to a public road, he had to explain himself to the Facebook readers who swiftly rescued the birds. "They are old and tough," Wayne Talmage said. "No one will butcher them and no one will buy them," so they're usually dumped in a landfill, because no shelter exists. His idealistic, or perhaps self-serving, solution: "What is more noble than giving them their freedom so they can fend for themselves and often times provide food for the other animals in the wild?" This time, the coyotes and other predators lost out. Almost all of the chickens -- some still laying eggs -- got parceled out to locals.