First, you read about the 700 new fires breaking out in Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Washington and Wyoming - most started by lightning. Then, if you live in Colorado or Nevada, where fires are already burning, you notice the intense salmon colors of dawns and sunsets. Suddenly, it seems, the West is back in defensive mode. More than 10,000 firefighters are working to contain blazes before they take out pit-house ruins at national parks such as Mesa Verde, as well as tinder-dry forests and homes. A cool and moist fall has never seemed so inviting.
Llamas and more
Several llama lovers, breeders and packers called and/or wrote angry letters after Hal Walter's humorous essay disparaging the gentle beasts last issue. One reader from Montana was incensed by the idea that you could get $1,000 for a male llama. Not so, she told us, not even $300. "They're still wonderful animals," she said, "but the market has fallen."
Now we know who invented the Navajo taco - a knotty question explored by writer Steve Lyons in the last issue. It was a Greek cook named Shepherd, working at the Window Rock Lodge in Arizona during the 1960s, who took Navajo fry bread and "threw the kitchen sink into it," recalls Dr. Jean Van Duzen. She was a pediatrician for 26 years at the Navajo hospital in Tuba City, Ariz., before retiring to Paonia. "He invented the Navajo taco because people were getting tired of mutton stew," she says. Case closed, unless, of course, someone comes up with a better explanation.
Peripatetic writer Tim Palmer tells us he has a date with the local public radio station here for a Living on Earth interview about his ninth book, America by Rivers. Tim has spent some 25 years documenting and celebrating rivers. He writes that while he loved our recent treatise on the Colorado River's partial freedom from Glen Canyon Dam last spring, he wishes George Sibley would write more: "I've been a Sibley fan for 20 years." Tim's new book is available from Island Press for $28 (1/800-828-1302).
Finally, we were sorry to hear from editor Tom Watkins that the Washington, D.C.-based Wilderness Society has decided to suspend publication of Wilderness magazine.
Passing through Paonia
Kris and Larry Evans of Missoula, Mont., came by on their way to a family reunion at Crystal Meadows, some 15 miles to the east, and asked us to send a sample copy of the paper to forest activist Jake Kreilick. Jake, quoted in this issue, was just released from jail after serving time for a logging protest last year. Headed for a different family gathering at Crystal Meadows was Roy Denham, a former environmental engineer from West Virginia, and his sister, Paula Denham, from Sacramento, Calif.
On a Sunday we missed Laura Rotegard, a community planner for the Park Service in Asheville, N.C., but got to talk briefly with Hank and Judy Deutsch, who now live in Hot Springs, Ark. Hank was the public information person for many years with the Gunnison National Forest in Delta, Colo.; these days he's writing an occasional newspaper column about his new passion, weight lifting, and continuing his long-time passion, conservation.
John Dougherty, a staff writer for New Times newspaper in Phoenix, Ariz., stopped by with his spouse, Barbara, two sons and Strider, a dog. His most recent piece for this paper was about the Mount Graham observatory (HCN, 7/24/95).
We're not usually considered a tourist stop, but Pat and Rena Clarke of Bridge of Weir, Scotland, said we were after they'd read the Colorado Handbook by Steve Metzger. It describes High Country News as "bold, angry, progressive and intelligent." But staffers found themselves unusually quiet in order to listen to the mellifluous accents of the Clarkes, who were accompanied by their son Stephen and his wife, Sandy, new Michigan residents who decided to subscribe.
Reader Steve Schmidt from Coyote, N.M., stopped in after he and his group rafted through Ruby and Horsethief canyons on the Colorado River, and cartographer Jim Robb, from the University of Colorado's geography department, came by while visiting relatives in Paonia.
If you've been trying to reach High Country News on the World Wide Web lately, no doubt you've been frustrated. HCN's website has moved, from Sun Microsystem's office in Aspen, Colo., down valley to Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs. The transition was supposed to be relatively seamless, but the site went down or was only partly accessible for more than two weeks. From previous statistics, we know this probably caused about 150 people a day to confront dead-end links. We regret the inconvenience and urge you to try again. The primary URL address for the site will remain http://www.infosphere.com/hcn. But as a temporary measure, try http://sol.coloradomtn.edu/hcn. If you have questions or problems, e-mail Linda Bacigalupi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
" Betsy Marston for the staff