Back on your feet



What helps someone survive an ordeal that would most likely kill anyone else? Rita Chretien, 56, should know. She and her husband, Albert, 59, who own an excavating company, were on their way from British Columbia to a trade show in Las Vegas when they lost their way in the mountains of northeastern Nevada and got stuck in snow. Two days later, during a calm spell in mid-March, Albert left to look for help. But another storm moved in and he has still not been found, reports The Globe and Mail. For 49 days, his wife was stranded with nothing but the car, a few books, city clothes, some trail mix and candy, and most important, her faith and "the mindset of survival," said Dr. James Westberry, who saw her after she was rescued in early May. "She didn't give up." When she was finally discovered by two hunters on all-terrain vehicles, Chretien was living on melted snow and drinking freezing water from a stream. She'd felt certain that her ordeal would end that day, she later told her son in the hospital. Her fate was either "go home to be with her savior or ... be rescued, and it was to be rescued."


Accompanied as always by his border collie, Jag, Gov. Brian Schweitzer was crossing the campus of Montana State University, when out of the blue a "big red boxer" jumped on Jag and bit him, reports the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Never at a loss for a quip, Schweitzer -- a Democrat -- questioned whether the bad dog was a Republican or member of the Tea Party. Fortunately, Jag was unhurt. He's "resilient, like his owner," Schweitzer said. "I've been bit pretty hard by Republicans, but I always get back up."


Will mega-mansions become passé in Aspen? Someday, says columnist Paul Andersen in the Aspen Times, who imagines "geriatrics in wheelchairs staring out the windows of (Saudi Arabian) Prince Bandar's Starwood castle awaiting their breakfast of whole-grain pabulum." He thinks it's possible, "given the unlikelihood that Bandar's palace will sell for the $135 million asking price." Andersen cites Jim Westkott of the Colorado demographer's office, who predicts a new Aspen featuring glitzless second homes. The economic downturn hit the super-rich hard, Westkott says, and now super-sized houses in Aspen are a dime a dozen, so to speak. Westkott says that all the growth is now taking place about an hour's drive downvalley from Aspen, particularly in New Castle on the way to Rifle. The area's been discovered by two radically different sets of home buyers: oil-and-gas workers and retirees. As for Andersen, he's looking forward to hanging out with his "decrepit peers" in Bandar's old digs, happily skiing to the "ghost town of Aspen" or riding the seniors' van to New Castle "for a tour of the 200-story EnCana Energy Tower, where, on a clear day, you'll be able to see all the way to tomorrow."

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected]

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