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for people who care about the West

Dear Friends

 

Almost fooled by a fax

We received a confusing message by fax machine recently from promoters of something called The National Media Guide in Altamonte Springs, Fla. At first, it seemed a no-brainer: We sign our name, we get a "complimentary copy" if we "rush" back a reply. Then, we noticed an odd line at the bottom of the sheet: "Please respond to this fax or you may be receiving more. Be sure to sign above before faxing." But signing our name for the free guide turned out to signify an agreement to be billed almost $200 for a listing in it. Blindingly small type under the signature line specified that, "My company wants a complimentary copy of The National Media Guide when it is published. I am enclosing a payment of $169 to cover the cost. If payment is not enclosed when submitting this information, my company agrees to pay $179 to cover the cost of inclusion if the company is to be billed." Just how is money enclosed in a fax? We decided the free guide wasn't free enough.

Cold weather drop-in

Former HCN intern Carol Busch came through after working for an adventure travel company in Costa Rica. She was accompanied by Dave Will, a graduate student in environmental policy at Cornell University in New York. His thesis sounded intriguing: "Mass transit opportunities in Grand Canyon and Yosemite national parks."

We chatted with Mike Petersen of Republic, Wash., who was on his way to Buena Vista, Colo., for the first board meeting of the new nonprofit, Colorado Wild. From Missoula, Mont., came Pete Talbot, a long-time subscriber and active campaigner for the New Party, which cares about both environmental and labor issues. He is stepdad to HCN intern Juniper Davis.

Name that greaseball

Boulder, Colo., reader Elliot Smith asks for help from travelers between Glenwood Canyon and Vail, Colo. He says one day in late June a few years ago, traffic on I-70 slowed as the road was "pummeled by small green-black balls of grease." A year later, some of the "offending blobs' were still in the corner of his windshield. Maybe an oil fire had erupted somewhere, he guesses, and asks us: "Have you ever heard of something like this?"

Letters from a Stranger

Small presses sometimes produce small gems. In Crested Butte, Colo., Conundrum Press has published an 82-page paperback, Letters from a Stranger, by James Tipton, who is a poet and part-time beeman of Grand Junction, Colo. In this case the stranger was Tipton, who began a correspondence with the Chilean novelist Isabel Allende (In the House of the Spirits) while he was travelling in South America. The correspondence became a friendship, and in her foreword to his book, Allende says it was Tipton's notes and poems that helped her get through the painful time that followed her daughter's death.

Tipton, she says, "walked in nature as I did, but while I was crying, he was noticing the smells of honey and sage, the shapes of rocks and trees, the golden specks in the eyes of his dog, the murmur of bees, all those little things that suddenly were transformed into treasures because the observer was a poet."

Conundrum Press can be reached at Box 993, Crested Butte, CO 81224.

From another small press comes an updated and unsurpassed Uncompahgre: A Guide to the Uncompahgre Plateau, by Muriel Marshall, who also took the excellent pictures of a geological feature few can pronounce - it's UncomPAHgray. Marshall, a former newspaper reporter, first published the guide 20 years ago. Uncompahgre: A Guide is available from Western Reflections Inc., Box 710, Ouray, CO 81427.

We also note a 252-page paperback published by the independent press, Wilderness Associates, Box 5822, Bend, OR 97708, called Uncle Sam's Cabins: A Visitor's Guide to Historic U.S. Forest Service Ranger Stations in the West. Author Les Joslin, a former Forest Service firefighter, loves these old buildings in part because they recall a simpler time, almost 100 years ago. Back then, the agency manual was a pocket-sized volume called the Use Book, and instead of caroming off pressures ranging from Congress to ATV riders and hikers, rangers had to know their way around a pack horse's hind end.

* Betsy Marston for the staff