Heard around the West

  • For those emergency pedicures

    Dan Metzger
 

OREGON

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne recently visited a factory that makes luxury recreational vehicles, those behemoths that look like city buses and sport monikers like Inspire, Allure and Intrigue. In a press release, Country Coach Inc. president Jay Howard said he was pleased with the secretary’s support for his company’s high-end mobile homes, and added that Kempthorne told him it was his aim to balance "accessibility with the purity of our national park experience." Country Coaches feature diesel engines, bodies that expand sideways to add rooms, lengths of up to 45 feet and price tags that easily top $1 million. Kempthorne said his favorite was the 2007 Allure with the 42-foot floor plan.

CALIFORNIA

A bachelor farmer or rancher working in the Central Valley of California area surely needs Hollywood’s help in finding a wife, right? That’s what the producers of American Idol assume, so they’re creating a reality TV show called The Farmer Wants a Wife. The program pairs each of six eligible farmers with three city girls "who are fed up with the Los Angeles dating scene," reports the Bakersfield Californian. After a few days together — perhaps feeding the hogs or irrigating the fields — the farmer gets to pick the gal he likes best. But will rural guys really jump at playing the television game? Richard Jelmini, president of the Kern County Farm Bureau, doubts it: "The people doing the farming are very conservative type of individuals who don’t do that type of thing." Another farmer from the region suggested the TV producers might have better luck with sheepherders.

SOUTH DAKOTA

At the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, marriage is the last thing on anybody’s mind. "There is no T-shirt too obscene, no tent-side solicitation too crude," reports the Denver Post. Booze, nudity and deafening music are de rigueur, or as one camper put it, "People are laid-back and just looking for some fun. … I’ve seen many, many, many breasts."

OREGON

Pity the poor camper who hears a call of nature during the night but doesn’t look where he is peeing. Jerry Mersereau, 23, fell 20 to 30 feet off a cliff in Mount Hood National Forest while searching for "a place to relieve himself," reports The Weekmagazine. Now, he is suing the U.S. government for failing to anticipate that the cliff was dangerous; he’s also asking for compensation for his "mental anguish."

WASHINGTON

The agricultural work ethic is alive and well in Washington state, especially when the crop is marijuana: "We’re struck by the amount of work (illegal growers) put into it," said Rich Wiley, head of the state patrol’s narcotics program, in the agricultural weekly Capital Press. "They often run individual drip lines to each plant and are out there fertilizing them." Most of the camouflaged pot farms were in eastern Washington on national forest or state-owned land, and many went undetected this year. The Air National Guard, which spots many illegal pot plants from above, has been diverted to fighting in Iraq.

ARIZONA

Meanwhile, on the slopes of a canyon within the Tonto National Forest in Arizona, a woman intent on scattering her mother’s ashes walked into what might be the largest marijuana farm ever found in the state, reports the Arizona Republic. The growers weren’t around when police found more than 30,000 plants, some nine feet tall, that were watered by a sophisticated irrigation system. This is the sixth "marijuana garden" shut down in Arizona this year; in 2005, busts yielded 220,000 pounds of pot with a street value of some $110 million.

NEVADA

If you’re defending a man accused of kidnapping, maybe you should come to court on time instead of 90 minutes late, speak clearly rather than slur your words, and perhaps it would behoove you to leave behind your companion, described by the Las Vegas Review-Journal as a "young woman wearing a black halter top and tight pants." But attorney Joseph Caramagno made all of those mistakes, annoying Judge Michelle Leavitt so much that she ordered Caramagno to take a Breathalyzer test right in the middle of the courtroom. The disheveled-looking attorney passed — barely. His blood alcohol level was .075 in a state where the legal limit for driving is .08 percent. The judge declared a mistrial.

NEW MEXICO

A big bird with a bad grip caused 2,000 people in Las Cruces to lose power for an hour. According to The Associated Press, the bird — probably a hawk — dropped a bull snake onto an electrical power line, instantly shorting it out. No word on the snake’s condition.

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 West.

High Country News Classifieds
  • WRITING SKILLS TUTOR FOR HIRE!
    Fort Collins, CO college students welcome. Meet on your college campus!
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • NATURE EDUCATION DIRECTOR
    Our mission is to inspire a life-long connection to nature and community through creative exploration of the outdoors. We are seeking an educational leader who...
  • DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING DIRECTOR
    The Development and Marketing Director is a senior position responsible for the execution of all development and marketing strategies to raise funds and increase public...
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Coordinates all Wyoming Wildlife Federation philanthropic activities. Tasks include identification, recruitment, and retention of donors, organizing fundraising events, and assisting with grant writing.
  • REALTOR NEEDS A REMOTE ASSISTANT
    This is a business assistant position, The working hours are flexible and you can chose to work from anywhere of your choice, the pay is...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Central Oregon LandWatch is seeking an Executive Director to advance our mission and oversee the development of the organization. Job Description: The Executive Director oversees...
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • MEDIA DIRECTOR
    Love working with the media? Shine a spotlight on passionate, bold activists fighting for wild lands, endangered species, wild rivers and protecting the climate.
  • STAFF ATTORNEY - NEVADA
    The Center for Biological Diversity is seeking an attorney to expand our litigation portfolio in Nevada. Come join our hard-hitting team as we fight for...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Montana Wildlife Federation seeks an energetic leader to advance our mission, sustain our operations, and grow our grassroots power. For a full position description,...
  • HISTORIC COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITY IN DOWNTOWN NOGALES
    Nogales. 3 active lower spaces and upper floor with lots of potential. 520-245-9000 [email protected]
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • DIRECTOR, TEXAS WATER PROGRAMS
    The National Wildlife Federation seeks a Director to lead our water-related policy and program work in Texas, with a primary focus on NWF's signature Texas...
  • SPLIT CREEK RANCH
    Spectacular country home on 48 acres with Wallowa River running through it! 541-398-1148 www.RubyPeakRealty.com
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...
  • NEW MEXICO GILA NATIONAL FOREST HORSE RANCH
    43 acres in the Gila National Forest. Horse facility, custom home. Year-round outdoor living. REDUCED to $999,000, 575-536-3109.
  • EVERLAND MOUNTAIN RETREAT
    Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • COPPER CANYON MEXICO CAMPING & BACKPACKING
    Camping, hiking, backpacking, R2R2R, Tarahumara Easter, Mushroom Festival, www.coppercanyontrails.org.