Heard around the West

  • The morning cow-mute

    Greg Woodall
 

COLORADO

In the photo, it looks like a cozy den for hobbits, peeking out from underground with a hillside rolling right over its roof. But the builder of this "ultimate secure home" boasts that it can "withstand almost any natural or manmade disaster you can name," including a nuclear blast and biological and chemical war. Don’t expect a tour unless you’re a dead-serious buyer. When the Durango Herald e-mailed a request for an interview with the builder, reporter Tom Sluis received a less than flattering response that mentioned "starting a fire with the publication." It’s not even known exactly where in southwestern Colorado the $475,000 home-bunker is located, though it has been visited by La Plata County building inspectors. The word is that it sports "some nice homey pine cabinetry."

UTAH

On a deserted road near Milford, Utah, this August, state troopers didn’t lift a finger as cars whizzed by at well over 100 mph. Nobody even got a speeding ticket, except in fun. Far from being a problem, terrific speed was the object of the three-day road rally known as the Utah FastPass — until the driver of a $1.3 million "supercar," a bright red Ferrari Enzo, lost control as he topped one of several crests in the road that drivers had dubbed "whoop-de-doos." After skidding and tumbling, reports the Wall Street Journal, "the car’s carbon-fiber body splintered in a hail of debris, and its 650-horsepower, V-12 engine went flying." Driver Richard Losee went a different direction — to the hospital, after suffering from a broken sternum, concussion and other injuries. And why were state troopers watching so benignly? They were the hosts of the unusual rally, which raises money for a foundation that helps the families of highway patrolmen killed on duty, along with students from rural towns. Losee was one of some 25 owners of souped-up cars who’d each paid $5,000 to drive as fast as he or she could. State troopers block 15 miles of Route 257 in southwestern Utah just so wealthy drivers can put their fabulously expensive vehicles through their paces; a $350,000 Ruf Rt-12, for example, got up to 206 mph without crashing. Losee’s accident, however, cut this year’s hot-rodding short; it also left next year’s fun on the road in doubt.

CALIFORNIA

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected a proposal to designate zinfandel "California’s historic wine," even though the variety of grape has been grown in California since the 1849 Gold Rush. State Sen. Carole Migden accused the Republican governor of lacking a sense of humor: "It ought not to be a zin to be for zinfandel," she said.

UTAH

Some of us are plain wimps when it comes to snakes. A couple couldn’t even finish a presentation on their plan to move a python-breeding business from California to Mapleton, near Salt Lake City, Utah, before neighbors at a public meeting came unglued. "If you’re going to bring snakes here," a woman shouted, "it’s going to be over my dead body." The Salt Lake Tribune says the couple, Dan and Colette Sutherland, has already spent $600,000 building two barns, one for the pythons and another for the rodents that are fed to them live. Their neighbors, however, fear that some of the pythons, which are sold online, will escape and slither their way.

WASHINGTON

Someday soon, you may be able to think of those annoying little stickers on fruit as an "instant pregnancy test," reports the Tri-City Herald. Created to detect how much ethylene is being produced by apples, peaches or other tree fruit, the thumbnail-sized stickers reveal when the fruit is ripe. A New Mexico man came up with the invention, which he calls Redi Ripe, and the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission thinks it has so much potential that it has invested more than $100,000 in research. Redi Ripe will have a trial run during this fall’s apple harvest in Washington, when growers will learn if the stickers stick through sunshine and colder weather.

CALIFORNIA

A wilderness specialist for the Bureau of Land Management came up with the perfect outlet for aggressive feelings. Justin Seastrand, based in Palm Springs, Calif., asked volunteers to bring tree-loppers, handsaws and "a really bad attitude toward tamarisk," and join him in ripping out the water-sucking exotic that’s invading the new (and still relatively undiscovered) Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

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
  • WESTERN DIVISION DIRECTOR OF FIELD PROGRAMS
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: October 29, 2021 LOCATION FLEXIBLE (WESTERN HUB CITY PREFERRED) Overview The Land Trust Alliance is the voice of the land trust community....
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • EVENTS AND ANNUAL FUND COORDINATOR
    The Events and Annual Fund Coordinator is responsible for managing and coordinating the Henry's Fork Foundation's fundraising events for growing the membership base, renewing and...
  • EDUCATION DIRECTOR
    Position Description: The Education Director is the primary leader of Colorado Canyons Association's (CCA) education programs for students and adults on the land and rivers...
  • 10 ACRES OF NEW MEXICO HIGH DESERT
    10 Acres of undeveloped high desert land in central NM, about 45 minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Mixed cedar and piñon pine cover. Some dirt roadways...