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Know the West

Holiday open house


The staff of High Country News cordially invites all readers and friends to our holiday open house. It will be at our Paonia, Colo., office (119 Grand Ave.) on Wednesday, Dec. 9, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. We'll provide refreshments. Hope to see you there!

The warm Indian summer days brought traveling HCN readers to our Paonia, Colo., offices. Paula and Steve Yeary of Happy Jack, Ariz., came by during their annual fall color tour of southern Colorado to "get (their) fix of the mountains." They told us about the new Discovery Channel telescope going up near them, and lamented how their once-dark skies are beginning to reflect the glow from Phoenix.

Dan and Libby Fiene, from Lake Forest Park, Wash., were on a whirlwind tour of Colorado, visiting the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Colorado National Monument before stopping by HCN's headquarters. The retired couple aren't strangers to our state -- Dan grew up in nearby Grand Junction and met Libby in Aspen in the '70s.

Rupert and Joan McDowell dropped by on a brisk October day, visiting from Cohasset, Calif. Rupert's been reading HCN since his mother introduced him to it 12 years ago. The pair had just embarked on a five-week road trip to the East Coast, and found the drive from Utah to Colorado on U.S. Highway 50 "inspiring." They met up with Paonia local Caren Vongontard for lunch.

While Tom and Gwen Oaks were visiting HCN from Nevada City, Calif., they picked staffers' brains on all things real estate. The couple, who spent the rest of their trip looking at houses, have wanted to move to Paonia ever since they visited a few years ago on their way to Crested Butte, Colo. Hope to see you here soon, Tom and Gwen!

Retired wildlife biologist Jim Rees worked for the Forest Service, the BLM and the Fish and Wildlife Service -- and in all those agencies, he says, High Country News was on the lunch tables. He and his wife, Linda, visited from Leavenworth, Wash., along with their daughter, Christine. Linda went to see her 93-year-old mother in Delta, just down the road. Christine, who lives on Orcas Island in Puget Sound, chose a book about the rising sea level from HCN's "free books" shelf.

After picking up a locally raised steak next door at Homestead Market, rangeland manager Matt Barnes, who works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, stopped by to say hello. Matt had spent a snowy day gathering cattle on a local grazing allotment that he said is "one of the most well-managed allotments in the West."

Paonia was a definite change of pace for Rusty and Julie Austin, who hail from Los Angeles, Calif. The Austins drove to Colorado with their dog, Whiskey, to visit Rusty's father's vineyard and peach orchard in nearby Hotchkiss. The couple also have a house in Silverton, Colo., where they're thinking of settling permanently -- "LA's not the place to grow old," says Julie. She's a director at UCLA's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Rusty works as a producer for the TV reality show Hell's Kitchen.

HCN board member John Heyneman just joined the Sonoran Institute's Partnership for Wyoming's Future. John, based out of Sheridan, will work as a project manager helping to connect fieldwork and policy work in Wyoming. For the last four years, John has managed the Kane and Two-Mile Ranches on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on behalf of the Grand Canyon Trust.