Tired and inspired; wild new world; signs everywhere

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

 

WASHINGTON
It was a “colossal scramble,” reports the Washington Post, but in the end not a single one of the 1,600 Moderna vaccine doses was wasted. A freezer malfunction at 9 p.m. sent doctors, nurses and volunteers at Seattle’s Swedish Health Service leaping into action, seeking people eager to roll up their sleeves. Those on priority lists were contacted first, but then word got out and spread like wildfire, said Kevin Brooks, CEO of Swedish. A queue soon formed and “snaked through hallways and spilled outside. … People were showing up and running down the hall.” Spirits were high, even though some people left home so quickly they lined up wearing pajamas and bathrobes. The deadline loomed, like midnight at Cinderella’s ball: At 3:45 a.m., the vaccine wouldn’t turn into a pumpkin, but it would be just as useless. As the time ticked closer, staff ran outside in the cold, racing to the road, at one point “jabbing someone through the window of a car.” Just as the clock ran out, “one elderly woman in flip-flops was photographed rolling up her sleeve on the sidewalk.” Brooks summed up the experience: “We’re tired and we’re inspired, and those two things are true at the same time.”

COLORADO
When five young black bears — orphaned last summer — wake up this spring, they’ll probably wonder how they ended up snuggled in a den somewhere on 14,115-foot Pikes Peak, Colorado’s famously photogenic mountain. That’s where Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials took the drowsy, tranquilized youngsters in late January. Tucked into their artificial home under deep snow, the cubs will likely snooze until spring. They’re primed for a long nap: For the last six months, they lived at the Wet Mountain Wildlife Rehabilitation Center where they put on healthy weight — one reached 120 pounds — and also “learned to fear humans,” reports the Denver Post.  Officials hope that when the bears wake up, they’ll be ready to take on their wild new world.

THE WEST
Portland-based photographer Brendon Burton is a connoisseur of yard signs, the hand-painted, graffitied kind; they speak to him of nostalgia, even “jealousy for an earlier time.” His new book, American Poetry, celebrates signs he photographed from 2015 to 2020. One of his strangest experiences occurred when he stopped to photograph a sign in front of a Montana gymnasium, which warned, “Do not open, really pissed off bees inside.” As Burton moved closer to the sign, bees suddenly appeared and buzzed angrily around him. “Oh my God, they could have made the sign bigger!” Burton said. “This is inviting you to get stung by bees.” In a way, Burton told Atlas Obscura, signs in yards or along back roads are “the original social media,” because “you’re screaming into the void, hoping you’ll get something back.” As the 2020 election got closer, he spent more time in the Pacific Northwest, where political and cultural tensions ran hot between liberal cities and rural towns. “So the signs are put up to talk to (each other).” In Nevada or North Dakota, however, there were fewer signs and less of this “building fervor.” Perhaps the most poignant sign he recorded was posted by locals in Tiller, Montana, a remote Forest Service outpost of 500 people. Burton grew up not far from the town, which he’d visit in the summer to swim in the river. “WE ARE WORTH SAVING,” the notice said. But Tiller was abandoned anyway, though a millionaire later bought it.

THE WEST
We came upon a fascinating obituary in the Jackson Hole News & Guide. H.L. Jensen, 91, was a denizen of Jackson, Wyoming, for nearly half a century. Jensen’s life was remarkable in many ways, but two incidents stand out. As a young man, he was kicked out of Yellowstone National Park for a prank at Old Faithful. Jensen and his friends, fueled by beer, hauled out a car’s steering wheel and column, stuck it into the ground near the geyser, then just as the geyser got ready to blow, one of them yelled: “Turn it on” and spun the wheel, “making Old Faithful go.” Onlookers chortled, but a park ranger was not amused. Jensen’s second feat of derring-do was even more impressive: running for the Wyoming House of Representatives as a Democrat. In the 1970s, this was a “shocking thing that made him a political unicorn.” That he actually won — serving eight two-year terms — was even more shocking. “He was a guy who liked to help people, provide whatever help the government could,” explained a Republican friend.   

Tips of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected], or submit a letter to the editor

High Country News Classifieds
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Western Slope Conservation Center in Paonia, CO, seeks a dynamic leader who is mission-driven, hardworking, and a creative problem-solver. WSCC is committed to creating...
  • PLANNED GIVING OFFICER
    National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation's oldest and largest national parks nonprofit advocacy organization seeks a Planned Giving Officer. Do you find energy in...
  • NORTHERN NEW MEXICO PROJECT MANAGER
    Seeking qualified Northern New Mexico Project Manager to provide expertise, leadership and support to the organization by planning, cultivating, implementing and managing land conservation activities,...
  • REGIONAL TRAIL STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR
    Are you passionate about connecting people to the outdoors? The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) is looking for someone with trail maintenance and volunteer engagement...
  • TRAIL CREW MEMBER
    Position Title: Trail Crew Member Position Type: 6 month seasonal position, April 17-October 15, 2023 Location: Field-based; The RFOV office is in Carbondale, CO, and...
  • CEO BUFFALO NATIONS GRASSLANDS ALLIANCE
    Chief Executive Officer, Remote Exempt position for Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance is responsible for the planning and organization of BNGA's day-to-day operations
  • IDAHO DIRECTOR - WESTERN WATERSHEDS PROJECT
    Western Watersheds Project seeks an Idaho Director to continue and expand upon WWP's campaign to protect and restore public lands and wildlife in Idaho, with...
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT, NA'AH ILLAHEE FUND
    Na'ah Illahee Fund (NIF) is seeking a highly qualified Development Director to join our team in supporting and furthering our mission. This position will create...
  • DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, NA'AH ILLAHEE FUND
    Na'ah Illahee Fund (NIF) is seeking a highly qualified Operations Director to join our team. This position will provide critical organizational and systems support to...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) is seeking a leader to join our dynamic team in the long-term protection of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). We...
  • GRASSLAND RESEARCH COORDINATOR
    The Grassland Research Coordinator is a cooperative position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that performs and participates in and coordinates data collection for...
  • HYDROELECTRIC PLANT
    1.3 MW FERC licensed hydroelectric station near Taylorsville CA. Property is 184 deeded acres surrounded by National Forrest.
  • "PROFILES IN COURAGE: STANDING AGAINST THE WYOMING WIND"
    13 stories of extraordinary courage including HCN founder Tom Bell, PRBRC director Lynn Dickey, Liz Cheney, People of Heart Mountain, the Wind River Indian Reservation...
  • GRANT WRITER
    JOB DESCRIPTION: This Work involves the responsibility of conducting research in the procurement of Federal, State, County, and private grant funding. Additional responsibilities include identifying...
  • MATADOR RANCH STEWARD
    The Matador Ranch Steward conducts annual stewardship projects at the Matador Ranch Preserve and occasionally supports stewardship projects elsewhere in Montana's Northern Great Plains. The...
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ASSISTANT
    The Idaho Conservation League is seeking a motivated individual to help build public support for key strategic initiatives in northern Idaho through public outreach and...
  • ASPIRE COLORADO SUSTAINABLE BODY AND HOME CARE PRODUCTS
    Go Bulk! Go Natural! Our products are better for you and better for the environment. Say no to single-use plastic. Made in U.S.A., by a...
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Field seminars for adults in the natural and human history of the Colorado Plateau, with lodge and base camp options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • CORTEZ COLORADO LOT FOR SALE
    Historic tree-lined Montezuma Ave. Zoned Neighborhood Business. Build your dream house or business right in the heart of town. $74,000. Southwest Realty
  • ATTORNEY AD
    Criminal Defense, Code Enforcement, Water Rights, Mental Health Defense, Resentencing.