An aerial tour of the Colorado Plateau

FLYING HOME … Published by the Peaks, Plateaus & Canyons Association, Sojourns was a gorgeous Colorado Plateau journal of 14 years’ standing, only recently having ceased publication. According to co-editor Carol Haralson, they decided to send the photo-thick periodical into the archives with a special double-edition, and Craig Childs’ Flying Home: The Colorado Plateau From Above and Below was born … Once again, it’s gorgeous (Haralson is an excellent designer). A full-color perfect-bound coffeetable paperback, with a cover flyleaf that opens and sends us soaring cliff-high along the West Rim of Zion National Park, courtesy of a photo by Joe Braun. Indeed, all the book’s photographs are iconic. Gripping. Unfailingly spectacular. Even Elena Miras Garcia’s close-up “Datura unfurling” … The text is vintage Childs – adventure story, gonzo travelogue, lyric prose and eco-romance in a chili con carne of scientific fact. He and his buddy, an ex-cop, fly an old cloth-wing Cessna 140 two-seater into harrowing and unmappable places to touch down, hike and then soar off into the aether for days of high-altitude joyriding. There’s even a facsimile page or two torn from Childs’ journal … The flight path keeps pulling you in. Only the details of a day’s flight change shapes. Turn into stories. Remembrances. The possible discovery of a mammoth petroglyph on the Plateau that could be 13,000 years old. The third date with a new lover wandering pathless in the wilds of Petroglyph National Park … Childs and his pilot take you into the heart of the light and the darkness, from the depths of the Grand Canyon to the Columbine Shooting ballfield, where a young athlete lies dying. Each of the pieces are as mesmerizing as the rainbow trunks of petrified forest Childs wanders through with his mysterious lover “silhouetted against the indigo horizon” … Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk shows up in this book. As does Katie Lee, Fred Welch, Theodore Roosevelt, Ed Abbey, Joe Pachak, Neal Schwieterman. It’s a book with one foot in the past, and the other hanging out the side of a prop plane, as the wings tip to bring a cliff in focus, trying to get one more shot of the now. Highly recommended.

WESTERN COLORADO ALLIANCE … It’s exciting to see a longtime regional community action group re-invent itself. Kudos to Western Colorado Congress President Steve Allerton, Teresa Purcell of Purcell Public Affairs and the WCC board for making this significant change … My connection to WCC (and now WCA) goes back to before the group formed in the West Elk mountains outside Crested Butte. As a summer visitor to Telluride in 1979, I got to hang with my friend George Greenbank at a gathering up on Hastings Mesa known as the Colorado Plateau Rendezvous. A loose-knit, ad hoc event where regional enviros came together to see how they might work to socially and politically shake up the conservative Western Slope. Out of that meeting came a push for a progressive alternative to the development-oriented Club 20 of Grand Junction … I wasn’t part of the organizing group in the West Elks in 1980, but I visited the gathering by chance that spring and sat in on some of the discussions. I moved to San Miguel County in the fall of 1981 … When Jack Pera and I organized a group to fight against a bad timber sale on Lizard Head Pass in 1988, I spearheaded a drive for Sheep Mountain Alliance to join WCC after we won the battle with the Forest Service … Over the years I served as a WCC senator, representative to the Western Organization of Resource Councils and member of various committees … I had criticisms of the group, for all the good work they did. They used a Saul Alinsky empowerment model of community organizing that didn’t always work in resort towns. Over the years I watched as community groups joined WCC and then left… A few years ago I tried to talk to the board about the need for a reorganization, but arguing that the Club 20 structure (not its politics) was a good model for a supposed “congress,” I got nowhere … So, like many, I drifted away from participation in a group with dwindling numbers of community groups – in the last few years the “congress” only represented a handful of Western Slope counties … But I’m excited about the reorganization. I plan to join the group again, and I’m looking forward to their bringing back Colorado Rural Voters as a 501(c)4 project. As a seasoned pol of 20 years’ standing on the Slope, I think it’s time we all jump in to help “recruit, train and support new leaders” … WCC is dead. Long live WCA!

EDIBLE SOUTHWEST COLORADO … If you haven’t seen the annual Storytelling Issue of this free publication (#31, Winter 2018), grab one. Editors Rick Scibelli, Jr., and Rachel Turiel have done an outstanding job pulling together fine stories from some of the region’s best writers. … Scibelli got me going with his editor’s letter. Pretty soon I’m packing up a Saab for a retreat back to Connecticut and what turns into a failed restaurant gig, several years testing battery acid, and a back-to-school come-to-Jesus moment that leads back to a schoolboy dream of photography. Already my head’s spinning. I can almost see battery acid being sucked up a pipet with strange red dye … The first actual story made me sit back and remember. How my father died. How I went and spent hospice with him. Held his hand as he journeyed into the mystery. Sheryl McGourty writes quietly but powerfully: “What I came to witness is that someone’s death can often closely reflect the essence of how they lived.” … Scibelli’s kodak of a kite flyer on an Oregon beach is a strikingly nostalgic companion to McGourty’s My Father … And Jennifer Rane Hancock of Grand Junction has a lovely poem, In This Season of Soup, that honors the diversity as well as the food of her relatives and ancestors: “I cook to celebrate your lives, and cry/into the onions on the cutting board” … Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, herself a fine poet, leads us down the in-law path of a holiday faux pas, only to be rescued by the grump whom she most feared. … Kierstin Bridger shares a diary, inverted, of watching as her 15-year-old tests boundaries she herself broke as a youth, trying to help Sophia “set her compass back to her own true north.” It’s a story almost any parent can understand. … Rachel Turiel knows how to pull a reader in. Her second sentence: “The days are just slivers of light sandwiched between thick slabs of darkness.” She’s a mom with a houseful of tweens, including her withdrawn son. When he asks to make dinner, she follows his lead and amplifies it into a 12-year-old success story. They name it Mungo. Her definition of how she copes with kids is one to remember: “This parenting is like a progression of dance moves … It’s beautiful and terrifying.” … In Dune’s Day Zach Healy takes us on a dog pilgrimage that teaches a lot about expectations and how what doesn’t work can teach us as much or more than easy success. … I wasn’t prepared for Samantha Tisdel Wright’s dazzling travelogue into a remote part of China. Of Pigs and Dragons is a marvelously droll tale with surprises galore and colorful language in several languages: “Since the only Naxi I knew was ‘oho-la-a-lay, dao a-kun dao-pay,’ which means ‘Hello, I can see chicken feet up your ass,’ (I had learned this during a raucous New Year’s Even celebration a couple weeks before) I tried Chinese instead” … I enjoyed the multipage interview stories by Scibelli. The second-to-last story took me completely by surprise. Amy Irving is an old friend and excellent writer who lives in the little Western Slope town of Norwood as I do. Inedible, with its unsigned sketch of a toadstool (maybe a russoula?), was a story I’d told many times. Only this time Amy was telling it; and I was turned quite around, being a character in someone else’s story. It’s one of those scary kid’s stories every parent fears, but all’s well that ends well. … Food, of course, figures prominently in most of the stories. But it’s the quality of the writing and all the places those stories take me that makes Edible Southwest Colorado a favorite regional magazine of mine … And it’s free!

Art Goodtimes writes from San Miguel County, Colo.



The trick
about perfection

McRedeye sez

is to get through it
Not just to it

From Art Goodtimes.