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Now that the angst of tax season is subsiding, April snow has given way to May flowers and the spring cleaning’s done, it’s time to relax at some festivals close to home and some not too far down the road.
Cinco de Mayo
Grand Junction will get a jump-start on Cinco de Mayo this year a day early. Saturday, May 4, is jam-packed with activities all day and into the night.
After an invocation, the festivities begin with a performance from 10:15 to 10:30 of Zumba dancers. (For the uninitiated, Zumba is a dance/exercise craze that began in Colombia when an exercise instructor forgot his regular tapes of exercise music and improvised with favorite tunes of his own. Although much of Zumba music has a Latin American flair, Zumba afficionados and afficianadas often enjoy getting in a little belly dancing to Middle Eastern music, as well.)
From 10:30 to 11:45 the Scarlet Pages band performs, and it is followed by the West Middle School Orchestra from 11:45 to noon.
After a scholarship presentation at noon, the Danza Guadalupana (Aztec Dancers) take the main stage from 12:30 to 1 p.m.
Ambiente Musical, a one-man band, performs at 1 p.m. as a prelude to even more dancing. Colombian dancers perform from 2 to 2:30, and Folklorico Dancers sway and swirl their way through traditional Mexican music from 2:30 to 3 p.m.
The action gets even hotter from 3 to 3:45 during the jalapeño-eating contest. From 3:45 to 5 p.m. Los Integrantes del Norte band plays.
The La Puerta Dance runs from 5 to 6. Capping off the music and dancing is the main street dance, Juntos Unidos, which runs from 6 to 10 p.m.
Art and Jazz Festival
The next weekend Grand Junction once again hosts the Arts and Jazz Festival downtown. (For more details, check out the music article in this edition.)
Mike the Headless Chicken Festival
The following weekend it’s Fruita’s turn to put its best festival foot forward. The Mike the Headless Chicken Festival runs May 17 and 18. As always, you’ll find food, fun and music. Dance to the tunes of The Williams Brothers Band. (The Williams brothers grew up in California, but have called the Western Slope home since 2000.)
The festival celebrating the pluckiness of Miracle Mike runs 4 to 10 p.m. on Friday, and it runs 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. It’s one weekend in which no one can be blamed for being in a “fowl” mood.
If your travels take you outside the Grand Valley, be sure to check out these regional festivals:
Wild West Festival, Pueblo, May 17–19
“The Wild West Festival will return to Pueblo. Events are scheduled to take place at the Colorado State Fair Grounds and the Union Avenue Historic District,” according to the festival’s website “Festivalgoers can expect concerts, carnival rides, street vendors, team roping, the wildly popular duck race and much more! The PBR Built Ford Tough Bull Riding event will be at the Colorado State Fair Events Center.”
Pagosa Springs Car Show, May 18
Check out the classic car show in the classy little town of Pagosa Springs.
Mountainfilm, Telluride, May 24–27
Mountainfilm gets in the shadows a bit compared to the better-known Telluride Film Festival that runs each fall, but this inspiring gem of a film festival is among America’s longest-running film festivals. It started in 1979.
“In addition to screening leading independent documentary films from around the world, the festival includes a full-day symposium on a critical contemporary issue, art and photography exhibits, early morning coffee talks, a book signing party, an ice cream social, student programs and a closing picnic/awards ceremony,” according to the festival’s website.
Festival organizers also promise presentations and panels “with a wide diversity of special guests, ranging from artists to adventurers and academics to activists.”
Downtown Denver Arts, Festival, May 24–26
This event always draws a big crowd. More than 150,000 people are anticipated to take in the fine art and fine crafts of Colorado artists, along with other artists across the nation.
Territory Days, Colorado, Springs, May 25–27
Held at old Colorado City, the festival will offer Wild West gunfighters, a mechanical bull, kids’ train, Native American displays, gold panning, pony rides, craft booths, and, of course, plenty of delectable food.
Arts Festival, Moab, May 25–26
Consider buzzing over to Moab to take in the 21st annual Moab Arts Festival at Swanny City Park on Memorial Day weekend. Festivities run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 26. Admission is free.
30th Annual Telluride Balloon Festival, Telluride, May 31-June 2
Come share the magic of seeing colorful balloons grace the sky. Festivities start at 5 p.m. Friday, May 31, at the Telluride Town Park.
May ushers in yet another summer season of fine concerts – both outdoor and in – all around the Grand Valley.
Start the month off with a music recital by Dr. Kathleen Ruhleder, mezzo soprano, appearing with pianist Arthur Houle at 7:30 p.m. May 9. Their concert is at Moss Recital Hall.
On Friday, May 10 enjoy the CMU Wind Symphony at 7:30 p.m. at Robinson Theater. Tickets are $5 for students, $8 for seniors and $10 for adults.
The next day also brings in Grand Junction’s annual musical rite of spring: the Art and Jazz Festival, running Friday through Sunday downtown. Throughout the years, local high school jazz bands have proven they can hold their own against the likes of jazz legends that come to the festival, and this year is no different.
The Fruita Monument High School jazz band, led by Ryan Crabtree, will pull out all the stops when it kicks off the festival at 4 p.m. Friday, May 10. “Oh, man, it’s a great band this year,” Crabtree said. “It’s an awesome group of students.”
Crabtree praised the band’s dedication, noting that its members practice from 6:30 to 7:15 a.m. every school day. “They make it worth getting up early to come to school,” he said. “When we don’t have jazz band, it seems we’re in a funk. The day hasn’t started out right.
Jazz band members have to pass an audition each May for the following school year. Right now, Crabtree said, the band is composed of mostly sophomores and juniors, with only five seniors graduating this month. The Art and Jazz Festival will be among those seniors’ last gigs.
The band has a pretty eclectic playlist for its festival performance. Its tunes high-step from “Manteca” by Dizzy Gillespie and “Big Swing Face” by Bill Pots/Buddy Rich right on up to “All I Need” by RADIOHEAD and “What is Hip?” by Stephen Kupka/Tower of Power.
Fruita’s jazz band loves playing in the community, Crabtree added.
Gumbo le Funque follows at 6 p.m., giving Grand Junction yet another taste of New Orleans blues, funk and jazz.
Taking the stage at 8 p.m., the Denver-based Hazel Miller Band will prove once again that New Orleans is not the only place turning out hot jazz.
Start out Saturday by taking in the Theatre/Project Dance Performance at 11 a.m.
At noon it’s time for the Central High School Spectrum Jazz Band to show off all the musical capabilities of the east end of the valley – and for its director to enjoy a new venue.
“As the new director at Central, it’ll be fun for me to experience my first Art and Jazz Festival,” Cameron Brown recently wrote in a e-mail. “It is always nice to perform for a home crowd and gain exposure to the community at large, rather than just families, friends and teachers of the students in the group that is performing.”
Spectrum Jazz also offers a wide range of sounds, all the way from classics such as “Blue Rondo a la Turk” by Dave Brubeck” to “Who are You?” by The Who and “Dance to the Music” by Sly and the Family Stone.
Brown explained that Spectrum Jazz is the top jazz group out of two at Central. Students must also pass an audition to get the opportunity “to play advanced high school-level music, as well as some college-level music,” he noted.
“When we turn heads and impress others not normally within our sphere of communication, that helps us raise the image and profile of our music program, but also grows our following which continues to feed the positive growth of that very same profile and image,” Brown also wrote. “It’s a mutually beneficial situation, sharing our music with other folks who enjoy it, and then they continue to seek out our performances to continue enjoying our music.”
At 2 p.m. the Max Wagner Quartet plays. At 4 p.m. Russ Chapman, known for early swing, pre-war blues and New Orleans swamp music, takes the stage.
If you haven’t yet heard Grand Junction’s own Kristin Hartman, grab the chance to hear her perform with the Frank Bregar Orchestra at 6 p.m. Close your eyes, listen to her clear voice infused with a zest for life and you’ll think you’ve been transported to Broadway.
Hartman and cohorts will be a tough act to follow, but at 8 p.m. Chris Daniels and the Kings aim to do just that.
Wind down on Sunday, Mother’s Day, with the Adam Bodine Trio at 10 a.m. Bobby Walker takes the stage at noon. A Colorado Mesa University dance performance is set for 2 p.m., and at 2:30 p.m. Walt Smith & Friends cap off the festival.
Later in May, Kathryn Mientke will present music by various artists in a performance entitled “Piano Masterworks and Rarely Heard Gems.” Her performance is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 17. Tickets are available online or at Roper Music. Mientke will dedicate the evening to her late husband, cellist Tyme Mientke.
Legendary writer, lecturer, philosopher, free spirit, seasonal national forest and park service ranger, and full time curmudgeon Edward Abbey wrote about a gentleman named Bates Wilson.
He got to know Wilson well, writing about him as early as in his iconic book “Desert Solitaire.”
In Abbey’s opinion, Wilson more or less created Canyonlands National Park and thus we owed him a major debt of gratitude. As was not always the case, Abbey was on the mark with this one. Were it not for Wilson’s efforts, the pictures that accompany this article might include paved roads, oil and gas rigs, and all of their attendant congestion and contamination. Maybe even, shudder, shudder, a town.
Bates Wilson knew this land well – probably better than any other white man. He often warned that in addition to its spectacular beauty, that part of the Utah canyon country can be a very forbidding place. There are a thousand ways to die in what is arguably one of the very best of the wilderness areas in the Great Southwest. At one point in his illustrious career in the National Park Service, Wilson was the head guy at both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks simultaneously.
The images you see on these pages were taken from a single engine, four- seater plane with wings above the fuselage rather than below, as is more common. For photography purposes, there’s simply no debate that above is far preferable, unless one really likes wing tips in the foreground of each photograph. The images were shot on film, and processed as Kodak Kodachrome slides.
The protected lands within the park are divided into three adjoining regions. The largest is the Needles District, south and west of Moab this is a land of rocks. They come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Tens of thousands of acres of them are found in an uncountable number of canyons. Two major rivers, the Colorado and the Green, confluence in the District.
Sitting high above the Needles District and overlooking it and so much more is the aptly named Island in the Sky. Basically it’s a big plateau shaped vaguely like an arrowhead, with the tip aimed almost due south.
Finally, the smallest piece of the Canyonlands puzzle is the Maze. Considered to be the easiest place - at least in North America - to get completely, totally lost. That unknowable hunk of real estate sits on the west bank of the Green and then the Colorado rivers.
There is also a detached section of Canyonlands called the Horseshoe Canyon Unit. It is home to the well-known Grand Gallery of pictographs, and for its comparatively small size that tiny unit packs quite a punch, at least with rock art lovers.
While neighboring Arches National Park has way more than its share of natural holes in rock, Canyonlands can claim some very impressive arches of its own. Towering Druid Arch, the giant pot hole arch called Paul Bunyan’s Potty, and stunning Angel Arch are among the more visited by hardy hikers.
Seeing Canyonlands from the air is a very special experience, yet one that is comparatively easily accomplished. Scenic flight services are available year round out of what is often mislabeled the “Moab Airport,” just a dozen miles up Utah Highway 191 from Moab.
The pilots on these flights are quite accustomed to folk’s with cameras begging for one more turn around whatever is below. They are very accommodating and accomplished. The only thing wrong with the experience is that it ends.
It is no secret that early and late light are the best time for most outdoor photography. If you want to shoot the canyon country, consider taking off a good hour before the announced time for sunset.
And don’t forget to thank Bates Wilson for his foresight in preserving this magical place.
“We do not quit playing because we grow old, we grow old because we quit playing.”
This is such a great quote – so absolutely true – that it has been attributed variously to Benjamin Franklin, Oliver Wendell Holmes (both Jr. and Sr.), Herbert Spencer and George Bernard Shaw.
Because these words seem to be the literary world’s version of freeware, I’m going to claim them as well, with a tweak:
“We do not quit riding because we grow old, we grow old because we quit riding.”
– Jay Seaton, 2013
This column is supposed to offer the amateur cyclist’s perspective. I’ve nailed the amateur part, but I haven’t been much of a cyclist so far this spring. I’ve been on my road bike one time. I’ve looked at my mountain bike several times, but then looked outside to find snow, rain or frozen stuff.
And therein lies the problem. It’s not the weather’s fault I have not been riding, it’s mine. It’s a matter of priorities. As an adult, I do not prioritize play time or riding time. It does not find its way onto my calendar. Loads of meetings litter my calendar, but nowhere on my calendar are the words, “mountain biking with Mark.”
That’s a mistake.
Even if I wanted to slide out of the office a little early on a nice day to ride, it wouldn’t happen because something else “important” would find its way into that time slot.
When we were kids, we played because we had nothing else to do. As adults, our days are filled with nothing but have-to-do’s, so we don’t play. This is the story of almost all of us.
That’s why we grow old. We’ve stopped playing because our busy lives can’t accommodate it.
And then we grow yet older (and fatter). And before long, playing or riding seems completely out of reach.
This is borne out by the research. Brain researchers at the University of Illinois set out to determine why many people over age 80 suffer from dementia and others show absolutely no signs of diminished brain function whatsoever, even beyond age 90 and 100.
The clear answer? Exercise.
A neuroscientist at the Univeristy of Illinois scanned the brains of 120 older adults, half of whom started an exercise regimen consisting basically of walking 3 days a week for 45 minutes. After a year, brain scans indicated that the brains of the group that exercised actually grew 2.5 percent.
What’s more, the folks in the control group lost 1.5 percent of their brain mass, amounting to a difference of 3.5 percent. Further tests indicated that greater brain mass equated to better memory and brain functioning.
Aging is a scary downward spiral. If you don’t exercise, you will lose brain function, further lose the desire or impulse to exercise, gain weight, further lose the desire to leave the house, lose further brain function, lose the desire to experience new things, lose further brain function, and so on.
Sufficiently freaked out?
Me too. That’s why I’m going to carve out time on my calendar for riding and play and treat it just like any other obligation.
On the one day I was able to ride this year, I rode up the east side of Colorado National Monument to the high point and back down. On the ascent, I was passed (dropped may be a better description) by a guy who appeared to be in his late 60s. I tried to hang with him, but there was no hope.
This guy is my new hero. I don’t know his name, but my new goal is this:
I want the 75-year-old Jay to be able to drop the 42-year-old Jay up to Cold Shivers Point.
A planned adventure into Eastern Utah got dashed when a family emergency kept me from wanting to be too far from home. Good thing I live here, where other people come for their vacations. Why not join them?
Our town is surrounded on both sides by world-class tourist attractions. I drive through Fruita and Palisade almost every time I go someplace else, but this particular weekend I stopped at the National Monument for hiking, 18 Road for mountain biking, and took in a concert at the Palisade Brewery after a nice hike there. Then I slept in my own bed.
If you haven’t noticed, Fruita has a lot going on and spring is the perfect time to be out there. We got out the mountain bikes to check out some world class single track.
I had never been out to 18 Road, a situation begging for a remedy. Take 17 1/2 Road North to N 3/10 Road. Take that to 18 Road and drive to the parking area several more miles north to the parking area.
I don’t know if it was the weather or just the Fruita vibe, but I’ve never been to a trailhead with more friendly and encouraging people. It seemed none had a care in the world – except the lady in the bed of the truck looking for her lost bottle opener. Once that crisis was adverted, we strapped on our helmets and hit the trails.
I knew I was out of shape for this, but that didn’t stop me. Even as children flew by me I never felt in the way. We did the Primecut-Kessel run and had a blast. The trails weave through the pinyon all the way to the base of the Bookcliffs. You couldn’t find a better group of strangers to share the trails with.
Since we were so close to the Colorado National Monument we decided to tune up the legs with some hiking.
Independence Monument has always been a favorite place. When I tell people I’m from Western Colorado, this is what I see in my head. The pictures of stained sandstone canyon walls, the desert big horn sheep, and pinyons made all my friends still working on a beautiful Friday afternoon jealous.
Liberty Cap is a quintessential local hike – a great way to get the legs in shape and spend time outside. If you have not done this hike please do yourself the favor and change that. The beautiful weather was only ruined by gusts of the last wintery winds.
But then we did something I hadn’t done in years. On the drive home we stopped in all the little turnoffs. Just my girlfriend and I reading signs about local wildlife and geological formations. We even ran into a friend from college volunteering at the visitor’s center. As a local, it is easy to get caught up in careers, and family and life and miss out on how beautiful an area we live in. It was nice to slow down and enjoy our backyard.
Once the sun set, we made our way to Suds Brothers Brewery in downtown Fruita for burgers and a beer. I opted for a Red Monkey Butt Amber which was a perfect match to the Suds Brothers Deluxe burger. A solid amber ale with a golden color and the perfect blend between malt and hops. Our server Annie was tons of fun and it’s worth a visit to see their custom sign behind the bar where the taps come out. The atmosphere is all done with a classic rock feel as great music plays in the background. Their buffalo chips are one of the most impressive discoveries I have made. I will be back just for those.
Kudos, Fruita. You have a pretty cool thing going on.
My girlfriend is a big fan of Jack+Jill, a local alternative/indie band. On Saturday they were playing the Palisade brewery so we decided to hike the Palisade Rim trail in the afternoon before the music and make a day out of it.
Other than the Mt. Garfield hike, I didn’t know Palisade had anything else to offer. I was mistaken. The trailhead is a little tricky. Stay on G road straight through Palisade heading east. As it turns to the north with the Colorado River, look for a parking lot off to the left just past the canal station. Walk back down the road to the big concrete pool for the canal and you will see the trail wrapping around it.
Don’t judge this hike by its start. In moments you are away from the irrigation area and moving up the side of a small canyon. Once on top you get a perspective of the Grand Valley that you don’t normally see. Mt. Garfield stands tall above a beautiful patchwork of orchards and vineyards. The river meanders out of Debeque Canyon and the National Monument can be seen clear across our little town. Be sure to check out the Ute petroglyphs while there.
The Palisade Brewery sits at 200 Peach Ave. It is tucked away but close to downtown. A collection of picnic style tables sit out front of a standing seam metal building. It is quaint and has a personality all it’s own. The bar is immediately inside where all orders for food and beer are made. I had a french dip which wasn’t as good as their famous Dirty Hippie but the turkey cheese panini my girlfriend ordered was heavenly. And so was her Laid Back Blonde, fruity, light and perfect for warm weather. Dirty Hippie is a dark wheat brew, also known as a dunkelweizen, and if you’re a fan of local craft beer you will love this. Dirty Hippie is a gem.
The band was set up in front of the brewing equipment. Considering how much metal and empty space there was, the sound was solid. Jack & Jill play an acoustic guitar and a violin. That combined with harmonies and showmanship create an infused sound that makes you want to groove. They made the evening memorable as I know everyone was having a great time and can’t wait to see them again.
All in all I was amazed at how relaxing my own little staycation was. I didn’t really go anywhere and still saw new things and found new experiences. No place like home indeed.
This has been a tough winter for runners. Although the snow total was below average, the extreme cold kept the snow on the trails, turning it to ice and making it nearly impossible to run without ankle-breaking spikes.
Even the annual, Frozen Bangs Canyon 30k put on by the Mesa Monument Striders in January was much more difficult that most runners expected. There were frozen bottles and hydration packs all along the way, causing many runners to become dehydrated well before the end. I recall slogging along at about mile 17, trying to break through a frozen gel pack with my teeth. It was no fun, until the campfire and camaraderie at the end made it worth the effort. Now that it has warmed, it is nice to get back out to my favorite trails and feel the bare earth beneath my shoes.
Tortoise and Hare. One of the many things I love about ultra-running is that each race re-tells the classic Aesop’s fable, The Tortoise and the Hare. The tale begins at the starting line. You feel the hares before you see them. The air shimmers with testosterone as they move to the edge of the line to await the gun. They wear the latest gear, trimmed of every unnecessary ounce. Spectators look at them enviously, wishing they could be so fit and flawless. Gradually, a noise like hermit crabs scuttling across a tile floor begins to tickle their ears. Tick, tick, tick. The tortoises have arrived. They are stick-thin and look like a moderate breeze would blow them over. They wear ancient black compression socks, knee braces (presumably to hide the garters), and big smiles. Their packs appear to be 1951 army issue and if you look closely at their water bottles you’ll see the faded words “Aunt Jemima.” The spectators move away from the start as the smell of testosterone is replaced by that of Vick’s Vapor Rub.
The gun sounds and the hares bound away, soaring through the first 30 miles as if they were running a 5k instead of a 100-miler. Hours later…tick, tick, tick….the tortoises plod through, chatting about new grandkids and the joys of retirement, the smiles never leaving their faces. The spectators begin to see a confidence in them unlike that of the hares. It’s a confidence gained through silver anniversaries, successful careers, and happy children.
Around mile 70 a change takes place in many of the hares. No longer fit and flawless, they look old and stooped, sucking down gels between bouts of projectile vomiting and trips into the bushes. They’re walking now, and dropping like flies at aid stations. As day turns to night, then back into day, mile 70 experiences the tick, tick, tick of the tortoises. Still smiling, they tick on through to the very end. None are on the race podium – that’s not a podium that concerns them. All finish to the cheers of the spectators, who share their smiles as they cross the line.
As individuals, the tortoises lose the race, but as a team, they know they have won. So do the hares. It doesn’t matter, though, because they all sit together at the end, drinking beer, slapping backs, and recounting the adventures lived through this and every other ultra they’ve run.
Mesa Monument Striders. This first column of the season wouldn’t be complete without a plug for the Mesa Monument Striders running club. If you are a runner living anywhere near Grand Junction I recommend that you join the Striders. They are a tremendous group of passionate runners who organize many free (donation-supported) events on area trails. The benefits of this group far outweigh the small annual membership fee. This fee includes a monthly newsletter and weekly email updates of local running events. For more information about the Striders, go to www.mmstriders.com.
- May 4 - Girls on the Run for the Shelter 5k. Montrose. www.gotrwesterncolorado.org
- May 11 - Grand Valley Marathon, Half, and 10k. Palisade. www.mammothmarathons.org
- May 12 - Mother’s Day Mile. Glenwood Springs. 945-2632
- May 18 - Black Canyon Ascent. Montrose. sjmr.org.
- May 18 - Mike the Headless Chicken 5k. Fruita. www.fruita.org.
- May 25 - Narrow Gauge 10 Miler and 5k. Durango. 750-3371.
- May 25 - Garfield Grumble. 5+ tough miles. Palisade. Conrad 245-4243 or Joe 245-4382.
- May 27 - Compassion 5k. Ouray. mtsneffelsmarathon.com.
Remembering life at Sapinero before Blue Mesa Reservoir
Here’s an alternative to the golf-buddy trip routine of Mesquite, Nev., and St. George, Utah.
Those destinations have been favorites among the Western Slope golf and travel crowd, and for good reason. They offer great golf courses, good pricing and good times.
But Las Vegas offers all that too, and a lot more.
I’m not one of those picky travelers that “needs” 5-star accommodations, white tablecloths and room service, but I am turning into more of a crank when it comes to drunken revelers in the hallway at 2 a.m., lumpy queen-sized beds and air conditioning units that sound like a jet engine.
OK, I’m already a full-blown crank, but I like to get some sleep before I tee off into the crystal-clear blue Nevada sky at 7:30 a.m. with skins, greenies and sandies on the line.
Las Vegas offers some good, spacious and, some might say, luxurious hotel rooms at reasonable prices. That describes my March stay at The Suncoast Hotel and Casino near the Summerlin area of Las Vegas.
Granted, Summerlin isn’t on The Strip, but imagine the view from your window being beautiful fairways and manicured greens rather than casinos and 24/7 traffic.
The Angel Park Golf Club is only a solid 7-iron away. There you will find one of the more robust golf complexes in America. It was voted the favorite golf club in Las Vegas for 14 of the past 15 years by readers of The Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The Angel Park complex consists of two 18-hole golf courses, a 12-hole par-3 course, and a 9-hole grass putting course – the last two of which are lighted for night play. Both the Palm Course (opened in 1989) and the Mountain Course (1990) were designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay. The Palm course was then re-designed in 1993 to make way for the Cloud Nine par-3 course.
Staying at The Suncoast and playing Angel Park means you can walk to the course in less than 10 minutes and store your clubs safely at the facility so you don’t have to lug them back and forth. Plus, if you play multiple rounds at Angel Park you will earn a discount on green fees.
And, it’s not as expensive as many other Vegas courses. That’s why Angel Park Director of Golf Greg Brockelman (part of OB Sports Management) tells me that roughly 85 percent of play at Angel Park is from local Las Vegas residents. Check Angelpark.com or GolfNow.com to get the best rates on green fees.
I can’t handle $500 green fees that include a caddy and rental clubs when you don’t need either. The price to play on The Strip can be that expensive, even if you just want to walk nine and carry your clubs.
That’s probably why Vegas golf getaways don’t always hit the radar of Western Slope golfers. The experience in the Summerlin area, however, is much the same as it is in Mesquite, Nev., but with better amenities. Choices for restaurants, night life, shopping, outdoor activities and accommodations increase tenfold.
The Suncoast itself has 5 restaurants – and I’m not even counting the buffet – as well as hundreds of others within a 2-mile radius. The Strip is only six miles away via Summerlin Parkway and Highway 95. The beautiful Red Rock Casino, Hotel and Spa is 3.5 miles west of Angel Park and is similarly close to the Arroyo Golf Club.
Adjacent to The Suncoast (to the south) is The Badlands Golf Club, and just north of Angel Park are the two TPC Golf Courses in Las Vegas (TPC Summerlin and TPC Las Vegas).
The TPC Courses play host to the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open PGA Tour event every fall (Oct. 14-20 in 2013) and The Suncoast serves as the parking and shuttle area for the tournament.
I have played both championship courses at Angel Park over the past few years and the course conditions have always been good to excellent. This was true again in March of 2013 – with slick greens of Poa annua and Bent grass and green fairways of Bermuda (over seeded with Rye). The break is always towards the Stratosphere and away from the Spring Mountains to the west.
According to Brockelman, the best times of the year to play golf at Angel Park include March thru May and October and November. Playing in the summer requires an early or late tee time to avoid heat stroke. Over seeding in September is also a good time to avoid.
Angel Park gets its name from the image of an angel formed by snow on the Spring Mountains, which generally only happens for a handful of winter days each year.
I have not seen it myself, but apparently it is distinctive enough to be easily noticed. Or, it’s just an urban legend. I couldn’t find an image online.
I would recommend playing the Palm course as a warm up. It is a little shorter and easier than the Mountain Course. Hole 17 on the Mountain Course is a real challenge – a long par five that has a sizeable canyon between fairways and some strategically placed bunkers. The canyon runs the same direction as the two fairways and is in play almost all the way to the green.
I was excited to be on the green in regulation after my tee shot rolled hard-right into a fairway bunker. (Unfair!) A good 5-iron across the canyon left only 125 yards to the pin. My approach shot was only 20 feet from the flag, but my first putt raced past the hole towards the Vegas Strip as my playing partners chuckled.
Bogie. Believe me, I have had worse on that hole.
Go Climb a Rock
One morning at The Suncoast in March I was riding down the elevator when two young girls entered sporting large backpacks, helmets and a lot of rope.
Nine miles to the west of The Suncoast I finally figured out where they were going with all that gear. It seemed like hundreds of people were rock climbing in the Red Rock National Conservation Area in what used to be the western part of Summerlin.
All of the land that is (and was) called Summerlin was once owned by famed millionaire Howard Hughes. Summerlin is actually named after Hughes’ paternal grandmother Jean Amelia Summerlin.
The Hughes estate ended up swapping the land that is now the Conservation Area with some other desert land further south more suitable for development.
Red Rock is a unique place with uncommon geologic formations It is a good place to climb on rocks and hike on trails. Take a break from the casino and check it out. You’ll be glad you did.
The next time you are thinking about a golf trip, consider Las Vegas – specifically Angel Park and the Summerlin area. The extra 80 miles from Mesquite seems well worth it after you walk back from your round and are enjoying a cold, adult beverage at the pool overlooking the first green as the sun sets behind the Spring Mountains.
That’s as good a spot as any to talk about how you three-putted 17.
The Rifle Rendezvous Festival returns May 17, 18, and 19 with a few new twists but the same old focus on Western heritage and family fun.
Due to work being done at the Garfield County Fairgrounds, the annual rodeo won’t be possible this year, but this year’s organizer Scott Brynildson said what the weekend lacks in rodeo action will be made up by more music.
This is the 17th year of Rifle Rendezvous and organizers are continuing a trend started two years ago of maintaining a local community focus.
Pre-sale carnival tickets are available this year. Tickets are $20 if purchased by Wednesday, May 15, and that allows unlimited rides all day. Tickets are available at Alpine Bank, Trendz Clothing and Rifle Middle School. Tickets at the gate will be $30.
The weekend festival kicks off Friday at the Garfield County Fairgrounds with the carnival and vendor booths opening at 4 p.m. The carnival and vendor booths will remain open throughout the weekend.
The entertainment starts at 6 p.m. in the Indoor Arena at the fairgrounds with the ever-popular ArtillumA Dance Company and Friends putting on a variety dance show with comedy. At 8 p.m., the LeverAction Band takes the stage for an evening of rocking country music.
Events get started early on Saturday with the breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. offered by the Little Britches Rodeo.
The popular Archery Shoot is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Archery Shoot features a 60% payback for winners.
A car show under the auspices of Scott “Scooter” Evans, runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Metro Park. Expect between 70 and 80 classic cars on display. Live musical entertainment will be provided at the car show by the Rock Ridge Band.
Also at Metro Park, the competition begins to find the area’s top BMX bike rider and skateboarder. The Rolling Rendezvous games begin at 10 a.m. and is expected to continue all day. Registration and check-in starts at 8 a.m. This event is put on by the Rifle Recreation Department.
Back at the Indoor Arena, the entertainment gets going again at 5:30 p.m. with singing and strings from Joey Ball and Family.
At 7 p.m. the Glenwood Vaudeville serves up old fashioned vaudeville entertainment. A $10 meal will be available from Wing Nuts restaurant.
At 8:30 p.m. is a special musical tribute to Johnny Cash.
The action winds down on Sunday morning with another breakfast from the Little Britches Rodeo from 7 to 11 a.m. Also on Sunday morning enjoy the smooth sounds and God’s word with Sherry and Jeff Kerr, the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys, Sharon Turner, Joey Ball, Scott Brynildson and Misty Allen and the 3 Blondes.
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Saddle up and ride
Saddle up and ride
Kayaking Gore Canyon and passing the test
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