Our Backyard is a regional travel magazine published monthly during the summer. With a backyard as spectacular as Western Colorado and Eastern Utah, there’s no shortage of fabulous sights to see or fun things to do.
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.
May 18 L’Eroica ride from Grand Junction to Glenwood recreates pre-1900 rides
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.
Joe Barton is a third-generation cattleman and taught fifth grade in Monticello, Utah, for 30 years.
The fact that he now owns and operates Bull Hollow Raceway five miles south of Monticello seems to surprise even him. To hear the affable Barton tell the story is to hear how a life can evolve in ways one never imagined.
Barton said growing up he never thought he would do anything but raise cattle, just as his grandfather and father before him. His father had other ideas, however. Before Barton could join the family cattle business, he had to get an education. The education, Barton said, led him to becoming a teacher, which he did in addition to running cattle.
The drought in 2000 and 2001 changed things for Barton when he was forced to sell his cattle in July of 2001. That left him with a chunk of land and no way to make it productive. That’s when one of his children suggested he build a motocross race track.
Barton is the first to admit he didn’t know anything about building a motocross race track, but through some research, they tracked down a race track building company known as DirtWurx. They toured the property and soon enough construction work began.
The result is 1.6-mile national track that uses mostly natural terrain over about 150 acres. The track can be expanded to five or more miles to accommodate off-road races such as the annual World Off Road Championship Series.
Barton said he hosts eight events a summer at Bull Hollow. He works with the American Vintage Dirt Riders Association out of Phoenix, Ariz., the Utah Sports Riders Association out of Salt Lake City, Utah., and the local Four Corners Championship Series that covers the tows of Monticello, Moab, Grand Junction and Price.
I’m new to cycling, so most of my comments about the sport are borrowed from folks who actually know what they’re talking about.
The following statement has come out of my mouth a number of times because I heard it from people who seemed to know about this stuff: “The ride over Colorado National Monument is the best ride in North America.”
Whatever, I thought, feeling smug in my certainty that there had to be better rides around Lake Louise in British Colombia or some such exotic place.
No way was the ride in my backyard – literally miles from my house – the best road ride on this continent. That would violate the axiom that the grass is always greener in one’s neighbor’s yard, that the snow is a little softer in Utah, that the landscape is a little more exotic around the Tetons.
Plus, what I knew about road cycling at the time would have fit in a gnat’s navel. The first time I drove a car over the monument, I actually thought that only top riders – those delusional flat-bellies with funny hats – could complete it.
So, having ridden it a bunch of times now, I am ready to declare that the ride over Colorado National Monument is the best ride in North America. Even for a not-so-flat-belly.
And if it isn’t the best ride, it should be. More on that in a moment.
Here is what makes the monument such a great ride: It never stops offering you something new.
The first time I road a bicycle over the monument, it was akin to a religious experience. The pre-ride jitters gave way to genuine fatigue about 3 minutes into it. This is a steep, unforgiving ride. But as I grinded away (trying not to resort to the “paperboy method” of riding from one side of the pavement to the other in order to ascend a hill), I found that I was making progress.
Before long, I was four or five switchbacks up and feeling genuinely accomplished, even daring to peek over the edge way down at where I started.
Passing through the east side tunnel on a bicycle the first time was – and continues to be – genuinely discombobulating. When you enter feeling closer to passing out from exhaustion than not, the transition from bright sunshine to a dark, echo-filled tunnel is just disorienting. Throw in the thunder of a couple of Harley-Davidsons that invariably seem to find me in the tunnel, and you’ve got the ingredients for a pull-over-and-puke cocktail.
But once out of the tunnel, it wasn’t but a few more switchbacks before I was on top, feeling pretty darn big-time. It’s on top when you can really drink in the amazing views of the valley and the Grand Mesa – all tasting sweeter for having earned the view.
The ride to Cold Shivers Point is iconic. The first trip up is gripping for the foregoing reasons and so many more, but each time thereafter, the experience changes. As I ride it now, I force myself to take in the jaw-dropping views – something I was not capable of doing the first ride.
And before long, it becomes irresistible not to time yourself to the top, which makes for a competitive and altogether different experience. I have done this three or four times, each time swearing to myself at the top that I am going to stop over-consuming and lose 10 pounds.
Still hasn’t happened.
The ride on top also offers some wonderfulness. First, it’s usually about 10 degrees cooler up there compared to the valley. Second, the lack of car traffic is significant. Even on bustling weekends, Rim Rock Drive is almost devoid on cars compared to roadways in town. Finally, the National Park Service has sealed the asphalt with some kind of smooth-riding slurry that makes bicycling over it cool jazz.
Throw in that the path winds adjacent to perhaps the most breathtakingly beautiful hanging canyons in the world, and you have a heckuva ride.
Finally, the descent. This portion of the ride also seems to change with each experience. The first time I came down the monument was sheer terror. Each turn seemed specially designed to result in my demise in horrifically spectacular fashion. I think my brakes were smoking by the time I got to the ranger station.
Today, I still don’t reach speeds around turns much faster than I’m willing to crash. I am getting more comfortable laying the bike down and taking just a little more speed into each bend, but I’m quite a ways away from passing cars whilst fiddling with my water bottles, as I have observed some more seasoned riders do. (Author’s note: Don’t ever do that. Always follow NPS regulations.)
In the end, the evolving ride over Colorado National Monument reminds me of an argument between my kids I overheard last year about who of the two of them was more magical.
I don’t know if it was my first experience over the monument or last weekend’s experience over the monument, but magic abounds up there.
And for that reason, it has to be the best ride in North America.
Janet Ross, an outdoor educator, had a dream 28 years ago to share the natural wonders of the Colorado Plateau.
She founded Four Corners School of Outdoor Education. Based in Monticello, Utah, her mission was to “create lifelong learning experiences about the Colorado Plateau bioregion (Southern Utah, Southwest Colorado, Northwest New Mexico and Northern Arizona) for people of all ages and backgrounds through education, service, adventure and conservation programs.”
The numbers tell the story of success. Since 1984, Four Corners School has provided place-based education programs for more than 82,460 participants ranging in age from 6 to 90. It has provided more than 60,600 hours of youth and adult service on public lands, 709,000 hours of student outdoor education, 266,000 hours of adult outdoor education and 104,800 hours of teacher training in outdoor education. The school has awarded 200 teacher scholarships for its outdoor programs, repaired or rehabilitated hundreds of miles of roads, springs, and trails and worked to protect more than 28 archaeological sites on public lands.
Sitting in the meeting room of the modest Four Corners office in Monticello (right next door to the golf course clubhouse), Ross outlined an even more ambitious agenda for the future.
On tap is the new Canyon Country Discover Center (CCDC) in Monticello, which will be the new campus of Four Corners School. The CCDC will be on 48 acres just north of town and will include a new 21,000-square-foot educational facility and a spectacular outdoor classroom that already contains a yurt and a roll-off roof observatory with a 14-inch telescope to view the regions famously dark night skies. To be completed this year on the site is a perimeter hiking and cross country skiing trail and picnic areas.
The CCDC was first conceived in 2002 by members of the Monticello Economic Development Committee as a way to create new educational opportunities for the area’s students, teachers and families. To date, said Ross, about half of the $8.5 million needed to build the facility has been raised.
Besides the Canyon Country Discovery Center, Four Corners School offers three basic programs, Ross said. The first is the Canyon Youth Corp, which is an employment, conservation education and leadership program primarily for Navajo youth ages 16–23. Six-member crew work for four to nine weeks in spring, summer and fall on conservation and maintenance project on the public lands of the Colorado Plateau. An educational component focuses on life skill, job skills and environmental education.
The Bioregional Outdoor Education Project is a teacher training program that offers interdisciplinary bioregional outdoor education programs working with between 12 and 20 K–8 schools at a time for two-year cycles. It creates resource centers in the schools and offers mentoring for teachers in each school. The program will reach all 426 K8 school in 96 school districts across the Colorado Plateau.
The Southwest Ed-Ventures program offers adventure travel and eco-tourism programs on and about the Colorado Plateau bio-region. These programs are led by well-known experts and are a collection of field seminars which include river rafting, hiking, backpacking, culture, service and archaeology, biology, geology and Native American culture studies. The trips are designed to educate participants about the natural and cultural treasures of the Colorado Plateau.
Donations and memberships continue to be a primary form of funding for the school. For more information of any of the programs or on becoming a member, see fourcornersschool.org.
Challenging is one way to describe the back nine at The Cedaredge Golf Club. If you bring your A game, it can be a lot of fun watching your tee shot soar in the air forever before landing in the fairway hundreds of feet below you.
If your game is going sideways, well, then you better make sure you pack a few extra golf balls.
The formerly-named Deer Creek Village golf course opened its front nine for play in 1992 in what was once an alfalfa field. It was donated to the City of Cedaredge for the sole purpose of building a public golf course. Four years later, the back nine opened on the southern slopes of Grand Mesa that overlook a wide swath of Delta County and the San Juan Mountains.
The course was designed by Byron Coker, who also designed the golf course at Divide Ranch near Ridgway (formerly know as Fairway Pines).
The course is 6,100 feet above sea level, so it stays relatively cool throughout the summer, even though it’s on the sunny side of Grand Mesa.
There is very little similarity to the two nine-hole layouts. It is reminiscent of the “Jekyll and Hide” nines found at the Rifle Creek Golf Course in Rifle, Colo.
To find elevation changes from tee to fairway similar to the 12th and 14th holes at Cedaredge, however, you will have to travel to Mesquite, Nevada and tee it up at Wolf Creek, Falcon Ridge or the Oasis Palmer course.
The short, par–3, 15th hole is so steep uphill you’ll have to select a club two clubs longer just to reach the green.
PGA Master Golf Professional Larry Murphy has helped to make Cedaredge a fun place to hang out. When I tried to call Larry initially, he was too busy to talk because he was winding up one of his 3-day Junior Golf Camps for many of the local “grandkids," complete with hula hoops and birdie balls. Larry makes up a 6-hole course on the driving range for the youngsters and tries to keep it fun as he passes on some of his 40 years of golf experience.
Larry was the one who initiated the name change for Cedaredge last year to help avoid confusion with Deer Creek Golf Club in Littleton, Colo., and to help people find the right locale. They had grown weary of answering the phone and telling lost golfers that they were 240 miles away.
Western Slope Players Club Certificate
Larry also came up with a marketing scheme to entice golfers to visit some of the premier Western Slope golf courses (including, of course, Cedaredge) that otherwise might not be overly busy. The Western Slope Player’s Club Certificate sells for only $75, but the owner then gets to play 10 different golf courses in Eastern Utah and Western Colorado for only $20 each – including a cart.
If you want to do some traveling and visit some beautiful courses without going broke, you need one of these certificates.
But you’ve got to jump on it early, because they currently only sell 100 of these things and they sell out each year, including this year.
You can buy the Players Club Certificate at any of the cooperating golf courses. Here is the list of courses:
Cedaredge Golf Club Battlement Mesa Golf Club Divide Ranch Golf Club (near Ridgway, CO) The Hideout Golf Club Moab Golf Club Rifle Creek Golf Club The Black Canyon Golf Club (Montrose, CO) Cobble Creek (Montrose, CO) Devil’s Thumb Golf Club (Delta, CO) Gypsum Creek Golf Course (Gypsum, CO)
The certificates are good any day of the week after 10.a.m. For more information about this program, call Larry Murphy at 970–856–7781.
I don’t normally think about ordering pizza after a round of golf, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot since our group stopped at the Wildfire Pizzeria and Wine Bar at the Cedaredge Golf Club.
This is where the reward part of your day comes in after facing the challenge of the back nine.
I have never met anyone more enthusiastic about pizza, cooking, ingredients and food history than Curt Smelser, the owner of Wildfire. He is so passionate about getting it right for his customers that he imported an entire wood-fired pizza oven from Italy that he fires with apple wood from nearby orchards. The temperature at the top of this triple-insulated brick oven reaches 1,200 degrees, while the flat surface stays more than 700 degrees.
Even though Smelser and his wife, co-owner Gayle Guadarrama, proclaim on their menu, “we don’t cut corners so your meal might take a little longer than at other restaurants,” with an oven that hot, the pizza is done in about 5 minutes.
And it is a great pizza. They make their own mozzarella at Wildfire, and they import the tomatoes from Italy to make their sauce. Curt also spent an inordinate amount of money purchasing a special dough mixer that gives his thin-crust pizza dough a nice, light texture that compliments some exotic sounding toppings.
We had the Italian Sausage and Mushrooms pizza on a recent Saturday afternoon and I was so impressed I went back on Sunday with my spouse and tried both the Calabrese and the Calabrian pizzas. If you like peppers that give you a nice even burn, try the Calabrian pepper sauce sprinkled on your pizza – but any more than a few drops might be too much heat!
Other pizzas include the Margherita (named for the former Queen of Italy and matching the colors of the Italian flag – green, white and red), a Potato and Egg pizza (complete with bacon), and the Capricciosa, which includes artichoke hearts and kalamata olives.
All in all, the reward part of this golf outing was much more than I deserved after taking on the Cedaredge challenge, but the combination of the two is a great reason to head up to Grand Mesa to spend some quality time.
A Grand Valley first: Kiss, Motley Crue to share stage during Rock Jam
By Nickel Features
While the waning days of summer may be lazy, a high-energy music scene in August underscores them.
Head to the Fruita Civic Center Park Aug. 2 to welcome Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen to Colorado. At 7:30 p.m. they’ll be playing bluegrass and newgrass, and probably a little blues, swing and jazz, as well. They spent July recording an album in Nashville. The album contains new accoustic, American original, bluesy and roots music.
That same evening Carrie Rodriguez appears at Paonia’s town park. The hills in and around Telluride will be alive with the sound of music, and so will outdoor stages, clubs and theaters during the Jazz Festival Aug. 3–5. Plan on catching a wide array of jazz styles performed by two-time Grammy award winner Roy Hargrove and other jazz greats. They include Victor Wooten, Roberta Gambarini, Nosotros and Soulive.
The Thomasina Brown Project plays at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3 at the Wine Country Inn. There’s a $5 cover charge.
Grab an ear of corn or two at the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival and lend an ear to Joe Diffie on Friday, Aug. 3 and Survivor the following night. Country western singer Diffie is best known for his ballads and novelty songs. His hits include “Third Rock from the Sun” and “Pickup Man.”
GJHS students and alumni will recognize Survivor as the band who gave the school its theme song, “Eye of the Tiger.” (It was, of course, first the theme song for Rocky III, starring Sly Stallone.)
Back in Fruita, on Aug. 4, Flat Top Reed performs at the Farmers Market.
Fruita keeps on rockin’ with Jimmy McNally and the Little Instigators (classic rock/blues) taking over the pavilion at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Civic Center Park.
If you’re in Paonia that evening, relax to the tunes of Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys in the town park.
The Wine Country Inn hosts the Texas Flood Band Friday, Aug. 3. Once again, $5 gets you in, and the show starts at 7 p.m.
The Hear It Through the Grapevine series concludes with Hazel Miller performing 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The concert benefits Mesa County Partners.
The Colorado Riverfront Series wraps up with the Emmitt-Nershi Band on Thursday, Aug. 16. Emitt and Nershi vow to keep music “human-scaled and honest,” as they draw from their years of playing with legendary jam bands such as Leftover Salmon and the String Cheese Incident.
A special form of bliss is watching the sun disappear behind Colorado National Monument while sipping fine wine and listening to the sounds of Influx. They’ll appear at 7 p.m. Aug. 21 at Two Rivers Winery. Get your tickets at the winery or at the Art Center at 7th and Orchard. They’ll also be available that evening at the winery. The concert starts at 7 p.m.
Kelly Aspen, specializing in New Country, appears at Fruita’s Pavilion Aug. 16. Her concert begins at 7:30 p.m.
That evening Paonia hosts Liza’s Gogo Lab in its town park.
Ric Gaines adds musical zest to the Fruita Farmers Market on Saturday, Aug. 18.
The Rockestra Concert V rocks out starting at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18 on the CMU Quad.
On Aug. 23 Darrell Scott brings his musical talents to Paonia’s town park, and the Tippetts play at the Fruita Farmers Market Aug. 25.
Grand Junction’s beloved Evening Under the Stars concert will also be held Aug. 25. Pack a picnic and enjoy the sounds of the Centennial Band and the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra and more.
Strap yourself in for Rock Jam, because this year offers two legends on the same stage: Kiss and Motley Crue. These two iconic acts haven’t shared the stage in 30 years. Both were among the leading hair bands of the 1980s. They’ll perform at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24. These powerhouses of rock will undoubtedly put on a spectacular stage show, with impressive lighting and sound production and sizzling pyrotechnics.
There’s plenty of action on Saturday, too. Slaughter plays at 1 p.m., followed by Jackyl at 2:15 p.m., followed by Black Stone Cherry at 3:45. The evening kicks off with Quiet Riot at 5:15 p.m. Theory of a Deadman plays at 7:30 p.m. and 3 Doors Down polishes off the evening at 10 p.m.
You have until Aug. 26 to enjoy the Vail Jazz Festival. Every Sunday from noon to 3 p.m., enjoy free live music from local jazz musicians at the Vail Farmers Market. The festival culminates Aug 30-Sept. 3 in a unique mix of world-class musicians in a one-of-a-kind format that has lived up to its title, the Labor Day Weekend Party.
A little closer to the Western Slope is the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival, running Aug. 31 through Sept. 2. This year, the four main acts set to appear are Kid Rock, Sugarland, Steve Miller Band and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Make the most of some sizzling summer days – and nights – and enjoy the hot music scene of August.
A most fascinating and beautiful place
One of the highlights of a two week trip to Alaska last year was a 3 day backpacking trip along the Crow Pass Trail. Historically, this use to be the Iditarod supply route and it still has many interesting signs about its heritage. This 22 mile trail follows Eagle River up to Crow Pass near the town of Girdwood. It was still early in the season and we didn’t have the proper gear for snow so we opted to start at the Eagle River Nature Center. However, traditionally this trail is done from the Girdwood side.
My cousin, Darren Kellerby, had moved to Alaska a few years before to teach. After countless invites I finally took him up on one and made the pilgrimage to the Northern Frontier. Every outdoorsman should do this. Alaska is hands down one of the most special places on Earth. Even this 6th generation Colorado kid, who thinks my state is best in the union spent Alaska really works on a separate level with its mountains, bays, glaciers, and wildlife. And then there is the vastness of space. One can honestly get lost up there. On this trip we would enjoy all of the above.
Preparing for the trip was nothing like I had done before. Bear and moose safety has to constantly be at the forefront of everything you do. Plus, this was my first time fording a river and, honestly, Alaska’s reputation for mosquitos had gotten the better of me. Luckily the mosquito’s were quite timid and easily forgotten about but was immediately replaced by fear of bears.
Before I left Colorado all I heard was, “You can’t go backpacking in Alaska. You’re gonna get eatin’ by a bear!” After four months of hearing different variations of this it grinds your nerves down. It isn’t the actual threat of a bear per say but the constant reminder that sabotages you confidence. I wasn’t worried about it at the time and why should I be, we have bears here. But every single person I told about the trip warning me about big, mean, nasty bears starts to get in one’s head.
Even the gear we brought reinforced this fear. Bear proof canisters, bear spray, and bear bells were things I don’t normally bring but obviously necessary for this trip. I also bought trekking poles because for the first time I was going to ford a river as well. Even though I had done backpacked countless times before, I couldn’t help feeling like a newbie once again.
The day came and we were off. In early June the Alaskan sun doesn’t set until after 10:00 pm. So even hitting the trail as late as we did on the first day we still had plenty of daylight so we decided to push as far as we could. From the Nature Center, there were plenty of signs about the history of the trail and a few cabins to rent. I doesn’t take long to get to Eagle River and from that point the Alaskan wilderness sets in.
On the first night we ran into an old beaver pond where a marmot was hanging out and then ran into a bull moose. It was my first moose not seen from the safety of a car and it was certainly different. They are massive creatures and more apt to cause trouble. For all my fears of bear on the trip, Darren told me that there are more accidents with moose charging. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, moose range from 800 to 1,600 pounds and can be more than 6 feet tall. When you’re watching them from 30 yards away the look twice that!
Camp the first night was again an education in bear safety. Darren explained the triangulation theory to me. Our food was 100 yards in one direction from camp and we cooked, cleaned and brushed our teeth (bears can smell toothpaste) 100 yards in the opposite direction.
After the sun FINALLY went down we jumped in our bags and got some rest. I found it difficult to sleep well. Besides the normal drop in temperature without the sun, every sound tapped into that bear fear. Plus the sun comes up a few hours later so you only get 4 or so hours of darkness. All of these were factors that I had not counted on planning the trip.
The next morning I awoke to the beauty of Crow Pass. This will cure just about the poorest night of sleep and although I didn’t sleep sound I did rest well. After some pancakes I was ready to see how close to Crow Pass we could get. Plus, I felt better after surviving one night in the Alaskan wilderness.
We through our packs on and headed out. The major event for the day was fording Eagle River. Darren had heard there was a place to ford it but even with his keen navigation skills couldn’t find it. I wouldn’t call it lost. We never left the valley in which we were hiking up, but trail was definitely someplace else and we were not on it.
Giving up on finding the correct spot we chose one where the river was only about knee deep. The major concern here was hypothermia. Eagle River is created from glaciers so the water is only a couple of degrees above freezing. It was shallow enough where we could cross on rocks until I misstepped and ended up thigh deep. This was another exhilarating Alaskan experience. It felt like I jumped up and ran across the top after that but I was almost to the bank and soon was safely dry.
We gathered water and headed up for the pass. This was our last chance until we crossed another stream several miles up valley. It was this point in which I missed sleep most. We wanted to get back on the trail. After hiking downstream for a stretch we saw it. It was directly above us on top of the ridge. It was either doubleback a couple miles and lose some precious time or head straight up the mountainside.
I’ve bushwacked before, but this was insane. I could hear Darren talk, hear his bear bell, but not see him. Eventually the brush would clear out and I knew he was never more than 10 yards or so ahead but it was so thick that his bright blue jacket would disappear completely. At times you had to crawl on all fours, fully packed, to get through the brush. The limited line of sight also made my bear paranoia a little more intense. Making noise in these situations are key. besides the bells Darren and I made sure to talk often. Mostly it was me asking him if he knew where he was or what it felt like to be lost. I found more humor in these comments than he did.
We finally made it to the top. It was probably only a half mile or so but it had drained us completely. The sun was out and it was unusually hot. Our packs were getting heavy and the chit chat that accompanied the first part of the trip disappeared. It became a march to the stream for water and a much needed meal.
Then in the exhaustion it happened. We entered a meadow and my cousin stopped in his tracks. “Oh No! Bear!” Sure enough just over a little rise I could see the enormous shoulders of a black bear. After a few more steps I could see that the bear wasn’t alone. She had her cub with her. I’ll admit that I thought I had bought the farm. These bears weren’t more than 20 or 30 yards away and the mom was very curious as to what we were doing so close. My cousin remained calm and told me to follow him but I wasn’t going anywhere until I had unclipped my bear spray from my pack. In the fuss of trying to get the carabiner open and the safety off I discharged some. Luckily it was in a safe direction but as I creeped into the meadow, the bears slowly turned away and headed up the hill. That was it. The huge bear attack that everyone had warned me about was over.
We got to the stream and had some lunch. The water and the shade were a welcome oasis after a long morning. We could see Crow Pass enough to realize that we needed to turn back. Avalanches were a concern and the 2,000 feet of vertical elevation seemed like to much after the 17 miles we already put in.
Now that we were on the trail again, Darren wanted to find the actual fording place on Eagle River. Another advantage to long Alaska days is you can do two long stretches in the same day with a healthy break in between. When we got to it we realized we didn’t go upstream far enough.
At this point the river was barely ankle deep. However, it was a lot farther across. It was certainly safer because the currents didn’t exist but your feet went numb a third of the way thru. The trekking poles were extremely helpful in keeping your balance.
We settled in for the night and sleep was not a problem. Seeing a bear and it’s nonchalance helped set the fear at ease. Their primary motive is food. Be smart about how you handle that and your chances increase.
Hiking out there was one more critter to be seen. Stopping for water at a stream and taking a rest we spotted Dall sheep just down stream. Seldomly do they come down from their ledges on the cliffs so we were fortunate to see it up close. As soon as it saw us it sprinted up the cliff wall. What would take us a half day to climb it did in a matter of minutes. We set there at the bank and watched it climb while we ate our last snack and hydrated. When we were ready it was back to the Nature Center.
The Crow Pass trail was one of the most beautiful places this Colorado kid has ever been. I’m not sure everyone will be fortunate to interact with so much wildlife as we did, but it wouldn’t surprise me. The wild up there is truly wild. With even a half knowledgeable guide and safety concern you can enjoy the wilderness as much as the bears do.
The tiny villages of Cliff Dwellers, Vermillion Cliffs and Marble Canyon are not exactly household names once beyond Page, Ariz., which happens to be the nearest town of any size to these three tiny specks of humanity in the desert.
Marble Canyon, the actual canyon, is fairly well-known in the wonderful world of western whitewater rafting, but the community is far lesser known, other than being the nearest restaurant and store to Lee’s Ferry and the put-in for a trip down the Grand Canyon
Save one tiny ranch, these three almost-villages are quite literally the only dots of civilization between Page, Ariz., and the highway junction of Jacob Lake, Ariz. That’s a good 80 miles by road. There are no occupied places on the Paria Plateau proper, and only these three dots along the eastern foot of that roughly 20-mile-by–20-mile hunk of real estate. All three hamlets offer rooms, food in some form and camping supplies. Marble Canyon has a post office. Combined, they sport a resident population of well below 50 people.
The Village of Marble Canyon appears on Route 89A near the famed Navajo Bridge over Marble Canyon and the Colorado River. Vermillion Cliffs is another 4 miles down the highway, and Cliff Dwellers about the same distance yet again. There’s no guarantee it’s still true, but the last three times I was in Cliff Dwellers, the cafe was serving exceptional food at very fair prices.
The specific draw here for photographers and lovers of western lore, however, is immediately north of the cafe and motel. It is the structures for which the place is misnamed. These building are free-standing, not in a cliff-side concavity, as one might rightly expect from the name. And they are not pre-Columbian – turn of the 20th Century, at best. But they are very, very photogenic, especially at sunrise with the stunning Vermillion Cliffs as a backdrop.
The structures are fashioned completely of native rock gathered from the slowly-eroding Vermillion Cliffs. The site was actually a stage coach stop about 100 years ago, and must have left something to be desired for the weary travelers who might well have anticipated something a bit more spacious after a tiring, bumpy journey. One of the more bizarre rock formation at Cliff Dwellers is a dead ringer for a giant ice cream cone stuck in the ground.
Wire Pass Road follows the western border of the Paria Plateau. This north-south and well maintained dirt road connects Route 89A (west of the three villages) with Route 89. The junction is approximately halfway between Page, Ariz., and Kanab, Utah. Wire Pass Road is the passage to North and South Coyote Buttes, a pair of spectacular red rock formations that have become one of the more photographed places in the Great Southwest. The North Butte includes the now well-known Wave, a stunning piece of nature’s handiwork.
Visits to this pair of sights is by permit only. Check online or at the Paria Visitor Center a few miles east of the junction of Route 89 and Wire Pass.
Just north of the village of Marble Canyon is a paved road to Lee’s Ferry, a National Historic Site and official put-in for folks lucky enough to be rafting the Grand Canyon. On the way to Lee’s Ferry is a significant collection of balanced rocks in a fairly confined area. They are great fun with a camera.
A few short canyons have formed on the plateau’s east and south side. Of those, I’d call Corral Canyon the best.
At the northeast tip of the Paria Plateau is the Carl Hayden Visitor Center and the Glen Canyon Dam. Both are well worth the visit should major works of man be of interest.
Keep an eye in the sky. This is the very special area in which the California condors were reintroduced some years ago. They’re the birds with a nine-foot wingspan. Now there’s a sight! They commonly are seen near Navajo Bridge near Marble Canyon.
Despite the scarcity of people, when visiting this area you will find a meal and a fine night’s rest. Be ready for sunrise,. If the eastern sky is clear, you will not regret it.
All of these attractions border the Paria Plateau. The plateau itself is accessed by a a bunch of mostly dead-end and not well maintained dirt, rock and sand roads off of Wire Pass Road. High clearance vehicles are necessary on many of them as they lead to place like Poverty Flat, Red Pocket and Big Ridge. It is a land where human safety cannot be treated lightly.
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