Author Archives: Craig

Managing Impulses »

Posted on December 22, 2010

In this brief clip, my friend Nathaniel talks about the role of consistency in his own life and the life of his son.  In a culture where immediate gratification is glorified, it takes lots of consistent structure to reign in those impulses. 

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March: Colorado Place of the Month »

Posted on February 28, 2013

Hooper, CO:

By no means is Hooper, CO a large ‘happening’ town, but it is quite unique. Home to about 120 people and only .2 square miles in area, Hooper is not much more than a few houses on the side of Colorado Highway 17. Its location is what makes it appealing. State Highway 17 is a common route through the San Luis Valley and if you too happen to be driving by, take an afternoon to stop and poke around. Hooper has a quaint town park that is perfect for a picnic lunch while looking at either the San Juan Mountain Range or the Sangre De Cristo range.

After lunch, give the UFO Watchtower a try. A quirky attraction at that, the UFO watchtower is a museum of sorts that lends information on UFOs. The owner, Judy, Messoline, has taken her passion for the extraterrestrial and put it to good use, building the first UFO Watchtower in the heart of the San Luis Valley where there is no light pollution, and alien encounters may be more likely. The destination makes for a great family photo shoot and a fun memory. For more information:

In for another surprising adventure? Try Colorado Gators Reptile Park. Yes, that is correct; there are alligators in the heart of Colorado! Erwin Young, owner, has grown his attraction over the years into a first rate point of interest. Along with the over 300 alligators, reptiles and fish galore are on display including the Rocky Mountain White Tilapia. Get a gator tooth as a souvenir or snap a picture with a slightly less harmful baby; the memory will last a lifetime, especially if you never believed there was such a thing as a gator hole in Colorado. Visit Colorado Gators Reptile Park’s website at

On a more outdoorsy note, the Great Sand Dunes National Park is less than an hour dive away. One of Colorado’s hidden gems, the park offers camping, tours, and sand castle building! Get additional information from the park service:

Photo courtesy of

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April: Colorado Place of the Month »

Posted on March 31, 2013

Creede, CO:

Creed, CO is a small town, one of the smallest in the state, that lies in the heart of the San Juan Mountains. It is literally sandwiched in a dead-end canyon. Spend the night at #1 Old Firehouse Bed & Breakfast and Restaurant one night and catch a ride on the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad the next day. The town lies almost on top of the Rio Grande River, so if the season is right rafting and fishing are also options. Info at:, and

For the 4-wheelers of the bunch, this is a prime destination. Forest roads wind off in all directions and offer plenty of adventure and surprise. The Bachelor’s Loop is a popular sightseeing drive for mine enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Right outside of town, the access is easy, but the path is more difficult often requiring a strong 4×4 vehicle capable of handling steep slopes and rough terrain. For directions:

Creede is the only municipality in the aptly named mineral county. The geology of the area is nothing short of spectacular; fragile capstones, needles and spires cover the landscape. Rockhounding is a hobby from the past, but is still well alive in Creede. Bring a sledge hammer to the Wheeler Geologic Area to search for  some pale Colorado amethyst. The Wolf Creek ski area offers some stunning powder as well. Historically one of the hardest hit ski areas (with snow that is), wolf creek is the place to go for fresh powder and great views.

For more information on activities check out the chamber of commerce web site:, or Wolf Creek Ski area’s site:

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June: Colorado Place of the Month »

Posted on May 31, 2013

Gothic, CO:

Like many early mining settlements in Colorado, the town of Gothic is nothing more than a few cabins, a research laboratory, and a local convenience store anymore. The ghost town is full of history though, and not to be overlooked. It is nestled near the base of Mt. Crested Butte and just a few miles out of the town of Crested Butte, a quaint Colorado mountain retreat for the locals only. Its positioning in the heart of the mountains gives views of many peaks including the Maroon Bells and Capital and Conundrum peaks.

The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory currently calls Gothic its home and engages scientists and students in researching rare alpine species. Its location at nearly 10,000’ above sea level makes it a unique location for biodiversity.

Off-roading is highly popular in the area given the close proximity to Pearl and Schofield passes and many other 4×4 roads. The views are absolutely unbeatable and the valley facilitates many other activities. Fly fishing in the pristine streams or in the nearby Taylor River is not only popular but very profitable. A number of private ranches also offer horseback rides that get off the beaten path and take you into the forest and separate the cowboys and cowgirls from the city slickers. Fantasy Ranch Outfitters provides a great experience for a fair price. Their guides are friendly and engaging and their horses are well taken care of. For more information, visit their site at

Just outside of Gothic is the ghost town of Crystal. While the town is a unique site, it is famous for one of Colorado’s most photographed locations: Crystal Mill. Anyone that is willing to hike a short distance can experience this historic site for themselves.

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July: Colorado Place of the Month »

Posted on June 30, 2013

Paonia, CO:

Located in Western Colorado’s West Elk Mountains, Paonia is your typical small town America. It is a friendly and beautiful place that is great for living and vacationing. Founded in the 1800s, Paonia is a farming town dedicated to organics and coal mining. The art scene is picking up to include many alternative professions and forms of entertainment. The city also has a substantial residency of developers of alternative energy; fitting for the Colorado Rocky Mountains.


Paonia is set beneath the 11,400 foot Mount Lamborn, a spectacular scene at all times of the year and a great outlet for outdoor activities. The town also nearly borders the West Elk Wilderness area, which offers amazing hiking, biking and horseback riding as well as camping and backpacking. Permits are required and the area is subject to special regulations, so check with the forest service before your trip. On the other side of Paonia are the sprawling and stunning cherry orchards, vineyards, wineries, cattle ranches and other fruit farms. These offer a great chance for tourism and visitation (plus free samples). The local products are excellent and are worth the trip.

Access to Paonia is easiest from Grand Junction, CO or Glenwood Springs, CO. From each city the drive is between one and a half to two hours through beautiful country. Denver is a longer drive at about four hours. The town is also home to a handful of restaurants, a movie theater, an airport and a town park with a gazebo stage that serves as a beautiful venue for festivals and weddings.

The town is known for its annual Cherry Days festival in celebration of the local orchards. For information on the get together, visit the Paonia chamber of commerce.

Another great attraction is the nearby Paonia State Park which attracts nature photographers from around the country to shoot beautiful wildflowers. The aspen forests and wildlife don’t hurt either. The park’s crystalline reservoir is another great escape for fisherman and canoers alike. Camping is available in the park as well as a multitude of hiking and biking trails.

When visiting, Staying at the Bross Hotel bed and breakfast is a must. It opened in 1906 and retains much of the original elegance and culture as it was built with. The hotel provides ten guest rooms each with private baths and beautiful views. Outside of the building are perennial gardens and a deck with a hot tub, perfect for relaxing on any day! The hotel is only one block from the downtown area and is just another addition to make your trip to Paonia that much better. For more information and to make reservations, visit their website:

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Hunting and Hearing Protection: Starting Early »

Posted on January 9, 2013 viewer John O’Connor writes in on the importance of using hearing protection when hunting and shooting.

Begin Hearing Protection at an Early Age

Hunting has been a popular pastime for many years in the United States.  From the early ages when hunting was used mainly as a source of food to now although still used for food, hunting as a popular hobby and sport for families to engage in together as well.  Regardless of your reasoning for hunting, it is vital that while out in the field or at the range you and your family are equipped with proper hearing protection at all times.

As a child I remember helping my father gather together all of his gear the night before a hunt.  We would sort everything out, make sure he had it all, and pack it into his truck.  I would always ask him a ton of questions, about the guns he used, the animals he would be hunting for and which of his friends would be accompanying him this trip.  We would discuss stuff like this for hours, but as I look back to our times spent together talking about hunting I rarely remember having any conversations about the importance of wearing hearing protection while hunting.  From the first time my father shot a gun to the last time I helped him pack up his truck I never saw him with hearing protection.


As an avid hunter my father spent much of his free time either out in the woods or at home teaching me the ropes of hunting so one day I would be able to go out on my own and eventually teach my kids the ins and outs of the great outdoors.  Although a very experienced marksman my father often times when out in the field did not pay much attention to his hearing protection.  Even though he knew what a blast from a firearm could do to a person’s hearing he would often argue that he could not feel any signs of hearing loss so why should he have to protect against something he doesn’t even have.  Little did he know that every time he fired his gun without protection on he was further damaging his hearing levels.  Even though my father never wore hearing protection he always made sure that myself and the rest of my family had a pair of earmuffs on at all times.  He did not follow these guidelines in regards to hearing protection but he wanted to make sure his children were properly educated on this issue to ensure that we were always protected and to make sure that as we grew older and continued on with the family tradition of hunting that we were teaching our children the right thing to do as well.


My father is now in his late 70’s and is severely affected by hearing loss.  Although hunting is not the only cause of his decreased levels of hearing his doctor has said that it did play a major role in damaging his eardrums.  My father wears hearing aids in order to amplify the sounds around him so he is able to hear well.  Looking back on his hunting days, although he is sometimes upset that he chose to not wear hearing protection he is glad that he always made sure his children were protected at all times and that he instilled the proper hunting guidelines so that we could continue on teaching others the proper ways to hunt in the future.


Many people today realize what hunting can do to a person’s hearing but still choose not to protect themselves.  Researchers have found that being exposed to sounds over 80 dB for long periods of time can cause permanent hearing damage.  A shotgun can produce sounds upwards of 140 dB; almost double the advised level of noises that a person can be exposed to unprotected.  Although hearing loss can happen gradually over time, exposure to sounds at 140 dB just once can cause hearing damage.  That is why it is important for everyone, adults and children to always be protected when around guns.  It does not matter if you are shooting in the woods, practicing at the range or watching someone shoot, everyone must be protected at all times.


Just like anything else it is important to start things at a young age.  That is why it is important to have your children wear hearing protection when they are young so they feel comfortable doing so and so they can learn the reasoning behind why they should always be protected when around gunfire.  Even though my father did not wear hearing protection, it is important as adults for us to lead by example in regards to wearing hearing protection.


In order to ensure safety for all when hunting there are a few different options that you can choose from when looking into hearing protection.  The first line of hearing protection that people often look towards is a pair of earplugs.  Earplugs although they protect against hearing loss are not always the most effective form of hearing protection that should be worn when hunting.  In order to ensure maximum safety when out in the field the best option to look at would be electronic earmuffs.  Often a complaint by hunters is that when they wear hearing protection they are not able to hear other hunters in their group or game that may be approaching in the area.  Electronic earmuffs allow hunters to hear noises that are under 80 dB while blocking out any sounds that exceed this level.  This enables hunters to hear game and others while providing maximum protection at all times.


Whether you are just starting to hunt, teaching your children to hunt or have been hunting for years it is still extremely important to make sure everyone involved is fully protected at all times.  Hearing loss is not geared to one age group; children and adults can both be affected equally especially when around gunfire.  To ensure healthy hearing healthy for you and your children in the future take the proper precautionary steps in protecting your hearing today!


Hi my name is John O’Connor, I am a father, outdoorsman and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Over the past few years I have become more and more interested in hearing loss.  My father and grandfathers, who are and were all hunters, are affected by hearing loss.  I feel that there is a general lack of understanding around the issue and it is our job to spread awareness where we can.  Check out my new blog at!

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A College Visit Turned Adventure »

Posted on October 29, 2012

It was parent’s weekend for my freshmen year of college and my dad came all the way from Colorado to visit me in Oregon. Instead of engaging in the customary parent weekend activities at the college we ditched the crowd and went off on our own adventure, a hike in the Mt. Hood National Forest. I had been deeply missing many things in Colorado including the Rocky Mountains and was in need of some time in nature.

We set off on a hike near Mt. Hood and visited Tamanawas Falls. The view of the waterfall was spectacular and the trail winded through a lush forest with trees changing their color for fall. We also visited the historic Timberline Lodge and got to experience a Pacific Northwest blizzard!

After not having seen my father for nearly two and a half months, I could not have imagined a better way of spending the weekend than on a scenic Saturday hike. We talked about college and my new adult life and the resulting trials and triumphs I had experienced over the past months. It had seemed that almost everything in my life had changed. Our hike in the Mt. Hood National Forest reminded me one thing that hadn’t changed: I am a Colorado girl who is in love with the truth and beauty of nature.

I just needed my dad to remind me of that.

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Crashing Down a Mountain »

Posted on October 3, 2012

Fifteen years ago, there were only a few Alpine Slides in Colorado; today they are an international sensation. What is an alpine slide? Picture this: a three foot diameter PVC pipe split in half that snakes its way down a mountainside. You drive a sort of snow sled on wheels down the track with a handle to brake and gravity to accelerate. An alpine slide is the summer version of a luge. With average speeds of 20 miles per hour, the half mile track provides a great ride that is far from quick.

While alpine slides have exploded in popularity and locations, our favorite is the one where I first experienced the thrill, located in the beautiful mountain town of Breckenridge, Colorado. Breckenridge Mountain, a member of Vali Resorts, is home to a summer fun park at the base of its Peak 8 were there are many summertime activities including the Alpine SuperSlide, mini golf, and rock climbing. This is a great location for a one day getaway or a mid-summer vacation. They have three tracks which run side by side. One is for those who want to go slower, and the other two offer the opportunity to go faster as well as race your kid. (Dads with younger kids can place a child in between your legs to experience the thrill together.) While somewhat expensive, one or two rides usually pack more than enough excitement for most patrons, and leave you wanting to come back for more.

In this clip, you’ll see some GoPro action shots as well as see Alex take a page from his Dad’s playbook. Ten years ago, I flipped my cart in a turn as I was trying to beat my brother. This time, it was Alex who took the flip while we were racing each other. Make sure to watch the camera picture turn upside down as he flies through the air. Paralleling my experience ten years ago, we had to visit the medical center to remove the chards of fiberglass in his wound. That part’s not much fun but gives you even more to reminisce about with this adventure. Unfortunately for Alex, he will have to wait until next year to beat his Dad down the mountain!

To experience an alpine slide yourself check out the Breck Summer Fun Park at

Breckenridge not in your area? Here’s a list of alpine slides in other states and even other countries!

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Our Top Three Gadgets »

Posted on September 25, 2010

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February: Colorado Place of the Month »

Posted on January 31, 2013

St. Elmo, CO:

Founded in 1880, St. Elmo, CO is no longer an official municipality of the state but rather a so-called “ghost town;” in 1922 when the narrow-gauge rail road stopped running and the gold and silver ran out, the population of St. Elmo seemingly disappeared over night. The town was initially founded during the heat of the Colorado gold and silver rush. The surrounding hills are home to nearly 150 mining claims including the famous Iron Chest mine.

St. Elmo is a wonderful winter destination for snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and snow showing, as well as some beautiful photography. Three hours from Denver and four and a half from Grand Junction, St. Elmo is located in the center of Colorado in Chaffee County. The town is only a few miles west of the Arkansas valley and settled at the base of Mt. Antero, Colorado’s richest aquamarine deposit.

Cabin rentals are available in St. Elmo; for more information visit ATV rentals are also available, but only in the summer months. From the ghost town, one can travel to Tin cup pass, the mining towns of the past Hancock and Pomeroy, visit the historic Alpine Tunnel, or simply enjoy St. Elmo itself. Camping is available in the area, as well as is lodging in nearby Buena Vista or Salida.

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