Dear Colorado Central reader, I made it. I completed my 2,000-mile kayak journey to rediscover the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers; a repeat (in part) of the trip I did 42 years ago. It was a challenging, energizing and rewarding adventure.
When last we visited, I was departing Webber Falls, Oklahoma, heading for the Kerr Reservoir, a long and strenuous paddle across one of the largest reservoirs I’ve encountered. At the end, I connected with two friends from Kansas and Colorado who assisted me getting to Fort Smith, where I joined other friends with an 18-foot bass boat and a 70 horsepower motor that towed me across much of Arkansas and through many of the 18 locks and dams on the McCLellan/Kerr Navigation System. This was a true blessing and a similar experience to one I had in 1976, when I served as a volunteer deckhand on the towboat “Bill Kadd,” roping barges through the entire length of the navigation system.
Being on the crowded and overloaded bass boat posed different challenges; dodging the wakes of barges, now more prevalent than before, avoiding lightning-laden thunderstorms, and managing fuel through the 300 miles of flat water with virtually no marinas. This part of the journey slices through Arkansas where the terrain changes measurably from flat and heavily wooded areas in the west, to high bluffs and unexpected rises in elevation in mid-state, to farm fields and wide expansive reservoirs with alligators and other unfamiliar wildlife. In one case, my friends and I were sealed in one of the locks in the lower part of the Arkansas River with what we thought was a large log, only to find out it was a ten-foot alligator. It is one thing to be in the wild with such a creature where both parties can find a way to escape, but quite another to be confined in a concrete and steel bathtub with the water draining out. Read more
Due to drought and potential fire hazards, Salida celebrated the 4th of July twice this year, in July and August, and the August fireworks were dazzling. But something is missing in modern holiday celebrations. That’s certainly not due to any lack of attractions, music and activities – at least not in Salida. Therefore we can’t blame our mayor, city government or political opponents.
Today, pretty much everyone seems to agree on one thing: Something is wrong with American politics. Citizens even tend to agree on what’s wrong: the opposition. But maybe we would do better to think about what’s missing instead of what’s wrong.
Take those modern holidays, for example. Be it Independence Day, Labor Day or Memorial Day, the celebrations are entertaining, but minimize the day’s original significance. There’s nothing wrong with revelry, but in our public lives, we Americans seem to lack sincerity, solemnity, sentiment, direction, connection and any real sense of common cause, meaning and purpose. As a people we’re low on empathy, understanding and trust (to the point that we’re suspicious of everything from governments to the safety of foods, drugs, merchandise and other people’s motives (with good reason). Read more
For over 40 years, the Narrow Gauge Newsstand was a staple of the Alamosa community. A large selection of magazines lined the back walls of the store, and the smell of fresh popcorn reached down the block. For college students and community members, a visit to browse the vast inventory was a must to gain a full Alamosa experience.
In March 2018, a devastated community learned that the newsstand would be permanently closing its doors. “It sent a ripple of sadness through the community. There was a lot of conversation about how disappointing it was that the bookstore in the San Luis Valley was closing down,” said Narrow Gauge Book Co-op manager Marlena Antonucci. The void would be short-lived, however, as one of the most unique and inspiring attributes of the San Luis Valley – the spirit of volunteerism, made literacy advocates begin a plan to re-open a bookstore in the space with a renewed focus and idea.
Experienced community organizers such as Julie Mordecai came up with a plan to make a book cooperative, which would sell new and used books, local foods and goods, and host literacy-related events in the historic brick building on the corner of Main Street and State Avenue.
A new concept of ownership was also developed. “We started having meetings at Milagro’s (a popular local coffee shop). Every meeting there would be about 50 people and even more sending in email comments. We started brainstorming what we could do because there wasn’t one person who could step forward and put up the financial backing to open a bookstore. We came up with the idea of a cooperative model … We chose to guarantee this business would be a success by starting out as a volunteer run cooperative,” said Antonucci. Read more