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Allenspark Meadow Mountain Cafe and The Wild Turkeys at Rocky Mountain National Park

August 22, 2016
Meadow Mountain Cafe, Allenspark, Colorado

Meadow Mountain Cafe, Allenspark, Colorado

It was just this past Saturday, August 19.

I dropped Nancy off at her all-day recorder workshop at the Allenspark art gallery right on Highway 7, 16 miles or so south of Estes Park and headed directly to the Meadow Mountain Cafe in town. At 9 am the place was packed but someone sitting by himself let me join him at his table. The redness in his face suggested a lifetime of booze, although he appeared sober; no breath wreaking of alcohol to ruin breakfast; mercifully he permitted me to sit at his table as long as we didn’t have to talk, which suited me fine. After a short time, he got up to leave..and kept getting up and up and up. Sitting I hadn’t noticed his 6’7″ towering figure.

Our agreed nonverbal table sharing didn’t prevent him from sharing his thoughts with others in this pleasant but somewhat cramped space that made up the interior of the restaurant. There was also a lovely patio, but it was too chilly out to enjoy it. From his conversation with the other clientele, my table mate, a Colorado Paul Bunyan, appeared to be something of a local, the “locals’ in Allenspark being mostly prosperous people from Texas and Oklahoma who have purchased mountain homes that for the most part, they visit for a few weeks in the summer. At least that is what the supersized SUVs and Hummers sitting outside the restaurant suggested.

The conversation flitted from one subject to another. It began interestingly enough.

The “locals” talked about a man who had ridden his Harley Davidson motor cycle over a cliff  to his death on Highway 7 – “the Peak-To-Peak” Highway’  this past winter. An autopsy suggested he had a heart attack prior to taking the great plunge. He was someone who was something of a local hero,  having helped people survive the 2013 major flood that washed away a good part of downtown Lyons. After they described where he lived down the canyon a ways, it struck me that I had met him two years ago at the Meeker Lodge; we had had a long talk about the flood’s aftermath, the scars of which pock the mountains three years on and how he had helped save several of his neighbors properties, and probably their lives. He left his wife with a mortgage she couldn’t afford paying and she had to sell the place.

There was a lot of cheap talk about “well he died doing what he loved” (ie riding his bike) as if that was some kind of consolation, the kind of shallow, meaningless talk of people trying to rationalize, or justify a tragic loss of some decent human being who had died. The other “not-so-locals” agreed. I just felt bad for the guy, one of the few people in these mountains who grew up here and knew the mountains as well as anyone and was not a Texas or Oklahoma oilfield transplant . I’d talked to him about mushrooming and remembered he knew what he was talking about.

The subject matter deteriorated from the deceased mountain man who had ended life on his Harley to the brain-dead, but otherwise very much alive, Republican candidate for the presidency, Donald Trump. They started talking politics, that is, if you can dignify the garbage emanating from  Trump’s mouth as political. No question though, Trump had won the hearts of the summer-time-only-locals at the Meadow Mountain Cafe.

These were true red, white and blue “Trumpeteers,” not the so-called angry white working class Mexican-immigrant hating variety, but the more prosperous, Christian fundamentalist Hummer-driving oil and gas industry  Mexican immigrant hating types. They were far more politically stupid and openly bigoted than the ranchers and farmers in Nebraska and Kansas I had spoken to a month back, inquiring why they liked Trump.

For the latter support for Trump was mostly about opposition to the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal) combined with a healthy dose of cynicism about Hillary Clinton’s connection to high finance, ie, these were actual political discussions about issues. The content of Trump’s Allenspark contingent had a different tone however. They  went on about Trumps’ “moral courage,” how “he’s only saying out loud what everyone thinks privately.” “Everyone” gets conflated here with what they think privately, a much smaller circle of those whose minds are politically and socially pickled by Fox News and the like.

The discussion morphed from how Americans fail to appreciate – or acknowledge Donald Trump’s finer qualities – to the source of the “misinformation” concerning the Trump candidacy. The Trumpeteers went on to pinpoint the source of the national anti-Trump brainwashing: liberal arts college education and all those liberal professors who are polluting the minds of young students, undoing in part or in whole, all that those young minds had learned in church and home about Christian America. Besides poisoning the minds of the young with claptrap about democracy, racial equality, and the cruelty of America’s foreign wars, what is a college education “worth” these days, they wondered? Not much, they concluded. An argument to shut down higher education in America?

Trying to show at least a minimum of moral courage in face of this casual ideological onslaught, I refused to hide the book I was reading, the title of which belies the searing content about modern warfare (Michael Burleigh’s Moral Combat) on my lap.

I should add here, that the food is fine, and if one needs a little patience because in the end it is a small, understaffed operation, the meal is worth the waiting – the conversation aside. I would guess that many of the temporary locals have returned to triggering fracking earthquakes in Oklahoma by Labor Day, after which the Meadow Mountain Cafe would be an even more pleasant place to stop for breakfast.

Mount Meeker - one of the favorite Colorado mountains I have never climbed.

Mount Meeker – one of my favorite Colorado mountains I have never climbed.

2.

Leaving my esteemed company to ponder – or discover – Donald Trump’s finer qualities, I headed north along Highway 7 past Mount Meeker and Longs’ Peak towards Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park where I was determined to take advantage of my “Senior Pass” – free admission for the elderly-but-young-in-spirit crowd – of which I am now a two card-carrying member (my Senior Pass and AARP card) and take a hike in the park.

But as usual, the majesty, utter beauty of Mount Meeker stopped me dead in my tracks leaving Allenspark. I had to take picture, forgetting that I already have, according to my informal estimate, at least 15 of this mountain taken from exactly the same spot. No matter, same thrill, like the first time I saw it 47 years ago, when “fate” and a Greyhound Bus from Chicago, first landed me in Denver. The moment of nostalgia – and the camera click – having quickly passed, I continued on my journey north, still considering the imponderable: how I wound up in this place and made my life here, nearly half a century ago. Unable to figure that out – it remains imponderable – I drove on hoping to successfully negotiate the three state troopers sitting in their souped up police cars between Allens’ Park and Estes. Guess they hadn’t met their quota of tickets this late in the month.

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the nation’s top tourist spots especially at this point of the summer in the weeks before Labor Day. This past Saturday was no exception. The roads were crowded with people from all over the country and the world. Later in Estes Park I listened to Finnish, Swedish, Spanish, French, Russian, spoke to a Thai worker and a young Ukrainian student from Odessa. I enjoy their presence immensely, even if Estes is little more than a little dump of a tourist town (but with the best Safeway for miles around and three great ice cream shops, one of which I could resist).

In any case, I entered the park easily enough using my “Senior Pass’ which gives me free access – and a special lane at the entry – through the more southern Beaver Meadows entrance south of Estes, and headed for Beaver Meadows. I took about a four mile round trip hike by myself along the edge of the meadow where it meets the mountains. Lovely. The view, once again, was spectacular and after cursing the eugenicist, Teddy Roosevelt for his role in invading Cuba, a praised him for pushing the national park project through Congress despite the fierce opposition of the Tea Party-like idiots of a century ago who wanted to keep it all privatized so they could squeeze every last penny out of its beauty

Rounding a bend, too busy to worry about my presence very much, was a family of wild turkeys, seven in all. A male, two females and four chicks. They were working the tall grasses and didn’t seem nervous by my presence. Every once in a while, the male would look up and “give me the eye.” I would humbly turn my eyes down towards the ground having read somewhere that this was a show of my subservience…or was that true only with Diane Fossey’s gorillas, but in any event, it worked. I was able to get within about 75 feet of them, taking one step at a time, waiting and then proceeding again slow. Watched them for a good half hour, took a load of not-very good photos-before continuing on my way. 2016 - 08 - RMNP - 24a

Meanwhile back at the Allenspark art gallery, waiting for Nancy to finish up her all-day recorder marathon, talking to a friend afterwards, I learned that the presence of wild turkeys at the park is a recent phenomenon and that there was a Colorado Public Radio program (which I could not locate) on the subject. Although they have become common enough on the High Plains – from 4000  to Denver’s 5280 feet 8500-9000 feet, until a few years ago wild turkeys did not occupy the higher altitudes. Their presence in and adaptation to these higher altitudes is yet another indication of climate change and global warming.

This is my third sighting of wild turkeys in a little more than a year – once east of Kearney, Nebraska with Nancy and David Fey a year ago March, and then last summer on the outskirts of Brownville, Nebraska which sits on the Missouri River. Once nearly wiped out in the United States, wild turkeys have made an impressive comeback thanks to efforts of state game and fish agencies and non-profit sportsmen’s groups like the National Wild Turkey Federation. But then why should wild turkeys be different from bison, wolves, egrets and all the other band of animal brothers we humans have tried to exterminate…and nearly did?

They have thrived on the High Plains of Colorado and now have worked their way into the mountains.  They are present in 53 of the state’s 63 counties. Colorado’s turkey program ranks among the most successful species conservation efforts in Colorado Division of Wildlife’s history, with turkey hunting having become the fastest growing form of hunting in the United States. Although I’ve never done so, and don’t expect to in the future, I have no particular aversion to hunting as long as it is done in a controlled manner. 2016 - 08 - RMNP - 26a

Shortly afterwards, continuing on my hike I met up with a group of hikers heading back towards the parking spaces. I told them about the wild turkeys just up ahead of them off the path. Having lost the ability to estimate ages I guessed they were ; in their early 30s, two men, two women. And then, as has happened with some frequency, at the entrance to the NYC subway, in downtown Seattle, but now in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, I heard the all to familiar – “Professor Prince!” Turns out she was Abbey Vannoy, a former student at the University of Denver. What’s more, she lives around the corner from us, in Denver. I was told that she went on to make a career in the sustainable food movement. I hope to see her again.

It was only later that I learned that daughter Abby was in the Park at the same time as I was. She was “lake hopping” (from her pictures) with a friend. Unfortunately our paths didn’t cross.

 

 

Turkey In Crisis: Repress Everyone, Reconcile With Russia and Iran, Recognize Assad?

August 16, 2016

Turkish Peace Activist, academic, Esra Mungan

Turkish Peace Activist, academic, Esra Mungan, arrested in March, 2016, along with Dr. Muzaffar Kaya and Associate Professor Kivanc for protesting Erdogan’s repression of Turkish Kurds.

 

1.

In March of this year (2016), some months before the start of the current Great Purge three Turkish academics held a press conference in Istanbul, four days after which they were arrested and charged with supporting terrorism for calling for a negotiated peaceful settlement of Turkey’s differences with the Kurds living largely in the country’s southeast regions.

The three were a part of a Turkish-Kurdish peace initiative, a petition signed quickly after it was initiated by 1100 Turkish academics and several hundred Western intellectuals, including linguist Noam Chomsky. The three were victims of Turkey’s Stalinist-like effort to rid its body of politic of the supporters of Fetullah Gulen and pretty much anyone else standing in the way of Tayyif Erdogan’s increasingly narrow and bigoted version of Turkish nationalism.

Associate Professor Kivanç (Minar Sinan Fine Arts University, Mathematics), Assistant Professor Esra Mungan (Boğaziçi University, Psychology) and Dr. Muzaffar Kaya (fired as a consequence of the academics’ statement from Nişantanşi University, History), representing Academics For Peace, were into custody on charges of “making terrorist propaganda” after calling for “an end to violence between government forces and Kurdish separatists in Turkey’s southeast. Read more…

Turkey and Syria After The Failed Attempted Turkish Coup: Interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU, Boulder. “Hemispheres Program.” Tues, July, 28, 2016. Part Two

August 14, 2016
Istanbul

Istanbul

(This, and the entry that precedes it, are Parts One and Two of an hour-long interview done on KGNU radio/Boulder Colorado by Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. It is a part of a series that KGNU has run with them for five years. The entire program runs close to an hour. Part Two is below.)

Interview continued…

Rob Prince: Now let’s return to Turkey. I want to put its current position within a regional perspective but briefly so that we can concentrate on Turkey’s role in Syria.

First of all what we are seeing in terms of the aftermath of the failed Turkish coup is a certain distancing, it seems, of Turkey from NATO and the United States, although how far is not clear and there are those “red lines” referred to earlier. Turkey is no long begging “please let us into the European Union instead it is looking both east and more towards its own region, the Middle East and the Turkish speaking zones of Central Asia. That seems clear.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: That’s one school of thought.

Rob Prince: Yes, it seems complicated for Turkey to simply walk away from NATO and the United States, as if they could walk away from the military base at Incirlik after more than half a century. That seems to be one of the red lines that certainly would be difficult for Turkey to cross. Read more…

Turkey and Syria After The Failed Attempted Turkish Coup: Interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU, Boulder. “Hemispheres Program.” Tues, July, 28, 2016. Part One

August 14, 2016
U.S F-16 jet fighters at Incirlik Military Base, Southeast, Turkey

U.S F-16 jet fighters at Incirlik Military Base, Southeast, Turkey

(This, and the entry that follows, are Parts One and Two of an hour-long interview done on KGNU radio/Boulder Colorado by Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. It is a part of a series that KGNU has run with them for five years. The entire program runs close to an hour. Part One is below; here is Part Two.)

This evening on Hemispheres the Middle East Dialogues with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. Tonight Ibrahim and Rob will discuss the failed coup in Turkey. Ibrahim and Rob will look at what is behind the internal repression going on in Turkey. Also, will Turkey’s relationship with Syria and with the Kurds change post-coup? Will relations with the west and the United States in particular change post-coup? All that and more along with listener phone calls will be welcome.

Jim Nelson (Host): Let’s move on to the failed coup in Turkey and there have been a number of articles about the current coup in Turkey, including yours, Rob. There are a lot of rumors about what his happening there. What’s the story?

Rob Prince: Once again we find ourselves in the situation where just prior to the program (Hemispheres) airs, there is some major new development and it happened again this time of course with this failed coup attempt in Turkey. Our general discussions about how to proceed tonight, were to talk about the coup somewhat, then the regional consequences of the coup as we understand them and then transition to the events in Syria. Without any doubt, the crisis in Turkey is related to the Syrian conflict. Read more…

Teaching Evolution In Kentucky …And Other Ways To Court The Christian Right

July 25, 2016
Gillicus Inside Xiphactinus. Sometime around 70 million years ago

Gillicus Inside Xiphactinus. Sometime around 70 million years ago. Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Hays Kansas

Reports: Newsletter of the National Center For Science Education

My copy of “Reports” – the quarterly newsletter of the National Center For Science Education (NCSE) came in the mail today. This is the Summer 2016, Volume 36, No. 3. I read it cover-to-cover. Always. It also is available at the Center’s website. In the past I have written about NCSE here on my blog, hoping to familiarize a few more people with its content – its commitment to the idea that American students should learn Darwin’s theory of natural selection (Evolution) and climate change. It has, in a determined yet controlled manner countered all the (mostly) Christian fundamentalist drivel, garbage that argues against both scientifically valid ideas. Furthermore it has been both a watchdog and activist in trying to preserve the quality of scientific education (ie – evolution and climate change) in the school systems nationwide

Not to learn, be familiar with Darwin’s theory of Evolution through natural selection is to be scientifically illiterate. It is nothing short of the basis for all modern biology. Likewise, to deny the reality of climate change and the threat it represents to life on earth, is nothing short of denying future generations the possibility of a future. Science has – through long and complex observations and shared insights – concluded the reality of both. Through courses in Physical Anthropology, I taught human evolution over the course of thirty years. By the time I stopped teaching it (as I had moved on to the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies) some of the main themes of Climate Change (and global warming) had already entered into my lectures – specifically the period of mass extinctions which was already underway. Read more…

Turkey Distancing Itself From The U.S., NATO – Question Is: How Far?

July 19, 2016
Turkey - Starred Area is Incilek Military Base, long a major US strategic asset in Turkey whose presence has been called into question by the current events.

Turkey – Starred Area is Incirlek Military Base, long a major US strategic asset in Turkey whose presence has been called into question by the current events.

  1. Some Background

The aftershocks of the failed military coup in Turkey are resonating. Nearly 2500 upper level military personnel, including more than 100 generals sacked, many arrested. 6000 members of the judiciary, who sometimes challenged Tayyip Erdogan’s policies, fired along with 8000 Turkish policemen. Several hundred people were killed, thousands wounded. Two days later, more than 1,500 university deans have also been ordered to resign and the licences of 21,000 teachers working at private institutions revoked. In the end any and all opposition, the Gulen followers and pretty much anyone else that opposes Erdogan will be politically eliminated and Erdogan will rule supreme with no opposition. And it’s only just begun. More than likely, Washington will accept the changes, and Erdogan’s slap in the face (accusing the C.I.A of orchestrating the coup.)

While considerable confusion remains concerning the origins of the recent Turkish coup attempt, the geo-political outlines of where “post coup” Turkey is headed are coming into focus. A little background on the flurry of Turkey’s diplomatic initiatives that preceded the recent “coup attempt” are in order. As they were intense suggesting that a shift in Turkey’s political posture was in order. Besides initiating an extensive purge of the Turkish military and judiciary, Turkish President Erdogan appears to be setting Turkish regional political posture on a new direction. Read more…

Denver Cuts Out Its Free Seed Program

July 16, 2016
Growhaus - Denver Urban Garden in Swansea neighborhood of Denver.

Growhaus – Denver Urban Garden in Swansea neighborhood of Denver.

In line with Denver’s addiction to privatizing as much public property as possible, of gentrifying the place, the city is cutting its annual program to give free seeds for vegetable gardens. It is only a measly $40,000 of a $1.8 billion budget for this year. The program has been administered since 1997 through Denver Urban Gardens.

But then privatization and unrestrained housing development, far more than urban gardening – has been the special contribution of our last two mayors – Hickenlooper and Hancock along with its (until recently) brain-dead city council.

Not only is the free seed program being cut, but each year the space available for urban gardeners is decreasing as land is being gobbled up by local and national developers – those piranhas of urban America. Housing prices and rentals are going through the roof, displacing all but the most prosperous, pushing poor, working class, middle class people east to Aurora, north to Thorton, or more and more out-of-state. Denver’s recent history was recently featured in an article in the British newspaper, The Guardian. The headline reads “White Privilege and Gentrification in America’s ‘Favorite City’ showing the city in a far less favorable light than its tourism bureau would like.

With this in mind Marie Edgar and I have written the following letter to the editor sent to two local media outlets, which we’ll also submit to our councilman Raphael Espinoza . If you want to add your name to this (for Denver residents only unfortunately) contact one of us; we’ll add your name to the letter below… Or write your own and if you do (would appreciate getting a copy):

July 16, 2016

Rafael Espinoza, Denver City Council, District One

Dear Rafael,

We are dismayed to learn that the City of Denver is no longer funding Denver Urban Garden’s Free Seeds and Seedlings program. Gardening is a healthy and productive interest in many neighborhoods of Northwest Denver.

Community Gardening is a way to build relationships that carry over into positive actions on behalf of all, across diverse populations. Denver has a long tradition in this respect including our Northside (now referred to as Highlands).

A community garden pioneer of the Free Seeds and Seedling Program, Jim Fowler – the original owner of what is today called The Lumber Baron on 37th and Alcott – was among those who spearheaded the free seed program.

We expect that eliminating the $40,000 that supported DUG’s program
will discourage our lower-income neighbors from planting in 2017 and will offer less
support to groups who choose to garden together.

How can we help the City to do an about-face, and increase the funding instead, in order to strengthen the fabrics of Denver’s neighborhoods?

Respectfully,

Marie Edgar edgardm1@msn.com

Rob Prince robertjprince@comcast.net
website: robertjprince.wordpress.com

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