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2013 June

King Gorge’s Royal Amusement – a photo dispatch of the Royal Gorge

In late May, Ye Ming filed a photo dispatch capturing the essence of the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. 

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Standing nearly 1000 feet above the Arkansas River, sits the grand attraction towering over its court. Built in 1929, for tourism not transportation, the Royal Gorge Bridge has been the cornerstone of sightseeing that includes the attached park, Royal Gorge Route Railroad, water sports along the Arkansas River and the now-closed Buckskin Joe. 

In late May 2013, Ye Ming filed this photo dispatch.

 

*Update June 12*
Editor’s note: We could never imagined these photos capture the Royal Gorge before the Royal Gorge fire of June 11th. This is how will be remember the park and we know it will be rebuilt to its full beauty.

  •   Royal Gorge Bridge is still standing
  • Aerial Tram is destroyed. The tram fell but is in it’s housing enclosure. The housing is charred, The cable fell into the Gorge.  
  • No known damage to the moved Buckskin Joe buildings. 

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Editorial

Guest Editorial – Taking Home With You

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I am leaving Pueblo this month, the month of June. When some of you read this, I will probably be already gone. I’m moving to New York City to begin a giant new life. It all seems like a dream-come-true. 

I came by plane on August 16, 2008 when I was 18. The city I came from lies on the east coast of China with a population of 8 million. It’s humid, busy and booming. It’s among the TOP 10 most energetic cities in China, and I took great pride in it. 

I took my first glance of Colorado when I was above the outskirts of Colorado Springs on a plane preparing to land. I almost burst into tears as I saw the brown, bare land with no green space, no skyscrapers, and no trace of human activities. It is not the America I imagined, and I had never stepped outside China before then. I was confused, and frankly, very terrified as I had no clue what I was coming into. 

When things finally started to settle down after two weeks of novelty, I often wandered to the parking lot west of campus where I could overlook Pueblo with the Rockies in the background. I sat there for hours at dawn and thought for hours. I still couldn’t grasp the idea that a capsule had transferred me from one point on the earth to another, where I barely spoke the language and knew nothing about the culture. The concepts I established growing up in China were not helping out, sometimes even working against my situations. There was only one Chinese student at the university and no authentic Chinese food in town. Because of the dry weather, I got fish skin and my nose was always stuffed with dry blood. Nothing is accessible by walking, and way far from what I came to America to achieve in life. Honestly, Pueblo sucked in everyway for me. 

Every summer I was gone within one week after school finished. I literally fled as fast as I could from Pueblo, craving home food, going on world trips, longing for something amazing out there to happen that’s no way happening in Pueblo. I couldn’t believe how much I was missing out on in life. 

Then one day in the summer I got into ferocious argument with my parents at home in China; I screamed that I wanted to go home. To Pueblo. 

Yes, I call it home now, and I just feel as peaceful in Pueblo as at home. It has definitely grown on me over the past five years I have lived here. I no longer complain about the poor Chinese food in town because I fell in love with burritos, guacamole and deep-fried jalapenos; I no longer miss the intimacy with skyscrapers because nothing can beat a blue wide-open sky. I learned to drive here, and it allowed me to reach nature more easily and grow my love more insanely for every piece of Colorado. 

I am no longer that girl who wandered alone in the parking lot because I have met people from all over the world and with whom I became friends-for-a-lifetime. It is Pueblo that holds us tight together because of the unique experience we shared, the secret codes we used such as AndyMacs, that differentiates us from students who flooded to San Francisco, New York, Dallas, or Chicago. Indeed, Pueblo has made us exceptional. 

It opened up my world and prepared me for the greater good. I wouldn’t even have dreamed of becoming the editor of the school’s paper as a non-English speaker, wouldn’t have thought I could be the only one who is capable of translating between Chinese and English whenever we have visitors. People are interested in my stories and opportunities are fed to me. As I always believed in the equal play of hard working and luck in individual success, Pueblo has definitely made it happen for me. 

Now, I am ready to leave you behind, Pueblo. I am sure there will be tons of people out east asking me where I came from. I’d say Pueblo, and I know they’d have no clue what the hell I was talking about. But I take great pride in you.

Editor’s Note: Ye Ming was Editor for CSU-Today and a contributor to the PULP. She is leaving to attend Columbia Journalism School in New York City this fall.

by Ye Ming

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The Bright Lights of the Square State – a look at the history of film on the Colorado Set

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The wide inviting plains and majestic mountain vistas that abound in the great state of Colorado, have drawn filmmakers like flies since basically the beginning of the art form. The ideal American frontier, embedded in the head of the rest of the world, has its roots planted firmly in the Centennial State’s soil. 

Film history for Colorado began in October of 1897, when scenes from the 3rd annual Festival of Mountain & Plain were shot. The gala event began in Denver in the year 1895 in an attempt to lift the city’s spirits following the Silver Panic, the worst economic depression to hit the United States at the time. William Byers, the founder of Colorado’s first newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News, helped to promote and direct the event. Residents from throughout the four corners flocked to the three-day celebration of the early pioneer days of the Southwest. The ornate festivities included an outdoor masquerade ball attended by over five thousand revelers, dancing under a canvas stretched across old Broadway, four separate grand parades and the swirling refrain of 600 instruments from 25 marching bands playing in unison. 

Several similar slices of pioneer life with exciting titles such as “Runaway Stagecoach” and “Arrival on Summit of Pike’s Peak,” were shot in the area and released over the next few early years of cinema. H.H. “Buck” Buckwalter, the first photographer of the Rocky Mountain News is credited as the forefather of film in the state. Buckwalter captured a generous collection of inhabitants, wildlife & late 19th to early 20th century culture with his camera. The Smithsonian Institute helped fund some of Buck’s photographic expositions. For years he served as the vice-president of the Colorado Camera Club along with William Henry Jackson, the first person to photograph Yellowstone National Park, as president. Glass negatives from his beginnings as a photojournalist have been preserved and are on display in the Denver Public Library. Buckwalter was the first to understand that displaying the area’s scenic surroundings is an ideal way to advertise the state. Buckwalter was an innovator and film apparatus inventor, who in 1910 started the Moving Picture Equipment Co. Many of his early inventions would be purchased and utilized by burgeoning film companies that would grow to become giants in their field. The then new Selig-Polyscope Company, the first permanent movie studio in Southern California, to capture the Southwest in all its primitive glory, hired Buckwalter.  Going to the extent of trying to pass Colorado off as a mild climate community, locals were filmed wearing summer attire in the streets in frigid January. Because of snow, of course, filming the fraudulent event was postponed. Buckwalter had gotten his start with future movie mogul William Selig when they met back in 1901, as the two men were filming promotional travel films for railroad companies, which would be the birth of video tourism in our country. Buckwalter and Selig would also collaborate on what would be the genesis of western films.

Another benchmark in local cinema history was the creation by former Selig director Otis Thayer, of the Colorado Motion Picture Company in 1913 which was supported by local businessmen who would appear as extras in the company’s films. The studio took a big hit in 1914, when lead actress Grace McHugh and a cameraman drowned in the Arkansas River while shooting the film “Across the Border”. Only one film is known to still exist from the company. Released in 1914 and filmed in Canon City, “Pirates of the Plains”, is a story about two brothers, one a beloved rodeo rider, the other a horse thief. As the film boom burst onto the scene, opulent movie theaters began to spring up next to equally grand Opera and performing arts houses. People started to refer to Curtis Street in Denver as “Theatre Row,” and “Denver’s Great White Way,” for it was said to be the brightest street in the world due to the number of neon clad edifices that illuminated the block. The Apollo Hall was the first theater to open in 1859, as Curtis Street would go on  to be lined with sixty-six theaters in all before the year 1920.

Getting his start galloping across the plains of Colorado in short silent films was the big screen’s first Western star; Tom Mix. Mix set the standard for every faux cowboy to follow. This frontier fascination would continue through the marriage of sound and film, and over those first few infant decades of the industry, helping to create the Western archetypes that are still prevalent to this day. John Ford, arguably the greatest director of the genre, often used Colorado’s craggy canyons as the backdrop to many of his epic masterpieces. Concepts and misconceptions of the Old West were and still are shaped by what Ford’s films reveal to viewers. The forever skies and lush scenery that framed such celluloid heroes as John Wayne, could have had a starring credit all their own. By the time of the mid century television boom, Colorado could already boast of being host to well over one hundred films and television programs, and could rightfully claim a place in the origins of American cinema. The honoring of the Old West would continue in the 1960’s, when towns like Silverton, Telluride & Durango would be employed to serve as settings for classic staples such as True Grit and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Roughly thirty westerns were locally filmed during the 1950’s and 60’s. In 1957, MGM studios would even build a replica old west town in Canon City, dubbed Buckskin Joe’s, later converted to a western themed amusement park, which would act as setting to a good number of movies, making Colorado a popular pick amongst some of the generation’s top directors.

A significant shift in cinema took place during the 1970’s. Dealing in the disillusionment of the post Vietnam and Nixon impeachment era, a fresh crop of filmmakers sprouted onto the scene bringing with them more gritty, realistic portrayals in their works. Satire was taken to another level, as evident in the Woody Allen film,  Sleeper, shot on location at the Sculptured Deaton House atop Genesee Mountain in Jefferson County. The ornate elevator inside the distinctive UFO like house was used as a device called the Orgasmatron. The 70’s also saw the birth of pivotal film festivals in Colorado. The Telluride Film Festival, which started in 1974 continues to be held annually over Labor Day weekend. The festival is notable as being the venue where standout films like Michael Moore’s Roger and Me, Ken Burns Civil War documentary, and Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain had their first American viewings. The Denver Film Fest founded in ‘78, followed by Mountainfilm in Telluride in ‘79, still celebrated over every Memorial Day weekend. Family fluff like Mork & Mindy set in Boulder, accompanied by the obligatory John Denver specials of the day, were also in the mix at the time, as television would focus its programming more on the area. 

In 1980, Stanley Kubrick kicked Colorado into the upper echelon of iconic filmdom, when he transformed Stephen King’s monumental horror novel The Shining, into his own immensely influential vision. King, who began working on the story while staying in room 217 of the stately Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, would use the resort and its haunted history as inspiration and setting for his book. Even to this day, The Stanley Hotel replays the uncensored version of The Shining in all its twisted glory, on a twenty-four hour rotation on channel 42 in the guest rooms. 

The 80’s would spawn a fresh decade of inspired filmmakers who would hatch a myriad of new film fests in the state. The longest running celebration of women’s films in the United States, the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival, was established in Colorado Springs in 1987. The Colorado Production Guide would commence under the direction of The Colorado Film & Video Association, and currently continues to operate as the state’s oldest production directory containing contact information for hundreds in the film field. The area would also be home to a number of the summer and holiday blockbusters the era would drag in its wake. Over the top heroes like Indiana Jones, Action Jackson, and even everyone’s favorite, celluloid family the Griswold’s, would use the scenery of Colorado as a backdrop to their adventures. Hell, even Over The Top with master thespian Sylvester Stallone passed through the area to film. The remote control age of 80’s television would bring Dynasty, which was set in Denver and would become one of the most popular nighttime melodramas of all time. 

Colorado was still fertile filming ground towards the end of the 20th Century, with cartoons even getting in on the act as Trey Parker and Matt Stone would make the town of South Park a household name. The tragic events of yet another local small town would be unfortunately repeated ad nauseam across seemingly every cable news station across the land for the whole world to view. And as the rest of us tried to make sense of the senselessness that was Columbine, filmmaker Michael Moore came onto the scene and tried to put some perspective on the subject with his controversial documentary Bowling for Columbine. As the new millennium began and the digital age dawned, even the oxymoron of reality TV would cast its skewed spotlight on the state. Cinema would continue to be celebrated and grow locally as film festivals would again multiply. Including the foundations of the Boulder International Film Festival in 2004 by sisters Kathy and Robin Beeck, held each year over President’s Day weekend. The Castle Rock Film Fest began in ‘09. Horror fans would start their own celebration in 2010 with the formation of The Mile High Horror Film Festival.

Just last year in April of 2012, the Boulder History Museum held an exhibit entitled “Hollywood, Colorado”, which explored the more than one hundred year old history of cinema in the state. Highlighted by posters, footage and artifacts from locally made movies, the exhibit also featured films from new and upcoming homegrown artists. Also in 2012, Gov. John Hickenlooper requested $3 million to be allocated towards state film incentives. While the revenue generated in the state from filmmaking is substantial, there are still others who believe the cost outweighs the benefit and would like to see the money earmarked for film go towards other useful outlets. While many surrounding states are looking to draw filmmakers to their area by offering sizable loan guarantees and by raising the percentage of cash rebates given for production, Colorado took steps to try and ensure the future of filming in the state, by doubling film rebates from 10% up to 20%. Just looking over the long and varied resume of films and television programs broadcast from Colorado, one can get a sense of the impact the state has had on the industry. And the impact the industry has had on bringing much needed revenue to the state.

I’ve no designs on turning Colorado into the next Tinseltown. In fact, I tend to feel in an admittedly odd elitist way, that when you slap the moniker of “The Hollywood of . . .” onto an idea, you’re stamping on a glaring disclaimer of defeat by basically acknowledging you’re still trying to be something else. Alternately, I feel it’s imperative to continue to concentrate on cultivating a positive, productive environment that encourages local filmmakers and students to think globally but shoot locally. And assure excited filmmakers of all ages that they have options and resources to fulfill their visions. By showcasing the natural beauty that encompasses the area, you let people know that there’s no need to create a CGI version of the Rocky Mountains, because the view of the real thing ain’t too shabby. It’s interesting to draw parallels between our film forefathers and modern day filmmakers. Since they’re the arbiters of a new age themselves, trying to deal with the ever-changing new fangled technology they’re confronted with every time there’s an upgrade which actually seems to take place so very often now.   And as hard as it seems to stay current in such mercurial times, it’s encouraging to see the amount of advancements being made at such an accelerated rate. And when living in such an age of such considerable change and progression, it’s very easy to lose site of the past.

While researching some classic films that were rumored to have been filmed locally, but alas were shot on back lots of Hollywood studios over 1,000 miles away, I was a bit disappointed because these movies would add some bright color to the lore of the state. Then I was struck by a quote from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a film with its story set in Picketwire Canyonlands of southeastern Colorado, during a time when the area was struggling with the idea of statehood. “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

by Bryan Morell

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Allure of Whitewater: a conversation with Andy Neinas Outfitter and Troublemaker

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Echo Canyon River Rafting is a local and tourist hot spot.  With features that include the Royal Gorge and raging white waters, it is a great place to get in touch with your wild side.  Echo has more to offer than just rafting.  Adrenaline junkies will surely love this place, and you regular Joe’s can have a good time too while riding horses, zip-lining, or catching a bite to eat at the 8mile bar and grill.  With 27 years of experience on the Arkansas River, Andy Neinas became my go to guy.  Andy is the owner of Echo Canyon River Rafting whose passion for rafting is contagious. 

PULP:

I’d like to start off by asking what is your job title?

Andy Neinas:  It’s so funny you should ask, because I’ve never believed in titles.  I have an answer for you: Troublemaker.  That’s my preferred title, I’ve been handing it out for a long, long time.  … I do own the company, but I am very happy to say I do not put a title on my business card.  Frankly, titles are not needed if you are capable of doing the job; people know it and they come to you to have questions answered.

P:

So, what exactly do you do at Echo?

Andy:  We’re in the tourism industry. I sell a product, okay? I sell fun and memories. Yes, I know it’s a raft trip, but really, it’s a little bit different than that as far as what we really provide the consumer, the visitor.  So, ya know, there are certain times of the year where we’re very focused on marketing and advertising, putting our campaign together as we head into the new season.  I volunteer extensively through the Arkansas River Outfitters Association, I spend a lot of time on that; I manage the public relations program for the outfitters association. I sit on several tourism boards, so a lot of volunteering; doing what I consider to be the common good for, not just rafting, but again, tourism as a whole… 

P: You seem passionate about tourism, what got you interested in it? 

Andy: This is my 27th season on the Arkansas [River]… I grew up around water, I have always been passionate about Colorado and just really started to get into it in many different ways over time and next thing you know I just found myself in the rafting industry… but, again, it’s the tourism industry…  There’s this local aspect, but then there’s the tourism aspect because, of course, a huge percentage of our visitors are from out of state.  They’re coming to Colorado to experience where we live… we live in a beautiful part of the country…

P:
What parts of the river would you say are easier or harder?

Andy:  …  The Royal Gorge really is the ultimate white water in the state of Colorado, hands down. It’s consistently the most exciting, its fantastic scenery and its world class white water… absolutely fantastic… Bighorn Sheep Canyon is the section immediately above the Royal Gorge, it’s what we call family class white water so it’s appropriate for first time floaters, people travelling with children…  We’re best known for the Royal Gorge.  Bighorn Sheep Canyon is the most popular experience we offer.

P: What can you tell me about the different difficulty levels?

A.N.: … Class one is literally flat water. Class two is basically moving water. Class three is moving water that requires navigation. So it’s the broadest definition. You could argue that everything is class three. But class four is moving water that requires navigation, length and continuous moves challenging drops, etc., etc.  Class five would be considered the limited navigability.  So family class white water really is in that class three range, it’s not necessarily class one. … And then when you get into the class three, four and five, like the Royal Gorge, that’s where you start to see those big drops, big hits, things along those lines. So that’s why I tend to use terminology like family class white water and adventure class white water. …Class 6 is considered un-runnable.

P: What does one need to do to prepare for river rafting?

Andy:  You should ask good questions and you should be darn sure you’re getting good answers…  As you’re having a dialogue with that person, hopefully they are asking you questions like how many are in your party, what’s the age of the youngest participant, are there any medical conditions that we need to be aware of? We accommodate special populations here with regular occasion. Just because we have an individual who is wheel chair bound doesn’t mean we can’t take them rafting; we most certainly can. But we need to have that conversation to make sure we are providing the right experience…  

P: If I wanted to go rafting, how many people do I need to bring?

Andy: One.  Quite honestly one, we don’t get a lot of singles…  Any number is appropriate.  We can put 6 or 7 guests on a raft, so if there’s 2 or 3 of you odds are there’s going to be other guests with you and that actually is a lot of fun, you get to meet unique people.

P: Assuming someone gets tired of rafting, what other activities can they do at Echo?

Andy: I don’t wanna come off as cocky, but we have the nicest white water rafting facility probably in the western U.S.  … The 8mile bar and grill is available here on site, we also have the Echo Canyon campground that is immediately across the road. Also, we have full hookups for RV’s, pit camping, and cabins.  We then have a plethora of other activities and package trips that we run, zip-lining, horseback riding, visits to the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park…  

P: Does someone have to be in shape to go rafting?

Andy: We battle the misnomer that we’re an adventure class activity. Sure, we have that, yeah you betcha. But most of what we do is, again, moms, dads, kids, first-time floaters. It’s about scenic beauty and some fun white water along the way.  You don’t have to be a super athlete to enjoy a river trip. That’s why Bighorn Sheep Canyon is our most popular section, because that’s what the general public tends to gravitate towards.

P: What is the Battle of the Bighorn?

Andy: Sunday July 7th of this year, we will be running another Battle of the Bighorn event that we run in conjunction with the non-profit Fremont Adventure Recreation. Half of the proceeds from Battle of the Bighorn go to Fremont Recreation, Echo Canyon makes no money on this trip at all… This is a really cool, very silly team event.  We need teams of 6 and what we are going to do is we are going to race through bighorn sheep canyon, but this isn’t a typical race.  … We start with the bucket toss, that determines who gets to go first, whether you get a 6-inch barrel pump or a one minute head-start. There’s then the puzzle memory test, we’re going to give everyone a puzzle that you will be allowed to look at until we start the event; we’ll come back to that later.  Teams are then required to inflate the rafts, it’s grueling.  They have to carry the boats up the stairs, up around the corner, back down the stairs before they launch.  If they head down to Five Points we are going to drop a watermelon that they have to retrieve.  That watermelon is very, very important, they have to keep that with them. There’s an event a little further down called the Neoprene Squeeze… we actually have a stock tank filled with ice and wetsuits and one member from your team must put on a wetsuit that’s been sitting there in ice water for the last hour. They then have to turn around and paddle backwards through two real, but pretty gentle rapids. There’s then the helmet brigade, they then have to paddle with their T-grips only.  … Then they storm the beachhead on our private landing… there’s a quarter-mile run they have to make, where at the top of the hill, they are going to be handed the puzzle pieces… they have to bring it back down and they have to reassemble the puzzle. By the way, everything they are doing along the way, they have to take their watermelon with them; the watermelon travels with them the entire way. This is a timed event, there are penalties for missing activities along the way. … But it’s not just about the most gung-ho physically athletic team, it’s very cerebral.  So that levels the playing curve. … Then we have an after party back at the 8mile bar and grill afterwards.

P: What is one of your most memorable experiences while rafting?

Andy: That’s a tough question, because I can honestly say the world comes to us.  … People come from all over the world to raft the Arkansas. So there’s just so many really neat and exciting people that we’ve met through the years. But most recently… we just had about a dozen ladies here from the American widows group, basically they were all the wives of fallen military men. It was our pleasure to host them and they had a great time, they were a lot of fun. It was a very diverse, eclectic group of people, group of ladies. They were just really neat to be around.  … We have kind of neat and unique things happening here every day.

P: You would say the beginning of the summer season would be the ideal season for rafting?

Andy: I really would, simply because you’re local. It’s so easy for people to come down here, you might as well come when the water is at its best.  I mean, we in Colorado are snobs when it comes to skiing, I can’t be bothered to hit the slopes unless there is six inches of fresh out there on the hill. So it’s the same way with rafting, ya know… There is an optimal rafting season for flows, and that’s typically in the month of June.

P: Finally I want to ask you… Colorado has been in a drought a few years now. How is that affecting rafting?

Andy:  Well, it certainly was a really challenge for us last year, and will continue to be a bit of a challenge for us this year.  But we are so fortunate to have seen these late season snows, they have totally transformed our year…  We also have something called the Voluntary Flow Management Program, VFMP for short.  The VFMP will have 10,000 acre feet, which is kind of how you measure volume in that quantity. 10,000 acre feet of water will be available through Colorado Parks and Wildlife for the Arkansas [River].  And that’s what we will use from July 1st though August 15th to ensure enjoyable flows for rafting. …The drought has been extraordinary and it has had a significant impact and if we wouldn’t have seen these late season snows we wouldn’t have the volume of water to have the VFMP in place.  So we are very fortunate that we have that program and that’s what’s going to make a long season possible on the Arkansas this year. 

Interview by Vera Coleman

 

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