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Paradox Springs: The Hooper Pool

In subzero temperatures, swimmers and soakers find refuge in warm artesian waters high in the rockies. PULP travels to Hooper, Colorado to visit the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool or affectionately known as the Hooper Pool.



Wearing a swimming suit I step outside of the dressing room into 14 degrees of below-freezing air. Fog and mist unfurl around me as I tread gingerly toward the frosted metal rail and kick off my flip flops. Frost clings to the concrete edges, the adobe wall and the edges of the door–anywhere the sun doesn’t hit. The basketball hoop and net shimmer like holiday decorations. There’s no need to dip my toe in to test the water; I know it’s body temperature or a degree or two warmer.  I slide into the pool like I’m going back to the womb or the primordial juices of our origins.

It’s no wonder the indigenous peoples of Colorado believed hot springs were sacred places of healing; I felt a hallowed euphoria immediately.

At that moment, cold is a sensation I can no longer recall because I’m immersed in calming lithium-, iron- and magnesium-laden waters from a mile below the San Luis Valley. Later that day it would be snowing and people would still be soaking and swimming.

Located two miles northeast of the town of Hooper, the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool (a.k.a. The Hooper Pool by locals) is an isolated hot springs on the floor of the San Luis Valley, which continuously produces 118-degree Fahrenheit water. The hot water was discovered during the 1930s oil exploration and emerges from the ground into the Sand Dunes Pool complex under its own pressure.

“There are no pumps anywhere on the property,” said General Manager Carly Harmon. “All the water is the same–swimming, drinking, cooking, showering, everything. It’s that pure.” And, the water isn’t chlorinated, a bonus for many people.

Pete Magee, a PhD graduate in geology from Oxford University and principal geologist at Integrated Land Services in Alamosa, is fascinated by the hot springs in the San Luis Valley–located along the Sangre de Cristo Fault. 

“The higher than normal geothermal gradient has heated those deep waters, some of which were buried along with the sediment. As the water is heated, the density decreases and the water will rise along any zone of weakness like a fault,” he said.  

I’m enveloped in too much calming, comfortable warmth of this ironic natural wonder to be self-conscious about my body or lack of athletic acumen.  In fact, most of the people who are partaking of the waters of Hooper Pool are doing so to exercise or for doctor-ordered water therapy.

Sam Selters has been coming to the pool since he was a boy when his dad would bring the whole Boy Scout troop for swimming lessons during the 1950s. Now in his seventies, Selters swims a half-mile a day. “Yeah, that’s good, but Dave over there swims a mile –twice a day.”

A healthy glow from warm exercise, and may I add, exercise with no visible sweat, emanates from the svelte strength of every swimmer and soaker. In addition to lap lanes for swimmers and water walkers, a therapy pool under the shelter holds 25 people at a time and is kept between 105 to 107 degrees. Myself, I can’t stay in that lobster pot for more than a minute, but it can quickly soothe any bunched muscles in my back and legs.

Also under the shelter, along with the therapy pool, is a baby pool, a full-service restaurant, espresso bar, and a dozen or more picnic tables. The restaurant is so good people come just for the food. A birthday party is underway near the baby pool. The outdoor, open-air pool is large enough to accommodate families, groups, lap swimmers, and soakers alike.

Outside the pool area are RV hook-ups, a couple of cabins and a shower and laundry facility open to the public. “We want to give people the option for staying more than one day and make it really comfortable for them,” Harmon said.

Valerie Garrett, who works the front desk on weekends, loves the people. “People come from all over the world. We even had a return visit by a family from Paris,” she said. “They find out about us on Facebook or the internet.”

The artesian water flows through the pool and out the east end into a man-made stream.  Then, it flows through a picnic area and out into the flat of the valley. Here it’s reabsorbed and filtered by the land. Finally, it  recharges the aquifer below. My worries and sore muscles are reabsorbed there as well.

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Denver’s Wes Watkins dynamic new future-funk EP is from another planet




Future-Funk Party Starter | Wes Watkins

Dreams Out from Denver’s best kept secret Wes Watkins wears so many musical hats it needs a rack; downtempo G-Funk homage and sweltering nee-Soul / Rn’B are all over this release, all covered with a thicc pop glaze and a penchant for electronic-sonic experimentation that keep every song fascinatingly adventurous while maintaining a danceability and groove that easily, easily warrants multiple listens. Don’t sleep on this one.

Lo-Fuzz Folkie | Hoi Ann

The beauty of Hoi Ann’s Tangenier lies in both what you can hear and what it may want you to not hear. Lo-fi folk and bedroom-pop are easily tangible on its surface, but the buzzy electronic tones that sparingly flourish the 5 songs of this release lie low and create a unique aural atmosphere for listeners, like hidden secrets for your ears only.

Indie-Punk Sweeties | Gestalt

The pop-punk shred-bois in Gestalt are back at it again; The irresistible combo of the Get Up Kids earnest midwestern-emo and smart pop-punk wit of the Wonder Years is strong on the tracks that encompass LongBoix, as is an acute fondness and growing appreciation for the finer indie rock of yesteryear. Well I guess this is growing up.

Psych-Rock Screamcore | Gone Full Heathen

On their criminally good self titled EP, Fort Collins heavies Gone Full Heathen friggin dare you to try and trap them in a single genre. Nice try, but they’ll just chew right through your puny ropes using a gnashing blend of crushing stoner-rock laced hardcore punk and overdriven psych-rock / post-metal induced bite like the righteous rock and roll wolves that they are.

All releases available for purchase now thru Bandcamp. Go Local!

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The Haze Craze for Lazy Days



There are many different styles of beer. Ranging from light lagers (think Bud Light) and ales to sours, stouts, and IPAs.

Within those styles, however, are varying styles.

For example, one would think a sour beer is a sour beer, right? Wrong. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, which defines every style of beer, there are six recognized European sour styles.

For IPAs, there are seven. American beers have four; stouts have three… You get the point.

Even with viewing the list of recognized styles, it’s not a complete list.

Take New England IPAs (NE IPA), as a prime example. Many breweries are currently mass producing this style of beer, and it’s selling like crazy.

You may have heard one of your annoying beer loving friends talk about drinking a “juice bomb,” or a requesting a “hazy IPA” at the pub, and shrugged it off. It turns out, they (sometimes) know what they are talking about.

What makes NE IPAs so popular when compared to a more traditional, West Coast IPA? NE IPAs have all of the hop flavors, without an overabundance of bitterness.

Instead of constantly adding hops throughout the boil to achieve a fruity flavor balanced by bitterness, the NE IPA has a small hop addition at the begging, and then nothing else until after the boil has finished.

That translates into a beer with very little bitterness, and plenty of hop aroma and flavor. Hops like Citra, Mosaic, Mosaic, Galaxy, and El Dorado are most common in NE IPAs, according to the Homebrewers Association. Those hops tend to impart a fruity, and dare I say, juicy flavor profile.

Between the juicy flavor and the seemingly natural haziness to NE IPAs, it’s not far fetched for an NE IPA to look like a tall glass of orange or grapefruit juice, only carbonated and full of alcohol.

NE IPAs are starting to gain momentum here in Colorado, with breweries turning their focus to the haze craze. Specifically, Odd13, WeldWerks, and Epic Brewing coming to mind.

Odd13 is based in Lafayette, Colo. and has a long list of NE-inspired IPAs constantly rotating through the tap room and distributed throughout the state. Codename: Super fan and Noob are two beers that are found in cans, and both offer a different approach to the haze craze.

WeldWerks is based in Greeley, Colo. and has accumulated a cult-like following in just a few short years for its Juicy Bits NE IPA. The brewery just started self-distributing locally, so you’ll have to make the trip to the brewery and pick up a crowler or four. Be sure to check the WeldWerks Facebook page for availability and limits. Yes, they have to place per person limits on how much you can purchase.

Epic Brewing recently announced its NE IPA, which will rotate between four different flavor profiles throughout the year. The cans will look the same but will be different colors as a quick way to tell identify which version you have.

So the next time you walk into a brewery or liquor store, it’s OK to ask for a hazy or juicy IPA. It’s a thing, and, frankly, they are damn good.

On Tap: By the time this hits newsstands, ThunderZone Pizza & Taphouse will have opened on the CSU-P campus. Located at 2270 Rawlings Blvd., the ThunderZone features 32 taps, a carefully curated tap list, and is locally owned.

At the opening, the tap list includes tasty brews from the likes of Florence Brewing and Lost Highway.

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Senators upend GOP health care bill in true Trump style… Twitter



WASHINGTON — When Sens. Mike Lee and Jerry Moran decided they were in ready to disrupt the GOP rewrite of the health care law, they chose President Donald Trump’s favorite medium.

They could not support Senate Republicans’ plan, the somewhat unlikely pair of conservatives tweeted at 8:30 p.m. Monday night, giving no heads up to the White House or Senate leaders before pressing send.

The story behind the statement reveals two senators willing to be branded as bill killers and seemingly unconcerned with trying to soften the blow with party leaders.

The announcement, coming after some 10 days of conversations between the men, stunned official Washington and left Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at least two votes short in the closely divided Senate from being able to move forward with the GOP bill, effectively sinking the measure. It landed shortly after Trump dined with a group of senators to discuss strategy – unwittingly plotting a plan that would immediately become outdated.

Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican leader, found out about Lee’s defection after the White House dinner of rosemary-grilled rib eye and summer vegetable succotash. He “had no idea it was coming,” Cornyn said.

Another Republican, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, found out from TV news.

Moran, a second-term lawmaker from Kansas who isn’t known for making waves, and Lee, a two-term senator from Utah who has clashed with Trump, have been talking over the past 10 days about the health care legislation and agreed the GOP bill did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare or address rising health-care costs. They decided to announce their position to make the bill’s fate clear and allow senators to move on, Moran said.

“It could have been prolonged for days or weeks while no one said anything,” Moran said in an interview.

Moran, who oversaw the Senate Republicans’ 2014 election campaigns, concluded last week he wouldn’t vote for the latest version of the bill but “gave myself a weekend in Kansas to think about it,” he said.

Lee had helped draft an amendment, along with fellow conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that would allow insurers to sell skimpy plans alongside more robust ones to lower costs. Cruz agreed to some changes in wording by GOP leaders, but Lee thought the new language allowed too many Obama-era regulations to remain in place.

After talking again, Moran and Lee agreed Monday night on a statement drafted earlier in the day. They issued their statement shortly after a White House dinner attended by seven GOP senators – all likely yes votes on the health care bill. Neither Lee nor Moran attended.

A Lee spokesman said the statement – and its timing – “had nothing to do with the White House dinner. It was not a reaction in any way.”

The statement was made public as soon as it was ready, the spokesman said.

Neither Trump nor McConnell received advance warning about the statement, although it’s likely that neither the president nor the Senate leader was completely surprised.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence spent the weekend calling lawmakers, including Lee and at least seven other GOP senators, according to the administration. Trump talked politics, while Pence discussed policy.

Trump called Lee on Saturday, and Lee told the president he was leaning against the bill, for the reasons he later made public.

Lee told Utah’s KSL Newsradio that he had a great conversation with Trump, when he told the president his “consumer freedom” amendment had been weakened and that he wasn’t sure that he could support the bill.

“He was encouraging to me and said, you know, ‘Just see what changes you can make to it,’ ” Lee said.

Lee and McConnell did not talk over the weekend, but Lee spoke twice to Cornyn, R-Texas, the majority whip.

Trump, who frequently takes to Twitter to announce proposals or denounce opponents, was blindsided by, of all things, a tweet.

He told reporters Tuesday he was “very surprised when the two folks came out last night, because we thought they were in fairly good shape. But they did. And, you know, everybody has their own reason.”

Moran said while he remained committed to repealing the health care law, Congress needs to make a “fresh start” on writing a replacement bill in an “open legislative process.”

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” he said, in a statement that followed the tweet.

In his own statement, Lee said the GOP bill does not repeal all the Obamacare tax increases and “doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Both explanations were issued on social media.

“Twitter is a nice medium to get your message out,” Lee’s spokesman said.

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