David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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The following columns were written for the Estes Park Trail-Gazette in 1983 and 1984 on a mostly weekly basis and are reprinted with permission. I have not included all of them, so you are free to guess about the quality of those I have eliminated. Some were so topical that they are no longer applicable to anything. On the other hand, my complaints about telephones, along with those of many others, resulted in some real change. Mostly these are reminiscences. Much has changed in the intervening years. Many of the people in these pieces have moved, no longer come here, or have died. My mountains themselves, however, are unchanged, and that is reassuring. One piece, about the wild cat, appeared in the Allenspark WIND, but I did not have a regular column at the time, so I have not included it in that collection. I was paid, I think, $15 a month for these, and when I submitted a small want ad and was charged for it, I resigned and began the long and pleasant volunteer relationship with the WIND.



July 1983


Driving up the Big Thompson I was stuck behind a motor home from Kansas. It occurred to me that this was a very fitting way for me to arrive. For more than 40 years I have been coming to my mountains a summer person. Now, after all those years, I am coming to them to stay.

I see all the changes, wrought by man and nature, in the few years since I was here.It is as though I have never seen the place before. l’m sent spinning into a sea of memories.

I can clearly recall taking the train from Union Station in Portland along with the family maid and my stuffed elephant, Elmer. I was four, the year was 1939, and my family had owned a piece of land on Big Owl Road since 1917. On the 160 acres my grandfather had entertained the great and near great for many years. Edna Ferber and Otis Skinner had been to tea on the banks of Roaring Fork. William Allen White and A.A. Hyde were frequent signers of the guest book at Steiner Acres.

In all the years I was growing up, summer meant Colorado, the Village, Allenspark and my mountains. There was mountain climbing and square dancing and glorious, if chaste, summer evenings with girls named Andree and Ellen and Alice. Now, after years of somewhat inefficient planning, I am doing what so many have threatened to do—I am going to be a full-time resident.

One of the first things a summer person does, especially if he has missed a year or two, as I have, is to check out the Village. What’s new? More important, for those of us who are middle-aged, what’s still here?

When I was a kid, Trout Haven was just as you came into town. Now it’s at the other end, and the Estes Park Bank has picked up its clock from the intersection and is opposite where the old Trout Haven was.

You could get dizzy from this.

Fortunately, some things don’t change, like Estes Park Hardware, the Plantation and the Indian Village. Older people need a sense of continuity. I get that from the Rock Inn. I was present at the creation, having just turned 18 when it opened, and “Rose Marie” was a big hit. I would drop in some night but I can’t stand being stared at.

The church is now shops. I can remember the funeral I attended in that church for Cathy Deever and Herb Miller; the place was jammed to the rafters with residents, wearing suits and dresses from the innermost recesses of closets for the occasion, while I lurked in the back, wearing a turtle neck sweater knitted by my mother.

Where is Connie’s, the garage across from what is now city hall? Connie, alas, died several years ago, but he gave me one of my first summer jobs. [I was wrong. He was very much alive and called from Arizona to tell me so.]

I also dug ditches for Barney Graves and waited on tables at Baldpate, Meeker and the Aspen Lodges, where Joe Droesser was constantly telling me to stop “shooting the rat.” Joe was from the old country—he checked the heat of the plates before they were served, and his Sunday buffets were extraordinary, as was his young wife. “Shooting the rat” turned out to be “chewing the rag,” and the waiters did a lot of it, which irritated Joe.

The mountains, of course, are still there, as they were before we arrived, and as they will be after we are long gone. I have climbed most of the familiar ones, including, the east face of Longs when I was l6, with Otto Von Almann. It may be true that you can’t go home again, but it is nevertheless good to be home.



© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner

Allenspark Wind Columns:


Why Allenspark?

Going Riding [August, 1985]


Used Cars

Peace and Quiet [1986]

Liberals & Conservatives

Going to the Movies

The Screened Porch

The Beginning of The Season

The Weather

The Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The End of The Season

The Gift of Time

The Beavers

Addresses [1987]


Watching the Trees Grow

Postal Rates

Changes in Estes Park

Square Dancing at the Pow Wow

Back to the Hilltop Guild Bazaar

The Solstices

Bird Feeders


The Estes Park Hardware Store [1988]


Limousine Service

A Memorial Service

A Hummingbird


A Hiking Trip

The Estes Park Public Library

Wild Life

Riparian Rights [1989]




Mountain Friendliness

A Motorcycle Trip

Satellite Television

“Weaving Mountain Memories”

Hotel Rates in the Old Days

The Price of Propane [1990]

The Front Range Almanac


Modes of Transportation

Miller Moths

My 50th Column

Modern Conveniences

Rock Climbing

On the Death of Otto Walter, Postmaster

Otto’s Memorial Service

A Big Owl Pot-Luck Dinner

A Whine About Telephone Service [1991]

After the Persian Gulf War

Some Changes in the WIND

The Trip to the Mountains

The Mountains in the Summer


Of Dogs, Music, and Children

Muhlenburg County

To My Grandson

The Sale of Longs Peak Inn

World War II  [1992]

Murphy’s Law and the Computer

The South St. Vrain Canyon


The Hazards of Volunteering

Crime in Our Valley


On the Death of Charles Eagle Plume

Can We All Get Along?

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

Lost Horizon [1993]


Rumors About a Visit by the Pope


More About Fences


The Visit of Pope John Paul II

Forest Fires

The New Sewage System

The Snow Pool

The Good Old Days [1994]

The WIND’s 20th Anniversary

The Bunce School

The Shooting Gallery

The Estes Park Museum

Our Government

U.S. West Takes a Hit

The Year of the Hummingbirds

A New “Yield” Sign

Growth in Allenspark

Private Telephones?

The Salvation Army

Creation Science [1995]

Devolutionizing Big Government



Fort D.A. Russell

Domestic Terrorism

Old and New

Barney Graves

Life in the Wilderness

What’s In a Name?

Arthur C. Clarke


The Estes Park Trail-Gazette Columns:

July 1983


Estes Cone

Johnny Grant

Observations in Estes Park

The Bath House


The Sutherland’s Ice House

How Old is Charles Eagle Plume?


Christmas Trees

Tree Murder

Mountain Driving


Mail Boxes

More About Mail Boxes

“Are you related to ....?”


An Accident

The Wild Cat

A July Reunion

A Visit to Baldpate Inn

Opening Cabins


The Times, They Have Changed

Death and Transfiguration

The Population Explosion

The March of Time

Faith-Based Social Services

Looking for Pitch

Recent Writings I

Recent Writings II

Recent Writings III

Recent Writings IV

Recent Writings V

Recent Writings VI




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