David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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Observations in Estes Park


Eliza Shockley reminds me that the trees that grow in such odd shapes on Estes Cone are not mere pine trees, but limber pines. Quite right, and still worth seeing, though the way the snow is falling up there you may have to wait until next spring. All of which proves that things often don’t go exactly the way one expects, and I am often less than brilliant. I thought I was really smart the other day when I saw a fisherman at the footbridge in the parking lot just up stream from the Park Theater.

He was casting into the stream and I was just about to tell this tourist he was unlikely to hook anything behind the local pizza palace when he jerked on his line had pulled out a 12-inch trout.

In a twinkling, he slipped that fish into a hole in his jacket, cast again and pulled out another, and still another, though this one was too small and he threw it back. Then I began to take inventory; the waders should have tipped me off. I might also have checked out the compartmented jacket and the hat, festooned with dry flies. It’s one of the rare times I’ve kept my mouth shut and avoided making a complete idiot of myself.

You can also tell a lot about people from their woodpiles. Some people stack the wood neatly and put covers over them. They buy the wood already cut and it’s all the same length.  You can tell whether a house is occupied by the woodpile, of course. If it’s been vacant for a while the woodpile will be silver.

You can certainly tell the spendthrifts from the misers; all you have to do is check the size of the pile to tell the grasshoppers from the ants.

Charlie Baker, who lives south of Estes Park, is one of the original provident squirrels. He has been doing construction work around here for more than 60 years, and he says he likes to have a supply of wood on hand. Behind his house he has an unruly pile of wood 16 feet high and 26 feet long and 16 feet wide, all split by hand—by Charlie’s hand.

I had plenty of good intentions this fall, but my pile is only about four feet high and 10 feet long and 12 inches wide—hardly a pile at all. I get discouraged when I when I see pile like Charlie’s. It’s a little like driving past the houses of the rich; it’s obvious I can’t have anything like that, so why worry about it? Besides, there are lots of disadvantages to having too much wood on hand: you have to keep it dry, you have to use the oldest stuff first, and it’s always on the bottom. If you have too much, someone will probably steal it from you. I think I’ll just cut a little at a time, or just forget about wood and turn up the furnace.

After all, you can t tell anything about a person from his woodpile if he doesn’t have one, can you?




© 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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