David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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Opening Cabins


Although we live in a cynical age, I think it’s still okay to be shamelessly sentimental about some things. I’m that way about the annual ritual of opening summer cabins.

As I sit on my porch these days I can see the heavily laden out-of-state cars roll along our road, full of summer expectations. As I listen to the sounds of shutters being taken down, the chopping of wood and the squeals of delight from young throats, I can recall the more than 20 summers when we arrived and went through our cabin opening rituals.

Our cabin, perched on a rock, looked like nothing more than the Ark itself, though our Ark was firmly bolted to the rock out of respect for the winter winds.

As likely as not, the keys to the Ark had been misplaced over the winter. My brother, until he grew too big and then I, gained entrance through the wood box, next to our little cast iron kitchen stove, whose name, “Junior” was written across the oven door. Then it was only four steps to the front door, which opened wide for the first time in ten months.

The mattresses were piled on top of a table to protect them from the mice, and had to be put into place before the car could be unpacked. The floor had to be swept, windows washed and mouse traps emptied of the withered little bodies.

Closets disgorged their stored treasures: bits of rock, familiar knick-knacks to be placed on shelves exactly as they had been for numberless previous summers.

At some point, we boys came upon the BB gun and the fishing poles, and we snuck out for a quick trip to the stream, carrying along the shovel from the tool shed, which we installed for the summer in our worm digging spot.

On the way back up the hill, we stopped for a view of the property from the top of a group of rocks called the Study Rocks, because they were in front of the small cabin my grandfather used when writing one of his many books.

From the top of the rocks, we could see for several hundred yards in all directions, and we could observe any changes since the previous summer, such as fallen trees. It always looked reassuringly the same.

Then we were off to our tree house, which was at first just a bench on the branch of a ponderosa pine, reachable only by a ratty and unsafe piece of rope.

Sitting on my porch these days, I hear the sounds of happy children arriving at their summer cabins, and I can almost believe those other two boys of summers long gone are still playing, in the summer sun.




© 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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