David E. Steiner

Retired USAF, Teacher, Dad, Grandfather, Curmudgeon

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The Mountains in the Summer


This is a very different place in the summer. I was reminded of the fairly obvious fact on three recent occasions.

First, we went to Estes Park to see the fireworks over Lake Estes. It wasn’t the rededication of the Statue of Liberty, but it was a good show. We had a very mediocre and badly overpriced meal at the Stanley, which featured an orchestra playing patriotic music. The best part of the meal was a visit with a couple from Missouri who shared our table. Like most tourists (I gather the tour people call them “lemmings”) they had very little time, and they were astonished by the things you and I take for granted: the mountains, the cool, clean air, the many streams. They wanted to know what they should do on the one remaining day they had free, so we recommended a trip up Trail Ridge Road, and my mother talked to them about what that trip had been like in 1927, when the only road was up the Fall River. The man had put in a new water pump somewhere in eastern Colorado, so he wasn’t at all sure this was what his car needed, and I wondered afterward if they made the trip. And they had arranged a rafting trip while they were here; the usual things people from Missouri do here.

After the fireworks, we tried to beat the crowd out of town, but several thousand others had the same idea. We all agreed that we had never seen so many cars on Highway 7. We thought most of them would turn off at Carriage Hills or the Mary’s Lake road, but most of them went right on up the Baldpate hill. A very strange sight indeed, as hundreds of cars made a trail of white and red lights, tracing the road along Lily Mountain. Years ago the fireworks were shot off from the cliff just south of town, above what is now Confluence Park, but that bluff now has dozens of houses all over it, so the pyrotechnics have been at the lake for many years. I can remember one 4th, lying on the roof of MacDonald’s Book shop with a very nice girl, watching the fireworks…but I digress.

The second event was just an ordinary trip to Estes Park, during which I was standing at one of the two intersections of the town, waiting for the walk light. Now, in the winter you can pretty much shoot a cannon down Elkhorn Avenue and not hit anything, but a Saturday in July is another matter. Forty or fifty people were waiting for the light, and a strapping young man with a whistle in his mouth and a two-way radio on his belt was insuring that all went well. A car entered the intersection after its light turned red, and the young traffic cop blew his whistle several times, but the people in the car just looked at him and kept on driving, as though he was blowing the whistle at someone else. One lady next to me said, “This is sure a long light,” which it is, and, as if in answer, when the walk light came on the young man said in a loud voice, “Thanks for waiting. Walk any way you like, across or diagonally.” So the tourists obediently walked, wearing their Estes Park hats and carrying their boxes of saltwater taffy and bags filled with souvenirs and they did indeed remind me a bit of lemmings.

Lastly, I turned into my driveway at about 11:00 one night and found an unfamiliar car parked just off the road; an old Datsun with a white fiberglass luggage box on the roof. A 30ish man of average build with a light beard was caught in my headlights standing next to his car in a strange sort of pose, with his right hand held out in front of him, palm down, and his left held out behind him pointing down. He seemed to be staring intently at the ground. “May I help you?” I asked.

“I’m a healer,” he replied, barely turning his head toward us, but not otherwise moving.

Now, I ask you, what would you have done? Well, I thought of several smart things later, but at that moment, I was stuck for anything to say. So I drove around him and went on the house, and as I was going in, he called out, “I’ll leave in a couple of minutes.” So I turned on the big halogen outside lights and waited, and sure enough, he left and I haven’t seen him since.

Who was he and what he was healing? I haven’t the slightest idea. But this is a very different place in the summer.




© 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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