Surprise!

Article and photos by Jack Olson

Can you immediately recall the biggest surprise you have pulled off in your life? I couldn’t until last year. It was my sister’s 50th wedding anniversary and was going to take place at my niece’s house in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina in late July.
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Up Where the Air is Thin

Article and photos by Jack Olson

Lupine on Shrine Ridge, Mount of the Holy Cross in background
Lupine on Shrine Ridge, Mount of the Holy Cross in background

Timberline. The most thrilling word in my severely challenged vocabulary. I didn’t even have a clue about this word until I moved to Colorado in 1965. I come from Illinois. We grew corn. We had flat. Timber was what we called woods.

Then I drove my old car out of the Midwest and settled in a Rocky Mountain state. A friend invited me to go on a backpack with him and some of his buddies. Gasp. Our elevation reached some twenty times higher above sea level than the Land of Lincoln. Worse than that, backpacking was uphill. With weight. What is this? Oh my, I only saw the receding backs of my friends. Huff and puff was all I could utter. Continue reading Up Where the Air is Thin

North of the Zoo

Article and photos by Jack Olson

Grand Canyon Lodge offers spectacular views from large lobby windows.
Grand Canyon Lodge offers spectacular views from large lobby windows.

Many, perhaps most, of you have visited our glorious national park, Grand Canyon. If you haven’t, put this down and make a reservation now……I’m waiting. If you are like most visitors you’ve stayed at and enjoyed the South Rim. There’s lodging in and out of the park: the El Tovar at the top tier, cabins and lodges, and many motels just outside the park. You can come by car, or even train. It’s great in every way. But it’s also a zoo. Continue reading North of the Zoo

Plan B: Custer State Park, South Dakota

Article and photos by Jack Olson

Billowing clouds loom beyond a lone tree
Billowing clouds loom
beyond a lone tree

If, by chance, the federal government, for some cockamamie reason, were to close all the national parks, monuments, and any place else they oversee, a traveler might want to find a worthy alternative, a surprising and brilliant alternative. In fact, South Dakota’s Custer State Park can stand on its own as a premier location for recreation, wildlife, and scenery.
Continue reading Plan B: Custer State Park, South Dakota

Weathering the Storm

Article & photos by Jack Olson

“If you don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes.”

The terrible, awful, miserable Trough on Longs Peak, just after the fateful storm.
The terrible, awful, miserable Trough on Longs Peak, just after the fateful storm.

I’ve traversed the country, coast to coast, watched local news, and EVERYONE says that. Anxious viewers sweat out a quarter hour in South Carolina, Oregon, Illinois, or Kansas. That phrase has now eclipsed the thousand mark over the years on my Denver TV station.

But, you know, there is an ice pellet of truth in this worn-out babble. If you live in or near the mountains, as many of us do, you sometimes place your life on the line in correctly reading the sky. Do you go ahead…do you turn back…do you seek shelter?
Continue reading Weathering the Storm

Glorious Glacier

Article and photos by Jack Olson

Grinnell Lake below Continental Divide
Grinnell Lake below Continental Divide

We might.  It’s possible. We could. RMOWP is investigating the possibility that we would hold a conference in Glacier National Park, Montana. We’ve asked for comments and have received a few responses. Let’s hear some more, and especially if you think you would attend a conference up there. Continue reading Glorious Glacier

Winter Close to Home

Article and photos by Jack Olson

Winter in the big city can deposit a soft layer of glistening snow; it can encourage hardy birds to remain or migrate in; it can freeze your face off.

Paddling in City Ditch after a light snow
Paddling in City Ditch after a light snow

Last year I wrote a column on “Wildlife Close to Home”, with feathered friends bearing young, swimming in warm waters. They even wander about the gardens, plucking leaves and petals. In winter it’s surprising how many birds remain, and how many migrate from the north. Once again, we’ll visit popular Washington Park, only about five minutes from my home. Continue reading Winter Close to Home