Peter Shelton

A Tale of Two Towns

Posted in Road Trips West by pshelton on September 30, 2009

At first glance, the best of times are long past for both Helper and Green River in Utah. But then we stopped, Jerry Oyama and I—for melons and an artful lunch—and the futures of these two towns looked brighter than their run-down exteriors would indicate. (more…)

Saber Tooth

Posted in Animal Dreams, Watch columns by pshelton on September 26, 2009

Hiking alone in the dark timber a couple of weeks ago, I came across a skull. (Earlier, I’d run into a bow hunter who used the term “dark timber,” referring to the spruce-fir zone above Buckhorn Lakes.) It was dark in there. The spruce especially were huge and old. Their vanilla-scented bark soared up into a canopy that almost completely shut out the sky. (more…)

The Education of a Philanthropist

Posted in Watch columns by pshelton on September 16, 2009

Twice last week I heard radio interviews with investigative journalist Max Blumenthal on his book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party. And twice I heard him mention the name Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr., as a reclusive, Tourette’s-afflicted “funding angel” of the Christian far-right.

The last time I saw Howard Ahmanson, he was hiding under a polished table in the foyer of his family’s mansion. He was eleven. Or maybe ten. It was his birthday party, and he refused his mother’s entreaties to come out and greet Mr. Shelton, who had come to take me home. (more…)

Like Drama Follows Them

Posted in More Sport by pshelton on September 14, 2009

In light of Serena Willliams’ profane meltdown at the U.S. Open last weekend, I offer the following, originally published in The Watch newspaper, June 11, 2009.

If tennis were a game of manners—I know, that part of the game vanished ages ago, even before John McEnroe made television lip reading fun—but if it were still a game of polite sportsmanship, Serena Williams would have been ousted for her verbal performance in the third round of the French Open last week. (more…)

Where the Water Comes From

Posted in Watch columns by pshelton on September 11, 2009

Where we live in the Beaton Creek Valley, at the south end of Montrose County, there is no water.

That’s an exaggeration, obviously, but there is truly very little water in our high desert ecosystem. I am told the well water is hard to find and not much good. Beaton Creek itself might supply enough for a small community, but it is mostly spoken for by the one large ranch at the valley’s upper end. Most of us are on the high side of the Piñon Ditch, the first diversion off the Uncompahgre River where it emerges from its canyon at Colona.

So, how do we live? We live on Gunnison River water from out of the Black Canyon by way of the Gunnison Tunnel, which celebrates its 100th anniversary September 26. (more…)

Greatest of All Time?

Posted in Ski history by pshelton on September 2, 2009

Rob Story penned a fine tribute in the September Skiing magazine to deceased freeskier and free spirit Shane McConkey. My only beef is with the headline writer who blared in all caps across the ‘zine’s cover: “The Most Influential Skier Of All Time.”

Story made no such claim in his article. He rightly described McConkey’s 39 years (before he died in a ski-BASE jumping accident last spring) as “pioneering,” “ballsy” and “hilarious.” Most influential of all time? I don’t think so.