In the first week of last November, Ethan and I went hiking. It was a beautiful, 70-degree day, and we worked up a good sweat. Two days later, it was snowing. Such is the state of affairs in Colorado.

This year, the first storm hit two weeks earlier. Monday’s high was 78. I wore short sleeves to work. When the sun set on Tuesday night, the temperature dropped to nearly freezing and a persistent rain fell. By 11:00 p.m., it turned to snow.

The storm hit the entire state. Given that Loveland had just opened its third run, we weren’t going to go skiing. Yes, there was the promise of fresh powder. But none of the bowls would be open. Since we already had quite a bit going on Wednesday afternoon, we were content in the knowledge that this was only a foretaste of epic gnar-shredding to come.

Then Wednesday morning arrived. Snow piled up outside our window. I checked the snow report on my phone. Loveland had ten inches. Even one to two inches is enough to invoke what my father and uncle call Powder Rules during the regular season (back before we had the kind of skis that were made to handle powder, my cousin and I couldn’t understand why it was worth getting up at 6 to hit the first chair). I turned to Ethan, who was solidly asleep.

“So, I know Loveland’s still only got three runs open, but ten inches!”

He groaned, trying to shake me off. When I continued poking him, he gave a wicked grin and said, “You can stay right here and have ten inches.”

I looked at him wide-eyed. “Really? With who?”

“Touche,” he sighed. He blinked at the ceiling for a few minutes. “I thought you had tutoring today?”

“I could call in with powder flu.”

He blinked some more. “You really want to go, don’t you?”

I nodded, waiting for him to talk me out of it.

“Okay. Let’s go.” He threw off the covers and started pulling on his long underwear. I got dressed and checked CDOT’s road information site.

“Huh,” I said as Ethan brushed his teeth. “‘Eastbound I-70 closed at Idaho Springs due to overturned vehicle and numerous accidents.’ That sounds great.”

“What about westbound?”

“Still open.”

We looked outside. It was still snowing gleefully here in Denver, and cars were honking and sliding in our flatter-than-a-pancake part of town. We’d be idiotic to push ourselves up multiple miles of 6% grades when we didn’t need to.

Ethan finished brushing his teeth. I got our gear into the car.

Predictably, the ride was miserable. We bumped over a highway in which at least one lane was little more than ice with occasional gravel thrown in for a wonderful paint-scratching combination. Cars got angry with my cautious driving and shot past me,  only to wind up overturned on either side of the highway a few miles later. After a while, I stopped clenching the wheel white-knuckled.

“This is getting to be kind of fun,” I mused to Ethan as we passed a truck that didn’t look so much jackknifed–rather, it appeared to have gone to another dimension and been spit back out as barely assembled components.

Finally, we got to Loveland and geared up. I went to take the skis off the rack. I’d locked them in while we went to get breakfast, but now, I couldn’t get them unlocked. The locks had frozen.

“Shit,” I murmured as I tried each lock three times. I was already sweating, and we hadn’t even hit the runs yet. I looked at Ethan. “You got a lighter?” I asked, though I knew neither one of us smoked.

He didn’t dignify my question with a response, but he did go over to two other guys who’d just pulled up and asked them the same question. Seems everyone with a ski pass except us smokes something, and he soon returned triumphant. A few seconds of holding the lighter up to the ski rack as though we were trying to commit arson, and the skis were free.

So to summarize: a grand total of three available runs, an unpleasant drive, frozen ski locks, and temperatures that were genital-retreatingly cold. Was it worth it? you must doubtlessly be asking.

The answer: Hell yes! It was the first time I’d been able to ski anything that soft and technically challenging in months. The feeling of deep snow beneath skis is a tough one to explain to all but the most devoted pow-hounds, but it’s like what I imagine gliding through champagne froth would feel like.

We got in seven runs before succumbing to screaming quads–turning in deep snow makes for one hell of a workout. We got back to the car, where I’d left the ski rack open. I unlocked the car so we could put our gear in the trunk. The trunk, however, wouldn’t open.

Both Ethan and I pulled and pulled and pulled. We brushed snow away from the edges, figuring they must have frozen. Finally, I gave up and decided to go in through the backseat. But that door wouldn’t open, either.

No way in hell all the doors froze, I reasoned to myself. Then I had a thought. I walked around the back, past Ethan, who was was gasping for breath after struggling valiantly to open the trunk. I reached the driver’s door, which was already open, and hit the unlock button.

“Try it now,” I told him. He fixed me with the most incredulous stare he could manage, then burst into maniacal laughter.

We loaded up the trunk and started back down to Denver. The roads, after all morning and the better part of an afternoon being plowed, were considerably better than they had been the other direction. And though I do not look forward to future drives over packed-down ice, yesterday did get me completely fired up (more so than my ski rack was, even) over the prospect of epic powder days to come.


How to get free alcohol from drunk guys on the ski slope

On Thursday night, I went out for dinner with a few of my high school friends. Ethan declined the privilege of joining us, claiming he needed to finish cleaning our apartment (which tells you how eager he was to meet some of my friends). That left him on his own for dinner, and in spite of the fact that I was gone for a few hours, he still hadn’t gotten around to nuking and eating his soup by the time I got home.

Alas, while the nuking certainly took place, the eating never came to pass. While I sat on the couch and read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Ethan opened the microwave door and started to remove his dinner. Then there was a yelp and a loud splashing sound. I ran over to the kitchen.

Ethan stood in a rapidly expanding puddle of Safeway clam chowder. Soup smeared his glasses. He wiped at his nose and winced. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he missed the gobs hanging from his hair. In fact, I’m such an awful person that I couldn’t say anything at all. I merely grabbed the paper towels and began to sop up soup so he wouldn’t see how hard I was biting my lip to avoid laughing at the sorry sight he made.

I wiped up the floor while Ethan removed clam chowder from his person. As I put the last of the paper towels in the garbage can, Ethan yelled from the bathroom, “What’s it mean if my nose is oozing pus?”

Tossing the last of the paper towels didn’t mean I was finished with the job; it merely meant we had run out of paper towels. I grabbed the Kroger Value-brand napkins we’d bought for a party in August. They’re not particularly known for their absorbency, so I dropped about 50 on the floor surrounding the puddle. “I think that indicates a second-degree burn,” I shouted back, grimacing as I picked up rapidly dissolving napkin parts.

“Great,” he groaned.

About a hundred or so napkins later, I finally finished the job and started getting ready for bed. I deliberately keep my schedule clear on Fridays to go skiing, and I wasn’t about to go crying over spilt soup in lieu of partaking in plenty of Coloradans’ personal brand of masochism.

My alarm went off at the lazy hour of 9 a.m. the next morning (the snow is not yet worth hitting the slopes when the lifts open, and we’ve got better things to do with our time, like sleeping). I turned to Ethan and asked, “So…you still want to go skiing?”

He raised his head and glared at me. I wasn’t noticing the glare, however, since his nose was truly breathtaking. About half of it was covered in a yellowish, pus-like substance, with the surrounding skin an enraged fuchsia. I scrambled to the bathroom to avoid laughing or vomiting within earshot.

Amazingly enough, he did still want to go skiing. Sunburn being a huge concern at 10,000 feet above sea level, we spent most of breakfast discussing how he could avoid getting up to a third-degree burn.

“That scab’s just not hard enough for you to put sunscreen on it without smearing it all over your nose,” I declared loudly over oatmeal in Starbucks. Several of the other patrons left in disgust.

Ethan poked thoughtfully at a yellow raisin that came included in the packet of oatmeal parts and accessories. “Do we still have gauze in the car?”

I brightened. “Yeah! We do!”

That matter resolved, we left to make our way up to A-Basin, probably costing the King Soopers’ Starbucks a few dollars in revenue.

At the parking lot, I applied sunscreen to my face. Ethan bandaged his. The result had me openly chortling to the point where I couldn’t let it slide without documenting it for posterity.

He patiently waited while I snapped two photos. He even acceded when I asked, between gasps for air, “Can I put this on Facebook?” He made no such concession to my using the photo for this blog, so if these posts ever make me rich and famous, the picture will probably be hotly contested property between our divorce lawyers.

He got a few looks in the lift line, some of which I worked to my advantage. When the made-up, hairstyled blonde next to us on our second ride up started talking about the time some liquid wound up in her eye, I started shaking from laughter and glanced at Ethan, biting my lip as tears streamed under my goggles.

He obviously hadn’t caught the real source of my laughter and snapped, “I know it looks ridiculous, all right?”

I heartily agreed, vowing silently to tell him the real source of my amusement later.

It wasn’t until our water break that he was able to seize the opportunity of having a really weird injury. Bandaged hands, wrists, feet, and knees are nothing on the slopes, but a bandaged face? We set our gear down on a table. The guys next to us, already about two sheets to the wind, couldn’t stop gawking. I went in to use the bathroom. When I came back, Ethan was animatedly telling his story: “I spilled some boiling-hot soup–”

I cut him off. “Aliens. He was fighting aliens. One of ’em spurted acid on his face.”

One of the dudes howled. “I like her story better, man!” His buddy agreed.

Ethan and I drank our water. The guys went to the bar inside to get even more liquored up. The table on the other side of us now took notice.

“What happened to your face?” one of the women exclaimed. Before Ethan could explain about the soup, I jumped in: “He’s so ugly under that bandage, I’m not allowed to let him out in public without it.”

They roared appreciatively. When they settled down, Ethan explained the real circumstances. I pretended to roll my eyes in disgust.

“Man, you gotta stick to the story!” The other table agreed with me.

The drunk guys came back and stood at the end of our table. “Man,” one said, pointing to Ethan, “you gotta come take a shot with us.”

His companion nodded solemnly, if not soberly, in agreement, adding, “It’s already paid for, dude.”

Ethan’s eyes lit up. “Okay!” And he happily traipsed off (as much as anyone can traipse off in ski boots) to the bar.

“I thought you didn’t take shots,” I said when he returned with a huge grin on his face.

“Normally, no. But it was Jack Daniel’s!”

He returned to the slopes a much happier man. “The pain was totally not worth it, though,” he insisted as I grumbled about the lack of free shots I’d received that day.

I did notice, however, that his skiing seemed greatly improved, so perhaps putting in a down payment on pain had its advantages.

Keep your biases about the middle of the country to yourself, please.

An article in Nerve discusses five things that Sonia Aurora, a proud, born-and-raised New Yorker, learned about the rest of the country that wasn’t New York when she started dating a man from the Midwest. Iowa, to be specific.

And she had all kinds of learning experiences when she went to visit the vast, rolling expanses from whence her boyfriend hailed. For instance, did you know that there are actually good restaurants outside of NYC? Or that being somewhat taciturn in nature, as all non-New Yorkers are, of course, is actually just fine?

Most of the article’s commenters poured on the snark. Thanks for approving of our lifestyle, bitch, they generally agreed. We were sitting on the edge of our seats awaiting your New Yawker blessing.

But Aurora had a few defenders, too. “Hey,” they said. “It’s an honest, refreshing look at someone who confronted her own biases and came away a better person from examining them.”

I have to concede that her defenders have some merit. New York authors sometimes (though not always) display a persona that lets outsiders know that the rest of the country–nay, the world–isn’t worth their time. To see someone admit to having that attitude and doing her damnedest to overcome it is rather refreshing.

And yet there is an undertone to the article that suggests she still sort of thinks the way the rest of the country assumes New Yorkers think. That she is bemused by these Midwesterners and their foreign ways. That she is charmed by the fact that those poor, landlocked souls have sushi restaurants in the same way a patient individual might be charmed by a friend’s surprisingly well-behaved child.

Of course, Colorado is not the Midwest. The physical landscape is completely different, and our revenue derives more from skiing and breweries than farming and ranching (althugh that is still a large industry here). Still, I had the impression that Colorado, Iowa, Oregon, and Nebraska were all the same to this woman. They weren’t New York; therefore, they suck.

And that’s why I kind of wish even the “open-minded” East Coasters would STFU. Articles like this sting on a personal level, because I personally bought into the myth of East Coast superiority until I moved to and spent six years in Maryland. I assumed from reading books and articles from oh-so intellectual folks who happened to live along the Atlantic that the East Coast was somehow better, that there was something in the water that made them more refined and inclined to tackle the Big Issues.

Then I lived there. I realized that people there have their own special brand of stupidity, insularity, and backward thinking, just like people in Colorado and everywhere else do. As for some special degree of intelligence that would be accorded by drinking the water, I found none of that–only a few bouts of intestinal distress. Sure, the East Coast has more publishing houses, publications, and prestigious writing programs. It also has a larger population overall than the rest of the country, as well as a longer history of European influence. Correlation might not prove causation, but as Randall Munroe explains in the alt-text of one comic, it winks suggestively and whispers, “Look over there.”

I had to move away to truly see what made Colorado amazing. Aurora had to leave New York to make an attempt to understand the rest of the United States. Both of us seem somewhat disabused of some preconceived notions that we had. The problem, though, is that Aurora only continues to reinforce stereotypes that will make another generation of young middle-America dwellers insecure about their home states, making them feel obligated to leave because they want to shed their perceived inferiority, not because they simply want to see more of the world.

In short, New Yorkers and other East Coast denizens, I welcome you to visit my gorgeous home state. Just please keep the comparisons to yours to yourselves, thanks.

The Humanity of the Library

I love visiting the Denver Public Library’s Central Library. Not only is the 1.5-mile one-way walk a good source of much-needed exercise, there’s usually something interesting going on–the library is downtown, and there’s always somebody fighting with a cop or a straggle of protesters shouting about ending the New World Order outside the Capitol building.

The library itself is always a delight to visit. Since it’s the district’s main library, the books I want are usually there, if they’re anywhere in Denver. The building is one of those great old public institutions with seven grand levels and an awesome open area in the lobby. Some of the upper levels look out in the lobby, thus allowing for the newfound reason I came to love the library even more as of today.

Two women stuck their heads over the second-floor railing. “Security! We need security up here! This guy hit his head–”

A woman in the lobby stopped to look at the commotion. Recognizing the shouting woman, she exclaimed, “Oh, hey! How are you?”

The first paused her shouting for security to shout at her friend. “Pretty good, you?”

“Great,” crowed the second. “I just got my child support. Three hundred dollars, baby!”

“All right! You go, girl!” the first yelled back. By now, security had arrived, but it was only to glare at the woman in the lobby. The woman on the second floor waved her arms. “Up here! Dude hit his head.”

I shook my head and went to find a catalog computer. I got a text from Ethan: “This is going to be good.”

“Where are you?” I asked, though I was less than concerned. The library had the only non-checked out copy of a new book I’ve wanted to read, and I was in hot pursuit before someone else could snatch it.

“2nd floor,” he replied. The book was on the first level. I triumphantly hunted down my quarry, then clutched it to my chest, ready to fight off any competitors barehanded. Hey, there were already cops in the building to come to my rescue–or, knowing DPD, beat both my attacker and me to a pulp.

I strode up to the real source of action. Paramedics surrounded a dazed-looking man sitting cross-legged on the floor.

“You have any allergies?” a paramedic asked.

The man thought for a minute.

“Alcohol,” he finally replied.

It got a laugh out of the paramedic. “Okay,” he chuckled. “Any conditions you might be taking medications for that could have reacted with the alcohol?”

The man on the floor struggled to parse that sentence. The paramedic got impatient.

“You have HIV, hep C, anything like that?”

The man thought still more. “Hep C,” he finally declared.

The paramedic nodded. “If you’ll just come with me, sir,” he said. Without a fuss, the seated man stood unsteadily and allowed himself to be led out of the library. And without further ado, business continued as usual.

And that is why (if I may wax poetic for a minute; if not, why are you still reading?) I love the library. So many stories, mostly in flash fiction form, on display, available for the passing observer. Sure, you could make a beeline for the shelves right away, but you’re missing out on half the experience if you only read about extreme human behaviors without witnessing them yourself.

On an amusingly coincidental note: the book I sought so earnestly? Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test. Applying the reality of human behavior to the experts’ thoughts, indeed.

Let the 2011-12 Ski Season Begin!

I have been doing squats since July. I started with 100, moved to 150 in August, and finally started doing 200 a day at the end of September. I mention this boring anecdote about my personal exercise because the only reason I have been so disciplined in trying to wreck my knees was for the start of ski season. No huffing, puffing, and grabbing at my fiery quads for me on the first day hitting the slopes–not this year!

At long last, I can ditch the routine. Ski season started in Colorado as of Thursday. Well, actually, it only started in northern-central Colorado as of Thursday. Wolf Creek, a good nine hour or so drive south of Denver, opened up last weekend. And anyway, we missed opening day at Arapahoe Basin because we had a radio show and a sick cat who needed a trip to the vet…excuses, excuses, I know.

A-Basin’s unexpectedly early opening on October 13th (last year, no resort opened until October 22nd) doubtlessly prompted Loveland to open the next day. The two resorts have an ongoing rivalry as to who can open first in a given season, with Loveland beating A-Basin for the past two years. Whichever one opened first wasn’t terribly important, however, as Ethan and I have passes that cover both A-Basin and  Loveland. At 8 a.m. on Friday, I was poking Ethan in the forehead and breathlessly shouting, “I know there’s only one run open and the snow’s really gonna suck, but SKIING!” And indeed, there was one chairlift and one run open, and the 18″ base was entirely slush in the 60-degree weather, but in its own way, it was awesome.

There was no amount of squats that could have prepared me for the advent of the ski season, however. My quads, calves, feet, and all their neighbors were screaming at me from the first run, only some of whose complaints could be attributed to the brand-new pair of ski boots I’m still breaking in (YOU try moving around in a pair of feet-shaped bowling balls that are just a little too small for your feet by design for four hours. Go on. Try it. Don’t send me the pictures or the recordings of your agonized screams, please.). And yet, it was inexplicably glorious. Being able to look out at some of the most glorious backdrops in the whole country during breaks, moving my feet in the only way they ever feel elegant and sure of themselves, the crisp feel of the air–it was such an incredible feeling, we could only agree to come back the next day.

Well, not quite come back. We went to A-Basin today to check out the other run open in this part of the state. The last time we’d visited was on July 4th, where the snow held out just long enough to allow one hilarious holiday that was more about snowball fights on the chairlift than about skiing. The snow covering had gotten down to 18″, the temperatures got up in the low seventies, and the snow was the consistency of poorly cooked mashed potatoes.

102 days later (A-Basin’s website boasted that they’d only had 100 days between closing in July and re-opening in October, a fact some mental math undertaken while standing in the lengthy lift line confirmed), the temperature spiked in the seventies, the base was all of 18″, and the snow was the consistency of frozen mashed potatoes that hadn’t been allowed to thaw for long enough. To illustrate that A-Basin might well have stopped time after the lift shut down on July 4th and only started up again two days ago, here are some pictures:

Notice the sweet knee brace and the lighting that makes it appear as though I have no teeth.
July 4th, 2011

Compare that to this one from today:

Also, I still appear not to have teeth. BTW, proper ski posture *does* make you look like you're taking a dump.
October 15th, 2011

For all I know, they just secreted all 18 inches of that wonderful white goop from last year away in a dark cave somewhere and…hey. HEY. If you want to start thinking and acting on dirty thoughts, go click on that other tab you have open.

Anyway, now that I’ve overthrown the oppressive regime of squats, I have to start skiing in earnest. As more terrain opens up, I plan to get a helmet cam so I can start uploading videos of my exploits and linking them here. This won’t be much of a problem–typically, after about two beers and some light teasing from my male cousins, I can take a look at something like this and think, “Pssssh. That’s for pussies. I’ll show them who’s boss!” It’s truly amazing that I haven’t yet needed to have every bone in my body replaced with something titanium-lined.

Stay tuned for more drama as the year goes on–I’ll likely be interspersing stories of my latest encounters with the great outdoors with fond memories of incidents past and the occasional rant. In short, business as usual.

Seeing Arctic Foxes Eye-to-Eye

Today marked the first time I have been to a zoo in nearly fifteen years. It was free admission day at the Denver Zoo, an opportunity my frugal boyfriend and Jewish self couldn’t pass up. I rediscovered animals and exhibits I know I had seen before, since I used to frequent the zoo quite regularly as a child. I didn’t remember most of them, however. There was only one area whose location and layout I still knew by heart, and I eagerly dragged my boyfriend over there as quickly as possible: the Northern Shores Arctic section.

I was obsessed with Arctic foxes when I was a child. I learned everything I could about the adorable little predators. I pored over pictures in books. When I discovered I could see my favorite animals of all time live and in person, I’m sure I ran around the house and peed myself in excitement.

It became a routine father-daughter day. Sure, we’d make cursory visits to see the other animals, but as soon as we got to the Arctic foxes, I wouldn’t budge until closing time. My dad was quick to spot a pattern as well as an opportunity, so he soon started bringing the patient charts he had to review for the weekend. I’d park in front of the foxes, he’d park on a bench; I’d get to squeal over teh cute, he’d get work done and be able to chalk up quality bonding time in one go. It was a win-win situation.

One winter day when I was six (I know it was winter because the foxes had white coats–they’re gray in summer. Props for smug six-year-old geekdom!), I stood at my usual post. My dad was absorbed in his charts. One of the foxes did something particularly adorable, which in six-year-old terms, probably meant licking itself inappropriately. I squeed like the little fangirl I was and thrust myself forward to take a better look. Alas, I thrusted a bit too hard and toppled over the fence and headfirst into the prickly holly bushes that filled the barrier between humans and animals.

The other patrons who were, unlike my father, actively watching the foxes started murmuring and clucking their tongues in dismay. When no one instantly appeared to retrieve me, the disapproval became more audible. “How awful,” they tsked. “Abandoning that sweet little girl and letting her get hurt!”

It took a few minutes for my dad to realize that all was not quiet on the Arctic front. It took another few seconds for him to scan the crowd and realize I was not among the disapproving onlookers. It took another few seconds for him to take a deep breath and stride over to the barrier, where he found that his daughter was the cause of all this commotion. He leaned over and braced himself, preparing for the wail of pain I was certain to unleash in his ear.

“Daddy! I got real close to the foxes!” I exclaimed instead as he yanked me out of the prickers.

“You sure did!” he replied nervously, giving a shaky grin to the glaring tongue-cluckers. “Let’s not tell Mom about this, shall we?”

We went over to the bench to retrieve his charts. I glanced longingly at the foxes, who were napping obliviously. “Okay,” I sighed.

Of course I couldn’t keep an event that exciting to myself, so of course my father got an earful about irresponsible parenting. In my defense, I think my mother would have noticed the scratches and prickers still stuck in my hair and started asking questions eventually.

I managed to stay on the right side of the barrier nineteen years later, a tough feat considering the foxes are still adorable. My dad has to do work on his own time now, but I will still remember that time I got really close to the foxes with something like fondness.

Love the outdoors, hate the environment

There’s a reason (she begins, clambering up on her soapbox) why environmentalism never took off in a big way here in Colorado or in many of its neighboring states. Sure, the people who enthusiastically applaud new mentions of the Kyoto Protocols tend not to be the ones wearing orange blaze and loading the hunting rifle up for October, but I think there are deeper issues here beyond what the party on your voter registration suggests you really ought to believe.

See, I consider myself to be a liberal. I think corporations should be taxed, and taxed heavily. I’m all for raising taxes on the superrich. And I think oil companies should pay a 90% tax unless they can demonstrate that they are making adequate, independently verified strides toward alternate energy. I’m also an enthusiastic supporter of the pro-choice movement, LGBT equality, and tolerance for all who aren’t actively harming others through their actions. I love meat, but I’ll happily smoke a bowl with the vegetarians and vegans around town (note to all feds who might trip over this: words do not constitute actions, intentions, nor admission of prior activity. Freedom of speech!).

But damn, I hate environmentalists.

I put them in the same category that I put extremists of any stripe. Anybody who tells me what I need to do or how to behave in order to live up to their standards of a pure life is automatically on my shit list. And considering there have been studies contradicting some of the central tenets of the live-local, love-the-environment movement, I have no reason to trade my gas guzzlers (especially not when I’ve invested so much in them) for an $80/month bus pass when maybe the time and aggravation aren’t worth the possibly minimal reduction in environmental impact.

And I think this is the problem with the whole movement. It’s not that I love driving so much I’ll take it over any situation. If there were better public-transit options to get from my central Denver apartment to, say, my grandmother’s suburban home or the ski resorts I frequent, I’d take full advantage. Every popped blood vessel I get screaming at someone who cuts me off on the highway probably takes a year off my lifespan. By my reckoning, this puts me on borrowed time as of today. Other drivers are dangerous, and Colorado’s weather can be unpredictable, as many of the other entries on this blog can attest. If I had the option to let a trained professional consistently get me from Point A to Point B for a reasonable price, I’d take advantage.

But sadly for us outdoor lovers, no such system exists between any Front Range city and the mountains. I believe this is a pattern throughout the United States as well as that bastion of reduced carbon emissions known as Europe. So if the environmental movement is to be believed, I’m supposed to give up my access to the outdoors–stop skiing and hiking–because it’s somehow the right thing to do. Never mind how difficult promoting environmental awareness and preservation is if you can’t introduce urban dwellers to the very environment they’re supposed to be interested in protecting.

So to all the dreamy-eyed Prius owners up in the People’s Republic of Boulder (who are still greener than Hummer drivers, but still not proving themselves to be the saviors of the bunny rabbits), I offer this challenge: Find a way to make this movement practical. Get buses out of the cities and into the small towns that rely on car traffic. Start reviving passenger trains where tracks already exist, and expand where new tracks can be put. Less talking, more walking.

And until that day, stop telling me how unhealthy my cheeseburger is while gagging on your cigarette.