Commentary From the Mile High City

"Star of the conservative blogosphere" Denver Post

"The Rocky Mountain Alliance offers the best of what the blogosphere has to offer." -David Harsanyi, Denver Post
Joshua Sharf

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April 20, 2009

Photoblogging from Long Island

Friday morning at Long Beach:

Not your typical Bridge Shot:

Long Island has a "Cradle of Flight" museum, which I guess makes sense, since there were a lot of flight schools out there in the early 1900s. I guess that leaves Kitty Hawk as the Birthplace of Flight and Dayton as the Womb of Flight.

The obligatory WPA art as you enter the museum. Icarus is the only one who gets a spot as both inventor and plane.

An early place design. A lot of these were intended to touch down on both land and water, but if you tried a design like that with today's engines, it'd rip the wings right off the fuselage.

This is the instrument panel that Jimmy Doolittle used in the first blind flight. It demonstrated that you really needed to trust the instruments, and not the "seat of your pants" feeling that they replaced. "Seat of the pants" was getting a lot of pilots killed, because the inner ear isn't as finely engineered as these gyros. Funny thing is that every instrument in the basic VFR flight training, 80 years later, is here on this panel.

A model assembly line for WWII fighters:

You can make out a lot of actual buildings in this poster, but not the actual Pan Am building. It hadn't been built yet. ("The what?" "There was a building called the...oh, never mind.")

The museum has a IMAX in it, and the control room for the theater is in a fishbowl. Every high school AV geek's secret fantasy. The bottom platter is the spool, the top is the take-up reel. The film feeds from the inside of the bottom, runs up about a story and a half to the projector, and then back down to the inside of the take-up reel, so there's never a need to rewind. Which is good, because the film is 3" wide and worth its weight in gold.

April 13, 2009

Delayed Photoblogging

From the trip back from Castle Rock a few weeks ago, when it looked as though Spring had arrived.


October 20, 2008


October 7, 2008

Photo Finish

"Mr. Sharf, this is D---- at the Echo Mountain Lodge, and we think someone has turned in your camera."

So apparently the raccoons got tired of trying to figure out how to retrieve the batteries, and left it on the trail for someone to pick up.

"No, he wouldn't leave a name or any contact info, just wanted to turn in the camera."

And Sunday morning was spent trekking out to Mt. Evans, to retrieve a hopelessly broken camera. After all the thing had sat out in the increasingly harsh weather for weeks, after having bounced down the side of the mountain. The optics would be out of alignment, if not outright cracked; the zoom motor might not even work. Maybe - maybe - the flash card would still be in there, so I might get back the photos.

So up early and off to the lodge. Too early. It was like a scene out of Casablanca: "I'll be there at 7:00." "We'll be open at 9:00." Which meant that I had an hour or so to kill hiking the same trail and taking time-lapse photos of the prior month's scenery.

Lo and behold! The camera didn't seem the worse for wear; although the zoom toggle had broken off, it was still useable. No batteries, so the crash testing would have to wait for home. But the flash card was there. And something I had forgotten about: the screw-in base for the tripod.


And, yes, the camera seems to be working fine. Maybe Lowell Thomas is available for a testimonial.

May 26, 2008

Ft. Logan National Cemetery - Memorial Day 2008

Thank you.

January 2, 2008

Day 4 - So This Is Scenic?

I had planned to spend today hanging around Sedona, taking pictures of blue sky and red rock. Except that the clouds blocked one and dimmed the other. So instead, I decided to spend the day driving around the eastern part of the state, seeing what AAA classified as, "Scenic."

Much of this part of the state is at a high enough altitude to be pine forest, and I get plenty of that in Colorado. But then, on US-60, you descend from Show Low to a place called, "Globe," and you're back into the serious desert.

December 31, 2007

New Year's 2008 - Bluff, UT

Where they have a large bonfire each year for New Year's. Down in the hotel lobby, eyeing the bonfire that was throwing sparks high into the air, and enough smoke to rival the fireplaces in John Edwards's house, I asked if it, ah, ever got out of control.

"Nah, Jim here's the fire chief."

Well, I guess that's that, then.

Here are the pix from Day 2. Just in case you're wondering, yes, I drove down the Old Comb Ridge track. Helluva ride. Dog thought so, too, wondering when it was all going to end. And yes, I mean that just how it sounds.

On The Road Again

So, in-between jobs again, I decided to take the road trip early, when I knew I'd have the time, rather than later, when I'd fret that I couldn't afford it. Eventually, I'll compile these into a Road Trip section, but for now, without commentary, here's the photo haul from Day 1:





October 16, 2007

The Rockies Win The Pennant! The Rockies Win The Pennant!

Just some photos from last night. You already know what happened.

The pre-game scoreboard. In case there was any doubt, I wanted to remember I was here:

The color guard:

You can't even see the row of purple seats:

Helton Batting:

Holliday in mid-homerun swing:

The celebration. I have to say, I liked it better when they felt they could trust the fans to run out and mob the field, also:

Media Time, as they wheel out an oversized pingpong table:

This is what happens when you get hot at just the right time:

September 4, 2007

Labor Day Gallavantings - II

So you take pictures going out, and you take pictures coming back. This one's of a State Park just south of Steamboat. For some reason, they're building houses practically up to the water's edge, but I managed to keep them out of the photo.

It's also a prime spot for fishing. I've never particularly liked fishing, but when there's no place for the dog to swim because he'll scare the precious, rare trout away from the line, it's too much.

Yes, there are still cowboys who ride horses and wear hats. They use pickup trucks instead of wagons, but a pickup truck is a pretty blunt instrument for herding.

Colorado has a lot of mountains and overpriced lift tickets, but it also has a lot of this. Much of which is for sale. Has been since I've been out here, so I don't think it's just people defaulting on mortgages.

I took a detour through some fairly non-descript country, trying to find what the map said was a route through to CO-131. I wouldn't necessarily call it a wasted hour, but there's a perfectly good scenic byway through the Flat Tops (below) that I bypassed because it would have taken too much time.

It's also the start of hunting season, which made me very glad I was wearing a red shirt and driving a blue Jeep, rather than, say, wearing camoflage and driving the Sahara version.

A few pictures of the Colorado headwaters area, near a place called State Bridge. Not sure what all the other bridges are, but this one is State Bridge.

Just as this went by, a Ute raiding party of about 100 swept down from the ridge and...ok, not really.

Sometimes you get the light you want, and sometimes, you get back in the Jeep because you see lightning.

And then just before you rejoin CO-9 at Kremmling. Kremmling calls itself, "Sportsmen's Paradise," which I guess means a lot of fishing. So the town has a Sportsmen's Bar and Sportsmen's Lounge. I didn't any ads for the Sportsmen's Quartet, probably because they won't let them smoke their Luckies any more.

September 2, 2007

Labor Day Wanderings

Summer's last hurrah, the last tentpole of the season. An short overnight jaunt up to Steamboat Springs, on some new roads. And some new pictures. The panorama shots are stiched together by a remarkable program called AutoStitch (hat doff and bow to Soccer Dad).

As always, click to enlarge.

August 28, 2007

Silver Dollar Lake

Just In! From this Sunday's jaunt up to Silver Dollar Lake near Guanella Pass. As always, click to enlarge.


July 31, 2007

Hayden Pass

From Sunday's Jeep outing, presented without comment, except to note that it's still not to late to purchase late-summer plane tickets and hotel reservations. The pass is on a road from Villa Grove in the San Luis Valley to Coaldale, on US 50 along the Arkansas River.



Step Two of the Great House Project begins. Step Two has two substeps: a backsplash in the kitchen, and retiling the kitchen floor to match. (It actually has a third, but re-doing the countertops is a ways off.)

Here's the backsplash, courtesy of yours truly.


June 26, 2007

Tr. 2001, A Sage Odyssey

Respect the trail. That's what everyone says. Well, when you look at the topo map, and the thing looks pretty short (3 mi.) and pretty flat, what happens? You don't bring enough water, and you end up landing hard on both ankles and turning your thigh muscles into a trauma zone, that's what.

This then, is the trail to Lake Constantine in Colorado's Holy Cross Wilderness, a helluva a place for a nicejewishboy, and the lake itself a still-unattained goal.

Nice view, huh? That rock you see off to the left flattens out into a little shelf, and at one point, I mean little. There's a scene in Serenity where the pilot talks himself into confidence during a, ah, challenging landing, by repeating over and over, "I am a leaf on the wind." "I am an ant on a superhighway," works well here.

Just some of the view available to those not suffering from heat stroke.

Kids, Don't drink this! Even on an empty stomach, giardia is a very, very bad idea.

This actually is the trail at this point. The dog, of course, wants to get wet, since it's hot, and he's thirsty, and he's wearing a fur coat. Naturally, in a cruel irony, the point of crossing for people wearing shoes is to stay dry.

"Well if you had a pack mule along, why didn't you just ride him?" Very funny.

And here we are, down at the bottom. There's a "No Trespassing" sign on the house next to this viaduct. I assume they have a problem with people climbing on it or hiking to where it hits the side of the mountain to get cool perspective photos. They needn't have worried. All I wanted was to get back to Minturn and buy water, Gatorade, water, cranberry juice, water, and iced tea. And a power bar.

June 18, 2007

Sunday Jeeping

So in honor of the U.S. Open, I took a trip down to Tincup Pass Sunday morning. As usual, click the thumbnail for a full-size view.

This is why they call it Chalk Creek:

The road takes you from Nathrop up a canyon to St. Elmo, advertised as a ghost-town like Hollywood would have built one:

Only there's a general store and flea market open on weekends, which kinda kills the atmosphere:

There are also a bunch of ghost cabins on a side street that look suspiciously well-maintained and lived-in, so I suspect there's less ghost here than meets the eye.

Here, the dog can be seen retrieving a drink of water.

The guidebook rates this a "3." Given that you get bounced around like a ragdoll, that makes me wonder what makes a "5". The pass itself was still blocked by snow, but the view was worth it.

June 17, 2007


June 11, 2007

New York Pictures

OK, it's been a while, but there's news which sort of explains it.

In the meantime, enjoy these pix, a little parting gift from my previous job.

February 14, 2007


Before we writing initiating reports when we begin covering a company, we always meet management. One company we're considering covering is in Pasadena, so I got to fly in, meet management, and fly out. The hotel was on Colorado Blvd., which is part of Old Route 66, the route for the Rose Parade, and home to much fine Googie architecture:

That's about all I got that was useful from California. I didn't stay long, in part so that I could fly back in sunlight and maybe get some pictures from the airplane. Unfortunately, there was persistent cloud cover the whole way home, so the best pictures I got were of Denver and LAX (as always, click to enlarge):


Another reason was that I had the chance to have dinner with the rest of the Backbone Radio crew and Brian Kennedy of the Claremont Institute last week. John got the Brown Palace's prime rib, Krista opted for the Caribou, and i enjoyed the rich, succulent, ah, fruit plate. That's ok. The fruit was very good.

As would be expected, Brian's very smart and pretty interesting, as well. When the talk turned to the war, and the frightening prospect of a nuclear bomb going off in the US, I asked Brian if he had a home in Valencia. Yes, he got the joke.

We also chatted about the role of the Supreme Court, but the source texts for the discussion, essays by Harry Jaffa and Hadley Arkes, aren't available online, so you'll just have to spring for the Review.

Welcome Back

How about we break the hiatus with a little photoblogging? You've heard of all the snow we've been getting here, although after the lake-effect stuff Buffalo's been suffering through, any complaints about our stuff sound like whining. Well, there's a little trail above Frisco on Lake Dillon. So here are a few pictures before we get back to the hard-core stuff:


October 26, 2006

Finally, Snow

Finally, snow. We've had the major networks reporting snow, "in and around Denver" for weeks, and all it's been is a dusting here. Sure, the mountains get pounded, which is nice for the omnipresent Winter Sports Enthusiasts, but Denver just gets a little white and a lot of grey. But this morning, we got actual, real, heavy, wet, thick snow. Four inches of it. Naturally, it's all melted now.

Most of our snow comes from warm fronts, which means the clouds linger. The sun's radiation goes right through them, of course, and those nice white trees only last for a couple of hours. It's very rare that a cold front blows through, dropping its load and leaving behind blue skies. Happened once, in February 2001.


October 1, 2006

Aspen Pix

From the weekend trip a couple of weekends ago. Posted for your enjoyment without comment for lack of time. I'll try to add comments tomorrow evening.





August 28, 2006

Wednesday Evening Sunrise

One of the (very) few fringe benefits of getting to work before the donuts...

You'll notice the windowframe on the right-hand side of the picture. Which means that soon, I'll have to ask building management if there are any vacant east-facing offices on one of the higher floors...

August 23, 2006

Trip Photos

Finally. There's no design to criticize.

July 24, 2006

Shrine Pass Photoblogging

This week's Jeep Adventure was at Shrine Pass, an easy but dreadfully potholed little trail, running from I-70 just east of Vail Pass to Red Cliff, on US-24 just south of Minturn.

The Shrine Ridge Trail that runs from the parking lot at the Pass has some nice views looking back towards the east. Unfortunately, the day was hazy, and I got a later start than I would have liked, so you may have to use your imagination:


The trail itself has a ton of wildflowers.


I can't tell you how hard it is to photograph fields of wildflowers. When you're standing there, all you see is the flower, and when you look at the picture, all you see is the grass. It doesn't help that the dog likes to eat the flowers, leaving even fewer to photograph.

The marquee attraction of the Pass road is Mt. Holy Cross. The gouges in the side of the mountain form a cross, and the snow stays there for most of the year. Apparently, it used to stay there for the whole year in most years, but to the simultaneous chagrin and joy of environmentalists, the drier, warmer weather has it looking more like an upside-down sword this time of year.


The end of the trail, the Red Cliff Bridge, which carries US-24.

Red Cliff itself is a tiny little town, with a bunch of run-down houses and a dog that likes to chase Jeeps. Even here, though, there is a "New Red Cliff," with vacation cabins on the road above the town, on the way out. I'm not sure why they don't buy up the dilapidated mobile homes in the main part of town and build over them. It's not as though there's a lot of mining activity supporting the local economy, and the one touristy restaurant can't possibly provide more than a full-time job or two.

Redevelop Red Cliff!

July 16, 2006

Georgia (Pass) On My Mind

Finally, taking the Jeep someplace that my Contour couldn't go: Georgia Pass, formerly a connector between South Park and Breckenridge, now a playground for ATVs. It's on the same road as Jefferson Lake.

I noticed, approaching the mountains from the east, that the road behind me was straight back, so I thought I'd get a little artistic.

Don't worry: there's no more of that.

Here are the mountain as God intended them to be seen:


Obligatory I-Was-Here Pass Sign:

Once you get there, there are some fantastic vistas both of the mountains to the west, and back at South Park. The pictures don't really do them justice, and one of the dogs had a hip that wouldn't let him climb the mountain with a full 360-degree view, so these will have to suffice.


July 4, 2006

Independence Day Photoblogging

Sunday, I took the Jeep out across Weston Pass, which runs between Fairplay and Leadville. Here are the results:

Rich's Creek Trail's trailhead is on the Weston Pass Road, just after the pavement ends:

The South Fork of the South Platte runs down from the pass to near Fairplay. These pictures are facing up the river, towards Weston Peak:

And the obligatory Prove-You-Were-Here sign at the top of the pass:

The other side is where you get the mountain views. I think the one on the left is Mt. Massive, the one on the right is Mt. Elbert. Or the other way around:

Just before you hit US-24 going up to Leadville, there's a development called Mt. Massive Lakes. It's private, which is their right, but there's no sign on the map that the ponds are restricted, so if you get there and the dog starts blaming you because he hasn't gone for a swim yet, don't blame me. It's worth wading through the "No Trespassing - Private Land" signs, though, for this:

If the dog still wants a swim, there's Turquoise Lake, Leadville's main reservoir and recreation area, on the other side. I'd never been there, but now it looks like I'll have to stay overnight in Leadville sometime to get some sunrise pictures of the place:

One way back is over Fremont Pass, now dominated by a large Molybdenum mine, but former home to towns:

Happy Fourth!

June 11, 2006

Boreas Pass Photoblogging

I figured Memorial Day was as good a time as any to get the Jeep out on the dirt, so I picked a fairly easy trail fairly close to home. By the time I got there in early afternoon, the weather had already turned, but I still managed to get some decent shots. As always, click to enlarge, and enjoy.


May 1, 2006

View From a Height

Yes, the 25th floor of the appropriately-nicknamed Cash Register Building.

As always, click to enlarge:

The north looks out on part of old Denver, in particular the Five Points area. In the distance, you can even see grain elevators:

The northeast is an older residential area, that's also undergoing some gentrification and rebuilding:

Immediately to the northeast is the original El Jebel Shrine building; it fell into terrible disrepair, and has now been taken over by the city as an events and arts center of some kind:

I used to work in that building partially blocking the left; the company's still there, and I could probably pin down my old boss's office and spook him by posting pictures. But I won't.

I've also got a clear view down 18th Street:

When I get a chance, I'll try to track down a vintage picture to compare. From time to time, I'll also try to pick out some particularly interesting building and zoom in on it. For now, though, it's nice to have an office with a window and a door for the first time in 10 years.

December 22, 2005

...And In With the New

Hey, when you've been on everything paved, there's only one way to get to new places.

Despite the name, there are certain limitations. For instance, I think it's actually named for the amount of gas it uses. And with the soft top, I'll not only hear my radio but most other cars' as well.

But this particular model has an extra 15" of space, and a longer wheelbase. It feels a little more SUV-like, a lot smoother ride, but it still handles like a Jeep.

Lat year, on a lark, I bought a series of books on 4WD drives out west, looking for ones that the Contour could handle. Now, I just need to tough it out until Spring. Or, head over into Utah....

November 26, 2005


Having decided to give thanks in Aspen this year, in part for having such a beautiful state to give thanks in, I also thought it would be nice to take a little drive around the area, before the snow came in earnets, and 4WD vehicles and owls became the most reliable methods of communication.

There's a little town, just northwest of Aspen called Basalt, and off of that, a road follows the Frying Pan River for about 30 miles. (The road is imaginatively named Frying Pan Road, for those of you headed off to Mapquest.)

In late November, here's what you get for your trouble (as always, for all pictures, click to enlarge):


Now there's also an underused and unpaved road through the backcountry to Eagle. I thought that perhaps, it wasn't too late to take it, and see some country that most people, either flying in on the private jet besotted with champagne, or driving in on 82 to hit the slopes, never see.

It was just about as I was taking the second picture up there that I realized that wasn't going to happen. The snow sure looked plenty packed, but as I kept going, it was clear that 1) that wasn't getting better, and 2) there wasn't going to be any good place to turn around. So I had better take what was available, and rock myself out if need be.

Need be. Which of course, all taking place in low gear, overheated the engine and blew off about half the reservoir of coolant. I was able to stagger back into Basalt with a judicious mix of high gears and coasting, but it was clear that that wasn't going to work on 82, with its speed "limits" of 55 and up. So it was off to the only garage open on Black Friday, and an hour long cool-off to see What Was To Be Done.

Now Basalt is one of those old, small towns that you always say, "Gee, wouldn't it be fun to just stop there and walk around for an hour or so." Except that you always end up telling yourself, "no, the real goal in Disney World, and it's probably just like every other small town along the way, and I had us pencilled in for 500 miles today."

Well, I actually had the hour you've been denying yourself all those years, so here, as a public service, is Basalt as you've never seen it before. And if it really is like every other small town, think of all the time I've just saved you.

The town actually hasn't been frozen in time since 1900. If it were dying, you wouldn't see this:

would you? As though the aging miner's son who started the pool hall and watched his kids grow up and move to Grand Junction would have any use for that.

Which means the town is growing. Here's the part of the new town that the Fine Arts and Zoning Commission got it hands on before it went up:


See, by definition it's new, which means it has to live up to code, which means it can't actually be interesting. But they want to make it look as though it's what the original town fathers would have come up with if they had had sheet rock instead of wood. Right down to this:

Which is kind of - cute - compared to this:

Which comes from this:

Which is what you normally associate with Growth Near Aspen. Old downtowns and small original houses, lorded over by people with trophy homes, further up the hill, Then again, given what the original residents are doing for paint jobs:

you get to thinking that gentrification can't come fast enough.

Of course, it also helps to know where the growth is coming from. In this case, it's Mexico:


There's another even larger trailer park off to the right of the first picture, but by design, it's well-hidden, and there's no reason not to enjoy the view. Chatting with the guy at the hotel about the Valley, he had claimed that about 40% of the population was illegal. I couldn't believe it. For one thing, where would they all live? That's where.

At least the Fine Arts and Zoning Commission has a sense of humor:

Yep. Catch-and-release.

October 31, 2005

Fall Snow in Aspen

OK, I know there's all sorts of big news out there, all sorts of political news, earnings reports, that sort of thing. So instead, here are some pictures from this weekend's snowfall near Aspen. As always, click to enlarge.



Power, Faith, and Fantasy

Six Days of War

An Army of Davids

Learning to Read Midrash

Size Matters

Deals From Hell

A War Like No Other


A Civil War

Supreme Command

The (Mis)Behavior of Markets

The Wisdom of Crowds

Inventing Money

When Genius Failed

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude

How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?

Good to Great

Built to Last

Financial Fine Print

The Day the Universe Changed


The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East

The Case for Democracy

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

The Italians

Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory

Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures

Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud