Remembering a Different Colorado, and Optimism for What’s to Come

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

The news reports and TV footage have subsided, just like the flood waters said to be of “biblical” proportions. But the damage will cost hundreds of millions and take months or years to repair; and without questions, lives impacted won’t be back to “normal” anytime soon.

Of course, I’m referring to the extensive flooding that struck Colorado towns in the Rocky Mountains and eastern foothills earlier this month.

If you’ve seen the scope of the flooding — caused by around 17 inches of rain, what that area normally gets in a year — you had to be shaken by the devastation and destruction.  I certainly was, but those thoughts were tempered by more positive memories and a sense of optimism.

One of the roads near Estes Park destroyed by flood waters.

One of the roads near Estes Park destroyed by flood waters.

In late March of this year, Susan and I spent a delightful week vacationing in the very part of Colorado that sustained much of the brunt of the flooding — the mountain town of Estes Park and the city of Boulder.  I reported on that Rocky Mountain sojourn in this blog.

It was a very special and therapeutic trip because it gave me time to re-energize before launching my search for that next great job in public relations.

But along with scenery and vistas in and around Rocky Mountain National Park, the crisp, fresh air, the elk herds outside our resort and the way cool vibe and great beer in Boulder, we were as impressed with the people we met: Friendly, welcoming, genuine and self-sufficient.

Missing from the news accounts were reports of looting in flooded Colorado towns.  I did, however, take in several reports neighbor-helping-neighbor and outright heroism.

The River Stone and Bear Paw resort in Estes Park survived the flood waters pretty well.

The River Stone and Bear Paw resort in Estes Park survived the flood waters pretty well.

Already, there are signs that the area — still soggy, still muddy, still challenged — had already made progress.  Here’s one example.

The nice folks at the River Stone and Bear Paw resort, where we stayed in March, sent out an email to patrons promoting “The New Estes Park — Mountain Strong.”

I couldn’t have written a better line myself.

You’ll be back to “normal,” Estes Park.  And hopefully, we’ll be back to visit again soon.

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A Rocky Mountain High Week Remembered in Thoughts and Images

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Even a late winter/early spring storm named Virgil, a delayed flight on Southwest Airlines, bungled baggage handling and a near breakdown at the Budget auto rental counter didn’t stop Susan and I from having a thoroughly enjoyable seven-day visit to Colorado.  This was our regular spring break getaway week, always mandated by Susan’s teaching schedule.

Of course, this year it meant a lot more to me because it gave me a week to relax and regroup before launching a serious search for that next great job in public relations.  And relax and regroup we did, thanks to awesome people, surroundings and weather.  For the record, the beer was pretty good, too.

After finally getting awarded our cool Ford Fusion — complete with Sirius radio so we could listen to the Elvis Channel and others — we made the relatively short drive from Denver International Airport to our final destination for the next five  days, the resort town of Estes Park.  Freeways got us most of the way there, but it was winding, climbing two-lane highways from the cool town of Lyons up into the mountains.  Fortunately, the roads were plowed, I know how to drive on snow, and we had The King of Rock and Roll to keep us company.

After a stop for provisions, we finally made it to the River Stone resort, halfway between Estes Park and the eastern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Yes, there was lots of snow, thanks to Virgil. Want proof?  Here’s a short photo gallery:

On the trail to Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

On the trail to Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

A gorgeous meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park.

A gorgeous meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The view from our condo at River Stone Resort the morning after our arrival.

The view from our condo at River Stone Resort the morning after our arrival.

The PRDude (you guessed it) somewhere in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The PRDude (you guessed it) somewhere in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The entrance to the historic, and reportedly haunted, Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

The entrance to the historic, and reportedly haunted, Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

From the above, you can ascertain that were in a pretty cool party of the country, full of spectacular scenery mostly unspoiled by man.  It was inspiring for this guy from the flatlands of Chicago to walk outside and gaze on snow-capped mountain splendor. We even saw a herd of elk one evening right behind River Stone.

Equally impressive, however, were the people we met.  The Coloradans we encountered at Kind Coffee, at the Safeway store, at the Public Library,in restaurants and our hosts Sue and Linda and River Stone were warm, friendly, inviting and genuine.  Motorists were polite and respectful of other drivers.  I can better understand why people want to live here: Mountains, lakes and rivers — and some of the most welcoming people I’ve met.

A shout out to the Colorado tourism folks: This public relations professional suggests you build awareness for the warmth and friendliness of your people, along with the world-class ski resorts and mountain meadows.  In his classic song “Rocky Mountain High,” the late John Denver sings about the virtues of the Colorado Rocky Mountains in somewhat of a spiritual sense.  He got that right, but should have added a verse about Coloradans.

What are your thoughts on Colorado and Coloradans?

A Farewell to Arms, as We Know It?

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Over the past decade or so, the debate over the need to “do something” over violence resulting from the use of firearms on innocents has ebbed and flowed, capturing the attention of the public and commanding media coverage, then fading.

The horror that followed Columbine in 1999 subsided some weeks later.  Then horror surfaced on the campus at Virginia Tech, at a shopping center in Tucson, at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.  And, of course, there are much smaller scale gun-related horrors that take place daily on big city street corners and in much smaller communities across America.

Each time, we were able to follow the news and absorb developments from these mass gun-driven slayings as they happened, with grim-faced reporterthe s, police officials and commentators providing sobering reports from the scene. Each time, there was extensive debate.  And each time the debate got pushed away after a while to become yesterday’s news. Except of course, for the families and loved ones of the victims: The horror will probably never go away.

But then there was the massacre of 20 small children and six adults December 14  in a school located in the quiet Connecticut community of Newton. It happened days before Christmas of 2012.  There was lots of debate and it hasn’t subsided.

If this is any barometer, my daily read of the Chicago Tribune has included just about daily editorials and letters from readers on the need to address the relative easy availability of guns designed for combat and high magazine clips, the need for gun registration and related topics.  In the March 1 issue, all five letters addressed gun control.

Since Sandy Hook, the need to take tangible efforts to keep guns out of the hands of those bent on domestic slaughter continues to spark conversations in print, online, on the air and hopefully, around the dinner table in homes across America. I think the debate will continue.  I think we’re witnessing the the dawn of new laws and regulations governing what kind of guns Americans can purchase and how they can purchase them.

Clearly, the old ways that we interpret the 2nd Amendment just can’t be accepted anymore.