Tag Archives: Colorado

Why I live in Colorado

Image: Color-coded map of the US, with the following legend:

Western half of WA & OR:  “Rain”

Eastern WA & OR, MT, ND, SD, NE, IA,WI, AK: “Cold; lots of conservatives”

MN: “Just really fucking cold, trust me”

MI, IL, IN, OH, WV, PA, MD, DE, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, NH, VT, ME, HI: “Muggy; insects”

West coast of CA:  “Expensive”

Eastern part of CA, NV and AZ: “Conservatives; chance of tarantulas”

UT: “Pretty; still too many conservatives”

KS, OK, TX, MO, AR, LA, KY, TN, MS, AL, GA, VA, NC, SC, FL: “Hot; muggy; insects; conservatives”

NM: “One other place I’d consider living”

CO: “Colorado!”  (Indicated by the CO state flag: red letter C, enclosing a yellow circle, with three blue and white stripes.)

Holly and Amy’s Big Adventure

I got to do one of my favorite things on Friday:  talk about the ADA to a bunch of disability rights advocates.  Even better:  the advocates were with the Southwest Center for Independence, and were in Durango, Colorado.  I had the choice of six* hours of driving (each way) through the amazing Colorado countryside, or an hour (each way) bouncing over the mountains in a regional jet.  I chose the drive without a second thought.

Denver to Durango

So Friday morning early, I lit out for Durango and because Holly still isn’t fully house-trained, and thus can’t stay alone with Tim, I brought her along for the ride.



It’s almost as if I bought the CRV with the dogs in mind!  Oh, right.  Turns out it has an added feature I hadn’t even known about.  For those awkward moments when she poops in the middle of a scenic overlook that lacks a trashcan:


Always pack out your trash!

Anyway, I chose the southeastern route in the map above — down I25 and across Route 160 — because I’m not a big fan of pass driving.  Google Maps helpfully sets out various routes, and then lets you choose your mode of transportation:  car; bus; on foot.  To accurately calculate our time, however, they need another option:  traveling with puppy.


Google maps composite

We stopped every hour and a half to two hours to find Holly a grassy spot.  Besides that slight inconvenience, though, she was the perfect traveling companion.

Driving in Colorado:  breathtakingly beautiful.


Breathtakingly scary:



Breathtakingly . . . obvious?



Got to Durango without a minute to spare before the talk.  That is, though I didn’t have any minutes to spare, I spared a couple, and ended up about 5 minutes late.   It was my favorite kind of talk:  with interested advocates who had great ideas and great questions.

After the talk, Holly and I set out to explore Durango a bit, and found a path by the river that was perfect for a post-driving-trip stroll.




Obligatory “Holly Posing Because She Knows Just How Cute She Is” photo:


Dinner was yak stew — a first for me! — and lamb dumplings at The Himalayan Kitchen, then back to the hotel, where Holly checked out the accommodations.


For the drive back to Denver, I chose the more direct route — in blue in the map above — that took me on Route 160 as far as Del Norte, and then Route 285 northeast through the mountains.  There were a couple more passes, but either they were relatively easy passes or I’m finally getting use to pass driving.  Or possibly exchanging the 1988 Accord for a 2013 CRV just makes the whole thing feel safer.  But I also took the time to stop for photos.  These first four were processed in HDR:








AR056492_3_4_tonemapped b&w







Colorado life!





Uh oh!   Better behave myself!***



I arrived home, tired and happy, yesterday afternoon, very grateful to live in a state of overwhelming natural beauty and kick-ass disability advocates.


* Actually, I have to confess, when I first learned I would be going to Durango, I thought, “it’s in the same state; how far can that be?”  Having grown up out east**, I assumed that anywhere you had to go within a single state couldn’t be more than a couple of hours’ drive.  Soooooo it turns out they make states bigger out here.  So the six-hour drive was a bit of a surprise, but ultimately a pleasant one.

** I’ve been overthinking the phrases “back east” and “out west” recently.  I use the phrases mostly because they reflect my path.  I started life on the east coast, and I’ve migrated out west.  But it occurs to me that these common phrases are not only sort of east-coast-centric, but also reflect a European-American-centric path (my peeps mostly entered the U.S. from the east coast and headed west) as opposed to an Asian-American path, as many Asians entered the U.S. from the west coast.  So I thought I’d try “out east” for a while and see how it sounded.

*** Tim’s uncle Pete Palmer is sheriff!

Random signs

Drove to Fountain, Colorado, today.  I promise both of these signs are real.

Um, no:

{Image description:  Church sign reading “Reason Is The Enemy of Faith.”}

And, um, I’d never really thought about it but yes:

{Image description:  Green street sign against a blue sky, reading “A Dog Will Lick His Butt But Won’t Eat A Pickle Rd.”}

The upside down logic of executing Nathan Dunlap

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler lives in an upside down world where strapping someone to a gurney and injecting him with lethal chemicals is “courageous” and deciding not to do this is “cruel and unjust.”

In a letter to the governor supporting the execution of Nathan Dunlap, Mr. Brauchler

questioned the motives and ethics of those who have argued on Dunlap’s behalf, and those who diagnosed and treated him for mental illness.

“Questioned the motives”?  Questioned?  The motive is, um, to keep Colorado from executing Mr. Dunlap.  Not sure what’s in question.  It’s right out there in the open.

Pause for disclosure of my motive:  My view is that the death penalty is wrong and that my state should not execute Mr. Dunlap.  Even if you generally favor or are undecided on the death penalty in the abstract, however, there are many, many reasons why it would be wrong in this case. You can read the clemency petition here, write to Governor Hickenlooper, or call him at 303-866-2471.  5280 magazine published a long article in 2008 that spelled out the history of the case.

Back to snarking on the DA.

Mr. Brauchler decries the “abandonment of professional ethics.” The ethics of trying to keep someone alive?  I don’t think that word means what he thinks it means.  I have scoured the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct and can find nothing suggesting it is unethical to urge the governor not to kill someone.

The DA characterizes as “convenient ‘scientific’ epiphanies” — the scare quotes around “scientific” are his — the now widely-accepted conclusion that Mr. Dunlap had a severe, undiagnosed mental illness when he committed the crime for which he is to be executed.  The diagnosis at which Mr. Brauchler sneers is one that has, since Mr. Dunlap’s sentencing, been confirmed and treated by Department of Corrections doctors.

More scare quotes.  Can’t you just see him wiggling the first two fingers of each hand when he complains that

our state’s leaders are asked to accept as ‘objective’ evidence the conclusions of the anti-death penalty movement’s ‘best and brightest’ experts, and to ignore their obvious collaborative biases . . .

Well, the movement does have some excellent (“best”) and very smart (“brightest”) people, who work together (“collaborate”) to do what they think is right (“bias”?).  Ouch!

And his letter

called assertions by the defense that race plays a role in imposing the death penalty in Colorado “vile, disgusting and offensive.”

Those are the adjectives you use when you don’t have facts.  In fact, as of 2010, 41% of prisoners under sentence of death in the US were black, while only 13.6% of the population as a whole is black.  There are three people on Colorado’s death row; all three are black.  Studies in other states have shown that blacks killing whites are much more likely to get the death penalty than any other permutation, and that prosecutors are much more likely to seek the death penalty for black defendants.

Ultimately, it is the racism in our criminal justice system that is vile, disgusting, and offensive; not the act of calling attention to that fact.

The clemency petition provides measured, fact-based arguments why it would be a very bad idea to execute Nathan Dunlop. Many people, of many different faiths and backgrounds, agree with this:

Dunlap letters

All the DA has to offer in return is a salad shooter of insults: cruel; unjust; slap in the face; questionable motives; unethical; “objective” “scientific” evidence; collaborative bias; vile; disgusting; offensive.  And the unsupported pronouncement that Mr. Dunlap “took the lives of four Colorado citizens, and justice requires he now pays with his own.”

There is no good reason for this execution; just the satisfaction of the primitive desire for revenge.  Guess that’s my bias.

On the road again!

Road trip to Cañon City, then on to Santa Fe.  Here are some photos from the road.  Santa Fe photos coming soon.

I’ve made the trip to Cañon City with co-counsel a number of times to visit clients at one of its correctional facilities.  The cool thing about driving alone is that I finally got to stop and take a picture of this, Route 115 between Colorado Springs and Cañon City.



Did they find the giant insect while exploring space?  Unfortunately, as you can see from the sign, the museum is currently closed, so that question will have to be answered some other day.

I spent much of the drive on back roads, which provided constant reminders why I love the West.  This is from Route 50 heading out of Cañon City.


This from Route 522 in northern New Mexico.


This from I-25 north of Pueblo heading back to Denver.


From a grocery store in Fort Garland, CO


I loved the drive and the quality time with my brother in Santa Fe.  Good to be back home in front of the Broncos game now.