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Sustainable living isn’t just about the environment, it’s about smart consumerism

When Alin Turcea and Antonia Pitica recognized the significance of plastic products in their everyday lives, they felt compelled to do something about it. 

Bags for produce, groceries, to-go cups, toothbrushes, water bottles — these items are a part of our everyday lives, and they’re almost always plastic. 

What if they could create these products for people who cared about living more sustainably for the sake of our planet, while also educating consumers everywhere about the importance of our individual actions? 

“We had a lightbulb moment, and we began reading about climate change to see what we could do to develop habits that were better for the environment,” Alin said. “We started EcoRoots when we realized how much of an impact consumerism was having on our lives and the lives of those around us.”

By creating this minimalist, earth-conscious brand, Alin and Antonia aim to encourage an economy that considers the future. They want consumers to have the power to choose, through the products they buy and use, what kind of world they want to live in.

“As we did our research, we realized that we had been making many of our choices out of convenience, without considering the consequences,” Antonia said. “We knew that, in order to ask other people to change, we needed to change first. So, the first step we took toward our new lifestyle was simply refusing what we didn’t really need.” 

Here are some of the reasons that making these small steps can not only change the way you live your life for the better, but also positively impact the environment..

Future generations

Alin and Antonia feel personally responsible to do their part to address pollution and climate change for future generations. Climate change is one of the most significant issues we’ll face in our lifetime, Antonia said.

“We have to consider how devastating the effects of plastic consumption are on our already fragile environment, including our oceans and marine life, but also our own health and well-being, too,” he said. “We can all make changes to ensure that our children and grandchildren aren’t left to clean up the mess we’ve made.”

Small steps are easy

Activities such as brushing your teeth or shopping at a grocery store are habits for most people. We do these things without thinking much about them, but what if the products you used didn’t end up harming marine life or clogging up landfills? What if you could use products as a consumer that actually meant something?

“It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re trying to change habits that you’ve had your whole life, but the key is being patient, and knowing that real change won’t happen overnight,” Alin said. “There are many small steps that you can take if you’re just starting out on this journey, and these small habits will become second-nature overtime.”

Alin and Antonia started their sustainably living journey by bringing reusable bags to the grocery store. From there, they began to avoid plastic-wrapped produce, switched to biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes, began using reusable water bottles and switched to a reusable razor instead of single-use disposable razors.

Becoming more conscious overall

By making these small changes, Alin and Antonia became more conscious consumers everywhere they went. They checked packaging when they went shopping to avoid plastic whenever possible. They realized that while it’s not always possible to avoid plastic entirely, they could use a lot of substitute products such as reusable or recyclable packaging including glass, stainless steel or cardboard to ultimately have less of an impact on the environment.

“After you’ve made changes like composting, packing reusable bags for shopping trips, looking for products that come in recyclable, non-plastic packaging, look around your home and see what other products can be replaced by a sustainable alternative,” Alin said. “Using sustainable products will save you money in the long run.”

Steps that ALL consumers can take

Here are some of the ways Alin and Antonia make changes in their lives by using EcoRoots products. They believe this is a good starting off point for anyone interested in living more sustainably. Visit ecoroots.us for product options.

  • Buy fresh produce rather than produce wrapped in plastic. Check out your local farmers market or another grocery store if yours doesn’t have what you’re looking for.
  •  Unless medically necessary, skip the plastic straws. Because they’re not accepted by most recycling centers, many larger companies are beginning to ban them anyway, so this is one of the easiest to implement. 
  • Call your local recycling center if you’re not sure if something is recyclable, don’t just throw it out.
  • Compost your food leftovers. 
  • Bring reusable bags with you whenever you go shopping so you don’t have to take home any plastic bags.
  • Use a reusable coffee cup and water bottle so you can skip the paper and plastic.
  • Walk, use public transportation, car-pool, or ride your bike to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Eat locally. You’ll know exactly where your food is coming from, and you’ll get to support local businesses and farmers. This is especially easy in the summertime when most towns have weekly farmers markets.
  • Consume consciously. Buy things out of necessity, not boredom, and when you do need to buy something, try to find ethically sourced clothes and other products. 
  • Support small, local businesses.
  • Use alternatives to plastic whenever possible in products for the home, kitchen, health and beauty. 

Embrace the Chase: $1,000 prize money on the line for charity digital scavenger hunt

Advocate Safehouse Project is putting the FUN in fundraiser with its inaugural digital scavenger hunt Embrace The Chase, a competitive game that anyone and everyone can play from anywhere — with some serious prize money to boot.

From noon on June 22 to noon on June 23, participants will be asked to submit photos or videos, complete brain teasers and riddles to earn points. The top four teams at the end of the 24-hour digital event will win the prize money: $1,000 for first place; $750 for second place; $500 for third place; and $250 for fourth place.

Not your average fundraiser

Julie Olson, executive director of Advocate Safehouse Project, said the fundraiser idea came about when the organization decided it wanted to do something different from the typical walking/running race.

“We wanted to think outside the comfort zone,” she said.

When a board member suggested the digital scavenger hunt, the organization held a test version at its board member retreat last fall. Olson said many members were skeptical they would enjoy it.

“We had so much fun. Ours only lasted for 20 minutes, and when it was over none of us wanted to be done yet,” Olson said. “This is an opportunity to have some fun with your friends, family or co-workers.”

What to expect

Players are encouraged to sign up in teams of four, however single players or smaller teams can also play the game. You must download an app on your Apple or Android phone or tablet to play (see factbox for registration and other instructions).

There will be more than 200 challenges available to complete in the 24-hour period. Sarah Buckley, community education advocate for Advocate Safehouse Project, said some of the challenges relate to Advocate Safehouse Project’s work, such as education-based challenges about healthy relationships, while others might be tied to sponsors or popular community information.

Players might have to answer a question — such as “When was Advocate Safehouse Project founded? — for one mission, while another might require they upload a photo or video.

Here are some tips for how to play and take home that prize money.

Tip No. 1 – Go for big points

Since the missions can be done in any order and there are various amounts of points tied to each mission, Buckley said one strategy might be to go for the challenges with the most amount of points first.

Players can see the points — and bonus points — tied to each challenge before they start it.

“You want to complete as many challenges as possible so you can have as many points as possible in those 24 hours,” she said.

Tip No. 2 – The app is your friend

For photo and video challenges, players cannot find shortcuts by uploading previously taken files from their phones. You must use the app to shoot all photos and videos in real time.

For example, if the challenge is asking for a picture connected to the 19th Street Diner in Glenwood Springs, you either must go to the diner in person or you’d need to access the internet to snap your image. However, if using the internet to complete a photo or video challenge, you’d have to access it via a separate device than the one from which you’re using the game app.

The app also features a dashboard that allows players to see where they rank in real-time as the scavenger hunt progresses, giving players the opportunity to be competitive and try to beat out other teams.

Tip No. 3 – Break up challenges among team members

Once a challenge is completed by one member on a team, it’s completed for the entire team. So, another strategy might be to break up the list of possible challenges and assign them out to team members.

Tip No. 4 – Players can correct wrong answers

Advocate Safehouse Project volunteers will be approving and disapproving entries during the 24-hour game period.

If players submit an answer and it’s wrong, they’ll have the option to go back in and change it to collect those points.

6 Reasons to Experience Craft Beer in Colorado

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Colorado has the second highest number of craft breweries (behind California) in the country — and some killer beer festivals to boot — but this powerhouse industry often faces some image myths.

Despite the fact that plenty of bearded white dudes do enjoy craft beer, this is not the industry’s lone demographic. In fact, about half of the guests at Colorado Brewers Guild affiliated festivals — such as the upcoming Vail Craft Beer Classic — are women.

What exactly defines “craft” beer? The Colorado Brewers Guild defines it as beer brewed by breweries that are independent and small, brewing less than 2 million barrels per year.

“The ‘craft’ aspect also incorporates a strong sense of community and centuries worth of brewing tradition,” said Shawnee Adelson, Deputy Director at the Colorado Brewers Guild, “combined with a focus on pushing the boundaries of what can be done with this incredible beverage.”            

Here are some of the qualities of Colorado’s craft beer industry to experience yourself at the upcoming Vail Craft Beer Classic.

Endless variety

From styles of beer including IPAs, ales, stouts and porters, brown ales, wheats, hefeweizens, Belgian pale ales and others, to flavors such as tangerine, coriander, ginger, blood orange, watermelon and many more, craft beers are not easily defined by taste.

“Colorado is a melting pot that brings a wide spectrum of flavors and creativity to the table,” said Andy Jessen, co-founder and manager at Bonfire Brewing in Eagle. “Because it’s such an attractive place to live, we have brewers from all over the country bringing the best of many different recipe formulation philosophies. I think it creates unparalleled variety.”

More than hops

You’ve probably tried a craft beer — or maybe even several — that you didn’t like, but breweries are coming out with new styles all the time. Jessen said people often think craft beer is too hoppy, bitter or flavorful, but he said the variety of styles “is a rainbow with something for everyone.”

Currently, there’s a national industry trend toward producing lighter, lower calorie craft beers.

Tristan Schmid, Marketing and Events Manager at the Colorado Brewers Guild, said if you tried one brewery and didn’t like it, visit another or try a tasting flight to explore all the varieties.

“Some people might feel like craft beer is unapproachable, though if they stop in at their local brewery, they’ll likely find that the bartender will be happy to help them find a beer they’ll enjoy,” Schmid said.

Craft beers for the Colorado lifestyle

It’s become a tradition in communities across the state to hit the local brewery after a day of skiing, mountain biking, road cycling, mountaineering or whatever the outdoor adventure du jour is.

“This history and integration of craft beer in Colorado makes our industry unique and central to what defines Colorado,” Adelson said.

Community-based

There’s been a shift in the U.S. toward knowing where products are sourced — from produce to meat to seafood, and yes, even beer. By definition, craft beer and its smaller batch production is suited to small-town community vibes.

Craft brewers are also “scrappy, resilient and exceptionally community-oriented,” Jessen said.

“People want products they can see the people and history behind, and craft beer is ideally situated to cater to those desires,” Jessen said. “Try as many beers as you can, and support the breweries that do good things in your community. Most brewery owners/operators are working very long hours for very slim rewards because they’re passionate about beer, the people that drink it, and their respective communities.”

Last year, 67 independent breweries opened in Colorado, with about 50 planned to open this year. Many of these breweries are opening up in communities that didn’t have a craft brewery before, Schmid noted.

Brewers who care deeply about quality

Colorado brewers are constantly learning about ways to produce the highest quality beers through events such as the Colorado Brewers Guild’s annual Colorado Craft Brewers Summit. The Guild also helps brewery owners and managers learn about the best ways to make their breweries and beers approachable and enjoyable.

Jessen points out that peers in the industry are always willing to help spread knowledge about quality practices, too.

“And, to a great extent, it’s a self-policing business,” he said. “If the beer isn’t good, most people probably won’t give it a second chance.”

Friendly competition

Attend a beer festival like the Vail Craft Beer Classic and you’ll immediately notice the camaraderie among the brewers. These men and women are a passionate bunch just looking to share the joy of beer with as many people as possible.

These festivals also offer unique opportunities to get face time with these world-class brewers and enjoy one-of-a-kind beers.

“The Vail Craft Beer Classic is a great spot to meet many of those folks,” Jessen said, “and try a wide variety of what Colorado has to offer, in one of the most beautiful settings in our great state.”

A gym that helps members shed excuses

Between commuting to and from work, time with family and fitting in some daylight hours to enjoy our beautiful Colorado surroundings, there are a lot of things that can stand in the way of an indoor gym workout.

Anyone not in a regular workout routine can come up with plenty of excuses about why, but Colorado 24/7 Fitness believes that hitting the gym shouldn’t be a hassle or an obligation — that’s why it has designed a membership that offers convenience and variety.

“What we try to do is diminish those excuses by providing five locations and access 24 hours a day,” said personal trainer Nate Rand. “And our group classes are phenomenal when it comes to variety.”

By connecting with each and every member who walks through the door, Rand said the vibe at all five Colorado 24/7 Fitness locations — in Basalt, Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Silt and Rifle — is welcoming and encouraging. And for $50 a month, he thinks there isn’t a gym anywhere on the Western Slope that can match the value.

Covering every fitness niche

These days, fitness studios that focus on one specific niche — indoor cycling, yoga, barre, boxing, weight training, HIIT and others — have become the norm. Someone who’s interested in more than one of these styles of workouts might have to get memberships to multiple places just to fit it all in.

“We have every bit of that under one of our roofs for $50 a month,” said personal trainer John Bennett. “Add in our phenomenal spa services, chiropractors, physical therapy and personal trainers — there’s truly nothing like it in this area.”

Group classes

From yoga to body pump to cycling to strength and endurance classes, Colorado 24/7 Fitness wants its members to have workout options. Rand said classes cater to all age groups and levels, and they even offer senior-targeted Silver Sneakers workouts.

Grit and Pump classes offer high intensity interval training and high repetition weight training, while other strength and conditioning classes might focus on working out with certain equipment.

“There can be a lot of frustration trying to find a place that has all of these options and services, so we try to offer all of it in one place,” Rand said.

No excuses

In the Roaring Fork Valley, most people do not live where they work. With locations throughout the valley — near both work and home — Colorado 24/7 Fitness is trying to help people make a healthy lifestyle as important as earning a paycheck.

“To have that 24-hour access and all of these locations, you can work out before work, during lunch, after work — whenever you choose,” Rand said. “We try to connect and unify our gyms in our motto, which is “Come Join Us.”

One-on-one personal training sessions can help members figure out the psychological side of working out, which Rand said is often one of the biggest reasons people fall out of a regular routine.

“We can dial in and find out what’s preventing them from getting to the gym,” Rand said. “Are they in a certain mindset or do they just need extra guidance or knowledge? That’s what our trainers and employees are there for.”

By making sure the doors are open and providing services, expertise and a welcoming atmosphere, Colorado 24/7 Fitness is always there for its members.

“Life happens, people change, people get out of routines, they get a new job, etc. When it’s time to go back to a gym routine, we have a comfortable place,” Bennett said.

Buying a home is not for the faint of heart

Buying a home can be a stressful event regardless of a person’s income, but two upcoming seminars aim to help community members learn a little bit more about the banking side of the process.

As part of the Happy Home Seminar Series — a new, free event series hosted by the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and sponsors — Vectra Bank mortgage loan officers Carolyn Meadowcroft and Nathan Phillips will be visiting Rifle and Glenwood to provide informal, educational presentations about two specific loans the bank offers.*

“This is important across the Western Slope where we have a lot of individual, special communities,” Phillips said. “It requires having a bank that is going to think outside the box and work toward creative solutions to get people into homes.”

Here are the two loans that Meadowcroft and Phillips will share more details about at the events.

One-time close

The one-time close loan at Vectra Bank is a construction loan and permanent mortgage in one loan, with a closing that happens at the same time.

While this type of loan isn’t totally unique, she said the Vectra version does have some benefits that others do not. One is that the interest rate on the construction loan is the same as it is for the mortgage. Because it is a portfolio loan, it’s an adjustable rate mortgage, meaning the interest rate is fixed for an initial period and then adjusts annually or as specified thereafter. According to Meadowcroft, interest rates can often be as much as 1 percent less than you might find with traditional financing.  The loan may also cover up to 90 percent of the cost of construction, whereas other similar loans often only cover up to 80 percent.

“The Roaring Fork Valley has a lot of home buyers who scrape old homes and build something brand new,” Phillips said. “Because it’s so common, the bank has a process in place to review construction plans and specifications to help borrowers determine if the loan amount is over- or- underestimating the total cost.”

“We have a two-pronged approval process: We approve the borrower on the credit side, and the construction approval process looks at the plans and specs from the builder,” Phillips said. “We typically have at least a 5 percent contingency built into the loan.”

Because the mortgage is closed before construction, there isn’t the ability to come back and increase the loan amount should the project run into cost overruns. Because of this, Meadowcroft said Vectra Bank encourages home buyers to ask for a fixed bid or guaranteed price from builders.

Vectra Bank mortgage loan officer Nathan Phillips
Photos courtesy of Vectra Bank
Vectra Bank mortgage loan officer Nathan Phillips

CRA loan

Vectra Bank’s CRA program is a loan that meets U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) guidelines. The mortgage program offers lower down payment options and is intended to help those within a low to moderate income bracket qualify for a home loan. The program is often used for first-time home buyers although that isn’t a requirement.

Vectra Bank has been offering its new CRA loan since January 2019. The CRA loan requires as little as a 3 percent down payment and offers a slightly lower interest rate than what you’d get with a conventional loan. Another benefit of the program is that the lender, not the buyer, pays the private mortgage insurance premium.

“That can make a big difference when someone is qualifying for a loan,” Meadowcroft said.

The program does have income limits, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all amount because the bank uses a formula based on the location of the home. But for those who do qualify, the mortgage payment can be lower thanks to associated benefits of the program.

“That’s a big deal in our valley with higher sales prices,” she said.

Meadowcroft said the CRA program fits in with a lot of other loan programs geared toward first-time home buyers — such as FHA, CFHA, USDA and others — but the CRA loan in particular typically allows people to qualify for a higher loan amount due to the lower interest rate.

“The CRA loan is a great alternative for qualified borrowers. In the event the potential borrower may not meet the CRA qualification requirements, we can show them other potential options we have,” Meadowcroft said. “It does require that you take a homebuyer education class, but we encourage our borrowers to take those homebuyer classes anyway.”

Rafting trips that focus on quality, not volume

When you head out on a river rafting trip, do you want to remember the experience of being on an scenic and adventurous trip in the great outdoors, or do you want to remember feeling like you were at an amusement park?

River rafting in Colorado is one of the quintessential outdoor recreation experiences. You get to work as a team with your guide to paddle through the river, experiencing its energy all while taking in the incredible views of our mountain landscapes and wildlife such as the great blue heron, bald eagles, mink, deer and more. This experience is often diminished by rafting companies that shoot for volume over quality.

At Up The Creek Rafting, there’s no school bus ride with 50 other people that dumps you off at the river’s edge. Up The Creek’s guide-to-guest ratio is 1 to 4.

“We want to be able to focus on the guest instead of running people down the river like a herd of cattle,” said Ryan Moyer, former owner of Up The Creek who now serves as a guide instructor and consultant.

Courtesy of Up The Creek Rafting
At Up The Creek Rafting, the guide-to-guest ratio is 1 to 4.
Courtesy of Up The Creek Rafting

The trips

Up The Creek offers three levels of rafting trips: moderate, adventurous, and intense.

Moderate trips require that customers weigh at least 30 pounds. These trips offer a mix of action and calm moments, making for a great introductory or beginner trip.

“In our moderate trips, the rapids are spaced farther apart with some mellower sections,” Moyer said.

Adventurous trips on the Upper Roaring Fork offer perfectly paced splashing, with continuous rapids throughout the entire length of the trip. Moyer said it’s not necessarily “white-knuckle adrenaline,” but it is a fun enough adventure for beginners to more experienced paddlers.

Adventurous trips are for anyone 50 pounds and over, and intense trips have an age requirement of 18.

“The intense trips are further up on the Roaring Fork River, which gains intensity as you move upstream,” Moyer said.

The only trip for which guests need prior experience is Slaughterhouse Falls in the Aspen area.

Daily Express Trip in under an hour

A river rafting trip is often a time commitment equal to at least half a day. For people trying to fit a lot of activities into their vacation, or for those who aren’t sure they’re interested in paddling the river at all, there might not be a compelling enough reason to make such a time commitment.

That’s why Up The Creek offers Express Trips, which are fairly out of the ordinary for Colorado raft trip options. Every day at noon, Up The Creek tackles a fun 5-mile stretch of river in under an hour. It’s the most affordable rafting trip around, too, at $39.

“You can get the best part of the experience without committing a half day or more to it,” Moyer said.

Guests come first

When Up The Creek takes out guests on river rafting trips, guides don’t want them worrying about things that might take away from their river experience. Guests wearing the wrong gear, for example, can get cold and wet, which makes for a pretty miserable trip.

Up The Creek includes splash gear, helmets, wetsuits, river shoes and personal floatation for guests with all river packages. Moyer doesn’t believe in trying to upsell the guests for items that he says are essential for a fun — and safe — day on the river.

“The upsell might steer people away from it, but it’s important that everyone has the gear because it makes you comfortable and safe,” he said. “That’s important especially for visitors, because they don’t always know what they need on the river.”

Keeping guests comfortable also goes hand in hand with keeping them safe. Moyer said Up The Creek Rafting hasn’t had any serious issues on its river trips since the company started in 1997. He’s really proud of that.

“We want our guests to have absolute safety and comfort,” Moyer said. “Guests come first.”

‘If you want to go far, go together’

From Independence Pass to the Roan Plateau, the Aspen Valley Land Trust wants to understand how communities are feeling about population growth, changing climate, conservation issues, and community issues, among other topics. Through various community engagement efforts, AVLT hopes to shape its strategic conservation plan — which will outline the organization’s conservation work in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys over the next 5 to 10 years — with a lot of input from the community.

“We hope to find out not just what pressing conservation issues people identify, but what pressing issues conservation might be able to help address,” said Suzanne Stephens, executive director of the Aspen Valley Land Trust. “We hope to connect with supporters as well as people and communities that are not currently involved with the Land Trust so that we can better understand the trends people worry about, and help set a future course that is most responsive to current needs.”

The issues
Some of the many issues facing the valley include a lack of affordable housing, impacts of drought, climate change, loss of open space and agricultural land, and pressures on wildlife and natural resources.

One of AVLT’s most important engagement tools is a 15-minute survey it hopes residents will fill out online. The questions aim to gather information about which issues matter most to people.

Is access to locally grown food as important as providing critical habitat and resources for wildlife? Do people want to maintain open spaces and scenic buffers between communities? Do they want to maintain the rural agricultural heritage of the area? How much does conserving land really matter to local residents?

“The population rate in Colorado is growing, and we’re feeling that change pretty acutely,” said Matt Annabel, Communications and Outreach Director at Aspen Valley Land Trust. “Every community feels it a little differently, so we’re wanting to engage folks to understand what they’re feeling now, and what each community’s threats and opportunities are now.”

Community-driven conservation
Across the country, land trusts are stepping back, talking with their communities and taking stock of where they want to focus to produce the best conservation – and community – outcomes, Stephens said.

“Throughout our history, this concept of community-driven conservation has been a recurrent theme, but it’s risen back to the forefront over the last few years as a result of a few high-profile community projects such as the Save Red Hill effort and the purchase of a property used for outdoor education in Marble that hopes to serve schools from Aspen to Glenwood,” she said.

This important feedback will help AVLT direct and prioritize landscape-scale conservation work, as well as other types of community-drive conservation projects like these. It’s the first time the organization has ever solicited such broad community feedback.

“We don’t want to add something to our mission that’s not a good fit for the communities we work in, nor do we want to leave behind something really important,” Annabel said.

This community involvement will help AVLT become more aware and connected and informed as it charges ahead.

“A land trust relies on partnerships to make conservation happen, and the people and communities we work with are our most important partners,” Stephens said. “As the old saying goes, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’”


Chasing your next adventure? Make sure your RV can handle Colorado’s harsh climate

This sponsored content was brought to you by Humphrey RV

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When you can camp in 80-degree weather at 4,000 feet one day, but move to a site in the snow at 10,000 feet the next day, you’re going to need an RV that can keep up with your wild Colorado adventures.

“These changes in elevation can have dramatic effects on an RV — the amount of oxygen is significantly different, which affects the LP system (furnace, water heater, stove and more), not to mention the temperature swings,” said Paul Roach, general manager of Humphrey RV with locations in Grand Junction and Montrose. “You can jump from 80 degrees to 30 degrees in the same day, relying on your A/C and then your furnace in a few hours. How well your RV is insulated becomes very important.”

All RVs are not created equally, which is why Roach said anyone looking for an RV to use in places like Colorado has to be a savvy buyer.

“Be sure you know exactly what you are buying, because that great deal your Uncle Ned gets you in Texas might be your worst nightmare when you try to take it to 10,000 feet skiing or to Elk Camp and literally nothing works,” Roach said.

Here’s some of his best advice before you buy an RV for adventure trips in Colorado.

Ask yourself these three questions

  1. Where do you plan on going? (Determine the size of RV you need — they range from 10 to 45 feet — in order to get in and out of your destinations.)
  2. How many people will be joining you? (Determine the number of sleeping areas you will need.)
  3. How big is your tow vehicle? (Do you need a new Duramax, or will your Rubicon pull just fine?)

Cold weather considerations

There are some terms in the RV industry that Roach said can mislead people. Many RVs have one of the following stickers plastered on the side: “4 seasons,” “All Season,” “Extreme Weather Package,” or “Polar Package.”

SHUTTERSTOCK IMAGE

“There is no industry standard that defines these terms, and every manufacturer has a different definition for their phrase,” Roach said. “So, one ‘Extreme Climate Package’ could mean it has an extra layer of insulation in the roof. Well, that’s not really going to keep your tanks from freezing when you’re skiing under the lights at Keystone, is it?”

He’s seen other examples of these variations in cold-weather packages include things like 2-inch-thick foam walls, but the RV still has single-pane windows.

“There are a few manufacturers that have their rigs taken into a massive freezer and have the temperature brought to freezing for a day or two — this type of test is legitimate,” Roach said. “If the rig survives the night in the freezer, you can trust that it will perform for you in the real world. In general, you get what you pay for. Unless the RV you are looking at has gone through the freeze test and passed, those climate packages are nothing more than lip-service.”

Humphrey RV orders its rigs as specifically tailored to the Colorado style of camping as possible — that means the biggest furnace, the maximum amount of A/C available and as many Enclosed Tank Valves — which prevent yucky situations from frozen tank valves —  as possible.

A full underbelly covering will protect the bottom of the RV from things like mice, snow, cold, magnesium chloride, etc.

“if your RV does have a cold weather package, it will have a few heat ducts dedicated to heating the underbelly, keeping your water lines and tanks from freezing, but some RVs will only use a thin sheet of plastic for the underbelly, nothing more,” Roach said. “The best cold weather rigs will have thick plastic underbelly, then insulation, then tanks and heat. Word of caution: if your furnace is off, there is no heat being pumped into the underbelly and your tanks will freeze.”

Roach said the very best cold weather RV is the Arctic Fox line of campers — “there’s a reason they are named after an animal that thrives in the snow,” he said.

Colorado’s powerful sunshine

Colorado’s elevation means there’s less protection from harmful UV rays. Roach said the sun in Colorado is so brutal that it will do damage to most RV exteriors in a matter of years.

Most RVs have a gelcoat, like a boat, that doesn’t hold up like automotive paint. It needs to be waxed every year or so, and you can have a local paint shop put a clear coat over the gel coat, which Roach said helps tremendously.

The sun can also eat the plastic covers on RV roofs, so Roach recommends storing the RV under cover — preferably in a 14-foot-high garage built specifically for the RV. (For real — this really is a worthwhile investment.)

On the plus side, the harsh and brutal sun can produce tons of solar power.

“Solar panels have improved by leaps and bounds in the last decade and the efficiency is incredible these days. Pair that with a new lithium iron phosphate battery (not lithium ion), and you will be the happiest camper in all the land.”

That’s because the lithium phosphate batteries are the future of RVing, Roach said. They store more power, charge faster, are lighter and can cycle up to 5,000 times. And they can be drawn down to 5 percent, vs. 50 percent for a traditional battery.

“It’s the last battery you will ever need for your RV,” he said.

Films that shine a light on the human spirit

This Sponsored content is brought to you by 5Point Adventure Film Festival.

Blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer takes on the Grand Canyon in a kayak in “The Weight of Water.”

In the 5Point film “The Weight of Water,” blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer takes on the Grand Canyon in a kayak, but this impressive physical and mental achievement is really just the backdrop for a much more remarkable human story.

“The film transcends the outdoor genre with strong characters and a very compelling story about life that includes all of us, not just Erik,” said filmmaker Michael Brown. “Kayaking and the Grand Canyon, while beautiful, are merely a backdrop for a deeply human drama mixed with a wonderful story of friendship.”

Transcending the outdoor genre is exactly what makes 5Point films — all of which capture and display the 5 points of purpose, respect, commitment, humility and balance — unique in the outdoor adventure film world. Other festivals may tug at viewers’ adrenaline strings, but 5Point wants its films to do that and more.

“We’re looking for the stories behind these adventures,” said Regna Jones, 5Point’s Executive Director. “We want to go deep into the human story to find out what drives and motivates people.”

Evolving from the adrenaline-pumping vibe of the festival’s early days, today’s festival connects with its audiences by showing moving stories about the human spirit and how adventure is for everyone — with a bit of action-adventure mixed in.

“Whether someone is showing true grit, pure joy or overcoming an obstacle in life, it’s the people — the human story — that drives a 5Point film,” Meredith McKee, 5Point’s Program Director.

Adventure belongs to all

Weihenmayer, who has been blind since the age of 14 due to a genetic condition, trained for six or seven years to kayak the Grand Canyon. He also was the subject of a film, “Farther Than the Eye Can See,” about his 2001 journey climbing Mt. Everest.

Mike Chambers and Jason Antin in “In Due Time.” In the film, these two men openly explore their thoughts on fatherhood, family and adventure — and how the proper balance between these three is necessary for their happiness.

“Some people are on the fast track in life and they want to conquer a mountain really fast. I’m not really into that — I like to build up and see if you can flourish in an environment rather than just survive it,” Weihenmayer said.

When asked what drives him to accomplish these harrowing feats, Weihenmayer doesn’t have a clear answer.

“I can tell you why I don’t do things — I don’t do things to prove blind people can do things. That’s sort of shallow and unsustainable. The world says I can’t do something so I’m going to go do it — I don’t think that’s enough,” he said.

Weihenmayer said it’s Brown’s work as the filmmaker that impressively captures the real story behind the journey. He said filmmakers often don’t get enough attention for these storytelling achievements.

“When I left the Grand Canyon, you have this story but it hasn’t really emerged yet,” Weihenmayer said. “Filmmakers try to figure out what’s the story and where’s the truth in this experience. I think Michael really tried to tap into some universal things a lot of people experience in life and the outdoors. People can connect themselves — their own fears, limitations and dreams — to the characters in the film. Michael nailed it. He did such a masterful job connecting it with people.”

That’s the root of a 5Point film, Jones said — knowing that it’s going to be full of heart. From 5Point’s perspective, “adventure” is a very broad term.

“It does not matter if you are a kayaker or not, or if you have been to the Grand Canyon or not. If you have lived life and suffered from setbacks, you will appreciate the very human and very universal aspects of this story,” Brown said. “What especially resonates is that in life, our choices define us and our perception of success and failure.”

The Carbondale experience

Brown sees Carbondale as the heart of a true mountain community that encompasses the entirety of the Roaring Fork Valley.

“There is a lot of authenticity in the audience at 5Point,” he said. “They will see through anything contrived.”

The platform of the festival challenges its filmmakers and audiences to take on a new view of life, and to be more open to new ideas, cultures and current events, according to Rob Prechti, the subject of the film “(People) Of Water.”

“My favorite part of this festival is interacting with the community, sharing ideas and thoughts with the directors, creatives and influencers, the hosts and general audience,” he said. “Everyone has a story to tell no matter how mundane or exciting, and it is that connection that really brings the community together.”  

(People) of Water is the story of Rob Prechtl, a member of the U.S. Men’s Raft team, on a journey to learn the craft of outrigger paddling.

There will be more than 100 special guests coming to town for this year’s festival. And in the spirit of this special mountain community, there will also be many surprises.

“After many films, we will bring up the filmmakers and athletes in the films on stage to share their behind-the-scenes stories with the audience. We also look forward to moments of music played out in our films and love to surprise the audience with a live-score or song after a few films every year. 

” McKee said. “It really surprises the audiences — and very much amplifies the message of the film and leaves the audience feeling inspired and changed.”

5Point has worked hard to build this reputation authentically. Jones said the nature of the festival and the ethos it represents has the capacity to make the world a better place.“Caring about the planet, being healthy, active, having the 5 points to focus on — it’s a spiritual invitation to be a good human and take care of our environment and earth, and learn about each other and connect and walk with a bit more grace and humility,” she said. “That’s what excites me about this organization.”

5Point’s Dream Project sparks creativity, confidence for local students

Sponsored

By awarding scholarship money to local students each year, 5Point aims to help students ignite their passions and follow their dreams

By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by 5Point Film Festival

When Julie Kennedy founded the 5Point Film Festival, she knew she wanted to use the festival as a means to help inspire, educate and motivate young adults in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The Dream Project evolved a few years later, in 2010, but it was very much a part of Kennedy’s original vision. She wanted to create a program for youth that embodied those 5 guiding principles, or “points,” for which the festival was founded: purpose, respect, commitment, humility and balance.

“I wanted to give back to high school kids in the valley, from Aspen to New Castle. I want to give them hope and trust that they can manifest whatever they want to manifest to make their dreams happen,” Kennedy said. “There’s nothing more empowering than the belief in the fact that you can make something out of nothing and go with it. That’s the juice — that’s what takes you all through your life.”

The Dream Project offers seven scholarships to students in the Roaring Fork Valley every year “who want to explore their personal boundaries while living their own best adventure.” The ambiguity in the project description language is part of the magic — it pushes students to think confidently and creatively.

“Society gets so caught up in what you’re supposed to be doing and what you’re told to be doing instead of, ‘no, this is what I want it to look like,’” Kennedy said. “So often, we adults and parents can often crush those dreams. I wanted to break that cookie-cutter mold and help kids find their souls in what they truly love. … The process alone is going to get them jump-started into really having the confidence to do just about anything they want.”

What’s in a dream?

Chloe Gonzales applied for the Dream Project in 2018 because she saw that 5Point was actively trying to help students pursue their dreams and better themselves. She applied with the idea to make a film about Abasolo, Mexico, the town where her family is from.

“I want future applicants to know that this changed my life for the better and that students shouldn’t be fearful of living out their passions. I feel like we grow up in a world where people my age are constantly being shut down because of their dreams,” Gonzales said. “These dreams should be supported and that’s something the Dream Project wants to elevate.”

Winning the scholarship changed her understanding not only of filmmaking, but also of her family’s culture and history.

“I made a short documentary for people to truly witness what life is like there. More importantly, I made it for myself to explore my ability in filmmaking and to understand my roots as a Mexican-American,” Gonzales said. “The project as a whole was incredible for me. Words cannot describe how much it’s allowed me to understand myself as a Chicana.”

Tracy Wilson has been director of the Dream Project for 5Point since 2014. In that time, she said the types of Dream Project scholarship applications received has expanded beyond projects centered around film or outdoor adventures.

“We’ll consider any project — whatever the adventure is for that person,” Wilson said.

Past Dream Project recipients have used their scholarship funds to do many diverse projects, from learning American Sign Language to creating a LBGTQ+ high school dance to restoring an antique car that one recipient inherited from his grandfather.

Projects that include some element of giving back to supporting a community are encouraged, but not necessarily required, Wilson said.

“The judges just want to see that there’s thought behind the project,” Wilson said. “Reach for things that maybe have been out of your capacity or you haven’t had the time to do. Even students whose projects don’t get selected, there’s a lot to be gained by going through the process.”

Mentoring

Students interested in applying should reach out to mentors to talk about their project ideas. Wilson, who is also a teacher at Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, said she’s available to any student who needs support during the application process. If a student has a passion but isn’t sure how to turn that passion into a project, mentors can help.

“Supporting youth is important to us, because that’s where you can really light a fire in terms of caring about those passions,” Wilson said.

5Point keeps the application process simple by asking students who they are, what their dream is and what they need from 5Point to get there.

While students have total ownership of their projects, sometimes mentors can really help refine their visions.

Will Sardinsky, a Dream Project recipient in 2013, said he completed his application in just a couple of days thanks to help and advice he received after calling a few mentors. He was really into photography at the time but had never put together a cohesive project. After becoming more aware of Thompson Divide oil and gas lease issues and feeling passionate about protecting the area, he felt he could do a project that combined these two passions.

He said the application itself was relatively easy. He encourages students to apply, even if they think they don’t have enough time.

“Think about what kind of change you want to make and just formulate a project around that,” Sardinsky said. “You don’t need to have these big aspirations, but if there’s a change you want to make, reach out to some mentors and refine your idea.”