In a community where bikes rival cars for numbers, the Trails 2000 Commuter Challenge, also known as Ride to Work Day, on Wednesday would seem to be just another day. But a number of companies made the day a family affair.
On Wednesday evening, those companies gathered on the patio at the Carver Brewing Co. for the awards ceremony. (And a little liquid reward as well.)Because of the increasingly large turnout and participation rate, final winners were determined by the best story and finalized with a Reaux Sham Beaux - rock, paper, scissors - officiated by city of Durango multimodal coordinator Amber Blake.
In the small company category, businesses with 25 or less employees, there was a nine-way tie between Columbine Landscape, Russell Engineering, Maria's Bookshop, San Juan Hand Therapy, Goff Engineering, Backcountry Experience, Momentum Financial, Sugnet Environmental and Syndicom. All had 100 percent participation. Yep, every single employee cycled in.
Runners up included Basin Printing & Imaging, Magellan Network, Thrive Chiropractic, Durango Coca-Cola (15 employees, one who hadn't biked in 20 years), and Fredrick Zink and Associates CPAs.
Goff Engineering won the rock, paper, scissors competition, but promptly passed the award to Columbine Landscaping, which has 100 percent participation every single day of its season.
As a result of the experience, Sugnet Environmental has started its own internal event to maintain the momentum. (Their location in Rivergate right off the Animas River Trail has got to help.)In the medium-sized company category, 26 to 199 employees, Durango Orthopedic and Spine Colorado won with a whopping 69 percent participating. That includes six commuters who rode over Telegraph to Sale Barn and across to Mercy Regional Medical Center. That's Durango's version of over the river and through the woods, I guess.
Lore International was second, then First National Bank of Durango with 37 percent of the employees riding and 112 total miles ridden.
In the large-company sector, 200 or more employees, Mercury Payment Systems gets bragging rights for the second year in a row. Baird Kleinsmith did a lot of encouraging to reach the 37 percent participation rate, or 65 out of 229 employees. The city of Durango raised its bar to 31 percent this year and La Plata County was not far behind.
Ross Boulder, 12, whose mother is La Plata County employee Linda Boulder, won the best story for the Commuter Challenge.
What kind of trophy did the top winners take home? A can of deodorant mounted on a piece of corrugated metal and wood. Kleinsmith said that between last year's trophy and this year's for the Commuter Challenge, along with a number of team trophies, it may be time for Mercury to invest in a trophy case. That's a nice problem to have.
Thanks to all of you for taking part, and for reminding all of us that one way to decrease the traffic problem is for all of us to trade down from four wheels to two at least some of the time.
b b bWondering if we're going right from spring to the monsoons are birthday celebrants Barry Longwell, Louise White, Cheryl Clay, Geni Miller-Parker, Mary Irby, Clark Kepple, Bill Mangrum, Jill Wiegert, Aaron Unterrreiner, Daphne Cahill, Jan Nesset, Barbara Cornelius, Beth Walker, Eva McCleery, Suzanne Cash, Barry Stone, David Downs, Loris Rank, Galloway Hudson, Russ Turpin, Jessica Shockley, Karen Anesi, Karen Leavitt, Tom McMillen, Barbara Cornelius, Eric Sparks, Bill Ward, Doc Stanton, Dana James, Joanne McKnight, Megan Cole, Joe Potter, Hannah Buck, Clark Kepple and Lucy Martinez.
b b bOnce a seed for travel and discovery is planted, it germinates into a lifetime of journeys.
That certainly has been the case for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, also known as RPCVs, Roger and Andrea Ptolemy and Rod and Lana Swearingen.
The Ptolemys met while serving in the South Pacific island kingdom of Tonga, and Rod Swearingen spent his two years of service in Guatemala.
In May, the Durangoans met up with three other couples, four of them also RPCVs, in Istanbul to begin a two-and-a-half-week journey in Turkey and the Greek isles.
Using Kusadasi, Turkey, as a base, the group visited Aphrodisias, whose patron goddess was Aphrodite. It is a sacred site that dates to 5800 B.C. and is home to the most intact ancient stadium ever excavated in Turkey.
The travelers went on to Pummakale to admire the white "cotton castle" cliffs, which were formed from eons of limestone-laden thermal springs depositing stalactites, potholes and mineral cataracts. The travelers swam in the same thermal waters that ancient peoples soaked in hoping for medicinal cures for every ailment imaginable.
The next day was a stop at one of the most famous sites in Turkey, Ephesus, which is an important site in the history of Christianity. It was the Apostle John's final home, and Paul both preached there and wrote letters to the Christian community there that are included in the New Testament.
The Ptolemys had visited Ephesus 10 years ago and noted that a lot of excavation and reconstruction has taken place since then. Giant shelters now protect the remains of six large, ornately decorated terrace houses.
Ephesus was the home of the Library of Celsus, the third largest in ancient times, which once housed approximately 12,000 scrolls dating back to 1 BC. Unfortunately, most were destroyed in a fire started by arsonists.
After Ephesus, the group boarded an 80-foot Turkish "gulet," or yacht, for two weeks, cruising through the Greek islands between Turkey and mainland Greece. The vessel came complete with captain, talented cook and cabin boy.
It sounds like the way to travel, intimate and easy. The menu was classic Mediterranean, an abundance of fruits, vegetables and salads made with olive oil or yogurt, grilled chicken and fish and superb grilled lamb chops.
Island villages were brightly whitewashed with blue trim, bougainvillea bloomed and there were lots of Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries, goats and olive trees and crystal-clear waters. In other words, all of those movies and books don't lie.
The end of the trip took the Swearingens and Ptolemys to Athens. In addition to visiting some of the most famous ruins in the world on the Acropolis, they took a day trip to Delphi, home to the mystic oracle. A day admiring the ancient sculptures and artifacts displayed at the Greek National Archaeological Museum, among the finest in the world, marked the end of this journey.
There is no cure for the travel bug. As I am permanently infected myself, a story like this makes my passport look pretty tempting.
b b b"A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou," as Omar Khayyám famously said, are the perfect way to celebrate the anniversaries of Richard and Debra Pene, Ernie and Mary Ann Gregg, Walter and Julia Jackson, Galloway and Mary Hudson, John and Chris Serwe, Steve and Tamra Lavengood, Don and Lori Hammond and John and Shanna Stordahl.
b b bFor information about upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
How to reach me: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 375-4584; fax 259-5011; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items. If you are submitting an item for preview, please send it with briefs in the subject line and e-mail it to email@example.com.