Joel Reichenberger: Not in Kansas anymore

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Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Joel here.

It still happens almost every day.

Driving around, biking around, walking around, sitting and drinking margaritas around - the circumstances change, but no matter what I'm doing, almost every day at some point I ask myself "do I really live here?"

That sensation struck me three times in the past week.

The first was Tuesday afternoon as I enjoyed my day off with a long hike along Mad Creek. To that point, most of my Steamboat Springs hikes had been relegated to 15-minute jaunts into town or trips down the Yampa River Core Trail. While I at least tread a gravel trail heading into town, neither have any business being called hikes.

Tuesday's trip was awesome, though. It was a beautiful day, perhaps the nicest Steamboat's seen this "spring."

The second such sensation came only 18 hours later when I woke up to find a healthy coating of snow on everything. I know June snow is no reason to blink for many of you, but I took a few pictures. I heard some griping about the weather, but I was mostly thrilled. Of course it all melted away in a matter of hours, so it's not like it caused any long-term problems. It didn't pile up on my windshield or my driveway, so it didn't cause any short-term problems, either. Mostly, it was cool.

Don't punch me for saying this, but I'm crossing my fingers for July and August snow.

The final such sensation came early Friday. Exactly 24 hours after I was astounded enough by June snowfall to take photos, I left my apartment to cover ski jumping.

Again, to so many, I'm sure June ski jumping is a non-event, especially since Howelsen Hill's all-weather K-68 jumping hill was completed late in 2005. It was all a wonder to a guy from Kansas, from the engine-like roar of skis on water-coated plastic to the controlled skid the jumpers tucked into as they skimmed across the grass in the landing zone.

It's a beautiful time of year in Kansas. The Flint Hills, which stretch across the central part of the state, are as brilliantly green as anything in the Yampa Valley. Closer to my home, the wheat fields have turned from the light green of spring to the golden shimmer of harvest. My dad, a wheat farmer no doubt glued to the weather forecast every day for the past month, surely is trekking to the fields every day - often twice and maybe three times - checking to see if the wheat is ripe. In a time-tested but far from scientific procedure, he'll pick off a few heads, grind them into his hand and chew up the resulting berries.

Who needs machines and measurements - he can always tell when it's time to go with a chomp.

I'll miss wheat harvest. This will be the second consecutive year I've missed, after last year's typically weeklong affair turned into a miserable two-day sweep thanks to a late-spring freeze.

And I'll miss my dad today on Father's Day. I know he's happy I'm here, though. Nearly once a day, I'm reminded I am, as well.

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