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Steamboat Magazine

Early Winter Goals

01/11/2024 06:00AM ● By Jennie Lay
Featured in Steamboat Magazine Ski Edition 2023-2024

Steamboat Springs, CO - Gift yourself time to read a fat book, binge some worthy online distractions during the long nights, and don't forget to tickle your funny bone. 


The Covenant of Water 
By Abraham Verghese
Don’t let the 700+ pages daunt you. The Covenant of Water is a multi-generational epic set over about 80 years of the 20th century in the languid backwaters of South India, and it promises to keep you cozy by the fire for countless winter hours. Kerala and its Malabar Coast provide a stunning landscape that’s rich with spices and tea, wild elephants, a rich political history and seriously interesting spiritual diversity. Abraham Verghese’s empathetic cast of characters is fully formed, and the threads beyond family that bind them are woven with care and expertise. Verghese has incorporated careful research (and more than a few mouth-watering meals) into decades of exploration of caste, social conventions, and the rise of India’s communist state. Overlaying all of this is a medical mystery that looms early in the story in the form of mystical drownings – but it too unravels and evolves over time. There is tragedy, romance, family drama, political intrigue, and so much delightful language crafted throughout this novel. Everything about it will suck you in and transport you.


Wild Hope
The natural world is under assault, but there’s no doom and gloom in this new series. Wild Hope is a beautifully rendered program that highlights successful stories of saving biodiversity all around the globe, from coffee plantations preserving Mozambique rainforests to oysters restoring New York Harbor, to beaver believers, and even dogs who rescue koalas from wildfires. The cinematography and storytelling are top-notch, and the topics are sure to be engaging for all ages. Travel the world from your couch as you watch the full series and learn how to engage more deeply at


1,001 Novels: A Library of America 
It’s hard to overstate the importance of setting in a novel. Award-winning author Susan Straight (a headliner at Steamboat’s 2023 Literary Sojourn) set out with sticky notes, a road atlas, and five years of intense reading to pin some of the most well-captured landscapes in American literature in their specific geographic places. When Straight crossed paths with a modern-day digital cartographer, a literary map for the rest of us to read from was born. Explore the interactive map as a whole, or dive into her curated regional collections. Every book includes a different author’s deeply researched spot on the map, plus a blurb that will entice you to read that book. This may be the last, best reading list you’ll ever need. Explore the map and bookmark 1,001 Novels: A Library of America at


@i70things | Don’t even think about hopping on Colorado’s main highway, traveling east or west, without consulting this community-sourced IG page. On most days, the posts offer an essential guide for pileups, highway parking lots and when not to get on that road. The rest of the days reveal pure I-70 shenanigans. Be in the know with details and photographic evidence of tunnel fires, 18-wheelers trying to squeeze three-wide through Glenwood Canyon, epic beer spills, car explosions, avalanches, emerging brushfires, flying debris and a whole lot of questionable behavior traveling down the interstate.

@westernwatergirl | Pay attention, Big Water Deciders (and everyone who depends on the Colorado River in the drought-stricken West). Durango river guide Teal Lehto turned her passion for the Animas River into a snappy, snarky and highly effective TikTok (and IG) Western water explainer. She’s bold on calling out the quagmires for what they are, from infrastructure issues to irrigation heists, to tribal water rights, unraveling layers of political, legal and environmental issues surrounding the big Colorado River shortfall. These are fast-talking, nuanced primers about things like acre-feet, plus lots of in-depth critiques. She’s hilarious and spot-on, and her wildly popular social platforms have crowned this cat-eyed commentator a bona-fide water influencer even though she bills herself more simply as “just a girl who’s obsessed with water in a really dry place.”

@pattiegonia | Pattie Gonia is an environmentalist drag queen who is breaking barriers, spurring important conversations about diversifying the climate movement and highlighting the queer community in outdoor spaces. She travels the country making climate change activism inclusive, performing climate-themed drag shows, and making brilliant videos that are artistic and educational for her social channels. Upon being crowned a “Next Generation Leader” in October, she told Time Magazine: “Drag’s history has always been activism…I’m just trying to use my art and fight for what I love.” | Bonus: Stream the inspiring 30-minute documentary Dear Mother Nature about Pattie Gonia, available on YouTube.


The Yampa Valley Bugle
After two years at Steamboat’s local newspaper, reporter Dylan Anderson decided to branch out and offer Routt County something different. His website and Substack newsletter aim to provide watchdog journalism over local government and empower citizens to better understand decisions that are shaping our landscape and ways of life in the Yampa Valley. Subscribe to The Bugle’s citizen journalism project at

Yampa River Scorecard
The Yampa River is the heart of the valley, and now we can better understand how its health is faring. The Yampa River Scorecard Project is a comprehensive, long-term river health tracking program that rates the overall condition of five different segments of the Yampa River and publishes the results each year as a “scorecard.” The idea is to track overall river health alongside the effects of current and future projects using 45 individual indicators. It’s a commitment to long-term monitoring with publicly available data. The public-facing result is science that is engaging, multimedia, easy to digest, and informative for future river management. At press time the first scorecard was published for the middle Yampa segment, earning a B. This and future scorecards will be found online at