2 former residents publish books about Summit County life, adventures and fond memories
As an artist, Ashlie Weisel is used to making personal works available to the public. However, she hadn’t originally planned to write a children’s book to sell.
“The Little Camper Who Could,” Weisel’s first picture book, began as a project for his daughter Rhein more than five years ago. Before ending up in Summit County and starting The Sunny Side Up Studio in Frisco, Weisel and her husband Dan refurbished a 1964 RV trailer and took a six-month road trip across the country.
Weisel wanted to capture the trip as a memory because their newborn couldn’t remember it. She wrote the text of the book on scraps of scrap paper, jotting down whatever she could while it was fresh. Her husband then convinced her to make a children’s book out of it, but Weisel got stuck on illustrations.
Along with struggling to figure out how to bring certain scenes to life, Weisel’s art style has changed over the years. His scanning methods, knowledge of Adobe programs and more have changed. This led to cleaner work and sharper lines not present in earlier work, and it took effort to make the book cohesive.
Every year, her husband would ask when “The Little Camper Who Could” would be finished, and Weisel set herself the goal of finishing it in 2022. Weisel also had to change the story text to rhyme, and she scraped some parts that just wouldn’t work.
“Overall, the structure of this one was almost a night and day difference from when I first wrote it as a memoir for my daughter,” Weisel said.
Weisel said the book embodies the free spirit of Summit County families, as well as the adventures they have taken. Weisel recalled driving in San Francisco and the trailer got stuck on the hilly, narrow roads.
“We had to do like that 14-point turn to get out,” Weisel said with a laugh.
The book launched at The Pad hotel and hostel in late July, and since then Weisel has donated copies to local elementary schools. Now Weisel is focusing on life in St. Augustine, Florida. The family moved there in August after falling in love with the community during spring break.
Nothing Happens to Frisco Store and Weisel’s Brand Stay Sunny Goods expands into products with nautical imagery.
“That’s what the Summit County community inspired me to do: always say yes to adventure,” Weisel said. “…We are so grateful that the sun is shining in Frisco. We have worked very hard over the past five years to make it shine. We’re not going anywhere. You better believe I’ll put my heart into it as much as possible from afar.
Weisel said she eventually wants to do another book, maybe make it a series, but there’s no timeline in mind. If she does, she said she might change the mode of transportation to something like a sailboat to symbolize the new chapter.
A new look at history
For Kent Gunnufson, his new book “Rocky Mountains: A Self-Portrait” is also a kind of memoir. The former Summit County resident has had a passion for photography ever since his grandparents gave him a Kodak Brownie camera when he was about 6 years old. Born in Long Beach, Gunnufson grew up in Orange County and was surrounded by California wilderness.
“We could go fishing, surfing or skiing, all within an hour of our house,” Gunnufson said. “It’s pretty amazing. But, you can’t see the mountains all the time because of the air pollution.
At age 8, Gunnufson photographed Lower Yosemite Falls with his father’s handheld camera and fell in love with landscapes and mountain photography. He enjoyed photographing vacations and creating images in which he could relieve his experience of the mountains. He finally realized that his photos could be improved and he found a Kodak brochure on composition which taught him various tips and tricks. Later, he breaks the rule of a less structured instinctive composition.
He went to school at the University of Colorado at Boulder before moving to Breckenridge in 1972. Amenities were different then, such as fewer streetlights and sidewalks. Gunnufson recalled a lack of success trying to get his daughter to cheat or treat, but then witnessed rapid change about a decade later.
Gunnufson’s photographic goal was to capture the unique and changing culture of the High Country, and his first book came out in 1981. He eventually branched out into film, producing and hosting “Photo-Talk” for Denver Community Television in 1993 and worked as a segment producer for CBS4. He has also directed documentaries, such as “A Woman Ranching the Rockies” in 2006 and “Bumming Colorado’s Ski Country” in 2013, which screened at the Breckenridge Film Festival.
Despite filming in color, shooting black and white photos is what Gunnufson has been doing for decades.
“You weren’t considered an artist back then unless you were shooting black and white,” Gunnufson said. “Color was not the artist’s medium.”
The book’s black and white photographs show a range of subjects including skiing at Loveland, rugby at Breckenridge, rustic cabins, Dillon Reservoir, historic mining sites, speed skier CJ Mueller, Silverthorne resident Boot Gordon and even former President Gerald Ford in Beaver. Stream.
Gunnufson said some of the hardest photographs to get were those taken in remote mountains during the winter, as getting the right angle can involve dangerous travel.
“It’s so easy to not pay attention and freeze to death,” Gunnufson said, adding that he once heard snow crashing under his feet as he walked through an avalanche zone.
Gunnufson, now a resident of Grand County, was inspired to publish “Rocky Mountains: A Self-Portrait” because of the Grand County Writers’ Community workshops he attended. Gunnufson is dyslexic and writing the text for the book took a lot of rewriting, but he’s happy with how it’s going.
In telling the story of the High Country, Gunnufson also told his own personal story.
“Photographs are as much a self-portrait about the photographer as they are about the subject they are capturing,” Gunnufson said.
The Grandby Library will host Gunnufson for a discussion and book signing at 5:30 p.m., Friday, August 26.