Considering how community-minded and involved these two Durangoans are, it is no surprise that they were of the very first people we met when we moved to town. At this moment, odds are Denise is either playing for or teaching a group to learn the happiest instrument in the world – the ukulele, as she is locally known as the “Queen of Uke.” Along with holding uke fests she is also the savvy Media Coordinator for the Department of Theatre at Fort Lewis College. Also at The Fort is her husband Charles who brings top acts and musical performances to Durango as Director of the Community Concert Hall (oh, the stories he has to tell!) ) Both are generous, artistically talented and an absolute delight to be around. We are pleased to introduce a fun and gracious couple who embrace the Durango Dream … Denise and Charles Leslie …
SWD Guest Q&A
SWD: Are you originally from the Southwest? If not what brought you here?
Charles: I am from East Texas. Folks from Texas think they are from the Southwest, the Deep South, the Plains, but in the end we are from Texas.
Denise: I am from Indiana and I just follow Charles around – arm candy! Haha. We came here for the opportunity offered for Charles at Fort Lewis College. He had fond memories of coming here in the 70s to ski. We love the mountains.
SWD: Soft tacos or crunchy?
Charles: Soft with corn, memories of great food in Mexico, or crunchy with beef.
Denise: Soft chicken with flour, memories of the Crown and Anchor in Austin, or beef with crunchy.
SWD: What are your favorite adventures or getaways in the Southwest?
Charles: Camping in any direction from the Four Corners. Unplugged from computers and cell phones where there’s no service—yea!
Denise: I too love camping and when we are near a mountain stream…let’s just say my little heart goes pitter patter. We are always “plugged” in so TOTALLY ditto to what Charles said.
SWD: What is your favorite margarita?
Charles: 1/3 Don Julio, 1/3 Cointreau, 1/3 fresh squeezed lime juice, shaken with ice, strained in a martini glass, with salt—of course
Denise: Yep, that’s my margarita — Charles always orders margaritas for me. He’s Texan…duh.
SWD: What is your favorite Southwestern National Park?
Charles: North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Small crowds, only open for a few months a year due to snow, architecture is still intact from the CCC days, and it’s 1000 feet higher than the South Rim.
Denise: I’m still exploring – but I think Zion is so amazing. I’d like to go back, camp and my favorite thing to do – strum my ukulele and breathe the fresh mountain air. With my margarita.
SWD: Red or Green (or Christmas?)
Charles: Green. Give me tomatillos any day.
Denise: I have this thing about “green” things so I choose red.
SWD: What is the most satisfying aspect of what you do?
Charles: I get to work with great people from Durango and artists from all over the world.
Denise: I love that I get to meet all kinds of folks and I wear a lot of hats. I love to play and listen to music and at the end of the day…I’m happy.
SWD: What is the most challenging aspect of what you do?
Charles: Durango is isolated so artists have a tough time moving here and traveling this way.
Denise: Sometimes, just keeping my head above the water and keeping the work/life balance in tact.
SWD: Corn or flour tortillas?
Charles: Corn. Growing up in Texas we had corn with butter and salt while waiting for dinner. Best for tacos too.
Denise: Excuse me, I just love the flour tortillas. As a Midwestern gal, we used to have taco night…a little Crisco in a fry pan, drop a soft shell in, flip it after only a couple of minutes…yum…my mouth is watering right now!
SWD: What do you absolutely refuse to eat?
Charles: Crustaceans because I’m allergic-would not be pretty.
Denise: Not a fan of wild game…though folks have tried to “fool” me, I can always tell.
SWD: This may have just been answered, but … What are your thoughts on menudo (and no, we don’t mean the boy band)?
Charles: I’m glad others eat it. Should be included in the above.
Denise: I like the boy band. 🙂
SWD: If you hypothetically moved away from the Southwest, what would you ask people to send to you in a care package? What would you miss the most about the Southwest?
Charles: Chipotle anything.
Denise: Honeyville Honey Whiskey
SWD: Where is your favorite Green Chile Cheeseburger?
Denise: None…give me a blue cheeseburger from Hwy 3 Roadhouse any day!
SWD: Is there a place outside of the Southwest you would like to visit? Some intriguing spot around the world?
Denise: Greece. I just want to walk up to the top of that chapel on the hill overlooking the ocean.
SWD: Is there a Southwestern destination you’ve been wanting to visit?
Charles: I just want to head out for 3 weeks and see what there is to see.
Denise: Yep, we talk about just loading up the camper and driving to see what happens….I’m there, one day.
SWD: Do you have a mantra?
Charles: “Be kind.”
Denise: “Anything can happen if you let it.” — Mary Poppins
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