By Sue Deans
Training for a half-marathon walk, the former editor
of the Camera blogs about exploring Boulder
August 12, 2011
Today I plan a long walk ““ 8 miles is my goal, and my plan is to walk out Valmont to 55th Street and back. I leave home at 7 a.m., and it’s nice and cool, in the 60s, cloudy and a little on the humid side. I head east on Balsam, which turns into Edgewood, which turns into Valmont east of 28th Street. The streets are pretty quiet until 28th Street, where traffic starts to pick up. The clouds are intriguing, with a little sun peeking through, but most of the cars have their lights on.
Interesting businesses along Valmont, including Sturtz & Copeland florists, a Boulder institution ““ I remember when it was next to Boulder High on Arapahoe. A little strip center has a homebrew shop, alterations and tuxedo rental, the Deli Zone and a Latino travel agent. Next door, Modern Specialists, where we took all our Volkswagens in the ’70s and ’80s, is still around, too.
Around the corner on 30th is Boulder Stove & Flooring, open again after the horrific murder last year of Staci and Sean Griffin, the couple who owned it, by one of their employees who then killed himself. Staci had helped me with the remodel of my house a couple of years ago, helping me pick out tile and carpet, and we had become friends. So very sad for their daughter, who was a seventh-grader at the time.
Crossing the railroad tracks east of Valmont, the 1890 Boulder Depot in the hazy distance looks like it might almost still be in use. The historic building, originally located downtown, was moved there in 2008 to make room for the Barnes & Noble store now at 30th and Arapahoe. Plans call for it someday to be part of Boulder Junction, the Transit Village planned for the area.
The beginnings of Valmont Regional Park, with an elaborate fence in place. When finished, it will be a regional park of 132 acres.
Across the street is the already completed bike park portion of Valmont Park, which doesn’t have much going on this time of the morning. It opened officially in June and is open dawn to dusk. Last time I was here a kids’ bike race was going on but the park wasn’t finished yet. The kids had a ball riding up and down hills. Now just a couple of buildings, one with restrooms, look like they are still under construction. The sign says it’s a dog park as well but I doubt many dogs are there at this time of the day so I don’t want to stop and find it.
I am taking a detour here off Valmont onto Airport Road because I want to see the old sculpture that once stood at Baseline and Broadway, sort of in the middle of the intersection. It’s hard to imagine that, with all the traffic there is now on Broadway. I thought the thing ““ it’s hard to describe otherwise, and was widely considered an eyesore back then ““ had been demolished long ago but I found out a few years ago when visiting the jail (as part of Leadership Boulder, not for personal reasons), that it had been resurrected and placed out on Airport Road.
I think about going to check out the airport, where there was a plane crash just yesterday “” only minor injuries to the pilot, thankfully. But I’m curious what else is on this road, which past Airport Road’s left turn into the airport is called Airport Boulevard.
Walking past the jail I notice some of the inmates’ garden plots, some with elaborate decorations, one including a cross. When I come back later one man is working in the garden.
An installation of solar panels is being put in up the road and behind it is the county’s massive Communications and Emergency Operations Center, which handles 911 calls. We’re up pretty high above the city and this is where the headquarters will be if there’s a flood ““ far from a former location at 6th and Canyon which is smack in the floodplain.
So what is on Airport Boulevard? The state emissions testing center, for one thing. Then there are a great many office buildings: Cisco, Amgen, Agilent, LSI. I see a sign that says the area is called Highpoint and I can see why. We’re up at about the same level as the top of Valmont Butte, visible in the distance. A steady stream of cars comes in, presumably people on their way to work. I keep thinking the street will head downhill to 55th but when I get to where I think it should, it’s a dead end. Oh well, I’ll have to backtrack. On the way I see the “Welcome to Boulder” sign directed at people who have flown in. “Have you closed out your Flight Plan?” it asks. That question works on several levels.
Headed back to the west, I hear a loud chattering near my feet and it’s a prairie dog chirping at me as I pass a village of them along the bikepath at Valmont and Foothills Parkway. It’s hard to get a good picture of one of the critters with my little camera because they move so fast.
I walk along the bikepath, taking care to stay way on the right, but somebody still whizzes by a few inches from my left side with no verbal warning.
Passing under the Foothills Parkway I find myself on a beautiful bikepath.
I see other people walking on the paths, too. I hope the bikes will be kind to us. This is the Goose Creek path, which will take me back to Valmont. I could also get onto what looks like a Pearl Street path that intersects it.
In the distance I see a long train passing between Pearl and Valmont and, I’m sure, clogging traffic as it goes. As I get closer I get a few interesting shots, one with the depot’s spire visible behind the train.
The Goose Creek Greenway path is beautiful, passing through rocks, cattails and other greenery and brownery reflecting August in Colorado. A trickle of water can be heard. Goose Creek flows through my neighborhood, underground, so we don’t see it or hear it there. But its presence means we are in a flood plain and have to pay flood insurance. At this point this year it doesn’t look like much of a threat.
Closer to home, the clouds are starting to lift from the Flatirons. It’s supposed to be very hot again today but it is still cool right now.
I travel the greenway until it meets Dellwood west of Folsom. Home at 9:15 a.m., I’ve walked 8.15 miles according to the new app on my phone that uses GPS to track my walk. Hooray for technology!