Thursday, June 20, 2013

Farm Your Own Land First

Platte River Bike Trail heading into Downtown Denver
Bumble was discussing his idea with me recently— taking a bicycling trip through a European country along a river. He thought Amsterdam would be enchanting—canals, tulips, Dutch architecture, and folks sharing philosophies while toking up in a quaint cannabis coffee shop. And while I agreed it was a wonderful way to be a tourist and take in another country and culture, I heard my mom’s voice in my head saying, “Farm your own land first.” My mom, bless her, raised us on the sound advice of clichés and, trite as they may be, their truths can often make me laugh. Before one embarks on a voyage of discovery, they must be able to understand their own back yard first.  Mom’s cliché ringing in my ears, I replied, “Let’s save travel expenses (think global) and ride local. For free we can hitch up and ride the bike trails that hug our own little river—the South Platte.” Not to mention, Denver is almost as liberal as Amsterdam.

Denver and vicinity abound with over a hundred miles of pleasurable bike and walking trails (and shady parks) that aim to keep the rider and walker safe. One can experience a slice of nature interwoven with an urban environment.  In 1989, I was hit by a car bicycling around town in traffic (someone missed a red light), so riding on bike trails without vehicular worries is a Zen experience for me. It is the fear-free way to ride.

Bumble and I have ridden most sections of the Cherry Creek Bike Trail and the Highline Canal, yet we had not “farmed” the land along the South Platte River.  Badda bing, badda boom. Since a good idea is just that, without further delay, we loaded up the fat tires into the truck bed, filled the water bottles, sun-screened our bodies and took off for a stretch of bike path along the South Platte River that runs from Chatfield Reservoir to Confluence Park in downtown Denver.

"Sun Spot" sculpture made of wire and dog tags 
by Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan

There is satisfaction in farming your own land. I am not going to bore you with a play-by-play of every mile we rode.  But I will say it was Mother Nature and urban commerce all juxtaposed in a bio-diverse blend. We viewed birds and the babbling brook, cottonwoods and cottontails, cumulus clouds and cops on horseback, the Waste Management Center and Western Metals Recycling, mountains of crushed cars and the Rockies purple mountain majesties, fuzzy willows and wild roses, office buildings and amusement parks, and greeted happy joggers, bikers and babies in strollers.

Riding along the river watching clouds go by

Near mile marker 12, there is a little coffee shop which is part of charming Hudson Gardens in Littleton, and further south is the Carson Nature Center, a stunning log cabin-style building which offers an encyclopedic education about the region. At the opposite end of the trail, in the northernmost juncture at Confluence Park, there is Starbucks in the REI. Drinking coffee, you can watch kayakers play in Platte River where it meets Cherry Creek.  Below are some links with maps. I invite you to harvest some great experiences, biking, running, or walking , your way into or out of the city.  Like my mom said, “Farm your own land first.”

Denver Police patrolling along the trail on horseback

Great Links to Trail Maps