Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Lakewood-Wadsworth Station to Lamar Station

This hike was, in all honesty, a shopping trip, but it held some interest and a little nostalgia...and there was a lot of rambling.

My first time in Denver was to visit a friend who was attending the gunsmithing school in the Colorado School of Trades. It, and his apartment were just off Colfax Avenue so, while he was in classes, I rambled around.

My first time using public transportation was an adventure. I boarded the bus on the wrong side of the road and ended up in Golden, then I couldn't figure out where to get off on the turn around and ended up in Aurora. I finally managed to get a taxi back into town and spent the rest of the day walking around Denver seeing the sights.

That was the early eighties and the city government was trying to control the long tradition of "cruising Colfax." To break the interminable traffic jam, a curfew had been instituted.

Colfax has seen better days but it's still the major east-west thoroughfare through Denver.

I forewent the trip to the Jeffco Center terminal this time because I would be stopping in at Walmart and Walmart always has bathrooms, right?
Although the W Line is two blocks from Colfax, the displays on the parking garage are about the history of Colfax Avenue.
Some of the train and bus terminals (I think of Lakewood-Wadsworth and Evans stations) have displays telling the history of the location. You can read some local history while you wait for a bus or train.

Colfax has always been the place to find whatever you want...counterculture, art, shopping, tattoo parlors, nightclubs, pretentious restaurants...

I had a few things I needed to pick up, so I stopped in at the Walmart first. They were out of what I wanted and, instead of a restroom, they had construction (I bet you can guess what comes later). I did find cookies, so I bought those, stuffed them in my backpack, and headed east toward the next train station. A Dollar Tree was along my route and I needed some flatware.

Speaking of pretentious restaurants, the Casa Bonita is famous in Denver. Currently, it's closed while it changes hands to the folks that bring you South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. I read that nothing is changing there (still the waterfall with high divers and the gorilla) and everything is improving. Although a South Park episode was devoted to it, the new Casa Bonita (I read) won't be South Park themed.

It's still going to be pink.

The headquarters of 40 West Arts, a nonprofit organization for the support of art in the Lakewood area, is in the same shopping mall as the Casa Bonita.

They have a small plaza with an informative display and a "crossing light" that gives you personal affirmations when you press the button. There is also sidewalk art.

This one, 3D Pond is by Shay Davis. It's not chalk, so you don't have to worry about scuffing it up.

After a little shopping, I got back on the road (Pierce Street, to be exact) and walked to my destination, Lamar Station. As usual, there was art.

There are a lot of mobiles and stabiles (moving and fixed modernistic artistic constructions) in Denver. These five mobiles in the 40 West Arts District constitute the Lakewood Legacy Trees by Lonnie Hanzon. They display various elements of the location's history.

Well, I didn't find a public restroom in the area so, when the train arrived, I went west to Golden, which gave me the opportunity to snap some photos of another part of the Jeffco Government Center, the Courage Garden, a solemn memorial to local loved ones lost to violent crime.
The Jeffco Government Center Station is the end of the W Line so, when I make a turn around there, I have to wait for the next train out, which is usually the train I took in. The RTD staff picks up garbage left by passengers and the driver takes a break.

Since I didn't find everything I needed on Colfax, I had one more stop to make before continuing home. Luckily, there is a Safeway grocery store near Alameda Station. Close by, I noticed this construction that I had not seen before.

I couldn't find any information on this installation but it looked nice and modernistically Stonehengey, so I shot it.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Garrison Station to Lakewood-Wadsworth Station

Names are important.

If you are passionate about stamps and coins, you know that they aren't just pretty pieces of art. The images they bear are commemorations. They convey history.

The same is true of place names. There have been many (many!) books published about place names in different localities. And street aren't just named at random. Neighborhoods in Denver often have themes. One area has streets named for different US colleges (the pattern extends throughout Colorado...the Collegiate Range is composed of mountains named after universities). Another neighborhood has streets named after US states.

Kipling Street is named after Rudyard Kipling, the British author. Wadsworth Boulevard is not named after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the American author, or William Wadsworth, the American pioneer. The honor goes to Benjamin Franklin Wadsworth, fellow Coloradoan and founder of Arvada, through which the north-south thoroughfare prominently passes.

Many of the place names in the area were named after individuals who historically committed atrocities against various American cultures. For instance, a major figure in Denver (and Colorado) history, governor John Evans, has many things named in his honor, including the third tallest mountain in the Front Range, Mount Evans. But things are changing and Mr. Evans' association with the horrific and rather embarrassing Sand Hill Massacre has caused folks to re-evaluate his "honor". Mount Evans is now Mount Blue Sky, a name suggested by local Native Americans.

With that out of the way, I began the hike of 6/19/22 at Garrison Station, where I ended my last station-to-station hike.

Weeeell, actually I took the train all the way to the end of the line in Golden, as I usually do on these W Line hikes because I know there are bathrooms there and Denver isn't that reliable for bathrooms.

That gave me the opportunity to photograph Golden's huge digital clock at the light rail station. It's remarkable but I haven't noticed that it's very useful. The digit sections actually do change to keep time but you have to look at them just right...and maybe squint a little.

They're made to tell the time by casting a shadow of the time on the pavement below. I wouldn't be able to vouch for that because the sun has never been out at the right time or in the right place for me to see the phenomenon.

So, back to Garrison Station...I took Garrison Street south to a little neighborhood park, Holbrook Park, which provides a big lawn, two ponds, a playground, and an interesting aqueduct.
It's not as pretty as the old Roman aqueducts. From a distance, I thought it was a footbridge, but as I approached, I saw what it was. I have a soft spot for places where one stream crosses another. There are many such places in the Denver area and, if you search this blog for "aqueduct" you'll see others. Denver has a lot of gulches, and ditches, and canals. You'd think there isn't enough water to feed it all, but that's sorta the point. As little water as we have, we've built a system to effectively use it and put it where we want it.

As I got closer I thought that it was made of halves of metal barrels welded together but, thumping on the side, I found that it was halved pipeline sections.

Many of the parks in Denver are educational and have informative displays like this.

You can enlarge the picture and read about how landscaping makes an environmental difference, and how to tell the difference between sedges, rushes, grasses, and willows. Before we civilized the plains, that was just about all we had out here, and the willows (and a few cottonwood trees) only grew around the streams. Now, in Denver, we have "urban forests".

I rambled around the residential area until I came to Carr Street. Here is a photo of the gulch where it passes under.

My destination was Lakewood-Wadsworth station, so I knew I needed to turn back east to find Wadsworth Boulevard. I did that at Tenth Avenue.

Denver likes murals and the Jefferson County Open School is no exception. It has this giant building size mural.

The Open School is an alternative K through 12 school in the Jefferson County school system. It is also right at Wadsworth, so I knew I was close to my destination.

Wadsworth Boulevard is a major north-south thoroughfare through the Denver metro area. It begins in Broomfield (that's where the Butterfly Pavilion is) and ends in Littleton at the Lockheed Martin plant very near Watertown Canyon. It is also Colorado State Highway 121.

The Lakewood-Wadsworth light rail station is located on a bridge over the highway with the bus stations underneath.

Elevators and stairs at each end of the pier allow access between the street and the station.

Just after turning onto Wadsworth, I ran into an old friend.

The first sketch I made in my field journal after moving to Colorado was that of a prickly poppy. One of my favorite wildflowers, this one and my other favorite, milkweed, illustrates how showy a weed can be.

Green Mountain is still clearly visible from the platform of Lakewood-Wadsworth Station. Pike's Peak is also visible to the south but there's a screen along the bridge so I couldn't get a good shot.

As with all the light rail stations and large bus stops, and even some of the smaller bus stops, there is art.

Suspended over the stairwell at the eastern end of the station, Rain and Sun, by John Rogers, combines glass and metallic streamers to recall the unpredictable weather patterns of Colorado.

Metallic streamers are a repeated element in these station art pieces. You'll see them again when I get to Sheridan Station.

Next up is Lamar Station and this one will be very urban. I have the options of walking back south to skirt a golf course that the Lakewood Gulch runs through, follow a residential street that parallels the light rail, or go north and take Colfax east. For several reasons, I choose Colfax.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Oak Station to Garrison Station

Lakewood Gulch Trail isn't as reliable as I thought it would be. It's chopped up by private properties and I had to do a little road work on this hike, but not much and it was through an interesting neighborhood with what looked like mini-ranches.

Following Oak Street South from Oak Station, I rejoined Lakewood Gulch where I left it the last hike.

Green Mountain is still a prominent feature of the western horizon.

The landscape makes me think that the stream was already well established with a valley before erosion control structures and a rock lined channel was installed. The Wikipedia article states that it occasionally floods even now.

At Oak Street, Lakewood Gulch enters Sunset Park. There is a bicycle park at the eastern end of the park and the trail changes from paved walks to a dirt road until Kipling Street.

I don't expect to see a lot of life in the stream. It passes through so many residential areas that water quality sites on the Internet show large amounts of phosphorus, nitrogen, and bacteria in the water from runoff. The valley has a lot of diversity of healthy looking plant life, though.

Denver is good about providing these little neighborhood parks. They're dotted around all over the metro area. They will usually include a playground, like this one, a picnic shelter, and walking trails that connect with one or more greenways.

This playground is cushioned. The colorful surface is nice and bouncy, but I wouldn't want to slide on it. It has little sharp particles suspended in it, like the tiny "rocks" in roof coatings that come loose in rain storms and collect in the dirt around houses.

The trail ends at Kipling Street. Part of Colorado highway 391, Kipling Street is next to Independence Avenue (the alphabetical order isn't accidental - street names actually aren't random). The street was originally named "Howell Street" for Carson Howell, a veteran of the Sand Creek Massacre. I don't know when the name was changed. It's been Kipling since I moved to Colorado in 2013, and, yes, it was named after Rudyard Kipling.

I had spotted a tiny museum on the map while planning this hike and decided to visit it.

Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls, and Toys (830 Kipling St., Lakewood, Colorado, 80215)

Never pass up a tiny museum. They're often some of the best. They tend to be staffed by people who are passionate about their field and know what they're talking about. The toys here reflect Colorado history.
In keeping with my current themes of chemistry and geology, I couldn't pass up showing this old Gilbert Chemistry Set. I know it's old because, by the time I came along, the chemicals were in plastic bottles. These are cardboard (I assume, waxed) canisters.

Alfred Carlton Gilbert, a magician by trade, started the Mystic Manufacturing Company with his friend, John Petrie in 1909. Originally, it was a supplier of equipment for stage magicians but in 1911, they invented the erector set (another passion of my childhood). The first chemistry set was put out (did I really say "put out"? I started so many fires with my chemistry sets!) in 1922. They also produced other science sets including vacuum tube (there were no transistors radios back then and certainly not integrated circuits) radio kits.

If you're interested, there is a website that has a lot of information on the old science kits.

They also present a lot of the old, "classic" experiments.

In addition to displays-under-glass, the museum also has some hands-on displays, plus! there are hosted events so, if you plan to be in the Denver area, check to see if they have something coming up at

The walk from Kipling to Garrison was a street through a residential area.

Garrison Station, as usual, had art. 

This piece, Winds of Change, by Mike Squared Mosaics, is a long (20 wall panels) tile mosaic representing changes in the area from prehistoric times to the present. If you look closely, you can see sunflowers and butterflies along with the square tiles.

The W line is sandwiched between highway 6 To the south and Colfax Avenue to the north, so there are always amenities close by. Before catching the train home, I strolled up to Ziggi's Coffee on Colfax for a dry place (there was a rare Denver downpour) and a snack.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Federal Center Station to Oak Station

The Eastern Continental Trail, which includes the Florida Trail, the Alabama Roadwalk, the Pinhote Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the International Appalachian Trail, will carry you from Key West, Florida to Belle Isle, Newfoundland and Labrador, 4,400 miles. But it requires a lot of walking on trails, plus roadwork and waterwork.

Roadwork happens when no foot trails have been developed, like the stretch in Alabama between the end of the Florida Trail and the beginning of the Pinhote Trail near Weogufka, Alabama. They're also places in Canada where there is water that must be crossed.

It's not that I've done all that. I just wanted to introduce some terminology, because even on these short station-to-station hikes, I end up doing a lot of roadwork.

Starting at Federal Center Station in Lakewood, I had to figure out how to get across highway 6 on my hike to Oak Station. Of course, I did my homework before starting out.

There are some parts of the Denver Metro area that are not pedestrian friendly...few street signs, trails, sidewalks. I would prefer not to walk on a busy overpass with no sidewalk. Luckily, the satellite images in Google Maps clearly show sidewalks and the dashed lines of crosswalks and the length of Union  Boulevard and Simms Street from the Federal Center to the trailhead of the Lakewood Gulch Trail was okay.

So, I left the train at Federal Center Station and climbed the hill to Union Boulevard, which was a backtrack from my last hike along the W Line. Crossing the light rail and highway 6 turned out to be easy roadwork.
The arch in the distance is the W Line where it crosses highway 6.

Simms Street and the light rail approach each other near the Lakewood Gulch Trail, then the W Line turns east toward downtown Denver. Collins Road crosses Simms there and the trailhead for the Lakewood Gulch Trail is a few steps down Collins in Bellows Park. 

Looking at the Wikipedia article for Lakewood Gulch, I think that might be my ticket from Oak Station to Auraria West Station.

Like all the "gulches" in the Denver area, Lakewood Gulch is an artificial channel for directing storm water through East Denver.  It has been subject to flashfloods in the past.

Occupying the distance between Simms Street and Oak Street is a large medical equipment manufacturing company, Terumo Global. The Greenway that runs through it's grounds reflects the technological focus.

I'm not sure what molecule the tetrahedral model is supposed to represent but it's appropriate given how many biological compounds have the form. Carbon can bond to up to four other atoms and, since atoms tend to space themselves out as far as they can, the tetrahedron is common in organic compounds.

On the far side of the gazebo is a double helix model, I assume, of DNA.

Parts of the trail give nice views of the surrounding area including green Mountain.

The convenience of Lakewood Gulch (for me, at least) is that it crosses side streets that run short distances north to W Line stations. Oak Street was well marked and I took it to Oak Station.
All of the light rail stations and the larger bus stops in Denver display art by named artists...murals, windscreens, and larger works, like the whimsical, Tread Lightly, by Joshua Wiener. The seven steel boats on legs make me think of Baba Yaga's Marina.
The train ride back ended at my home station, Arapahoe at Village Center, and I was surprised to see the water feature at Village Center Tower One operating, so I took some pictures.