An accidental long walk to Northglenn

After Tuesday’s long and mildly stressful – roads! – walk to Red Rocks amphitheatre, I had something easier lined up for Wednesday. I had spotted that the 120 bus, available from near where I stayed, headed all the way East to the Prairie Centre, a shopping centre. In Brighton (Colorado). Just a short walk from there, the Barr Lake state park. Reviews suggested there wasn’t much shade, but a walk round the lake would give me some air and some wildlife. Great!

Long flat road, small verge
There was to be a lot of walking on this sort of terrain. Though not always with an adverse camber.

I headed out and caught the bus. I could have hopped off early, reasonably near the park, but rode it all the way round Brighton to the shopping centre. Figured I’d have a look there at the tents; a cheap and light one would be good as a backup for Washington (state) in a couple of days, and Victoria, BC, after that. Nothing doing, but I wandered off down the provided sidewalks. No one else on them, this looks like a new area, infrastructure being built, ready for people. Not that that many walk in this car-accented culture, but still.

Wide open spaces in Brighton, CO
Wide open spaces in Brighton, CO.

If I were superstitious, I might have taken my slide onto my hand/backside, stepping on some innocuous mud under a flyover, as an omen. But I did not! I could almost see the park, just over there, behind the trees. And the railway line. Hmm, that’s a complication. Railway lines here are nowhere near as protected and fenced-off as in the UK, but still, not to be crossed willy-nilly.

Dead end and Fairplay (street) sign
Dead end! Fairplay!

There was no crossing. The road that looked good and close, leading directly to the trail round the lake? Signs at the entrance, saying ‘no lake access’. I plead ignorance to the gods, and walked along it a little further, but those words kept echoing, with them being pretty straightforward, and when I spotted a mailbox I figured I would have to head onto someone’s drive. I avoided the “can you read?” conversation, and turned back.

After another mile or so, with much checking of the map, I realised there was no way through the houses, and headed for main roads. That wasn’t a great walk, but there was space, and no pedestrian prohibition signs. But as I reached a junction that would take me to what looked like the park car park, I checked again. It was another 2 miles. Then I could walk round the lake, and then I’d have to backtrack, along the roads that had already bored me, to get the bus. Plus the road to the car park itself didn’t look great.

I figured I would take the road unknown to me, and head back West, towards where I had come from. Maps.me told me it was about 19km. Maybe I would feel like doing the whole thing.

Some kms were okay, some were not. It depended on the width of the verge, and how much of a hobo I felt like. Fortunately, if you like, people carrying their stuff while looking otherwise respectful are pretty common here, so no-one gave me a second glance – from their cars and trucks, there were no other walkers.

And, after a few hairy bits, such as crossing a 6-lane highway that had lights to stop the main traffic, but not that turning from the side roads to allow walkers to pass, and a walk over a bridge that just had a small shoulder for me to walk on, I hit Henderson, turned on to Henderson road, and was rewarded. Yes, those blue areas on the map are (mostly) a park, and there is a trail that runs through them.

Finally, the lakes, and a trail
Finally, the lakes, and a (concrete) trail.
Wide concrete trail
Wide concrete trail, Henderson, CO.

I had pretty much decided by now that I would walk the whole thing, though with one last get out. Soon I would be on 120th street, and the 120 bus, my original ride, heads along there. I thought I might get to the petrol station, “Kum & Go”, refuel and then get the bus – I’d still have walked 11 miles or so.

Tunnel, 120th street

Buoyed by the sight, and sounds, of gophers (?) at the side of the road, I just kept on walking; finding it was only 5km from the petrol station, and refreshed by cookies/biscuits, it seemed daft not to finish it off.

Gopher poking out of its hole on parched earth
Gopher poking out of its hole on parched earth. There were several along the way, chirping to each other. They seemed unconcerned, but maybe the chirping was “watch out for this big thing passing by”.

I was particularly pleased to be back by 4.30pm. The night before, I had realised the Colorado Rockies were baseballing the Houston Astros, and I figured I’d head down. With a 6.30pm start, I could make that fairly easily.

Outside the Rockies' stadium
Outside the Rockies’ stadium.

I did make it. I walked slightly the wrong way, discombobulated by my own daftness in working out how much I needed to add to my Myride card for the few trips I had yet to make, and then deciding I was wrong, and not adding that, relying on cash fares (much less convenient). But still, I might have missed the first 10 minutes, mostly due to a slow security line. Not as slick, or as friendly, as Australian stadiums.

View of the baseball field
View of the baseball field, from the standing area near catering.

The queue for tickets was short, but grew. Unfortunately, they had lost power to their ticketing system. I was glad not to have bought one in advance, to pick up at the “will call” (just me, or is that really not that clear? How about ‘pick up’?) window, as that wasn’t working either. I considered buying online, but was unconvinced that would work, or surely everyone would be doing it – people in the queue were on their phones, but not leaving. Plus, the whole point of being there is to avoid the booking fees – a $22 ticket is reasonable, but buying it online from Ticketmaster and their fees is over $29.

View of the baseball field, from the rooftop
View of the baseball field, from the rooftop.

I waited. The family ahead of me bought their tickets online… then couldn’t access them. They moved off; I hope, to take up their case elsewhere. Sure they’ll get the money back, but how annoying. “I’m in” said the ticket lady. She wasn’t. I waited some more. Then she was in! All she could offer was a rooftop ticket, standing only, and I hadn’t eaten more than cookies and breakfast all day. But, stuff it, those are the cheapest tickets, and at $15 that was half the price I had thought about paying online. Plus The Rockies had just scored a home run, so were 1-0 up after 3 innings.  I went in, stood behind the first seats I saw for a while, then spotted that the rooftop was high over to my left, and wandered up there for the last 4 innings or so.

Big screen in the stadium
Big screen in the stadium, and a magnificent jacket.

It was good. Not great – too many delays, yet with only very short bursts of music or jumps to the crowd for entertainment. The Astros, current champions, seemed like they might be toying with them, as they drew level then went one up. The Rockies drew level after a nice steal of home base. I lost an innings – the Astros’ last – so didn’t quite appreciate the situation, but as one of the Rockies’ better players (judging by the fact that he had his own intro on the screens – not everyone does) hit the plate, with 1 out and a player or two on bases, one score would do it. He swung, he connected, and it flew over the fence. Rockies win! Happy happy; out in plenty of time for the 10.30pm bus, World Foods open to feed me, and time to find a way to buy a single ticket at Union Station (if you don’t have cash to pay on the bus, then the railway station will sell you one. So far as I could tell, the bus station only sells monthly or multi-day passes.).

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