Come fly with me

Going to Barr Lake, Cherry Creek reservoir, and Chatfield have been on my to do list for a long time. I visited Barr Lake last week and finally visited Chatfield this week; I haven't been to Cherry Creek yet. All three are part of the State Parks system and practically in the city. I don't have a reason for not visiting these parks before, just a list of lame excuses—too busy, too late in the day, too cold, too windy, or too tired.

Chatfield opened as a state park in 1976. The park gets its name from Isaac W. Chatfield, a veteran of the civil war, who first owned the land. Chatfield dam was constructed in 1967 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers following the destructive flood of 1965. Chatfield State Park is well known as a spot for birding; the Audubon Society of Greater Denver has facilities in the park. Chatfield State Park is surrounded by the Botanic Gardens at Chatfield and Hildebrand Ranch Park on the west, Roxborough State Park on the south, and South Platte Park on the north.

A friend and I rode our motorcycles to Chatfield Saturday afternoon. We didn't take the direct route preferring to motor around the western suburbs first. We stopped for lunch at the Hunan Dynasty Restaurant—9882 West Belleview Avenue in Littleton. The service was good, the food was excellent, the portions generous, and a very reasonable price!

At the park we circled the still frozen lake stopping a couple of times so I could snap some pictures. There were a lot of bicyclers and hikers in the park. We watched people fly model airplanes at the Chatfield Aerodrome, then circled the southern end of the lake along Rampart Range road and Waterton road. South Wadsworth ends at Waterton road on the south end of the lake. We took Santa Fe Drive (US-85) back into Denver.

I nearly dumped the bike a couple of times when I slipped on loose gravel. After 13,700 miles it's time for new tires. That's a lot of miles on one set of motorcycle tires—3 to 6 thousand miles is typical. With new tires I'll be ready for new adventures this summer.

The old buffalo wallow

Sunday and Monday was great motorcycling weather—blue skys, 70F temperatures, and calm winds. I needed to get outside so I grabbed my camera, hopped onto the motorcycle, and rode to Barr Lake north of Denver. There were a lot of people visiting the park Sunday, so I wasn't alone.

I was told an owl was sitting on a nest a short walk north of the visiters center. I took the camera and went looking for the owl. I met several other photographers and bird watchers along the way. I never found the owl, but I took several pictures of trees, tree stumps, and ducks. Only a couple of those shots turned out to be keepers.

What is now Barr lake use to be nothing but a buffalo (bison) wallow prior to 1880. In the late 1800's a dam was built across the north end of the wallow, and canals were built to fill the reservoir with water from the South Platte river. Unfortunately, by 1960 Barr lake had become the biggest sewage lagoon in the United States. Clean-up efforts began on the South Platte and Barr lake after the 1965 flood. Barr Lake opened as a state park in 1977, and in 2004 the lake was declared a source of drinking water.

I went back to the lake late Monday afternoon. I took my big telephoto lens and a tripod with me. I headed south from the visitors center shortly after 4 O'clock. There is an eagles nest at the south end of the lake. After walking 1 1/2 miles I finally spotted an eagle in a tree; it didn't appear to be siting on a nest. I took several photos of the bird even though it was too far away. I continued south to the end of the trail before turning around. I never found the nest. I learned later the best view of the nest is from a pier that is close to where I saw the eagle. I took several photos of the setting sun on my way back. It was twilight when I got back to the motorcycle, and I rode home in the dark.

My feet really hurt by the time I got home. I discovered large blisteres on the bottom of both feet ! I've hiked in those boots before without problems; it may have been the socks I wore that caused the problem. Next time I'm taking a pair of walking shoes with me.
Click pictures for larger view.