Category: A Private Guide, Along the Trail By Sid Wilson, CITM
By admin on May 12, 2008 | In A Private Guide, Along the Trail By Sid Wilson, CITM
It’s Saturday and once again it’s back in the saddle. That is the saddle of my trusted Gary Fisher mountain bike. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, this will be a solo ride because my ‘playmates’ have opted to take advantage of the unseasonably cool and damp threatening May morning to catch up on their well earned rest, undoubtedly. But for myself, now a certified senior citizen, it is more important than ever to continue to sow the seeds of action into this old body in order to continue to reap their fruits.
Heading towards downtown on the Cheery Creek Bike Path, (for us cyclist, as it was for the old pioneers, this is truly the “Gateway to the West”) the clouds begin to lift, and the sun makes its somewhat belated appearance, and the oncoming new frontal system provides me with optimum “face time” into the accompanying 20 to 25 mile an hour winds. But I’m on a mission. In response to last week’s blog, one of my readers and friend, Berit Wesby who recently relocated to Norway from Broomfield with her daughter, wanted to know what the beekeepers “take” (which I alluded to last week) was on the disappearance of the bees. Well, we aim to please. Jeffrey Johnson, owner of the Colorado Honey Company, was at the Cherry Creek Farmers Market in a slightly different location, and along with the other vendors, was doing his best to keep his canopy from being blown away. When re-queried about his opinion on the bees disappearance he reminded me that he felt the problem was related to the use of pesticides – and in his mind they have performed their task exceeding well, in addition to bringing about unintended consequences.
What a difference having the wind at my back makes while departing what can only be described as the “Cherry Creek Canopy Rodeo”, a spontaneous event induced by the winds and where vendors wrestle their canopies to a stand-still with one hand while at the same time engaging their customers with the other! Now how cool is that!!!!? Although technology promised us power, it’s also apparent that far too often it has become our master, but yet there is no denying that these wonderful 21 speed bicycles and the smooth shifting from gear to gear makes it a joy for me to “spin” back upstream along the path.
Feeling good, and with only seven miles under my belt thus far, I choose to pass my turn-off and head for the High Line Canal, a 71 mile canal used “back in the day” to bring South Platte River water to settlers for drinking and farmers for agricultural purposes, and now a path for bird watchers, hikers, joggers, bikers, and others who enjoy a slice of the outdoors in the middle of the city. Tooling along enjoying the feel of the bracing headwinds and appreciating the eye protection provided by my wrap-around sun-glasses (same ones used for snowboarding), my thoughts, perhaps befitting since tomorrow is Mothers Day, recall some of the great “Trail Moms” in whose company it has been my good fortune to share.
There was Kathy Jackson back when there was a ski club called the Sippers N Sliders, who on two occasions was there to rescue me during my early ski career – once in Keystone when on the last run of the day on a blue run called “Bouncer”, the mountain decided to ‘release me’ from it’s gravitational hold, and the next thing I remember was Kathy looking over me and checking my vitals. And another time in Breckenridge, when I found myself in really deep trouble at 13,000 feet, the highest ‘in-bounds’ elevation of any ski resort in the United States (before Brekenridge’s recent addition of the Imperial Express Super Chair), and because the snow was so deep and my speed was so slow causing me to lose momentum which caused me to get stuck in what can only be called ‘white quick sand’ – creating a situation where the more I struggled, the deeper I sank. Although it was a busy Saturday, because of the altitude and terrain, it was by no means crowded with skiers. The very few skiers who saw my predicament, did not want to suffer the same fate, so they kept right on going. Well, you know how some of us “Bruthas” are, sinking past my waste, having removed one ski thinking that somehow without the skis maybe I could muster some kind of leverage and extricate myself, well, - “wrong again”- , but still too “cool” to shout out for help, and totally clueless on what to do next for almost thirty minutes – and then, out of know where comes Kathy, smooth as silk, talking about “hey little bunch, looks like you could use some help”.........
Then there’s Linda Gibson, “super-mom” who, back in the day, with her two not quite teenage sons, her and a bunch of us head to Colorado Springs to “circumnavigate” the Garden of the Gods on our bikes. Watching her climb to the top of those huge boulders, and her framed against the crystal blue cloudless skies with her two boys, Kevin and Chris, at her side..... well, you had to be there.....
And Debra Baker and her son Preston, riding bikes above Evergreen on Upper Bear Creek Road... and campfires with her, Preston, and several other “super-moms” camping and riding horses up at Western Safari Ranch in South Park just beyond Kenosha Pass. And Cheryl Armstrong and her not yet teenage daughter Jasmine summiting Mt. Elbert, highest fourteener in Colorado, at a time when that was just “one hill too high” for me. But she was there a year later, along with Teri Sewell-Huff and Sandy Wolder as they provided me and my son, Theo, with the encouragement to summit Mt. Democrat, my first and only fourteener to date.
Oh I could go on, and I will in upcoming additions, but the odometer says we’ve covered 12 miles, and it’s time to turn this puppy around and head back to my little brick house on the prairie, and prepare this blog entry. Of course when I talk about my all- time favorite “Trail Mom”, that distinction will have to rest with my wife, Claudia-Marie.... She accompanies me just every so often, but she is always in my heart providing me with insights that broaden my road while filling me with the full expression of caring, joy, compassion, devotion, and love.....
Happy Mothers Day
By admin on May 4, 2008 | In A Private Guide, Along the Trail By Sid Wilson, CITM
Arguably Spring time in Denver is the fairest of all seasons, a time of transition for many of us from snow shoes and snowboards to hiking and biking. And when it comes to biking, no matter what the so called experts say about Portland, Oregon being the number one bike friendly city in the United States, Denver’s over 600 miles of dedicated bike paths takes back seat to no one!
Why just this week my councilman Charlie Brown’s E-newsletter announced a 1.5 mile bike trail improvement project along the portion of the trail that connects Cook Park and Garland Park along the Cherry Creek Bike Path. The new trail will begin at the existing pedestrian bridge adjacent to Cook Park and continue along the creek under Monaco Parkway, travel along the natural area between Monaco and Holly Street and will then pass under the new Holly Street bridge, connecting to the existing trail just downstream of Holly Street. Now how cool is that!
Transition, however, entails special effort, because this morning although the calendar says May 3, those beautiful snowcapped mountains tell me there is at least one more day to head up to Echo Mountain Park, “the last park standing” and shred a little powder just one more time.... Alas, we still have tomorrow before they shut down for the season, but today Spring is busting out all over. So out of the garage comes my trusty Gary Fisher mountain bike, and I head over to Cook Park, moving different parts of the old body to a different rhythm to experience the peaks and exhilaration that came from my board but now occurring on my bike.
Riding my bike, instead of driving, this morning entailed making a conscious decision to step away from my clock driven sense of time in order to enjoy the full nature of every moment along the trail and to fully embrace my reunion with Spring. The rewards come often and early. Beginning at Cook Park and passing the Four Mile House Museum and Park, it’s only minutes before encountering my first surprise by rolling up on the newly relocated Cherry Creek Mall Saturday Farmers Market. Instead of it’s usual location where it occupies the parking lot of Bed, Bath and Beyond, it is now located immediately adjacent to the bike path along the street that normally provides autos access to the west side covered parking area of the mall. Live Native American flute music along with every imaginable type of pastry, exotic teas and coffee, along with specialty meats and produce of every kind, set amongst colorful tents and banners, make this quite the morning festival.
Most interesting this morning conversation wise while finishing my coffee, was talking with the guy from Fort Collins who raises bees and has a brisk business selling honey and beeswax products. He gave me his take on the alarming disappearance of the bee colonies affecting the entire enterprise throughout our country. Another interesting vendor were the two guys up from Larkspur, CO selling their fresh Bison meats. It would have been easy to spend more time, but with the coffee finally kicking in, it was back on the bike, and not having planned this pleasant interlude, credence is given to the notion that planning can never be a wholly acceptable substitute for discovery and learning.
The eco-friendly landscaped plaza of the Confluence Park REI flagship store is buzzing with shoppers and outdoor sports enthusiasts of all ages and genders most of whom are adorned in colorful athletic attire set ablaze by the late morning sun as I prepare to depart having replaced a defective pocket tool via a no cost exchange. Someone calls my name and it’s Andrea, my new favorite attorney friend, who this morning is volunteering to register participants for the May 24th “2008 Pedal the Platte 10, 20 & 30 Mile Bike Ride” an annual fundraiser whose proceeds benefit Beckwourth Outdoors (formerly the James P. Beckwourth Mountain Club) a mentoring program for metro Denver youth. And there are others: Ernest and his brother with their fancy road bikes making a coffee stop prior to continuing their ride to Lookout Mountain; and Miriam, the conductor on the Platte Valley Trolley, the open air trolley that operates along the West bank of the Platte River serving the Downtown Aquarium, Children’s Museum, Invesco Field at Mile High and the REI store.
It was great getting back to Cook Park. The ride covered 18 miles beginning on a brisk sunny spring morning that only leaves me to anticipate what else the new season has in store. One thing is for sure, however, that we are fortunate to have a trail system that provides access to the full bloom of the great natural beauty that surrounds us within this truly unique urban environment.
By admin on Apr 28, 2008 | In A Private Guide, Along the Trail By Sid Wilson, CITM
Kids, parents, young and old, can feel it in the air. That wonderful self awakening that is as crisp, encouraging, and as liberating as Rocky Mountain sunshine on a Spring morning. Under a crystal blue sky we anticipate accompanying our kids outdoors again into nature's laboratory where new experiences reinforce old lessons and inspire new interest.
Perhaps this Summer we learn which are the edible roots in the woods, or maybe a youngster will tell us our course by the stars, or maybe even the hour of the day by the sun. Or, sitting by the fire someone truly discovers the beauty of another person, there, somewhere between that space where heaven meets earth amidst this spectacular beauty, and they just wish.....
See you along the trail......
April 25 2008
By Sid Wilson on Apr 20, 2008 | In A Private Guide, Along the Trail By Sid Wilson, CITM
By Sid Wilson on Apr 19, 2008 | In A Private Guide, Along the Trail By Sid Wilson, CITM
The purpose of this blog is to create a forum for respectful exchange of ideas and perspectives on regional tourism and hospitality through the sharing experiences and lessons with kindred spirits and diverse stake-holders concerned with the issues, while at the same inserting "a dose of humor" from time to time to facilitate a constructive dialog.
Sid Wilson, is a Certified Tour Guide, Certitified International Tour Manager, and was one of the first graduates of the Academy when IGA/ITMA came to the USA from London in 1990. Sid has done Tour Management, Tour Guiding and is a Tour Operator. His recent travels took him to South Africa and Namibia. He instructs in the Tour Manager and Tour Guide courses in the USA and in Mexico.
By admin on Apr 19, 2008 | In A Private Guide, Along the Trail By Sid Wilson, CITM
In Brooklyn, New York visiting my Dad last November, the bright, brisk, sun splashed Fall morning induced that familiar Colorado restlessness that usually finds me heading up a familiar hiking trail for an hour or two of exercise, nature immersion, and spiritual re-alignment. As our Frontier jetliner had banked on its final approach to La Guardia, I’d caught a view of the 65 miles of Brooklyn's coastline - from the Atlantic Ocean and the Narrows of the Verrazano Bridge, on to the wharves of Williamsburg along the East River, all the way to the boardwalk of Coney Island. In those moments I realized that this visit would provide an opportunity to understand how my love of the coastline and its bays evolved into a love for Colorado and its mountains.
So fueled this morning by the urge to experience some of the old vibes, my destination is uncertain but, at the wheel of the rental, navigating by memory through Brooklyn's ethnic heartlands: Bushwick, Flatbush, Bed Stuy, Crown Heights, Brownsville, Canarsie, and East New York. Before long I’m traveling across the two lane black-top traversing the saltwater marshlands, anchored on the south by the village of Broad Channel, and to the north by Howard Beach. The brisk Fall ocean breezes carry the smell of salt water beyond the dunes impounding Jamaica Bay. With my FM station playing a Smokey Robinson classic "Ooo Baby, Baby,” on this day Brooklyn has no rival.
Along Crossbay Boulevard, the sign "Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, 1/4 Mile" re-awakens memories of fishing with my Dad in his motorized aluminum skiff among these same salt marshes, tidal creeks, isolated beaches, jetties, and causeways. I turn into the parking lot and enter the doublewide trailer serving as the Visitor Center with a modest book and gift store. Two charming volunteers, Judy and Lisa, welcome me warmly and their Brooklyn accent is music to my ears. While selecting a trail map and browsing through brochures, my new friends recommend The West Pond Trail. Between their queries about Colorado and the West, we swap stories about growing up in Brooklyn.
In Denver, remote Rocky Mountain National Park is considered the epitome of what a national park should be, far from the sprawl along our Front Range. But in Brooklyn, Gateway National Recreation Area and the Refuge is just minutes from expressways, parkways, international airports, subways, and bus lines. Gateway is a national gem exemplifying the beauty, complexity, and biological diversity in a major urban area.
I commence hiking around the West Pond Trail, two miles of diverse habitat including salt marshes, woods, fresh water ponds and open expanses of bays and islands. As in Denver the signature view from the refuge is to the West, and even with the missing Twin Towers, the Manhattan skyline serves both as a testament to heartbreak and inspiration. It is a striking contrast to this urban wilderness where even the great blue heron will stop-over during migration. These wetlands serve nature’s grand purpose, but their value is also understood in the impact they have on humans who choose to partake of them. On this day they are a special gift to me, returning home as a visitor but not a stranger.
Later, aboard my flight back to Denver as it taxies down the runway, I issue a silent thanks to my dad, the "old man" whose love for the sea was passed on to me, and is part of the foundation of all my subsequent outdoor experiences, and my livelihood. As we reach cruising altitude my thoughts surrender to a few verses of Smokey Robinson’s lyrical lament, “.....I did you wrong / my heart went out to play / but in the game I lost you...... /.........Whisper I still love you.... “ that are the source of emotional insight and new understanding as Brooklyn, my cherished friend, fades again into the shadows of the West’s setting sun.