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Day fifteen of my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

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The year we bought our current house on this block just off of Loveland’s bustling Fourth Street, this cool painting appeared on this brick wall. I don’t know anything about it but I like it. That pink awning belongs to B Sweet Cupcakes – and when we first moved here Luthien was a frequent customer, often treating her little brother as well.

Here’s a closeup of the artist’s signature:

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Fairgrounds Park

Day fourteen in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

Loveland’s city recreational trail runs through Fairgrounds Park near my house, and it’s one of my regular running routes. Here’s a favorite spot, where the Big Thompson River flows along the trail:

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Day thirteen in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

And now for a favorite quirky corner of mine. Mountain views! Prairie dogs! Sugar silos!

We can easily bike from our house to Home Depot and a strip mall that includes our credit union and Jax (a sort-of Fleet Farm meets REI store). Along this route, we can view prairie dogs, get goatheads stuck in our bike tires (so now I don’t cut through the field that is now under development anyway), puzzle over strange grafitti at the abandoned sugar refinery, and treat ourselves to snow-capped vistas. All in the last bit of a 1.5-mile bike ride.

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See right there in the middle of the picture? At the end of the sunbeam? Maybe that’s the chosen one, which I’m sad to say the prairie dogs may need to have as all this development goes on encroaching their little towns. We used to go to the zoo to see these further east. Out here, just keep your eyes pealed in big vacant fields, along the road . . . you’ll find them. In the short time since we moved here in 2013, this little prairie dog town has lost much of its space to new construction and, weirdly, used cars for sale (those pickups parked along the right are only a few of many).

In the background of the photo above you can see the sugar silos, a Loveland landmark. Whenever we hike and gain some elevation and find a good lookout, we can often spot these silos, from miles away in Boulder, Fort Collins, etc. Here’s a closer view of them:

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Nathan’s friend once had an idea to build a climbing gym inside these silos! As far as I know nothing is really happening at these buildings now. The city uses the parking lot on the southeast side to pile snow plowed off the streets in the winter. Not sure when this plant officially closed, but it was still somewhat functioning as late as 1990, when a molasses spill closed roads and made a sticky mess.

And an especially strange part of this place, which the blogger who visited here in January 2016 must have missed because there was snow on the roof at that time, is this:

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Yeah, that roof has “IT WAS SUGAR STUPID!” painted on it. Apparently in 2007 a man who was living near the sugar factory was charged with making methamphetamine based on a powdery substance that field tests determined to be meth and then later tests revealed to be old sugar – and this message appeared after all that. You can read more about it here.

Just behind me as I took the photo above is Home Depot, and off to my right (the west) is this:

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That road is new and still under construction. That’s where, in our early days living here, we first rode our bikes through a rutted old field, soaking up the sunshine and the mountain view, oblivious to those demon goatheads our tires were picking up.

Oh, I can’t help myself. Here’s a grainy closeup of those prairie dogs:

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Day twelve in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

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Most mornings I walk Silas to school, and just a couple blocks out of my way is this fine overlook.

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Often there are horses grazing in that pasture, and water running through the ditch in the foreground. The snowy peaks here are called the Mummy Range, I think because from one perspective you can trace an outline that looks like a mummy.

When you’re standing at this little overlook, you can look off to the south (the left, out of the picture above) and see the taller and also snowy peaks of Long’s and Meeker.

*Note: I originally published this as “The Overlook on Fifth Street” this morning. Then when I walked Silas home from school today, I realized this is actually Fourth Street. The blogger regrets the error. 🙂

 

Devil’s Backbone

Day eleven in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

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Nathan and Cody and I hiked at Devil’s Backbone today. This place is just on the west side of Loveland, miles and miles of trails that connect up with other hiking areas north of here to Fort Collins. Nathan loves to go mountain biking here. One time he killed a rattlesnake that wouldn’t leave the path. Today we only saw birds, grasshoppers, and some mule deer.

Today was a perfect day for hiking here. In the heat of summer it’s scorching, because there is practically no shade to speak of. Today the sun was warming instead of withering. And since it was a Monday, the trail was pretty quiet, unlike the crowds that descend on the weekends.

I’m feeling a bit sick today so we didn’t go as far as we like to. If you continue taking the trail we were on, you’ll gain enough elevation that you can get some beautiful views of the bigger snow-capped mountains. (Or if you take the shorter Keyhole trail, you get those views much more quickly but you’re actually right at the Backbone formation so you can’t see it like you can in these pictures.) If you look closely at the photo above, off to the right behind the foothills you can see one snowy peak peeking out.

Garfield Elementary

Day ten in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

We have been very happy with the elementary school our kids both attended here in Loveland. We moved here the summer before Luthien began fourth grade and Silas began first. Lu has since moved on to middle school, but Silas will have spent all his school years in Loveland right here at Garfield Elementary.

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Garfield is the arts-focused elementary school here in Loveland, so the arts are integrated throughout the curriculum. One project some of the students worked on was making these murals to decorate the modular building the school uses for additional space; and Silas got to be in a group that designed and painted the mural on the left (under the supervision of a local artist).

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Here’s a closeup of Silas and company’s mural. They wanted to include music and visual art and drama as well as the playground, mountains, and their school mascot, Grizzlies.

Day nine in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

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This is the view from my living room window. The building on the left was originally Washington School, built in 1905, which is quite old for this town. It now, along with the addition built onto it, houses city administration offices. It’s where I go to drop off my ballot for elections, or pay my utility bill (okay, actually I pay my bill online but I could drop my payment there if I so desired).

That huge evergreen used to get ceremonially lit for Christmas every year, but now another fake tree gets constructed and then lit up on the main drag, Fourth Street, in front of the Rialto Theater, a few blocks away from here.

It’s a bit hard to see, but there’s a sculpture to the right of the evergreen. Loveland is ga-ga for sculpture – especially bronze sculpture – but this piece is a stone sculpture from Zimbabwe, like many of the pieces at Chapungu Sculpture Park, which is on the east side of Loveland.