… a few of my favorite things …

… a few of my favorite things …

We’ve all got our favorite things to do. Some are more elaborate than others. Some involve more planning or more money or more time. But some of my favorite things to do are really quite simple. And, in all honesty, most of the time, for me anyway … the simpler the better.

So one evening after work, I laced up my walking shoes and took off for a simple stroll around the Overland Trail Recreation Area near the South Platte River on the east side of Sterling. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

See, here’s a picture of one of my feet walking …

walking shoe

It’s blurry and out of focus because I had no idea I was snapping pictures on the phone in my hand while my arms were swinging freely at my sides. I was lost in thought, enjoying the sun on my face and the light breeze in my hair.

The birds chirping in the trees caught my attention right off the bat. I stealthily raised my camera to snap a picture without scaring them.

IMG_5335

Some flew away, but a few remained to keep my attention for a little while. They screeched at me so I took the hint and moved along. But the sights, the sounds, the smells! When your surroundings are stripped down to the most simple of forms in nature it seems like the commonplace things are intensified. Walking around the pond amplified all my senses.

Even the drab fishing dock became an interesting contrast of angles and textures. A walk down the plank will take you out over the water’s surface. You can feel the swaying of the dock under your feet and hear the soft splash of the waves on the edges.

dock

I meandered along the path, listening to the music playing in my ears – even whistling in or out of tune – thinking I was alone, relishing in my secret belief that this was my own private park. My walk was slow as each combination of water/sky/shadows I encountered had me reaching for my camera. Then I rounded a corner and spied a young man and a small child at the south side of the pond. The man was casting a line into the water; the child was searching for interesting stones in the sand.

fishing

A jet contrail was the only mark in the clear blue sky that stretched out across the equally clear blue water surface. The trees’ reflections in the pond were as vivid as the living trees on the shore. The bites were few, the fisherman said, but he didn’t seem to mind.

I carried on, and picked up my walking speed just in time to revel in the sun peeking through the tree branches. I had to stop again and enjoy the view. I loved how the sun lit up the green Spring foliage and the budding trees.

sun in tree

Just past the small grove of trees was another patch of thick, green ground cover. I’m sure it was mostly weeds with some native grasses mixed in. You know, the kind of vegetation that people dread to have in their yards. But the vibrant color was calling to me. It seemed so lush. The long-forgotten ladder, however, was an anomaly. There it was lying, dilapidated, and with no roofs nearby to need it. I wondered how it ended up left behind in the weeds. Who did it belong to? What was it used for? The broken steps and the weathered wood tucked in the soft green ground cover, it seemed so out-of-place.

Ladder

But then my deep thoughts were interrupted by the rushing water in the South Platte River. Oh, maybe the ladder was washed down from some other place in times of high water and was abandoned as the water receded. I couldn’t stop thinking about that ladder!

Rushing water

If the river is running full, you know it’s Springtime in Sterling! It’s definitely full and fast and nearly touching the bottom of the bridge.

water under bridge

No worries, though, as crews have been monitoring the river and keeping the flow flowing. I was intrigued by the pile of branches and tree limbs that have been removed from the water. Even these dull pieces of trees sprawled out on the river’s side held some fascination. And it made me wonder how far up river they had traveled.

According to Wikipedia, the South Platte River is one of the two principal tributaries of the Platte River and is itself a major river of the American Midwest and the American Southwest/Mountain West, located in states of Colorado and Nebraska. Its drainage basin includes much of the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado; much of the populated region known as the Colorado Front Range and Eastern Plains; and a portion of southeastern Wyoming in the vicinity of the city of Cheyenne. It joins the North Platte River in western Nebraska to form the Platte, which then flows across Nebraska to the Missouri. The river serves as the principal source of water for eastern Colorado. In its valley along the foothills in Colorado, it has permitted agriculture in an area of the Colorado Piedmont and Great Plains that is otherwise arid.

This river – which ranges from wild to mild, depending on the time of year – is the lifeline for our agricultural area. Respect!

branches

(And here’s proof of me standing next to the loader bucket used to clear debris from the river, for what it’s worth.)

shadow

I finally put away my camera and walked on. Once around again to see what I didn’t see the first time. And a final revolution just to get in a few more steps. My senses were filled and my mind was cleared. Time to go.

And as I headed back to my car I spied one more photo opportunity – the Sterling Tourist Information Center! See it there in the upper left hand corner? What a view!

across

If you want to experience this example of one of my favorite things, or if you want to find your own favorite things to do, make sure you stop at the Tourist Information Center for all sorts of ideas. You’re sure to find something to do that will soon become your favorite.

 

Northeast Colorado’s Home for Art and Culture

From west to east, Sterling is being beautified!

Sculpture by airport

Starting from the west near the Sterling Municipal Airport, a series of bronze sculptures (thanks to the generosity of local cattlemen) have been placed in the medians and along West Main Street as a tribute to our Western roots and with a nod to the importance of agriculture in our community.

End of journey sculpture

Bronze sculptures depicting a cowboy on a bucking horse and a Native American horseback rider were placed in the new raised island medians as part of the Highway 14 construction project completed last year. The sculptures are the final two of five donated by Andrew Timmerman, Allen Mitchek, Brett McEndaffer and Chris Dinsdale as a tribute to Sterling’s historical and agricultural heritage.

The three other sculptures were placed at other locations along West Main Street: A statue of a frontier man on horseback, the sculpture of a cowboy on a bucking bronc, and a bronze longhorn bull.

In the center of downtown, another series of sculptures can be seen. Whether in celebration of the pioneers who created our history or in remembrance of a well-loved man and downtown favorite – Clarence’s Corner – the artwork is a must-see.

Pioneer-SculpturesSterling-Colorado popcorn man

Continue venturing to the east end of Main Street, and there is the nearly-completed beautification and landscaping project where the city’s main thorough fare meets up with Front Street. When done, the east edge of downtown will include new sidewalks, curb and gutter and decorative concrete.

Front St 3

There will also be a landscaped area at the intersection with a historical bronze sculpture depicting William S. Hadfield (who homesteaded Hadfield Island) along with his wife, Charity Sanders Hadfield, and a Plains Indian.

Hadfield sculpture

The Downtown Sterling Historic District features 54 buildings which play tribute to the culture and spirit of the community. Many of the buildings within the district have been adorned by murals. Take a stroll through Downtown Sterling and see the many artistic rendering, as well as the historic Logan County Courthouse, the First Presbyterian Church, St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, and the Union Pacific Depot.

With the addition of the many  tree sculptures and bronze pieces by renowned artist Bradford Rhea scattered around town, plus several pieces of metal art, and a variety of art galleries, it’s plain to see why Sterling is proclaimed to be northeast Colorado’s art and culture center!