The Long and Winding Road

riverwalk dr 1218

When Oz and I walk to work, it takes about 25 minutes. If I go without him, it takes 20. If I ride my bike, it’s about 10. (All of these times expand if we run into friends along the way.) I don’t really know how long it takes if I ride the bike and he runs, because he’s a mercurial traveler and living hazard.

I believe our current location is a mile, mile and a quarter, from downtown. The new location, Some Day, will be at least two miles from town.

We are never very organized in the morning (or, these days, at any other time of the day). So assuming we will come up with an extra half-hour to walk to work in the mornings from Riverwalk seems foolish. There is also the part where what walks to work must come home, so lunch hour-and-a-half now — well, we might just as well not bother going to work.

Denai Robbins cuts Lynn’s hair, and at least once she rode to work from her house just up Ohio Creek. She told Lynn it took her 20 minutes to get to work, but something like an hour to get home. Because when you’re on a bike, you discover Gunnison is on a long slope to the southwest. It seems fairly flat until that night you strap on your Rollerblades and head south on 11th toward the high school, where you realize you’re going so fast you’re not really sure how to stop.

So my current plan, Some Day, is to walk Oz around Riverwalk. I’m still not clear on which what is legal, and why people who visit their undeveloped lots perhaps once or twice a year really care if people are on them in the meantime, but this has been an on-going focus for the HOA board. And while the board was not forthcoming, it sounded as though the walking path through the development has been secured for owners and their guests — and presumably all the members of the public who have used it for years despite the signs politely telling them it’s for members and their guests only.

So Oz and I will walk there, and hopefully at some point get some clarification on the space around the three ponds. When our lot, which backs up to the middle pond, was surveyed, twice, the stake was set well away from the pond. I can’t recall if it’s supposed to be an easement, or if the HOA owns the ring around the pond. A lot with stakes on the other side of the pond goes right up to the pond, and the one neighbor whose house has been there for many years has landscaped to the pond — and that is space I feel queasy about crossing, even if there is an easement.

After walking somewhere near our Some Day house, Oz and I will get in the car and drive to work, so that we can get home for lunch in a timely fashion. Then, if it takes Denai 20 minutes to ride into town, I should somehow be able to manage about half the distance in 10, but that’s what it takes now. At any rate, it’s do-able. And if it takes longer to ride up the unseen hill on the way home, that shouldn’t matter.

For now, all of this riding will be on the bike path that runs alongside Highway 135, which I am not excited about for a few reasons, the most arcane of which is: I will miss zig-zagging.

My routes to work have lots of bends in them. I follow several, but other than my Winter Safety Bike Route, which involves heading west to 14th Street and then north until I run out of street, they all twist.

Now life is going to be a lot straighter, and more heavily trafficked. Unless . . .

Many years ago, Ray Van Tuyl sold his ranch, immediately north of the city limits, to the city, which leased it back to him for the duration of his life, with the notion that this could be a “recharge” area for the city’s water sources. In an ever-arider west, this seems like a pretty smart move.

City officials, who change from time to time, have taken various approaches to this property. It seems to me we’re at a decent symbiosis now: Bill and Kelly Parker have the agriculture lease; there are established trails for walking and riding bikes, a path to the river (which is really under the purview of Colorado Parks and Wildlife on behalf of the Bureau of Reclamation — it’s complicated and all has to do with a shoreline obligation incurred when Blue Mesa filled). In the winter, snow permitting (which is a lot more rare than it used to be), the Nordic Council grooms tracks in the pastures for skiing, and in the last couple of years someone has put in a couple of trails for fat (phat) biking.

The Plan was that this trail, at its north end, would connect with the public trails deeded to the county by the developers of Riverwalk, so people could go all the way from the Community School to Ohio Creek on trails.

Good plan. Here is one problem: Riverwalk bankrupted before either of the public trails were developed. Here is the bigger problem: the city contracted with a landowner for an easement across her property to connect the 30 feet — that’s three-zero feet — between city property and Riverwalk-turned-county property. But then it turned out it wasn’t her land at all, and the actual landowner was a big fat (not phat) NO.

But then the county acquired the Shady Island Resort property, north of Garlic Mike’s (across the highway from Riverwalk). Plans are in the works for restrooms, boat launching, trails, parking, an entire mini-recreation area. So now interest has ramped back up in connecting to the Van Tuyl trail system.

There’s still the part where the Riverwalk public trails are fairly non-existent. The multi-modal trail, which I assume they will want to be the one everyone uses and which won’t be that, should be fairly straightforward as it skirts the southern boundary of Riverwalk. To the north, the footpath — that also includes an established fishing easement — runs along the river, where everyone is going to want to be.

It’s also where all the lot owners live who object to even members traipsing across their property. So that’s where everything is headed for a collision. I imagine the lot owners are going to lose out, although it’s a little hard to feel too sorry for them: the fishing easement is clearly marked on purchase documents, and there’s an existing footpath, probably in the wrong place, that was worn there years ago, that should alert you to current use.

One of the lot owners who was at the recent HOA meeting seemed quite confident, because the portion of the path that goes through his lots, he said, is underwater. I don’t really see that small detail stopping anyone intent on walking along the river. I gathered that a local engineering firm is conducting a survey at someone’s mandate — I would guess the county’s.

There’s still that problematic 30 (three-zero) feet of private property standing between Riverwalk and Van Tuyl, but the HOA attorney predicted the county would condemn property, and it would cost, at most, $5,000.

So Some Day, perhaps, I won’t have to ride my bike along the highway. I’ll be able to ride a trail right back to where my current house is, and then follow all my old routes to work. The more things change . . .

I still don’t know how to do captions without making it my opening text. So, Above: Our new street, with our driveway-ish at center left.

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