A Very Personal Walking Tour of Boulder…

I seem to drive everywhere, so I’m making a concerted effort to walk more and to take the bus when I feel like it’s too far from point A to point B. This morning I was going to jump on the bus downtown so I could spend the morning working, but just started walking instead.
As I walked, I thought about how what you see on foot, when you have time to process information rather than focus on zooming along, offers a different, and interesting, vantage, and a chance to often see things that you would never notice otherwise.


I took some pictures with my iPhone as I went along, but before I get to them, I have to express some frustration that when I did finally get to my destination (Atlas Purveyors, if you’re curious), I couldn’t find all the pics on the camera. That’s the first time it’s happened with my iPhone and I think I can mark it down to user error somehow, but it’s weird: have you ever taken pics with your iPhone and then not had them on the device when you checked?
Being a small, prosperous midwestern town in the spring, it’s actually amazingly beautiful to walk around Boulder right now. Between the lush green of everyone’s yard and trees to the predominantly brick architecture and victorians from the early mining days, it’s a gem of a city, especially on side streets where there’s almost no vehicular traffic at all.
Like many things in life, I can’t but wonder this morning why I don’t walk more often, even when my destination is a few miles from my start point. Too busy? Or not focused enough on finding the balance in my life that’ll let me allocate the time to have a leisurely stroll — or power walk — some mornings?
Anyway, the first thing I spotted was really interesting:

majestic coal chute

Do you know what it is? It’s a coal chute. It’s on the side of a church built in the late 1880’s and is a long-since ignored reminder of how far we’ve come with central heating. Those old stone churches in the wintertime must have been really cold too.
My parents have told me stories about having coal in the basement when they were growing up in London, but I still can’t quite visualize the incredible mess that must have been with coal dust everywhere and the dark clouds of burning lumps of coal spewing out everyone’s chimney on a cold morning…
The second thing that caught my eye was a pretty entertaining sign if you really think about what it’s denoting:
boulder bikeways sign

I think the most obvious question is: if the bike lane is actually to my left and right, why is the sign pointing forward for the bike route? Kinda like “dead end” and “please pull forward”, somehow.
Now, I know, I live in what is possibly the most bike friendly city in the world, so I shouldn’t have any complaints or worries about bike signage, and further should expect someone to pop on here and explain, in haughty and condescending phrases, why the sign makes complete sense. Ah, you’d have to live in Boulder to understand the bike fanatic vs. everyone else in town tension, perhaps. 🙂
Then I was walking past the Post Office and saw a fail meter. No, really, check this out:
parketing meter fail

How can you not love a parking meter that has “FAIL” written on it? Having said that, I will also say it’s crazy that it costs $1.25/hr for meter parking in downtown Boulder. That’s more expensive than Denver!
One more pic, and it’s just because I love the architecture and design that came out of the post-Depression Works Progress Administration (WPA), and that this is such a splendid example:
boulder courthouse mural

Some of the best American architecture (notably the landscape-inspired work of the amazing Frank Lloyd Wright: Fallingwater was designed in 1935) came from this era, and to have a small example of 30’s WPA art facing the Pearl Street Mall is yet another reason to love Boulder.
That’s what I saw this morning on my walk, anyway. How about you? What cool and interesting things have you found in your neighborhood lately?

2 comments on “A Very Personal Walking Tour of Boulder…

  1. We had a coal shed at the back of the garden in the house we lived in before we came to America .. but seeing as you were only a few months old when u lived there, there’s no memory there for you! I remember the shed but not where the coal burner was in the house. Funnily enough I only remember the garden, the kitchen and the dining room in that house.

  2. hey there love your site – as a dad of 2 demanding boys i know exactly what you are going through. spent some time in boulder many years ago and loved it! if i ever move to US thats where I am heading for a while. thanks D.

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