A Run for the Border

We spend a day on Denver's dividing line: Sheridan Boulevard.

The rest is history — as the farm could be, if Bunsen can't come up with the money to save this pocket of the past. — Patricia Calhoun

South Sheridan and West Rowland Place, unincorporated Jefferson County
6:56 a.m.
Tracking the southern end of Sheridan Boulevard without a global positioning system or a MapQuest printout requires the investigative skills of Woodward and Bernstein, the exploratory instincts of Lewis and Clark, and a shitload of gas. Sheridan is among the major north-south routes in a major metropolitan city, but it proves to be no match for one of the most powerful and inexorable forces in modern life: suburbia.

The boulevard's roots can be found just north of Ken Caryl Avenue in southern Jefferson County under a slightly different moniker, South Sheridan Court, which opens into the Columbine Knolls subdivision. Several blocks later, the court comes to a stop at West Rowland Place. But perhaps twenty yards east, Sheridan Boulevard begins, albeit inauspiciously, in an overgrown vacant lot bisected by a muddy dirt path created by drivers hunting for a shortcut to another block that looks pretty much like this one.

Fort Logan has been the site of military burials for more than a century.
Anthony Camera
Fort Logan has been the site of military burials for more than a century.
Elvis Le, of Top Queen Nails, says customers like to eat ice cream while they wait.
Anthony Camera
Elvis Le, of Top Queen Nails, says customers like to eat ice cream while they wait.

Here, the boulevard is neither wider nor grander than any of the other streets in the area, be it a court, a place, or what have you. After a six-block stretch lined with homes, Sheridan curves sharply to the west and becomes West Ontario Avenue — and finding the boulevard again isn't a matter of a single right or left. Take West Ontario west to South Depew Street north to West Coal Mine Avenue east, and there's Sheridan Boulevard again — for about one block, before it dead-ends at someone's driveway.

From there, a motorist must venture into a baffling miasma of suburban tracts, including a subdivision in which every street mentions a pond (West Ponds Circle, West Ponds Drive, West Ponds View Place et al.) despite the fact that there's no pond in sight, and another one south of West Bowles Avenue that pulls the same trick with lakes (e.g., the irritatingly named West Lake Circle North and West Lake Circle South).

Finally, a chance venture along a circuit that starts at South Jay Circle leads back to Sheridan Boulevard again — sort of. This Sheridan is essentially a tributary of West Leawood Drive that curves around the Raccoon Hollar Nature Park before terminating a few hundred yards later at a cordoned-off footpath. This stretch is identified by a single marker whose presence is entirely pointless. It's as if a county worker wound up with one extra Sheridan sign and figured, "What the hell. Gotta put it somewhere."

Sheridan rises again north of Bowles before turning into Bowles Lake Lane and petering out three blocks later. But on the far side of Marston Lake, the boulevard cuts through the Bow Mar neighborhood, and at Quincy Avenue, it's finally transformed into a four-lane thoroughfare befitting the "Boulevard" moniker. — Michael Roberts

Berkeley Park
47th Avenue and Sheridan
7:55 a.m.

Berkeley may be a neighborhood on the Tudor-scraping edge of gentrification, but its lake still hosts fish with high levels of mercury, and its dog park is a working dog's kind of place. Half dirt, half grass, not as barren as the one behind the city animal shelter nor as lush as the Stapleton version, Berkeley's canine playground has just the right amount of true grit.

The gentry and their purebloods make use of the place on weekends, but on a Tuesday morning the visitors skew toward the mongrel demographic. A black chow mix digs a groove in the cool dirt and treats his ample head to a sand bath, then checks out a white retriever mix, who rolls over in abject submission. Two rotund labs, one yellow and one chocolate, jog the perimeter while a Lhasa apso and a tiny terrier of uncertain lineage struggle to keep up. Two shepherds, one German and one Australian, try to get things organized. The terrier helps out.

"My Australian, Buddy, taught him how to herd," the terrier's owner says. "You should have seen him going after a couple of Saint Bernards the other day."

In the movies, dog parks are for meeting cute. There is nothing cute about a Berkeley encounter. The dogs sniff rears and do some anxious sorting-out of pack pecking order. The owners nod and brag about their dogs, compare views on vets and the propriety of summer canine haircuts and assorted doggy quirks. Dog names are bandied about; human names are not.

One owner, a tall, studious young man, stands off to the side, reading a book. His Rhodesian ridgeback stands aloof from the other dogs, snubbing their advances. Finally another Rhodesian arrives, and the two elitists run off together, a band apart.

Occasionally an overprotective human tries to interfere, but for the most part the dogs work things out for themselves. Love, or at least an awkward gesture of ardor, is offered and spurned; a flash of temper is bitch-slapped down. The terrier doesn't know he only weighs twelve pounds and gets right in the mix. The passive-aggressive Lhasa apso pees on a ball the big dogs found interesting a moment ago. Everyone gathers around a communal water dish for a slurp or two.

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