A Run for the Border

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

Today is trash day in the town — which was incorporated in 1958 and named for two pioneering local farmers, John Bowles and John Marston — and sedate plastic bins adorn the end of each driveway, waiting for a garbage truck to remove the unwanted contents and carry them away.

Figurines prance atop the street signs located at each corner: a soldier on a horse with his sword drawn on Sheridan; a man in a top hat and tails driving a carriage on Bow Mar Drive; a Mexican boy with a large hat lounging next to a cactus on Sombrero Street; a sailboat on Lakeshore Drive; a sunset on Sunset Drive; a geyser and a bear on Yellowstone Street. The roads are flanked by residences, many built in the prairie-style architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and confined to the one-story limitation placed on Bow Mar in the 1950s. But there are a few mansions as well.

It's quiet. A soccer-mom-aged woman pedals sedately past on her bicycle. Tennis courts nestled by the road are deserted, and a skateboard-ramp construct waits in the driveway for potential riders to return home. A lone gardener toils in the front yard of one beautiful residence as a tow truck ambles along the road.

Clerks sometimes sell the clothes off their backs at  E-Z Pawn.
Anthony Camera
Clerks sometimes sell the clothes off their backs at E-Z Pawn.
Aja Martinez serves 'em cold at Hart's Corner Bar & Restaurant.
Anthony Camera
Aja Martinez serves 'em cold at Hart's Corner Bar & Restaurant.

Cruising alongside the lake, it's clear where everybody has gone: to the private beach, with its volleyball net and splashes of bright color against the yellow sand. A gate prevents outside cars from entering the parking lot, and there's no street parking available, adding to the ominous presence of the police and the tow truck. Visitors are quickly conscious of what a nearby sign loudly proclaims: "Members and Guests Only." ­ Amber Taufen

Anthem Ranch
Sheridan and Lowell boulevards, Broomfield
12:15 p.m.

"Okay! Dance-floor rumba! Heart pumping? Nice!"

Sonia Puccio shouts out directions to the seven women in her Latin Cardio class as her hips sway to the feisty beats emanating from the boombox. She pumps her arms and shakes her shoulders, making her butterfly tattoo, visible on her dark-skinned back between the straps of her tank top, appear to flutter energetically in the early-afternoon sunlight. She and her charges rumba past the wall of windows framing a wide-angle view of 450-acre Anthem Ranch, Broomfield's new, age-restricted development for "active adults" 55 and older. The class is using the main room of Anthem Ranch's marketing building as an ad hoc community center because the 30,000-square-foot Aspen Lodge Recreation Center, which will feature a four-lane pool, a weight room, an aerobics studio and an outside amphitheater, is still under construction down the road, past rolling fields bordering Sheridan and Lowell that will soon sprout rows of houses.

As saxophones and snare drums signal a new song on Puccio's stereo, she calls out "Flamenco!" Everyone stomps the wooden floor and claps their hands in the air. "Oh, oh, oh!" exclaims the animated teacher. "Yip, yip, yip!" her disciples respond.

Puccio's students are part of the country's 76 million baby boomers who are ready for retirement — but not in the old-fashioned sense of the word. This generation wants to accessorize their twilight years with running trails, tennis courts and cardio classes — eat your heart out, Richard Simmons. The fact that they can get all that in planned communities such as Anthem Ranch, plus amenable weather and gorgeous views of the Rocky Mountains, is the reason Colorado now boasts the sixth-largest concentration of boomers in the country.

As the class comes to an end, relaxing piano music takes the place of the Latin rhythms, and the participants move into their cool-down stretches. Raising her arms above her head, Puccio motions to the boombox. "This music is beautiful," she says. "Rap and hip-hop will come and go, but this and Latin music will never die."

At least not at Anthem Ranch. — Joel Warner

Top Queen Nails and Dairy Queen
1515 and 1525 South Sheridan, Lakewood
12:57 p.m.

If you think getting your toenails done is an indulgence, you are sorely mistaken. Sure, the eucalyptus soak is comforting at first, but it's only there to soften your feet into vulnerable pink pillows, ready to be picked and prodded and sandpapered into smoothness by a pedicurist. She pours alcohol into the open wounds around your toenails, then coats them with stinging toxic polish. It's not exactly a treat.

That's why the combination nail salon/ice cream store at the intersection of South Sheridan and Florida Avenue is such a welcome relief. First your feet get battered into shape at Top Queen Nails, and then you hobble next door for a Dairy Queen cone. The seventeen-year-old at the register asks what you'd like with the utmost sensitivity, as if to say, "You poor baby. Come rest in our red swivel chairs. Have a caramel waffle crisp."

The two businesses, partitioned by a wall in a sagging brick building, are owned and operated separately. The use of the word "Queen" in both names is simply a royal coincidence, according to Queen Nails custodian Elvis Le. But it makes for a mishmash of a signpost out front: The Dairy Queen logo sits above the Top Queen Nails marker, which is on top of the marquee: "Birthday Cakes Are Here."

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