Without a Paddle

Clear Creek fest wets appetites

Throw a bunch of river rats into roiling spring runoff, tell them there's a pot of gold for the first one across the finish line, and what have you got? The third annual Clear Creek Adventure Festival, taking place this weekend in Lawson, Idaho Springs and Golden. The festival, which begins at 11 this morning, is serious business for pros competing aboard kayaks, canoes or rafts in slalom, downriver and freestyle "rodeo" events. But it's a great spectacle, too, in that middle-of-the-night, ESPN2 kind of way. Take the rodeo, for example, where paddlers get points for persuading their boats to defy the laws of gravity and hydrodynamics. Full air, front flips and cartwheels are common. Sometimes boats break.

And then there's Saturday's "boatercross," which plays out like Ben-Hur meets The River Wild. A half-dozen rafters or kayakers at a time race down a marked course (where body contact is frequent), and the only rule is that paddlers have to keep their hands on their own paddles (as opposed to, say, a competitor's spray skirt). Spectators love it, says organizer Mike Paris, "because you can see the winner -- and you can see the carnage."

There's a no-experience-necessary raft race Friday evening from Lawson to Idaho Springs, followed by the festival bash at the Tommyknocker Brewery, 1401 Miner Street in the Springs. Or take your kids to the volunteer-firefighters' chili cookoff beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Golden Whitewater Park, 1201 10th Street. More races begin there at 9 a.m. Sunday.

For more information, including start times and directions to sites, visit www.RapidPulse.com or call 303-989-7194. And bring a towel. -- Hart Van Denburg

Turf Luck

Happy Hour comes to Colorado Journey

One is the loneliest number in miniature golf. No one plays alone. That would turn the game into "putt" instead of putt-putt.

So it's fortuitous that the folks at South Suburban Parks and Recreation have instituted a "happy hour" at their courses, where from 1 to 5 on Mondays, admission is two for one. And that's a real deal, since South Suburban's two eighteen-hole courses at Colorado Journey have some of the best topography this side of those old, clunky windmills that were staples of pee-wee golf for decades. A journey through the park, 5150 South Windemere in Littleton, is like a fast trip across Colorado, filled with holes based on the Great Sand Dunes, Pikes Peak, the Royal Gorge and Garden of the Gods.

But that's not all. In their drive to get more golf-fearing Americans to take up the tiny sport, South Suburban offers a similar reward for those into country-Western music. From 6 to 10 p.m. on Sundays, folks wearing Western duds get to play for the same two-fer deal -- all while country music twangs in the background.

Take a swing at Colorado Journey, where an eighteen-hole round runs from $4.25 to $6, and double your pleasure. For information, call 303-734-1083. -- Ernie Tucker


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