Best Hayrides and Slay-Rides 2002 | Stockton's Plum Creek Stables | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Stockton's is close enough to the city to be accessible, but far enough out to seem like it's in the country. Visitors can ride horses or go on hayrides through some beautiful scenery. Also, part of the property is an indoor arena perfect for staging large-scale events with a Western theme -- and each Halloween, the place features Haunted Hayrides complete with professional storytellers and a haunted maze.

Born in turmoil and baptized in controversy -- does it really look like a diaphragm or a half-finished prop from E.T.? -- Invesco has failed to win the hearts and minds of fans, despite a cost of nearly half-a-billion dollars. Yet the new stadium has some great attributes, chief among them the larger-than-life sculptures -- of a kicking tee, cleats, shoulder pads and a metallic face mask -- designed by Littleton native Melissa Smedley and two partners. Unlike the stadium's interior, this sculpture park is free and open to all.
The stadium turf sale was cleverly advertised with the slogan "Own a piece of Mile High History!" Last October, football fanatics who participated were able to purchase a slab of turf six feet long and eighteen inches wide for a mere $10, providing them with the least-expensive stadium souvenir conceivable. Betcha they never forget to water that part of their lawns.

In what some Mile High Stadium diehards saw as an offering to appease the football gods, dozens of seats caught fire during demolition of the old horseshoe. It seemed like there was still some fight left in the former home of Morton, Elway, et al., and even as crews doused the blaze, warm memories of the past were rekindled.

John Carmona, a Colorado Springs letter carrier, isn't one of the new stadium's neigh-sayers. A season-ticket holder for ten years, Carmona wound up with the best seat in the horse: smack-dab in the eye of the Bronco symbol.

After 37 years in limbo, the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame finally found a permanent home by Gate 1 at Invesco Field. This hometown-hero museum doesn't honor just the big names -- although John Elway was somehow chosen in 1999 -- and high school coaches and college athletic directors stand cheek-to-jock with ex-Broncos, including 1977 "Orange Crush" mastermind Joe Collier, who was among this year's inductees. Each year's class ranges from two to six individuals; since the original induction of Byron "Whizzer" White and Jack Dempsey, a total of 163 athletes have joined the roster. The museum is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. most Tuesdays through Saturdays, and admission is free. Guided tours are available for a small fee.

Jefferson County high school students worked for two years to document the construction of the new stadium. The result: The Making of a Stadium, Invesco Field at Mile High, a classic coffee-table tome that documents the entire process; Coach Shanny wrote the intro. The book, which sells for $50 (with profits going to defray the costs of the students' work), is available at local bookstores or by phone at 1-800-456-5206.
While the Denver Broncos' offense sputtered and spit in 2001 -- injuries to wide receiver Ed McCaffrey and running back Terrell Davis didn't help -- swift wideout Rod Smith was the model of consistency. He led the league in catches and served admirably as Brian Griese's go-to guy whenever the young quarterback lost his bearings...or his head. After signing a lucrative new contract this winter, Smith will remain in Denver and, barring injury, remain the linchpin of the Broncos' passing game. No one gets open like Smith, even in double coverage, and no NFL receiver is quite so savvy. He also shrugs off injuries and simply laces 'em up, like any real gamer does.

The NFL schedulers, in their wisdom, decided to make up for the fact that they offered the Broncos as the sacrificial lambs against the mighty St. Louis Rams in their opener. So as a sort of make-good, the NFL gave the Donks their only bye on the week before they play a Monday-night game against the Barf Vadar-led Raiders. Here's to parity, and not parody.

Nick the Pr -- er, Slick, had worn out his welcome with the Nuggets by mid-season. However, in all fairness, the Nuggets had pretty much exhausted the patience of everyone who bothered to watch them in 2001-2002. Still, when the pouty point guard demanded a trade, it was all the Nuggies could to shop him and his multimillion-dollar contract. Finally, Daddy Warbucks, aka Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavericks, stepped up and snatched Van Excel in a flashy package deal. At least Nick's not warming the pines here.

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