Although things got a little too popular at the end of 2000, when a reported 5,000 revelers came to the mountain town's skate-and-fireworks fest (some without paying), a more orderly celebration went off without a hitch this year on the Currier & Ives-like pond about thirty minutes west of Denver. With ticket sales limited to under 3,000, people could actually skate, drink cocoa or visit without getting crushed. And at midnight, as 2001 slid away, fireworks lit up the sky and folks cheered heartily. So that's what John Denver was talking about.

Best Turkey Caller Using His Pro Sports Split V3

Bob Cook
Strasburg

In the world of competitive turkey calling, Coloradans are at a bit of a disadvantage compared to experts from regions where wild turkeys are more plentiful. Still, Colorado has its share of top tweeters. And it falls to Bob Cook -- who placed third in the turkey-calling Grand Nationals in 1996 -- to keep this state's turkey tones top-notch. A master of the 28 noises made by the elusive bird, Cook is tough to beat -- or tweet -- when he has his Pro Sports Split V3 caller in his jaw.
How often does it happen that a man can satisfy dueling passions under one roof? Dave Carson has done it at Exotic Birds of Denver/Carson's Outbound Golf, a dual-purpose business in a Littleton strip mall. The northern half of the store deals in hand-fed, hand-raised parrots -- absolutely fascinating creatures that happen to be smarter, better-looking and more eloquent than a lot of humans. In the southern sphere of Carson's world -- there's no intervening wall or door -- you can pick out a Big Bertha driver, a dozen Titleists, or components to build your own customized set of golf clubs. Carson also does equipment repair and regripping under the watchful eyes of his colorful feathered friends across the room.
Birders who want to see the annual mating rituals of the prairie chicken can book a special weekend tour through the Wray Chamber of Commerce to visit the birds' leks (mating grounds) in East Yuma County. Voyeurs sit in a special viewing blind so as not to distract the amorous fowl from their strutting, booming and bopping.

Best Snowshoeing for a Variety of Shoe Sizes

Brainard Lake

Post 9/11, we're told, people have been seeking solace in the wilderness. Couple that with the fact that snowshoeing was already booming, and this winter sport may become so popular that Big Foot flees to warmer climes. Ironically, the beauty of snowshoeing is escaping the crowds -- you're not trapped at mid-Vail with several thousand ski snobs -- while enjoying the great outdoors. Be warned: When you pull into the parking lot at Brainard Lake, things may not look auspicious. So many people are standing around their cars, preparing to hoof it, that it may seem like you'll be moving in herds. But the area quickly absorbs them all. You can snowshoe on the road around the lake (closed to cars in the winter), bushwhack toward more expert areas, or risk the cross-country trails -- but don't stomp on the skiers unless you want a blister on your butt.
Alan Apt, who lives in Fort Collins, has assembled detailed guides to 75 trails -- most of them along the Front Range, with an emphasis on Rocky Mountain National Park. With admirable detail and many good hints, Apt gives snowshoers plenty of room to ramble, including the popular areas around Mt. Evans and Indian Peaks as well as lesser-known places.
In these days of supersonic quad lifts, there are still hints of skiing as it used to be. For example, old and new mesh at the midsection of the Storm King "conveyer" that takes you to Copper's back bowls. That's because, for this newfangled Poma lift, you have to grab the tow and slide it between your legs as you're hauled up the hill to 12,000 feet. Those who fall can try again, although the unwritten law of the mountain is that three muffs earns a trip to the back of the line. Nevertheless, the uphill scoot is worth it, gaining you access to some

wonderful black diamonds -- and giving you bragging rights that you've survived the groin-tingling challenge of a Poma.

Fans of the annual runathon who wanted to boost their starting positions were encouraged to go to the Bolder Boulder's "seasonal" store in the Crossroads Mall and hop on a treadmill. Those able to run two miles at 18:10 or less are guaranteed a spot in one of the top seventeen qualifying waves. Those waves -- with more than 42,000 participants -- are scheduled to break on May 27, with the 24th running of the race in beautiful, runner-friendly Boulder.

Best Place to Draw a Bead With a 1,247-Pound Vintage Cannon

State Capitol

On the west side of the State Capitol, two Civil War-era military pieces -- one cast in 1862, the other a year later -- point toward the not-too-distant Civic Center. But the placement shouldn't be taken as a symbolic assault by the state on the City and County of Denver. Instead, visitors can conjure up imaginary foes -- say, an income-tax form -- and blast away. (The cannons are plugged.)
For the third year, the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the Rocky Mountain Fifty Caliber Shooting Association plan to host their Fun Shoot on private land about seventy miles east of Denver. The groups, which delight in loud noises and the right to bear arms, have scheduled this year's event for May 3-5. If firing conditions permit, incendiary tracer bullets will be used. Spectators pay a small fee, shooters a larger one.

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