Saturday 7/2: Late morning flight from Boston to Chicago and then on to Denver. Grabbed bags, took shuttle to rental car, got out to car lot and find that the only mid-size SUV they had available had a flat tire. So either I could take a Dodge Journey or take a sedan and exchange it the next day. I took the Journey, which proved to be tolerable.
On the road, it was about 40 minutes to the hotel in Centennial. Since it was late and I’d had enough driving, I walked to the Burger King down the street. Found a Desert Cottontail on the way and then had a Swainson’s Hawk being mobbed by Western Kingbirds on the way back, not quite like home.
Sunday 7/3: I started the first true day of the trip by heading in the direction of Roxborough State Park. Lifer #1 was on the road almost next to the hotel, a Black-billed Magpie. Reaching the park at about 6:55, the gates were closed. I decided to try somewhere else instead of waiting (although I think the person opening up drove up before I had even turned around) and went to the nearby Aububon Trails at Chatfield State Park.
Getting out of the car, I found the first of many, many Spotted Towhees of the trip (yet I’m not sure if I actually took any photos). I wandered towards the ponds, picking up some common stuff, mostly Yellow Warblers and House Wrens. Working my way around, I heard a bunting-type song and looked up to see the chin of a Lazuli Bunting, lifer #2. Further down, I found some Blue-eyed Darners and a Wandering Glider in flight (glider apparently would have been a county record had I taken a picture, not used to these undersurveyed areas).
I then crossed the field (finding a cool robber fly) and wandered down the bike path a bit. A Western Meadowlark was singing but not posing. At the far corner of the field, I started back. Following some of the other paths along the pond, I found a few damselflies, which appear to be Plains Forktails and Tule Bluets.
Back at the car, I decided to head back to Roxborough. Getting in this time, I took the first trail I found. This may not have been a great choice, it was a long, hot hike up the hill and 90% of what I saw was Spotted Towhees and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. I did see a distant Prairie Falcon and a bunch of fritillaries.
Working down, I found a few other butterflies including Taxiles Skipper. Along the wet section, I heard a Warbling Vireo and eventually got a look. One for the bank as the western subspecies is a very likely split in the future. They looked pretty similar, possibly a bit smaller, but the song was faster and distinctive. Almost all the way back, I had some White-throated Swifts go over and a Weidemeyer’s Admiral land. Eventually I also found a perched Violet-green Swallow.
Finally reaching the car, I headed to downtown Denver and Coors Field. After a bit of looking around, I found a $15 parking lot and walked the couple blocks to the stadium. I walked right up to the ticket window. Looking at the prices, I said I’d go with the $25 tickets. The agent poked around and offered me third deck directly behind home plate for $12. Even better.
I went in and went straight up to the seat. Directly behind the plate wasn’t even accurate enough, I was in line to see the corners properly. I sat and admired the view for a few minutes and then went off to find food. I eventually settled on the Hebrew National stand, where the hot dog and drink cost as much as the ticket. I wandered to the edge of the stadium which had a spectacular view of the rockies.
Returning to the seat, I realized that the row behind me was in the shade and empty so I moved back and ended up staying there for the game. The game itself was rather ugly and I was quite glad I didn’t have to root for either team. It was entertaining. There are video highlights available here, Hosmer’s homer and the Gonzalez catch and injury are recommended (although the injury is pretty rough). One great moment was when someone sat down next to me during Melky Cabrera’s second at bat. He asked how the run had scored and I said Cabrera homer, paused about 2 seconds and then finished with “exactly like that but 10 feet over”.
After the game, I went back to the hotel. I ended up going to a supermarket and bought roast beef for dinner (and lunches) along with water and some other supplies before turning in for the night.