Sugar and Prairie Dogs

Day thirteen in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

And now for a favorite quirky corner of mine. Mountain views! Prairie dogs! Sugar silos!

We can easily bike from our house to Home Depot and a strip mall that includes our credit union and Jax (a sort-of Fleet Farm meets REI store). Along this route, we can view prairie dogs, get goatheads stuck in our bike tires (so now I don’t cut through the field that is now under development anyway), puzzle over strange grafitti at the abandoned sugar refinery, and treat ourselves to snow-capped vistas. All in the last bit of a 1.5-mile bike ride.


See right there in the middle of the picture? At the end of the sunbeam? Maybe that’s the chosen one, which I’m sad to say the prairie dogs may need to have as all this development goes on encroaching their little towns. We used to go to the zoo to see these further east. Out here, just keep your eyes pealed in big vacant fields, along the road . . . you’ll find them. In the short time since we moved here in 2013, this little prairie dog town has lost much of its space to new construction and, weirdly, used cars for sale (those pickups parked along the right are only a few of many).

In the background of the photo above you can see the sugar silos, a Loveland landmark. Whenever we hike and gain some elevation and find a good lookout, we can often spot these silos, from miles away in Boulder, Fort Collins, etc. Here’s a closer view of them:


Nathan’s friend once had an idea to build a climbing gym inside these silos! As far as I know nothing is really happening at these buildings now. The city uses the parking lot on the southeast side to pile snow plowed off the streets in the winter. Not sure when this plant officially closed, but it was still somewhat functioning as late as 1990, when a molasses spill closed roads and made a sticky mess.

And an especially strange part of this place, which the blogger who visited here in January 2016 must have missed because there was snow on the roof at that time, is this:


Yeah, that roof has “IT WAS SUGAR STUPID!” painted on it. Apparently in 2007 a man who was living near the sugar factory was charged with making methamphetamine based on a powdery substance that field tests determined to be meth and then later tests revealed to be old sugar – and this message appeared after all that. You can read more about it here.

Just behind me as I took the photo above is Home Depot, and off to my right (the west) is this:


That road is new and still under construction. That’s where, in our early days living here, we first rode our bikes through a rutted old field, soaking up the sunshine and the mountain view, oblivious to those demon goatheads our tires were picking up.

Oh, I can’t help myself. Here’s a grainy closeup of those prairie dogs: