January 16, 2024

Current state of the construction at the beginning of the rail trail.


Progress is man’s ability to complicate simplicity.

-Thor Heyerdahl


The temperature is somewhere in the mid-forties when Waldo and I start out on our trek today.  The sky is overcast, but the air is dry and there is little wind blowing.  I’m wearing a light jacket under my rain jacket and I have on a knit wool ski hat that I pull down over my ears.  Waldo and I pass others on the trail, including those with dogs and even a few bicycles.  Bicycles in late December!  But then, this is shaping up to be the warmest December in 150,000 years…

We’ve had to find new places to park our car for the past few weeks because of all the construction that’s going on.  The commercial residential housing complex that’s being built at the beginning of the rail-trail hasn’t affected where we park.  What it’s replacing are a number of old buildings that had no public parking.  Across the street from there, though, is where we used to park.  One day, as we arrived, people were fencing it in.  I asked what was up, but they didn’t know.  Now, it’s all been dug up.  There’s no sign, yet, that they’re going to put a building up there, so maybe it’ll be a future parking lot, who knows.  For now, though, we can’t park there.

It turns out there’s a parking lot, owned by the city, that is about an eighth of a mile from the start of the trail, but right next to it.  We parked there, for a week or so, then, one day, there was a fence all the way around it with gates that were closed.  After a few days, there were some men there and I asked them what was up.  They said the city was repaving it and putting in some lights.   I suspect there is more to it than that, though, because now there are some cement culverts and other structures, lying above ground, that suggest there is underground construction of some sort that is planned too.  Anyway, that’s one more spot where we can’t park.

There is another lot, also right next to the trail, about a quarter-mile from the start, that the city has designated as rail-trail parking and that’s where we park for now and the foreseeable future.  It is winter, after all, and although there is no snow yet, there will be and then it will be difficult to dig holes.  So I expect we’re stuck with what we’ve got until spring.  It’s no big deal, really.  We just start a quarter-mile from the start, backtrack to the start and then turn around and continue down the trail like we always do.  Waldo was a bit confused at first, but he’s a fast learner and he now knows where we’re going and it’s part of our routine.

Then, a couple days ago, we’re walking down the trail and as we get to the open field that overlooks Fort Meadow Reservoir, I see a man putting up a fence around it.  This fence is clearly temporary; the posts don’t go into the ground, they sit on platforms, of sorts, that rest on top of the ground.  The field is a big grass-and-weed-overgrown landfill, closed well before Waldo and I arrived, and the fence runs about an eighth of a mile alongside the trail.  I ask the guy what’s up and he says someone is going to turn the area into a park of some kind.  He didn’t know any of the details, like who was doing it, so, maybe, he was just feeding me a line to shut me up, I don’t know.  Today, I see a piece of heavy equipment chopping up the trees that border the field and turning them into saw-dust.  A nice park is a good thing, I guess, but I hate seeing all the trees being destroyed.

Right next to the landfill is the area of forest that a company from Texas wanted to turn into another commercial residential complex.  For now, that project has been put on hold because the residents around the area were opposed to it.  It is zoned for industrial use and the city council would not rezone it so they could build what they wanted.  They can still build something that fit the zoning it now has, so there’s no guarantee that the forest will be safe, but I can hope.

Meanwhile, the construction at the beginning of the trail has progressed quite a bit.  There is a completed five-story parking structure at the back of the lot and cement pillars are now poking up skyward where the rest of the building will be.  By spring, I expect most of the bones and outer walls will be finished and, at the rate things are going, the place may be open by next summer.  I’m no luddite, but I sure wish that the universe would leave my little patch of nature alone.  But, alas, it seems it is not to be.

For now, I walk the walk and enjoy the birdsong and trees, take in the peace and quiet of relatively untouched nature and hope for the best.  Waldo trots along as if oblivious to the coming changes and lives in the moment without fear of what the future has to offer.

We enjoy what we’ve got, while we have it.


The fence at Fort Meadow Reservoir.

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