Nothing bustles like Canyon View Park on a Saturday
A thread of cars winds its way down the road toward the park.
“If you build it, they will come.”
No, this isn’t referencing an all-star team of ghosts playing catch on a baseball diamond carved out of a cornfield in “Field of Dreams.” Instead, it’s a description of Grand Junction’s Canyon View Park. While its expanse doesn’t hold some supernatural secret — as far as we know — it ultimately does draw people by the thousands for sporting events, picnics, the playground or to get some exercise.
Welcome to a Saturday in the life of one of the busiest parks in Grand Junction.
8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 14 — Acres of green grass stretch into the distance. The park is nearly empty except for Larry Johnson, general manager of the Grand Junction Soccer Club, who is setting up soccer goals in preparation for the day’s games.
A lone in-line skater, jamming to her iPod, whizzes along the concrete paths, making loops through the park.
9:20 a.m. — A shrill burst of laughter echoes across the playground. Adam Byerly jumps on the black plastic bridge, causing his 6-year-old daughter Emma to bounce up and down.
Nearby, Karie Byerly watches as her son Ben, 2, scrambles around the playground, his short legs and feet slightly unsteady on the wood chips.
The family has been in Grand Junction for less than a week, having moved from Chapel Hill, N.C. They don’t have a house of their own yet, and playing at the park is “better than being in a hotel room,” Karie said, adding that the facility is “better than anything we had back home.” This is the family’s second visit to the park in three days.
10 a.m. — Click! Click! Shaylynn Burchett’s camera freezes a moment in time. The Crimson Tide is taking on the Wolf Pack in a Mesa County Junior Football Association spring game.
The players, ranging in age from 7 to 9, run around the field, eyes glued to the ball. The Crimson Tide makes a tackle on third down, forcing the Wolf Pack to punt.
“I have two kids on the team,” Shaylynn said. “My 7-year-old daughter Emily plays and my 9-year-old son Dylan is one of the quarterbacks for the Crimson Tide.”
10:20 a.m. — A trash can full of empty Starbucks cups is all that remains as a testament to the soccer moms’ resolve to make sure their players are punctual for early-morning games.
11:30 a.m. — “Rally! Rally! Pitcher’s name is Sally!” A voice from a Grand Junction High School baseball fan rings out during the sixth inning of the district game, an effort to distract the Doherty High School pitcher. The attempted distraction fails, and the Grand Junction fans are allowed to stay in their seats, avoiding ejection.
1 p.m. — A bolt of lightning splits the sky. The clouds start spitting rain as thunder rumbles menacingly. The weather threatens to ruin the fun. A baseball game is delayed until the storm passes, but the weather-hardened soccer players continue their games.
2 p.m. — A man wearing red tracksuit pants under a black and yellow skirt sprints over the grass, trying to catch up with a flying disc. A woman dressed as a lady bug strolls by on an adjacent field.
It’s an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, and “the theme is Smuggle-a-Hug,” said Emily Cowan, 22, of Durango.
Players make it a goal to hug their opponents via sneak attacks during breaks in the action, she explained.
Participants are from Grand Junction, Aspen, Paonia, Durango and Flagstaff, Ariz. “It’s a fun time. I’ve never been up here. It’s beautiful,” Emily said.
The tournament consists of four teams of eight players each. The catch is that most of the players have never played together before, said Kevin Coulter, 20, one of seven Northern Arizona University students who drove six hours from Flagstaff to play in the tournament.
“You put your name, experience level, athleticism, stuff like that, on a piece of paper, and then the tournament director puts you on a team,” Kevin said.
The first game usually is a little rough, with players trying to get used to their teammates’ playing styles, he said.
2:30 p.m. — Delani Smith’s shot bounces off the goalkeeper, allowing her teammate to swoop in and knock the ball into the back of the net.
“Nice shot, Delani!” “Good teamwork, girls!”
The voices carry onto the field from the sidelines, as the teams set up for another kickoff following the goal.
Delani’s mother, Jeannie, and her grandparents, Randy and Janine, are there to watch the double-header soccer match-up between the Cardinals and the Trojans in the Grand Junction Soccer Association’s U-9 girls division. These games are the last of the 10-game spring developmental season.
“This is a make-up game for a game that was rained out in April,” Jeannie said. Minutes later, the referee’s whistle blows, signaling the end of the game and the end of the season.
2:45 p.m. — The fishing line cracks like Indiana Jones’ whip as Greg Dillon quickly moves the rod and reel backward and forward.
A number of children watch him curiously before returning their attention to exploring the banks of the park pond.
Greg stands in an irrigation pond, sporting green waders and a gray sweatshirt. He is practicing fly-fishing with his new 11-foot switch rod, which he got just two weeks ago, he said. “It’s handy to whip down here to practice.”
Greg, who lives in the Redlands, said he has only come to Canyon View Park about four times in order to practice fly-fishing, and most people don’t venture near him while he’s casting his line.
“Most people think I’m crazy, like ‘Look at that guy in waders standing in a pond!’ ” he said. “Most people avoid me and sort of look away.”
4 p.m. — Pictures depicting the first 18 years of Rachel Hibberd’s life are displayed on a picnic table under the shelter by the handball court.
Nearby, black, blue and silver balloons flutter in the wind. Friends and family have gathered to congratulate Rachel on her graduation from Fruita Monument High School.
“One hundred fifty people were confirmed coming, but only about 50 have showed up,” Rachel said. She plans to major in biology or psychology when she attends Mesa State College in the fall.
Although she is looking forward to college, there is one part of high school she is sad to leave behind.
“I’m going to miss the people. I’ve been going to school with some of them for 13 years, and now we’re going our separate ways,” she said.