I can tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to certain aspects of my life, especially if it’s an activity that involves the possibility of getting lost. Try as I might to change it, the fact is that I’m what you would call directionally challenged.
My adventures in getting lost include ending up in the wrong state (more than once), taking the wrong train home and arriving at social events way beyond fashionably late even when I start out thinking I know where I’m going. As it turns out, GPS systems aren’t infallible. 🙂
My fear of getting lost isn’t limited to cars, trains and planes – it also influences where I walk, I stick to the towpath and taking the same route through a nearby neighborhood both there and back home. It would be impossible to get lost on the towpath, it runs parallel to the Delaware river for 60 miles and the only decision I have to make is whether I want to turn right or left out of the neighborhood and onto the trail.
The route might always be the same, but it’s never boring. There’s always something interesting and beautiful along the way and it’s one of my favorite places to think.
The area I live in is full of places to walk, run or bike – one of the local favorites is Tyler State Park. It’s 1,700 hilly acres interconnected with curving trails for pedestrians, bicycles and horses. The gravel trails through the woods are my youngest son’s favorite place to go for a run, not so much mine.
The first winter we lived here, I learned about a local running club that hosts a winter race series in Tyler Park. Looking back, I’m not sure what I was thinking, but at the time it seemed like it could be a good way to meet people and make friends. The people in the club were super nice and also wicked fast.
At the time I could keep up a 12 minute pace (on a good day and a flat course); the average pace of the runners in the group was 9 minutes or less per mile (every day and on a hilly course). It was all I could do to go fast enough to keep the last runner in sight so I wouldn’t take a wrong turn and end up lost in the middle of the park, especially on a long run. Thankfully they always had one or more volunteers stationed at the danger spots and I always found my way back to the boathouse.
Last Sunday I finally took Christian up on his offer to take me on a guided walking tour of his favorite spots in Tyler Park. We snagged the last open parking spot, laced up our shoes, grabbed a couple of giant bubble wands out of the trunk and headed into the park.
First stop, the Algae Slide. Apparently it’s the favorite spot for selfies among high school aged girls and young couples.
From there we headed off of the paved trails, across a wooden bridge and into the woods, needless to say it was not a route I’d have taken on my own. 🙂
Unfortunately the bridge that connects the business of the park with the solitude of nature is covered in graffiti and littered with drug paraphernalia. It’s such a shame that people don’t show respect for the world around them.
For the next hour or so, my 19 year old son and I hiked up and down the trail,
stopped to enjoy little glimpses of nature like this tiny little toad,
blew big bubbles in the clearings with our bubble wands
and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.
Even though Christian was my guide, I have to admit that I sighed a little breath of relief when we emerged back out of the woods into a more familiar spot.
It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.