In defense of smaller outdoor spaces

National Park Week at the end of April had me thinking about our outdoor spaces.

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A pic from our trip to Grand Canyon NP a few summers ago

My parents met working together at Yosemite, and the rest is family history.

Summers were spent exploring and camping at many tourist destination National Parks. Even today, much of our vacation planning is centered around NP visitations.

However, since baby girl was born, I have re-evaulated my relationship with these places, and the pedestal I’ve put them on.

It’s not that I don’t think National Parks are special, I do.

But I haven’t had as much time, energy, or ability to get to larger more epic outdoor sites as of late.

Instead, I’ve had to get my outdoor fix in different ways.

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The sunset view from an unassuming park

I have recently come to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of small outdoor grounds.

Whether a public park or just a little patch of grass in our housing development, these landscapes have become my sanctuary the past four months.

Don’t get me wrong–I still love State Parks, National Parks, Recreation Areas–but I think what I’m realizing is that I never gave these kinds of places the respect they deserve.

In my mind because it wasn’t ‘epic’ or ‘awe-inspiring’ it wasn’t as…worthy?

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A view of the Vegas skyline from a local park

During the first weeks after my daughter was born I mourned the loss of being able to just drop everything and go for a hike whenever I felt like it.

I mourned being able to hop in the car unplanned and drive across statelines to California, Colorado, Arizona or Utah to explore larger more ‘prestigious’ parks.

But as I took the time to embrace my new slower life, I found so much beauty in the humble areas that were easily accessible to me with a newborn.

Sunrise in Vegas

Some days it was as simple as a sunrise walk to the mailbox through the trees and grass in our development.

Other days I was able to summon up enough energy to take the stroller to a local park, and the fresh air and the paved pathways were my lifeline.

I began to appreciate these areas and that they’re available to EVERYONE.

Free of fees, free of long commutes, these little spots of green were the gift of the city to its residents.

Even though I know I’ll venture back to larger destinations as baby girl gets bigger, I appreciate the value of these ‘lesser’ spaces in such a new way.

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New morning views

The sunsets and sunrises from these pedestrian areas are just as breathtaking as anything I’ve seen at Zion or Glacier Lake.

I feel grateful for the locals who have made preserving these unpretentious grounds of public recreation a priority.

So for National Park Week, I want to also celebrate the common park, the corner of grass near the office building, and the row of trees along the walkway near home.

What about you? Do you have any favorite small public spaces?

Thanks for reading and happy sobering friends!






4 thoughts on “In defense of smaller outdoor spaces

  1. One of the reasons I moved to North Carolina as an adult was for the green spaces. We’re very lucky where I live to have so many greenways and trails surrounded by trees and lakes. As a runner, it adds immensely to my life to have beautiful places to run but I also just love being able to live in such an area.

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