Lancaster resident Stacey Kielman writes about food and fitness.
It’s imperative to do your homework, or as I call it, your “reconnaissance”, before you move. You know, spend some time in the potential locale, observe the folks who live there, visit a bookstore, eat at a local restaurant, go for a run…see what the vibe tells you and adjust your decision making process accordingly if you have the luxury.
I sort of did my research before I moved to Lancaster. I say “sort of” because while I did spend the requisite time here before actually packing up my stuff and lugging it across the country, I didn’t really come on that initial visit with as open a mind as I could have. I already had my mind set on moving here. I also knew I’d have to take the bad with the good, end of story. I had already fully accepted that, or so I told myself. That seemed a diplomatic way to approach things at the time…
That approach can also limit you immensely, I now see. Why? Isn’t “taking the bad with the good” a philosophy we all employ every day to various aspects of our lives? What could be wrong with it?
Well, for starters, look at the syntax. When you start with “bad,” it’s easy to get stuck there, literally and figuratively. It’s one thing to spontaneously rebalance your perspective or talk yourself through something using this philosophy. It’s quite another to utilize it as a general approach to a life change. It ends up emphasizing the negative, or at least that’s what it did in my case. It caused me to be more likely to see what wasn’t in Lancaster, and to constantly tick off things that were now missing from my life; it was a constant stream of negativity. Yuck. My eyes, via my heart and brain, were so focused on what wasn’t here that I had a hard time seeing all the opportunities that are here for the taking.
I resigned myself to living without trails nearby, no small feat given that I was accustomed to traveling no more than two miles to about six different trails, and did so on an almost daily basis. There were rocks, mountains, animals, and peace of mind all only an eight minute bike ride away in my former life. I never took those things for granted either; any time I was on the trail, I marveled at my luck at accidentally (yes, accidentally – when I moved to Phoenix, those things were not even a glint in my eye – interesting, eh?) settling myself in a place that was just perfect for all of my outdoor pursuits. I figured that once in Lancaster, I’d just deal with not having any of that. Perhaps I’d find new passions in unexpected places, as I had in Phoenix. I’d reconnect with my inner gym rat and leave the weekends for trail exploration since, from all I could tell, the closest trails were an hour’s drive away at least.
Once I got here, desperation led me to do a bit more research, as I reasoned that no civilized place could truly be without local trails. There had to be something. Various searches yielded up multiple references to some place called County Park. The somewhat conflicting directions I found, though not in agreement as to the best way to get there from my house, all seemed to indicate that the park was close, that perhaps I had even driven past a portion of it unknowingly. What?! I was cautiously optimistic. I ignored the snotty comments that said the park had nothing to offer and the trails were dumb or too short. Hey, it was better than nothing! Those fools had no idea. Or so I hoped.
The more I searched online, the less genuine information I found, and the more befuddled I became. However, I was afraid of disappointment, so for awhile, I continued to wonder about the park from the comfortably warm confines of my house rather than actually going out to see what it was all about. My New Stuff Tolerance Meter had hit the FULL! level.
Eventually, after reading yet another trail description that made absolutely no sense, I got fed up with the descriptions and my compulsive reading of them. What had happened to my sense of adventure? Had I left it in the desert? If so, I was in for problems for sure. I had to check out this park, potential for disappointment notwithstanding. My troll-like computer vigil and fruitless searching were getting old.
I got some directions, verified that they led to the park by driving there, drove back home, put on my layers (it was winter), clipped into my bike pedals, and retraced my way to the park. I rode some of the roads (delightfully twisty with some steep uphills), followed the cross-country ski trails when I saw the wooden posts for them, found a few fingers of random singletrack, then did it all again, finding more loops and more trails each time. Before I knew it, two hours had passed and I was back home, flushed, shivering from sweat, and happy.
Every time I go to the park I go there half expecting to be disappointed, and finishing up my visit there feeling rejuvenated and centered. I ride, walk, run, stand, with and without my canine companion, and every time I do, I am happy to have that park to go to whenever I want, just about two miles away. Hmm, this is starting to sound familiar.
I am not going to tell you my favorite trail in the park, though I do have one. I’m also not going to take you step by step through the figure eight loop that I do when I ride my mountain bike there. I’m not even going to tell you which parking lot to use if you drive there. Those types of information were exactly what I found online, and exactly what kept me from missing the point of going to the park: just GO to the park, don’t research going to the park!
Here is a link to the official county park site…for the purpose of getting directions, nothing more! Go, explore, and be joyful!