Discovering Places Near Home
I suppose after years of residence, it is about time that I truly get to learn the city I live in. As it stands, I know more about the mountains two hours west than the river seven blocks away. Everyone seems to be guilty of this phenomenon. People in New York City never do any of the things on the tourists’ “must do” list. I grew up near Washington DC so the paces my visiting friends wish to see are the same places the teachers had to drag us to in elementary school. Similarly, I have lived here for years and barely know my own waterfront.
In my defense, it’s not as easy as you would have thought. There’s no map that says “You are here” with directions to all the places you wish to go. Maps are nearly non-existent, parking lots are hidden and offer limited spaces, are few and far in between, and always appear to be “out of service.” One hundred meters of trail will be fancily maintained, with the next hundred meters being only an access point for the homeless.
I explored looking for paths only to find man-made barriers in my way; it became evident of recreation’s struggle to survive. There’s places out there to discover, but only if you know where to look. Turn the corner, it’s a dead end, but cross the train tracks or jump a fence and you might find your way. You must ignore the “no trespassing” signs, in fact, they’ll lead you right to the parking area.
Even within the safety of designated park systems, paths are plagued with discontinuity. A blazed trail simply ends. It disappears – aren’t trails supposed to end at destinations? I suppose here there are no destinations. In an attempt to allow a visitor to lose themselves in a park surrounded by city development, they’ve designed the park so you quite literally, lose yourself.
This city fights recreation. It fights dirty. But outdoors(wo)men are strong and know how to fight back. If you look close you’ll find the local climbing Craig made from a remaining railroad bridge, miles of technical mountain bike trails, and rapids that pack in a punch. The river is home to dozens of birds including Osprey and Great Blue Herons, and birds of prey such as Red-Tail Hawks, Bald Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons have been spotted before.
A new type of exploration is in order. Enter the urban outdoors: locked by physical man-made barriers and hidden entrances. Like a secret society, you must learn the combination – a hop here and a skip there – for the path to become visible. It’s time to unlock this city.