Today I had to travel a couple hours away for a food forest consultation. On the way there I drove by a state park I haven’t visited before. It looked like it might be pretty nice.
Luckily, the meeting ended early enough that I was able to stop by the park on the way home. I didn’t have much time, because I had to be back in town in time to pick up my youngest from school, but if you wait until everything is perfect to do something, you might not get a chance to do it. Snatch up every little opportunity for joy you can get.
I stopped in to see what the fee was, because I’d never been to a Minnesota state park. It was a little high for 45 minutes of checking out a new park, but, again, I decided to go for it.
I drive down to the bottom campground, and it’s all just beautiful. This park is better than any of the state parks near me. There’s a spring-fed pond, a river, waterfalls, tons of wildlife, wonderfully managed native plant biodiversity, challenging elevation change, and lots of trails to explore.
I hadn’t planned to go hiking or running, so I was wearing jeans and ankle boots. Good enough for hiking, not the best for trail running.
I start walking around and take a picture of the map at the beginning of a trail, just in case. After I got to one intersection, I decided to message a friend and ask her if she’d pick up my youngest from school if I got lost. She accepted the challenge.
I was really enjoying myself on what I thought would be a loop, but I was wrong. I got to an intersection from which it seemed impossible to get back, so I just started backtracking. Only I didn’t have much time left so I had to run the whole way.
So here I am, running through rocky and uneven trails in my ankle boots and jeans, snatching and eating wild plums while I ran. (I mean, you can’t see wild plums and not eat them.)
I made it back to my car at exactly the time I had planned on leaving, a little too sweaty for an hour and twenty minute drive, but it was 100% worth it. I am so glad I stopped to explore, and I will definitely be making future trips specifically to visit the park with my family and friends.
If you get an urge to do something, even if it’s not the ideal situation, follow that urge! Joy doesn’t have to be experienced in 7-day increments.
Also, you really can’t use your clothing for an excuse to not exercise. If I can navigate that terrain running in heeled boots, you can totally get your sweat on in what you’ve got. If I had been wearing less comfortable shoes, I would have just gone barefoot. Luckily I didn’t have to, because it’s acorn season.
Tell me your stories of spontaneity and joy!