Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Living a Life You Love: Tip #1-Explore Where You Live

Yesterday I talked about mine and Cameron's philosophy behind building a life you love and learning to be content with your life. There are different things we do to help this, and I'm excited to get to share some of those with you this week! 

Today I figured I'd start with one of our favorite tips. 

Explore where you live.

"But there's nothing to do here."
"I've been everywhere!" 
"Why? I live here! I want to get away!" 

I know. Exploring your town, especially if you don't live somewhere big and diverse, can seem incredibly boring and lame. 

I promise, this is seriously one of our biggest tricks to falling in love with where we are. It's like making a crescive bond with a city (see the last post for an explanation of crescive bonds)! 

Winslow isn't big. You won't find things here on "Top 20 things to do or see in Arizona!" lists. But we're really coming to love it! We are slowly getting to know the city and the surrounding areas, and in the process we're making memories. These aren't big "I'll remember this for the rest of my life!!" memories, but they are feel good memories, family bonding memories, happy times. 

Sometimes people we've talked to about this have found it difficult to figure out how to tell where to go. Sometimes people resist this idea because they are afraid a place they go may be boring. Sometimes they just want to be entertained rather than being actively engaged. I can completely understand these fears! Cameron's helped me move past them a lot. We explore way more now than we did the first few years of our marriage. Don't go to be entertained, go to experience, to bond, and to look. You never know what you'll discover! 

Now, how do you go about exploring where you live? Here are our tips: 

1. Visit Local Parks
Check out that tiny square of green on the chamber of commerce map. Look at the local 9/11 memorial statue. Stroll down the "River Park" walk next to that dried up arroyo everyone calls the river. It doesn't have to be spectacular! Just discover! 
We've just been going to the closest playground park, but finally went to check out a park downtown and were blown away. It's beautiful! You can watch the trains go by, it's quiet (well...when a train's not going by), it's long and thing and windy, and well taken care of. It'll be a nice spot if we want to do a quiet picnic dinner sometime without the constant noise of the playground park. 

2. Tour historic buildings in town.
We just recently discovered the amazing La Posada Hotel. How did it take us 2 1/2 months to go check this place out?!?! It's absolutely spectacular. 

I want to go there all the time now. It's a restored Harvey House that serves as a hotel, restaurant, gallery, Amtrak station, and walking grounds. I was seriously blown away. I felt like I stepped out of sagebrush mesa land and into a whole different world. There was even a great hay bale labyrinth there to set Darrow loose in. I'd driven by there so many times out to Cameron's work, and never knew I was missing a gem behind the vegetation and adobe wall. 

3. Visit the state, county, and national parks nearby.
Not all of them have entrance fees! The Little Painted Desert County Park here is free versus the Painted Desert National Park fee of $20...and we like the Little Painted Desert better anyway! It just drops out suddenly and is unreal!! We took a last minute drive up there and didn't expect much. We rave about it to everyone now! 

Many State and National Parks do have fees, and we know those can add up. If you're in an area rich with parks, it may be worth it to you to look into annual passes.

In Silver City we visited the free ones, and then only the Cliff Dwellings and White Sands a few times. They were just far enough away that we knew we wouldn't go often. Here though we have so many National Parks within a Day Trip distance that we decided to spring for the America the Beautiful Pass for $80. We would have never done that in Silver because we wouldn't have gotten our use out of it. We've had it for 2 months now and we've already used up $40 worth in entrance fees, and that's only with hitting 2 National Parks!! There are still 3 more within 2 hours of us. That'll reach our $80 limit easy and then we're getting extra visits out of the pass. 

4. Look up festivals in your town and drop in for an afternoon. I'm not a huge Blues fan, but I do love dropping in on the Blues Fest in Silver City just to see and experience. We found a vendor that sells the best green chile powder mix. We've gone back every year to the Blues Fest just to find that guy and get us our next year's worth of seasoning! We'd never have found him if we hadn't given the Blues Fest a chance!

5. Window shop and wander downtown. 
The first place I'd send people in Silver City is downtown to walk and check it out. 

You can just window shop, look at old buildings, eat, or do real shopping. I spent many afternoons checking out the stores there and just poking around. My favorite fudge shop ever, an excellent New Mexico enchilada plate, a funky clothing store, vintage dresses, thrift stores, and great art are all hidden away down there. I would have never discovered most of those if I hadn't gone exploring! Plus, it supports the local economy and business owners! They love knowing you are interested in them and it's a great way to make new friends! 
This is also how we discovered the Presidio San Agustin del Tucson!

6. Still having trouble finding things to do? Search online. 
Google "Things to do in (your city/county/state here)." Sure, you'll get a bunch of expensive things, but you'll find some treasures as well. Other great google searches are "Day trips near..." "Hikes around..." "Family fun in...." and "Free things to do in..." Don't be afraid to read blog posts. Sometimes those have the best info on the little known and the under explored!

So, don't wait to get out of town to start exploring. Get to know every nook and cranny of your town or city!


  1. Two more suggestions

    If you like being outdoors, and especially if you have children, try geocaching.

    If you are more of an indoor person, or if you've been to most of the public spaces in your area, try going to estate sales. Not only can you get some good deals, you will see some interesting parts of your city that you probably wouldn't have known existed. If you're lucky, you might get to see some truly amazing houses.

    1. We LOVE geocaching! That's a fabulous suggestion to put on here as well!

  2. So true. I live in a small mining town, it completely shuts down on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. When my kids were younger one holiday, I would make a loaf of bread worth of sandwiches and mix up some kool-aid, invite the neighbor kids, and visit a different park each week. Our town has many tiny parks, each with different simple equipment. Another favorite simple outing is agate hunting or flowerspotting in the surrounding desert. We have been an isolated town for a long time and many sport clubs are around, eager for new members or just fun. There are regular 'non-player' and 'bring-a-friend' evenings that are very child-friendly as well

    1. That's fabulous! A loaf of bread and an afternoon at the park sounds great!


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