Wherever we have lived, I have enjoyed playing tourist near home. It doesn't cost much (sometimes is free, especially if one can walk or bike there) and often reveals delightful new surprises. We are fortunate to have many friends and family members from other parts of the USA or other countries who come to stay with us. Spending time showing them our home town and surroundings takes us places we might neglect to experience otherwise. How many of us hear about nearby interesting places we would like to explore and yet postpone doing that month after busy month?
Here's a thought. Even if you don't have visitors, promise yourself an outing sometime soon. Choose a place and put it on your calendar. Or step out the door right now, stroll around for a few minutes or more with all your senses on high alert. Take a camera and make like a tourist. What if you were paying money for your "lodgings"--wouldn't you explore the area?
Or, imagine yourself hosting a visitor from someplace quite unlike your region. If it is hard to see the farms around you with fresh eyes, pretend you are guiding visitors from Saudi Arabia. Wouldn't they be amazed at the rolling hills or vast plains in lush greens or rich golden tones? Or if your city neighborhood is seeming drab and uninteresting, imagine giving small-town visitors a tour of the ethnic food stalls and lunch counters in some surrounding blocks. Wouldn't they love hearing multiple languages and savoring the varied aromas and flavors?
We had lived in Jacksonville, FL for several years before a visit from a brother who lives in Cleveland, Ohio prompted me to explore Big Talbot Island State Park. A stark contrast to the endless, wide Jacksonville beaches most visitors flock to, the shore of Big Talbot is a quiet, somewhat ghostly walk along low bluffs. Over time, the battering of storms and storm tides has toppled and sculpted oaks, pines, and other vegetation into a unique atmosphere (begging for artistic photographers--and for us amateurs, too). The shady, wooded trail from parking to an overlook is short and easy, and another short trail leads to a path down the bluff to the shore. There are other hiking trails in the Big Talbot Park preserve, through heavily wooded areas dripping with Spanish moss or along the fascinating, varied habitat of salt marshes--bird-watching and just breathing deeply made an afternoon here feel like an extended vacation.
Question of the day: Why did I wait for an out-of-town visitor to explore this nearby natural wonder? What will you explore for the first time or see in a new way soon?