Sunday, April 15, 2012

On Being Outdoorsy

I am not very outdoorsy by nature.  I don't go camping.  I don't shop at R.E.I., and I wore running shoes and yoga pants on a hike yesterday.

That said, when I see something breathtaking in nature, it makes me worship my God, my Creator.  And when I do that - at my core - it reminds me that my God is big, I am small, and I should just listen to Him, follow Him, and stop trying to run this show myself.
Yesterday, we drove to Great Falls Park, which is only about a 1/2 hour drive from where we live.  I've seen pictures of this place before, but we had never been, so I was excited.  Michael didn't really know what he was in for, but as usual, he's up for anything, and along for the ride.

This little guy also came along.  I read on the website that pets are welcome, as long as they are leashed.  I told Brokaw he was going to come with us to the park, and he started barking really loud, and jumping up and down.  He doesn't go to the park as much as he used to. (When I lived in Pittsburgh, I lived right down the street from a great park, and we went almost every week day.)
Look at that smile out in the sunshine.  Michael is much more of a Nature Boy than I am.  He was taking his time! I thought maybe the gravel trail was too much for him, or that it was going to damage his super high-tech wheelchair, but no.... he was just taking it all in.  Add that to the list of ways we are polar opposites!  I mean, it's not that I'm not taking it all in, I'm just not stopping in order to do so.  We walked about a mile and a half on the Canal Trail, right along the Potomac River.

Brokaw getting his paws wet.  He had one of the best days of his life, I'm pretty sure.
 As far as accessibility goes, I'd give this trail a B.  It's not a paved trail, but I mean c'mon.  Paved trails just aren't as natural.  If you were in a power chair, I think this trail would be absolutely no big deal.  But the ground is soft in some areas (sandy) and it's gravel, so I know Michael got a workout!  He only got stuck a couple of times, though, and with just a little nudge from me, he was on his way again.  There are two wheelchair accessible overlooks that have amazing views of the river!  Those get an A!
See? I mean, seriously. I almost can't believe this is only 20 miles from our apartment!  I wish you could hear it.  Oh, the power! So awesome.  This is the Potomac.  So much history right along here, too!

This is the obligatory find-someone-who-looks-like-they-speak-English and ask them to take your picture, picture. 
I think all three of us felt this way by the end of the day.  But, for the record, Brokaw is the only one who just laid down right there at the overlook.
How fun to do something together outside, something that is physical.  A great workout.  A great picnic lunch by a babbling brook.  And all of this for... FREE!! The National Parks have a program called the Access Pass for people with disabilities that lets you into the National Parks for free.  I guess it's just one of the perks.  When we got Michael's access pass, we bought something in the gift shop, so we were still making a contribution.

We love the National Parks and want to go to as many as possible!

I know a lot of people who read this blog are either in a wheelchair, or have someone really close to them who is in a wheelchair.  I hope this inspires you guys to get outside, and get active!  Just make sure you check the park's website for accessibility, and you'll be good to go.  Did we see the whole park, no.  Did we put our toes in the water? No.  BUT, we enjoyed walking on the trail, a picnic lunch, and looking at the awesome falls from the overlooks.  Totally worth it, and great memory made together.


janice said...

This is awesome! I wish we were closer so we could check it out!! We found a great park near us last Spring that is 95% accessible....even the childrens playground area had ramps and wheelchair accessibility! We have been quite a few times since our discovery for walks, picnics etc. Glad you guys had a good day!! Mike wearing keys around his neck?

Coffee Mom said...

That is great! My brother used to visit Great Falls all the time. In all the years we lived there I never did - but now I wish I had! So glad you two (or three I should say!) got to enjoy such a nice day together!

Dana Brown Ritter said...

Janice, it's his iPhone! Don't want to drop it! :) (been there... done that...)

Cheri said...

Great photos Dana. It looked gorgeous there. thanks for sharing!

janice said...

I smiled when I saw the lanyard because Billy wears his keys (and flash drive for work) around his neck all the time so he's not sitting on them in his chair. Every now and then he gets a new lanyard since they get a lot of time after we had been dating a while my sister was looking at some pictures of us and asked if he "had" to wear them because they were in every picture! It became a joke and so whenever she is around for pictures we laugh as he hands them to me and I put them in my bag!

mina said...

When my hubby was in the wheelchair we were determined to still do the things we liked to do, like get out in nature. We went to the National Arboretum which I highly recommend. Parts of it were tough to get around in the wheelchair but the rest of was pretty accessible. Great bonsai exhibit there. We also went to Mason Neck park near Lorton. There's a great paved trail there. I actually had to tell hubby to slow down in his wheelchair cuz I didn't want him wrecking from going to fast!

Anonymous said...

The day looks awesome AND you look super pretty! :)