There is a wonderful place to hike in the northern suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park stretches a few miles along the Mississippi River. My hike was only 2.67 miles (4.3 km) because I stopped to chat with an old friend and ran out of time. Next time I’ll go downriver from the parking lot and try the bridge to the island.
There is a charge to park in the lot. $6 for a day pass, $30 for an annual pass to all Anoka County Parks. I do believe that it is important to support the organizations that maintain the trails I use, but I did not have cash or checks on me. I parked on a nearby residential street. Guiltily I began walking north on a wide snow-packed trail that looked like it had been used by walkers, snowmobiles, skiers, and vehicles. I do not like walking in the same space as traffic, but it was fine. No motors during the entire hike. Probably the tracks were made by park maintenance.
The posted maps at each intersection were in good shape with “you are here” dots and distance numbers in kilometers. At the northern edge of the park the trail curves around to the south and follows the edge of the river. That is where I took the photo that is at the top of this post.
By the time I got back to the parking area I was really hoping that the visitor center was open and had a restroom. I was in luck. It was Saturday and the visitor center is open on Saturdays and Sundays in the winter. Often when I hike, using portable latrines is a necessity. A clean indoor restroom is a luxury and I appreciated it!
Another happy surprise was that the woman at the desk was familiar. We used to work together years ago. My plan to try to hike the entire park was put on hold because it was more important to reconnect with an old friend. There were not any other visitors at that time so we were free to keep talking about memories, family news, society issues, even politics. She also was a good source of information about area trails!
The main point of my post today is that flexibility in planning is important. Being open to opportunities to connect with people can enrich the entire experience. I am adding more ideas to my big picture puzzle. My puzzle is how do I make time to hike, paint, pay the bills and be there for family and friends. I hope this blog can help motivate others to also do what they love and make time for the important people in their lives.