Free Time

It wasn’t our intention, but with three kids under the age of nine, our spring break trip to visit family in Colorado turned into a day-by-day tour of front range parks. Sure, we toured major attractions like the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs and Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, but it was the lesser-known attractions like hiking to the top of Castle Rock, swimming and sliding at the North Boulder Rec Center and hiking the various trails spread around the Boulder valley that really made our vacation something special.

The irony of traveling 1,200 plus miles to enjoy public services similar to what we have at home (minus the mountains) was not entirely lost on me (or my wife). It made us wonder – why don’t we do a better job of enjoying the services our town and county provide? How do we become a tourist in our hometown?

Needless to say, we came home with a new resolution to do just that.

So how, after three months are we doing?


We returned from Colorado on Easter Sunday and immediately jumped back into the whirlwind known as travel baseball and fast pitch softball. For the next few weeks we traveled from town to town and watched our kids practice the fine art of smearing themselves with dirt, sweat and ice cream and then jump into our “baseball van” – an old green Dodge Caravan which is the only vehicle suitable for transporting this much muck and mud -- and heading home as the stars twinkled over head.

It was awesome.

And, I guess in a way, we did see a lot of the parks in our area as most of the baseball diamonds were centered in public parks. I know my five-year-old got to experience plenty of playgrounds, pavilions, and port-o-potties, so maybe you can count that as a positive park experience. Or not.

Of course, all good things come to an end and, when both teams eventually lost in their single elimination year-end tournaments, it was time for our little family to move on.

You know what that’s like. Suddenly, we found ourselves with free time. Or, maybe a better term is “un-programmed time” because after all time is, by definition, free.

Finally, we were able to put our “hit the parks” plan into action and, like the busy sport season, it’s been awesome. All of sudden we’re biking the local trails, fishing in the ponds our county park systems stocks with trout, bass and more “sunnies” then any five-year-old could ever catch and generally enjoying all the amenities our local city and county have to offer.

We are, for the moment, back in balance. Hopefully, we can keep this up when the football/soccer van roll around the county and the school bus starts showing up at O-dark thirty.

So, before the next “season” puts its hooks in you, carve out some time to sit down, relax and enjoy the latest, greatest edition of Parks & Rec Business.

Till next month….

Rodney J. Auth