My husband, Ron, happened to be unlucky enough to have both his college graduation and 27th birthday fall during a global pandemic, just a few months after the deaths of my parents. For those avid readers of the blog, you already know what we did to replace his graduation (if you don’t, you can read about it here), but for his birthday, I had exhausted all the good decorations in our storage room at work, and I wanted to go on some sort of adventure. And while I will admit that we are going on a beach trip this following week, at the time of Ron’s birthday, I was not jumping at the bit to travel far, but yet, I wanted some sort of adventure.
I looked on Pinterest at pictures of backyard camping, but we did not have a backyard or a tent, and I did not even think I knew anyone with a tent (or at least not anyone that I knew well enough to ask to borrow one). But still I liked the idea of camping or hiking…or something.
And suddenly, it clicked. I remembered drives I made to Adel, Georgia for work where I had seen signs for Reed Bingham State Park, and I thought that would be perfect. It would be a way to get out and see something new without going to far or spending any money. Our local public library had just reopened for curbside pickup (yay!), and if you’re not aware, in the state of Georgia, you can check out a parking pass that gets you into any state park in the whole state of Georgia for free. I took the day off work, arranged for a pick up of the park pass, and did some online research of the park. Adel is about 30 minutes from Tifton, where we live and less than an hour from where I grew up, and I had no idea about it until recently. While doing my online research, I found out that they did canoe and paddle boat rental, which I thought would be a fun activity for Ron’s birthday.
I kept the trip to the state park a secret until the day of his birthday, although he knew I had taken off work, and I just wrapped the state park pass from the library up like it was a present. Once he had opened it and his other two presents, we decided to go ahead and go down to the park, where we found out that they actually weren’t doing any rented equipment, including boats, due to the pandemic. We were a little disappointed, but we completely understood. We still decided to make the best of it though, to choose happiness, by going down to the water and walking one of the trails. Almost immediately once we started heading down to the water, we saw a large group of red birds, as if Mama was there, telling Ron happy birthday too.
Then while we were making our way to the trail we wanted to explore, we actually found an 18 hole mini golf course that even I had not known was there, even after doing online research. We walked all around the course taking pictures and decided we needed to come back soon to really enjoy all the park had to offer. While on the trail, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and just being out in nature, and then we explored the beach area a little.
This trip overall only cost us the gas money it took to get down to the park, since the park pass was free. We ended the trip by picking strawberries at a local farm and then dinner, a movie, and chocolate birthday cake later that night. And although the park was just 30 minutes or so from us, we had barely even known it existed. Sometimes happiness is literally right in your own backyard, and you just have to find it yourself. Sometimes that’s what choosing happiness means.