We all know that feeling when we’re surrounded by people and noises and we just want to escape. This is a phenomenon I’ve recently become very familiar with after starting a new job in a very big city. The whole situation can be very stressful for anyone who feels more comfortable in country-type settings. Anytime I’m put into an environment where I feel out of place my first priority is to figure out a way to cope with the anxiety.
No matter where I live, work, or travel I’m always in search of new places to hike and explore. Now that I’ve been spending 5 days a week in an unfamiliar territory I had to make myself more acquainted with the area. My one hour daily lunch break seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that. I checked Google Maps for any green splotches close to my location. Sure enough there were two spots only minutes from me that I was eager to find out more about.
The view from the parking lot at Fort DeSoto Park
On my second day of work I waited for my lunch break, grabbed my lunch bag, and headed out to DeSoto Park Recreation Complex. It felt really nice to get out of the office and see what this industrial environment had to offer for me. As it turns out, this park sits right next to McKay Bay, which is part of the much larger Tampa Bay area. I walked around a little bit to see what was there. There was a large family pool, a skatepark, and playground for the neighborhood kids. What interested me the most was the paved hiking/ biking trail encompassing the perimeter of the park. A portion of it butts up right next to the water providing a scenic view for users.
The trail around the park
A local woman using the trail
Another interesting aspect of this park was the pier that juts out into the water. It has a covered pavilion at the end with some picnic tables. It’s a great spot for eating lunch or trying your luck at fishing. I decided to stay here for the rest of my break. It was very relaxing. The next day I came back again and found a small shady area in the grass to sit down and eat my lunch. I looked out over the bay and watched fish jumping up out of the water. To my great surprise I even saw a couple of dolphins swimming not too far away.
View of the bay and the pier
The next week I decided to explore the second place I found on the map. It’s called McKay Bay Nature Park and it’s actually on the way to DeSoto Park. I stopped in and wandered around. There are a lot more trees and shrubs here than at DeSoto Park. It’s kind of like a choose your own adventure park. There are signs for trails but the trails aren’t clearly marked. I just walked all around through the bushes basically in a circle. I discovered a pretty long paved trail and wondered where it went. Then I found a really cool wooden pavilion with a picnic table. It’s built high up off the ground and surrounded by trees – an excellent place to relax and have lunch.
One of the supposed trails
Where I like to escape and eat lunch
The long paved trail I found
I’m so glad I decided to venture out and take advantage of my long lunch break. Everyday I look forward to my hour in the park, surrounded by nature. For a short while I’m able to forget everything that’s stressing me out and just enjoy being outside. It really helps me handle being away from my country lifestyle. Plus, it breaks up a long work day.
Are there any parks or preserves near your place of work? Try visiting one on your next lunch break. You’ll be surprised at how much it can do for your overall well-being.