How often do we find ourselves going across the country (or even half way around the world) to visit tourist attractions, when we haven’t taken advantage of everything surrounding us? The “not in my backyard” syndrome seems to prevent us from enjoying what’s offered locally unless visitors arrive. I would probably not have seen the Rockettes, the Hermitage, and the Belle Mead mansion had it not been for an out of town visitor. When I lived in Houston, I visited NASA once (when I was thirteen). Because local haunts are “always available” there is no corresponding sense of urgency, which is why many times we pass them by. Last weekend I decided to take advantage of Murfreesboro’s tourist highlights. I took Prince Charlie (my Japanese Chin) to Oakland’s Mansion, which has a hiking trail and stream behind the main house. We then visited the Miller Coliseum, North America’s largest horse show exhibit hall where we saw a competition underway. Both of these events were free and open to the public, and were a good way to stay-cation and save money. Other haunts on my upcoming tour of Murfreesboro include the Discovery Center, Cannonsburgh, and Stones River battlefield. This town contains a rich history of civil war heroes and historic battles that serve to put our own lifestyles in perspective.
With gas prices promising to reach the five dollar mark (per gallon) in the near future, a sight seeing tour of what exists in our own backyards may well be in the works. Other ways to “stay-cation” are the following:
- Visit friends (and invite them to your home!). This may seem like the obvious, but with the advent of e-mail, texting, and all manner of communication electronic, when was the last time you physically showed up at someone’s home, or invited them to yours? The long lost art of sitting on the front porch not only saved money, but it helped people stay closely knitted within their social fabric.
- Check out you local “hole in the wall” restaurants. Just a couple of months ago I saw the Slick Pig Barbecue featured on public television. The unfortunate part of the “not in my backyard” syndrome is that we may miss what others consider local gems.
- Take advantage of parks. The greenway system in Murfreesboro is an immaculately manicured and maintained walkway located next to the Stones River that’s ideal for exercising and/or walking the dog. Prince Charlie loves the new smells and the adventure of seeing something new.
- See what’s going on at the local university. One of the great advantages of living in a college town is that there are always tons of activities on campus: plays, musicals, concerts, recitals, invited talks, exhibitions, and various sporting events. Many of these free and open to the public, and are a great way to connect with the community.
- Frequent the gym. A fantastic way to alleviate those post holiday pounds is to develop an exercise regimen, and to stick with the plan. If you do not have a home gym, then a local jaunt to your workout facility will not only help you stay in shape, but may provide a social outlet as well.
- Volunteer. Living in the volunteer state, I’m surrounded by behavioral philanthropists. Giving back to the community is a way to nourish yourself, in that the very people you are serving improve your self function.
- Garden. The Carrie McCracken project has helped to create hundreds of butterfly gardens in Harlem which serve to beautify the landscape and to provide an outlet for other people.