When I began running last year one of my favorite things about it was seeing the city from a new perspective. When your in a car or even on a bike your focus is on the road ahead and it’s easy to miss all of beauty around you. Running had become a means of discovery as I was able to increase my mileage it continued to open new opportunities for viewing the city at 6 mph vs. 45.
After my last race in April I had more or less lost my passion for it and was finding it more and more challenging to get myself motivated for anything about 3 miles or so. Arriving at the park last night I had a planned 3 or 4 mile easy recovery run. Rounding the corner from the trail I was on I was reminded that there was a 2 mile nature loop that had just opened in a neighborhood nearby. The weather was perfect in the mid 80’s and humidity was at a manageable level. If you are from the south you know how humidity can be a complete game changer in relation to outside temperatures.
My decision went from turning left down the typical path of monotony times 3, it’s a 1 mile loop or straight ahead and out of the park boundary to see if I can figure out how to get to the new place. I debated with myself briefly before determining that a 6 or 7 mile adventure run would be much more fun than 3 miles of the same’ol.
My wife and I had walked this trail a week or so prior but I had no idea how to get there from here. The wildflowers were in bloom, there was a small vegetable garden at one point and a small decking overlook that took you out into some wetlands that was full of fish, turtles and likely other wildlife that I did not stick around long enough to see. Many varieties of birds were seen either jumping from the brush or just flying overhead. Truly a paradise and a gem of the city that likely many people are completely unaware of.
The return back I found a new entrance to the park and realized it used to be the grounds of Central Kentucky Lunatic Asylum. The adjacent property has Central State Hospital but I had no idea there used to be something other than the park here. Apparently a grand complex with 2 signature 60 foot towers built in 1874 and later demolished in 1996. I got lost in the woods nearby trying to find my way back to the main trail, which as it turned out I was about 50 feet away the entire time but could not figure out how to get there. There is also a cave that runs under the park I have spent the last year running in. What the heck, it’s a shame that the entrance is defaced with graffiti and rubbish but perhaps when I have more time I am going to have to explore this area of the park more.
In the end I made the right decision in breaking the routine and finding a new path. At the expense of sounding hokey I was also reminded that life in general is no different. I have always been one to go right or left when everyone else says to go straight. While it will often leads to a dead end or may even circle back to the beginning it sometimes leads to new adventures that had I continued down the same path I would have missed. Life is about the journey not the destination and I will get there eventually but not without running into a few walls, getting lost in the wilderness or circling back to the start to get my bearings again. Besides had it not been for all my wrong turns I would have never met my Wife or had my two wonderful kids. Life is Good!
This new trail was funded by one of our local businessmen and founder of Papa Johns pizza, John Schnatter. Among his many contributions to the pizza industry he is also a philanthropist, outdoor enthusiast and cyclist. “John Schnatter and his Evergreen Real Estate team have created a priceless legacy for Louisville and an inspiring model for other landowners and companies nationwide. He chose to preserve priceless land, create a first-class, state-of-the-art trail and offer these amenities for the benefit of the public.” ~ American Trails
So thanks Papa for providing the city with such a beautiful venue in which to enjoy the nature around us. If you have not visited this park you can drive there and park in the Anchorage lot at Evergreen and Lagrange.
I also worked for Papa Johns for a couple of years while in a career transistion. Had it not been for that Pizza delivery job I may not be where I am today. So the next time the family ask for Pizza I will have to insist on Papa John’s.
American Trails Anchorage Greenway
ETA: If your listening Papa, where can a guy get one of those slick Papa Johns cycling kits?