lifestyle · uplift

Exploring Close to Home

Maurianne Baker is a writer, editor and all together word enthusiast. She has worked as an editor for the past 15 years. Today she is sharing her insight on finding beauty right where you are. 

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When I moved to my home in Casper, Wyoming, I didn’t think it was a particularly exotic place to live. In fact, being four hours away from a city of comparable size and two hours away from another population center of any size meant I was afraid there would be nothing to do. I soon realized my newly adopted hometown is filled with interesting sites and activities.

There is always something to do, and finding what’s fun and unique in our own backyards can open worlds for exploration. Here are a few tips I’ve found useful in finding the beauty wherever you live.

See through the eyes of a tourist. My husband and I went to dinner with some people visiting from the East Coast a few days ago. We went to a steak house (because they insisted that’s what you do when in the West), and in addition to raving about how good the steak was, they told us how mesmerized there were by the sight of antelope, the expansive views, and the history.

We all live in unique and beautiful places. Sometimes it just takes an outsider’s perspective to see that beauty. We can gain that perspective by looking at resources around us:

  • City website. Many city or county websites have information for tourists.
  • Local historical society. These are the people I love talking to. They can fill you in on all the history of your town and tell you exactly where to go to learn more about where the city has been.
  • Local library. Often local events are posted at the library (or on their website). In addition, they often have a section of books geared toward locals.

Embrace the local culture. While you might move to a place that has a very different culture than the one you’re used you, it’s good to see how others live and what values they espouse. I’ve learned a lot about the coal, oil, and ranching industries since moving here. Talking to locals about their hopes, fears, and lives can open our eyes to new perspectives and can help us understand different perspectives. Gaining empathy for varying circumstances is always a good thing.

Drive to explore. When I first moved here, I would often get in the car and drive by myself so I could figure out where things were. In doing this, I found a neighborhood filled with 100-year-old Victorian homes, and I fell in love. When I have a few minutes on my way from here to there, I often take a detour to explore another street in that neighborhood. Sometimes the most serendipitous discoveries come when you don’t have a purpose or direction in your exploration.

Ask your neighbors and friends. In addition to asking friends for advice on the best grocery store, doctor, and hairstylist, ask friends what their favorite places are near you. I have found lovely picnic spots, hiking trails, and historical landmarks this way. Nothing beats the recommendation of someone with experience.

As the warm weather approaches, explore something new in your surroundings!

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