What is Park Preview, and why is it for the “non-robust”?
Our public parks are there for everyone to enjoy. But for some of us it’s not so easy to hop in the car on a moment’s whim, with no planning or information, and take off for an unfamiliar destination.
If you: have mobility issues, are slowing down from an abundance of birthdays, get anxious about new places or crowds, must always know where the closest bathroom is, or other things of a similar nature, then this blog is for you.
I deal with all of the above, and you can add depression to my list. I used to have a dog, which forced me to get outside and go to local parks, since I live in a condo. After he died in 2008 I no longer had to go out, and I turned into more and more of a recluse.
But then in 2014 my interest in photography came back in a big way. I eventually got a new bridge camera with a good zoom lens (replacing my little point and shoot), and I started looking into places to go with my shiny new toy.
As I was reading online lists of Seattle viewpoints and looking at city park pages I became frustrated, because part of how I deal with anxiety is knowing ahead of time what to expect. A lot of the info that I was looking for wasn’t even available, and what was there often wasn’t detailed enough.
Between that frustration and me starting to get out more to visit parks in person, the idea of this blog was born. I realized that since no one else was doing it, I could be the provider of detailed Seattle park information.
What makes a park accessible?
Accessibility means different things to different people. A park that is navigable for a retiree who walks well with aid of a cane might be too much for someone with severe lung disease, because there aren’t any convenient benches available on which to sit and catch their breath.
A person with anxiety might suffer heart palpitations and dizziness because the park is located in an unfamiliar area, or tie themselves in knots worrying if parking their car will be easy. But once in the park itself they are physically fit enough to take on the most strenuous trail.
Accessibility is a primary focus in my previews. To me a park is accessible if one or more of its special features are within relatively easy reach of, and usable by, those with limitations.
Accessibility is not only about wheelchair ramps and large bathroom stalls. It’s about lack of obstacles and park design that takes into consideration people with mobility limits who are on foot.
It’s about short distances, no hills or steep steps, places to get away from crowds, bathrooms in convenient locations, benches available where people need to sit, and worry free parking.
Most parks that I preview don’t fit all of these, so I attempt to describe and photograph a park’s character and layout so those with limitations can gauge ahead of time how much of it is doable.
I also try to make note of park areas that aren’t as accessible in order to prevent disappointment.
What Park Preview isn’t about.
There are literally hundreds of parks in the greater Seattle area. The vast majority of them are typical neighborhood parks with a lawn, playground, and maybe tennis courts or ball fields.
Park Preview does not cover those parks. My intent is to preview parks that are both accessible and that contain attractions not found in the average park.
I don’t focus on things like playgrounds or sports facilities. There are parenting blogs that rate playgrounds and discuss other family oriented park topics. And if you play basketball you probably already know where to go.
Park Preview does not cover details about trails either. As much as I’ve always loved the outdoors, I have never liked hiking. So while I include plenty of info on accessible walking paths, I can’t report on trails from first hand experience. Luckily, if trails through the woods are your thing, there are quite a few resources online dedicated to urban hiking in the Seattle area.
I hope you find my park previews useful. Now go out and explore!