Nothing inspires a trip to the park like a sunny day.
When I was younger, the closest park to our house in Kentucky still required a short car ride or a longer bike ride on a fairly busy road, so a trip to the park was special because it meant a different place to play besides the yard and that a grownup would have to come with us, and it was always more fun having a grownup play along.
We'd fly kites if it was windy or bike or skate around the paved trails. At least one circuit around the park was necessary (that was the grownup requirement of accompanying us) before we were allowed to get to the best part of going to the park - the playground.
Early in my park going career, the equipment was a dark wooden structure that probably wouldn't have passed code (hey, it was the early '90s), seeming to tower over everything around it, including my parents nervously telling me to be careful and not tumble off one of the edges not protected by a railing.
A few years ago, during my study abroad experience in France, I was placed with a family with two girls, then ages 8 and 6, and trips to the park were once again a regular part of life.
So this week when the sun was out, even though temperatures were hovering around 60 degrees, I threw on a pair of shorts, grabbed a friend and headed over to the Al Quaal Recreation Area.
Since adult-sized playground equipment is kind of hard to find, I usually make do with going around the fitness trail, since that equipment has you do a lot of the same stuff as a trip to the playground - jumping, climbing, swinging, whatever.
At Al Quaal it's set up in a circuit around the large field, starting near the horseshoe courts looping around across from the Birchview School and back. Each station includes a plaque telling you how to do the series of exercises, ranging from a warm up to sit ups to this horrendous exercise where you hang from a bar and have to hold your legs out straight at a 90-degree angle.
While I can handle most of the stations pretty well, there are two that ask you to do chin ups. Chin ups, pull ups, whatever you want to call them, I've never been able to do them. Not in the sixth grade when we went through the Presidential Physical Fitness testing, not now. I tell myself that I can do it and right up until my muscles contract to pull the rest of me upwards, I believe that I can.
This week's trip to the park was no different, and was not helped by the fact that my friend pulled off two of the darn things when it was her turn at the station.
But that doesn't mean I won't ever try it again. If I make trips to the park a regular part of my summer, and if I make an attempt at the chin up station every time, by the end of summer I might actually be able to do one.
Just as long as I still get to move on to the monkey bar station afterward.
Editor's note:?Mining Journal Ishpeming Bureau reporter Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.