Beyond My Backyard

Written By Brandy Centolanza


My first real job upon college graduation involved a one hour commute to work. I had a colleague, Beth, who never left her small hometown of Clearfield (the town where the newspaper I worked for was located), and I remember her telling me how much she admired me for having the courage to drive an hour to work each day. And I remember thinking how unfortunate, how sad it was that she didn’t have the courage to leave her town, even to travel an hour away. Time and distance are relative to people, and, these days, I consider an hour away to still be in my backyard, while others, like Beth, don’t want to leave the comfort of their own home or street. That baffles me. I didn’t travel much as a child, and, as a result, I think that is why I love to explore and discover any new place that is possible for me. I want my children to be exposed to different places, people, cultures, environments, experiences. We love adventure, and often grab our bikes and go, either to Freedom Park just down the road, Newport News Park in the next town over, or down to Virginia Beach, which is—gasp!—an hour away. Day trips are routine for us, and we had the opportunity to visit new territory over spring break earlier this month. We travelled an hour north to Richmond, and hiked and played on Belle Isle, a small island park along the river in the city. We also took a longer overnight trip to Shenandoah National Park, where we hit more trails, including the BearFence Mountain Scramble, where we all experienced our first take at actual rock climbing. It’s not that hard to leave your front door, to leave your own backyard and explore what else is out there, and I don’t understand why people are so afraid to do it. We live roughly ten minutes from Colonial Williamsburg, and we even discover something new each time we go over there and walk Duke of Gloucester Street. I am there every week, yet I have neighbors who never go. Williamsburg is a short drive from the beach, from the mountains, and from city life. We have the best of all worlds here, so there is really no excuse not to get up and go. I promise your life will be better enriched by it. I know ours are.