What is Park Preview and why is the emphasis on accessibility?
Our public parks are there for everyone to enjoy. But for some of us it’s not so easy to hop in the car and take off for an unfamiliar destination without researching and planning first.
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. Over the years, especially after my dog died and I no longer had to regularly go out, I turned into quite the recluse.
But in 2014 I became interested in photography again. I replaced my little pocket point and shoot with a nice bridge camera and 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 extremely frustrated. Part of how I deal with anxiety is knowing ahead of time exactly what to expect. A lot of the info that I was looking for wasn’t even available, and the info that was out there usually 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 person with anxiety might feel panicky because the park is in an unfamiliar area, or tie themselves in knots worrying if parking will be available. But once in the park itself they are physically fit enough to take on the most strenuous trail.
A park with a level paved walking path that is perfect for a retiree who walks longer distances quite well with the aid of a cane might be too much for someone with lung disease who can only go short distances before needing a bench to rest and catch their breath.
To me a park is accessible if one or more of its special features are within relatively easy reach for anyone visiting the park.
It’s about short distances, no steep hills or steps, places to get away from crowds, convenient bathrooms, well-placed benches and picnic tables, and worry free parking.
Most parks that I preview don’t fulfill all the criteria. I attempt to describe and photograph a park’s character and layout so that those with limitations can judge ahead of time how much of it is doable for them personally. I also make note of park areas that aren’t as accessible in order to prevent disappointment.
What Park Preview isn’t about.
There are hundreds of parks in the greater Seattle area, over 400 in Seattle alone. 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 usually focus on things like playgrounds or sports facilities. There are parenting blogs and sites that do a great job of rating playgrounds and discussing other family park topics.
Park Preview does not cover details about trails either. As much as I’ve always loved the outdoors I have never liked hiking and now I’m physically unable to hike. So while I include info on accessible walking paths I can’t report on trails from firsthand 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!