Genesee Park is a place I had never really thought too much about. For most of my first year and a half in Colorado, I was barely aware of it’s existence. I mostly knew that there was some kind of park at the spot along Interstate 70 where the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains first appear, which is about half an hour west of Denver. But, on most of those trips I would be on my way to the ski resort, or some other destination that is more well known, and farther West along the interstate. With about half a day’s worth of spare time, and little appetite for a long drive, as holiday travels await, I decided to explore this area and see what I would find.
Not surprisingly, I was the only person at Genesee Park today. Not only is it off-season for places like this, but it is also a weekday, a time when most other people are working. In addition, the park was closed for the season. Being alone in a place like this is somewhat of a strange experience, especially for someone who is accustomed to an urban environment, with a plethora of noise and crowds. However, being completely alone was what allowed me to truly tap into my imagination and discover what could come of a place like this during the summertime.
What surprised me about this mountain park were the plethora of available activities. The two short red poles are obviously for horseshoes, and the two taller metal poles are for setting up a volleyball net.
Additionally, the park had a pretty wide open softball field, which even included a home plate and a backstop. Combined with a subtle smell of wood near the stoves adjacent to the picnic tables and I instantly imagined myself here on a warm summer’s day, with groups of campers taking part in a multitude of activities. I pictured not only the activities the park is specifically set up for, but a multitude of others, such as Ultimate Frisbee, or just simply goofing off with all of the logs and pine cones all over the ground. Children seem to never run out of things to do at a place like this, but sometimes a weekend up here can bring out that imaginative side of adults as well. With the right group of people, a simple weekend away at a place like this could prove to be quite memorable.
It also dawned on me that the experiencing I am currently imagining at this place would also be quite inexpensive, at least compared to many other activities. I did not do the math, to calculate the cost of gas, food, tents, etc., but I could not imagine it coming out to more than $100 per person. In fact, it could end up being quite a bit less. Just the thought of having an incredible weekend like this for such a small price demonstrates what is really important in this world.
It is odd that Christmas time, a time originally designed for people to reflect on what is really important in life, can now have the opposite effect. Regardless of what people think of the practice, few people avoid the stress involved in purchasing Christmas gifts at this time of year. But, what is it that people really want? And what do people really need for Christmas? After a quick mental survey of the people I know, as well as society as a whole, I came to the conclusion that while a new shirt may help someone’s confidence, and a new game may prove fun to play with, we are generally looking in the wrong places to satisfy ourselves. What many of us need is not a new gadget, or an expensive coat. What we need is more subtle. We need things like companionship, appreciation, a sense of purpose, and security. These are the things that we can often find at places like Genesee Park when we share experience with one other, and share ourselves with one another amongst the breathtaking backdrop of some unexpected mountain views.
However, it seems to me that all too often, rather than looking to places like Genesee, or to the people around us to fulfill what we need in life, we look to places like this.
I will certainly give and receive presents this Christmas. Some may even excite me quite a bit. But, in the long run, the things that matter most will be more reflected in the way we view ourselves, the way we view life, the people around us, the way we treat one another, and the experiences we all have.