What would you ask for?

“Sometimes you get what you ask for,” as the old saying goes, which is often followed by, “so be careful what you ask for.” Last week, I asked for information about the fastest growing sport in America… Pickleball and on the same day that the Journal Newspapers were delivered, I received an email from Steve Black, Hastings Pickleball Association cochair. The 125+ member group of novices to advanced, occasional to diehard players, grandchildren to great grandmothers play seven days a week at the Hastings Tennis Courts across from Roadside Park from 8a.m. until 10 a.m. I am looking forward to my introduction to the game of pickleball. If anyone wants to join me in this adventure, feel free to ask, but be careful what you ask for. There may be investment in Icy Hot and Ace Wraps in our near future.

So, if you could ask for anything to provide “better” outdoor adventures around our area of Minnesconsin, what would you ask for? Would it be more trails of the rustic type for hiking or maybe more paved trail for walking, jogging, and biking? Maybe it would be more parks and beaches for the occasional or even more than occasional picnic, suntanning or just hanging out and relaxation time. Some may ask for more campgrounds with spacious sites that include electricity and amenities for activities such as fishing, sand volleyball or space just to toss the ball around. I know a few that would love an archery range, trap shooting space and hunting dog training area. There are also a few folks who I have heard say “I wish we had more golf courses around here.” Again, what would you ask for?

If you would, please reread the last paragraph. The question was not “if you could ask for anything to provide “more” outdoor adventures around our area…” it was, “… anything to provide BETTER outdoor adventures in our area.” Better does not always mean “more” and “more” certainly does not always equal better. A plethora of opportunity is at our disposal for outdoor adventures. A quick fact check of all the communities within the reading area of the Hastings, Cottage Grove and Pierce County Journals will illustrate that streets exist, most of which are conducive for riding a bike or taking a walk. Many are paved and if it is unpaved that you seek, there are plenty of dirt roads around here. I get it, we live in a “need more, never satisfied” society where bigger and better is often the quest because “the Jones family” has it, so I should too.

If I could ask for anything to provide better outdoor adventures around our area of Minnesconsin, I would ask for people to pick up after themselves. If you drop something that is trashcan worthy, pick it up and find the proper receptacle. I would ask for more groups like the Hastings Area Rotary Club to provide opportunities for Seniors, ShutIns and Veterans like Cycling Without Age and Hastings Rivertown Fishing (see for more info) and I would ask for those who love to jump on social media complaining about what we don’t have to get involved and see if they can help accomplish their dream project instead of hoping somebody else will do it for them.

I was impressed on a recent Facebook visit where I saw people in Hastings working towards a new skateboard park. Of course, it started with “there is nothing for kids to do” which we can agree to disagree on, but the fact is, Hastings had a skateboard park, it closed and there appears to be a sector who would like to see one again. Hats off to those leading the charge and trying to get it done. My suggestions, and they are only that, would be to contact Hastings Parks and Recreation if you have not done so, have a plan in hand that includes fundraising, design, location options and local businesses willing to get behind your project and finally, instead of saying “there is nothing for kids to do,” go positive with your marketing and say this will “enhance” the offerings already available. You get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Just a couple cents of advice from someone who spent some time on the local Parks and Rec Commission.

With the ample opportunity that awaits us all, I end with this one simple recommendation. Get Out and Enjoy the Great Outdoors… be it golfing, biking, hiking, skateboarding or even playing pickleball.

June 8, 2022