Four years ago, Philadelphia beckoned. With its historic streets, ample museums, and plethora of restaurants, there was never any reason to be bored.
What surprised me the most, though, was the vast geographic area the city took up (135 square miles, to be precise). Living in the northwest corner of the city, my husband Jeff and I often cruised a stretch of road called Lincoln Drive, which passed underneath a deeply forested area that reminded us of Jurassic Park. I soon learned that this wooded wonderland encompassed the southern tip of the Wissahickon Valley, a hiking, biking, and fishing destination within the confines of the city limits. People traveled from all over the region to enjoy outdoor activities in the 1,800-acre valley.
It wasn’t long before my visits to the Wissahickon were an almost daily occurrence. I’d bring my dog, Baby Girl, with me to meander along a wide dirt path called Forbidden Drive, which ran adjacent to a babbling creek. On some days we took the upper trails, where park patrons discovered breathtaking vantage points. And even on quiet days, a traveler to these woodlands would never truly be alone. Here was a place where deer, raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, and all manners of birds made their residence.
Anytime I wanted to clear my mind of life’s daily stresses, I would hike with Baby Girl through the wooded trails and feel my troubles melting away almost instantly.
Four years later, the Jersey Shore beckons. As I say my final farewells to the city of Philadelphia — my adopted hometown — I think in particular about the joy the Wissahickon has brought both me and my canine companion.
Last night, I took Baby Girl into the woods for a quiet walk along Forbidden Drive (whose name derives from the fact that automobiles are forbidden there). I snapped a quick video of the pooch wading in the delicious (according to Baby Girl) waters of the Wissahickon Creek. Turn the volume up to hear the chortle of the videographer, yours truly, whose clumsiness can be downright comical, as this video demonstrates. Turn up the volume to get the full experience.
I have so much appreciation for the Wissahickon, which time and again has kept me sane through the healing power of nature. Traveling backwards through my iPhone’s camera roll, I share with you a few of my favorite Wissahickon moments from the past seven months.
6 responses to “Farewell to a Wooded Wonderland”
I love Philadelphia and really appreciate reading this post. What amazes me the most is that in a city of more than 1.5 million people, you can all these shots with no one in them. Absolutely amazing and thank you for sharing.
Philadelphia is a hidden gem; sometimes it gets a bad rap, but there’s so much to see and explore here. I appreciate your comment — I hadn’t thought about it that way, but you’re right: it is quite a feat to have a place which feels almost like a state park right within the borders of America’s fifth largest city.
Gina, you are truly beautiful in mind body and soul. What a beautiful place! So quiet and serine. You remind us all that we should take a moment and embrace the life around us in all it’s freshness and old beauty. Thank you for sharing. Good luck on your next big adventure!
Thanks for your sweet words, Katy. You and the rugrats walked those woods with me in spirit.
Such beautiful photos (as always!) Gina. I can tell you seem sad to leave Philly, but the good thing is NJ really isn’t too far away, so you can always visit! I noticed the Valley Green Inn in the backdrop of one pic; did you ever get a chance to go there? It has one of the most delicious Sunday brunches I’ve ever had (along w/ the longest wait time in the history of even making reservations first 😉 ) I look forward to seeing and reading where your future shore adventures take you.
Hi Patricia! Yes, I’m definitely growing nostalgic as moving day draws near. It’s true — Jersey really isn’t far. I’m glad it’s just a regional move and not cross-country. Valley Green — yes! I had dinner there in November. The food and service were fabulous. We were all alone in the restaurant with the exception of one other couple. No wait, so quite a different experience than the weekend brunch, by the sounds of it!