When I first went to Nature Park, it was my first semester at BYU Idaho. During that time, I was terribly homesick. I would get calls and text from friends and family in Washington and would think about the rainforests daily. I hadn’t fallen in love with Idaho yet, the transition between being in the thick forest then surrounded by sagebrush took some adjusting. Also, I hadn’t seen everything Idaho had to offer either.
It was my first time ever living with roommates. The last time I lived away from my parents, I lived in a studio apartment by myself. Luckily, I had hit the jackpot with my roommates. Not only was I living with one of my friends from home but one of them, who was also from Washington, was just as interested in exploring Rexburg as I was.
Alex and I wanted to visit the parks in town, all of them. Anything we could walk to because we didn’t have cars. One day we looked at Google Maps and found a small strip of green north-west of campus. It seemed far but still close enough to walk. Nature Park. That upcoming Saturday we planned on going to see what Nature park was all about.
The walk took about 45 min. We cut through Porter park, then over the railroad tracks following our GPS. Our GPS forgot to mention the four-lane road without a crosswalk. We stopped at the edge of the sidewalk. Looking down the street, a couple blocks from where we were, we could see a stop light. Looking down the street the other way, about five blocks, another stop light.
“How should we do this?” I asked.
“I don’t really want to walk that far,” she said.
“I don’t either…”
We both looked back at the four-lane road with cars running across it.
“I bet we could time it,” she said.
One side the lights went red, clear.
The other side had cars barely making it through the intersection that was five blocks away.
“Now’s our chance!”
We ran across the street, “don’t look back! The cars wait for no one!” I shouted.
We made it into the neighborhood across the street then looked back at the road. “Are we going to cross that again on our way back?” I asked.
“Eh, we’ll worry about that later.”
The GPS lead us through the neighborhood, past old houses and empty lots. One vacant lot had what looked like giant dandelions. We were tickled.
“Do you think you can make wishes like dandelions?”
“I don’t know, help me remember to pick one up on our way back,” Alex told me.
We continued through the neighborhood until we ended up in an industrial district. Passing the line of semi-trucks, we stopped at a river to look at the nightshade woven around the metal railing.
“And this is why Idaho is known for its potatoes,” Alex said
“Nightshade is from the potato family if it grows potatoes will too.”
Over the bridge and on to the gravel road we watched birds dive in and out of the wild rose bushes growing along the fence of the fairgrounds. The whole place looked very industrial, and we were wondering exactly how much nature “Nature” park would have. Eventually, we made it to the park, and to our surprise, it was the most nature we had seen since we had come to Rexburg.
Alex went about through the park identifying every plant she could while I played with the ducks and caterpillars. We fell in love with the park and felt like we had found a piece of home. It wasn’t rainforests, but it was nature, something we had craved for months. On the rocks by the water, we planned to come back the next weekend with a packed lunch and spend most of the day there. That night we went back, satisfied with our find. Finally, we were starting to feel at home in Rexburg.