Monday, January 31, 2011

Beaman Park: A Review

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 6:09 AM

The walkway out back of the nature center.
  • The walkway out back of the nature center.
In Short:

Location: Northwest of town on Old Hickory Boulevard
Size of Park: Enormous
Crowds: Respectable
Approximate Age of Patrons: 20s and up
Topics of Conversation: Whether your dog should be on a leash
Stray Dogs Seen: None, but I'm sure there are some
Types of Vehicles in Parking Lots: Cars and cute little SUVs
Perceived Safety: Personally? Low Normal people? Fine
Number of Gunshots Heard: None, but that's unusual
Dog Friendliness: High
Number of pitbulls sighted: Just mine
Accessibility: The nature center is accessible. The trails are mostly not.
Incorporation of Local History: Excellent
Recommended Patrons: People who like to hike, ghosts of old moonshiners

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...
  • Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...
I hate Beaman Park and I have been dreading the day when I'd have to review it. I tried to talk my stuntman into coming with me and phoning back salient details of his hike in the park, but he said that was stupid. So Sunday morning, while my stuntman slept, I went over to Beaman Park and, as I knew I would, got the shit scared out of me.

So, let me just be up front and admit that my review of Beaman Park is biased by my being terrified of it. I'm sure, for instance, that the nature center is fine and lovely, but, to me, it looked like a deathtrap cantilevered out over a steep canyon of doom, held up only by toothpicks. I had to go to the bathroom upon arriving and you can see the ground fall away down the hillside between the boards in the walkway that takes you to said bathroom. It was all I could do to make it over there without peeing myself. Though, in retrospect, if I had just peed myself in fear, I wouldn't have needed to go to the bathroom.

And then! And then they want you to get on these trails that run right along the top of what might as well be sheer cliffs.

No thank you, Beaman Park.

Good lord. I mean, I know my fear of heights is a phobia — so it's unreasonable and probably keeps me from enjoying fun things, but Jesus Christ, I don't know how you people can stand to go to Beaman.

All that being said, even I, your fraidy-cat park reviewer, can see that Beaman is an amazing park. Even at the tail-end of January, it was gorgeous. There are a lot of native plants and scenic creeks and cool vistas, or so I'm told. The incorporation of local history is very well done: signs around the park tell you about the Paradise brothers who first owned the land and the Blueberry Hill group that used to hunt on it, and then how Mrs. Beaman came to make a gift of it to the city in honor of her husband.

Plus there are signs that tell you about the plants and animals you are likely to see.

Marrowbone Creek
  • Marrowbone Creek
There is one serious drawback to the park that I think we should talk about, since it is the fault of visitors to the park and not the park itself. I went to two different parking lots and in both parking lots I saw people open up their car doors, let their dogs out and then the dogs were allowed to wander around without leashes while the people turned their backs and fiddled with the things in their cars or got their backpacks together or whatever.

In the second case, I called to the people with the dog and asked them to grab their dog so I could get by them with mine and the woman actually asked me, "Why? Is your dog dangerous?"

No. But it doesn't matter. Your dog is supposed to be on a leash. My stuntman tells me he was at the park once and two dachshunds followed him for a long, long while before their owner caught up with them.

The signs in the park could not be clearer — your dog is supposed to be on a leash. The park is filled with wild animals. You letting your dog run off into the woods, assuming that, as long as its in calling distance of you, it's fine, is stupid and begging for trouble. None of the dogs I saw off-leash today would win in a fight with a coyote — and there are coyotes in the park — but it's not just that. They could get sprayed by skunks or bit by something nasty. Or what if they got hurt and couldn't get back to the trail, and you couldn't get down or up to get them?

And believe me, there are people who live adjacent to the park who let their dogs roam. Your dog could either get in a fight with their dogs or be easily distracted by how exciting it would be to be a vagabond with that dog. And I live in this neck of the woods and I can tell you that people out here tend to carry sticks or golf clubs when they walk to protect themselves from stray dogs. A local meets your unsupervised dog in the park? It may get hit upside the head.

Plus it's not fair to the people who are following the rules, who restrain their dogs and expect other dogs to be restrained. Your dog may be awesome, but you're a jackass for thinking that other people in the park will just automatically know that.

So, put your dog on a leash before you let it out of the car and keep it on that leash until you put in back in the car. Safe for the dog, safe for everyone else. Lecture over.

Anyway, if climbing up and down hills is your thing, I can't recommend Beaman highly enough. It's beautiful and the kinds of hills and hollers you find in northwest Davidson County, you don't find anywhere else in town.

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