A few weeks ago I was sent out to local swimming holes in Harford County to interview people about their summertime activities.
I also met a group of teenagers working with a Baltimore agency that maintains state parks and creates summer jobs for city teenagers.
When I talked to one girl in particular, she was staring at Kilgore Falls and said she had never seen anything like it before.
I realized then how much I had been taking Harford County for granted.
I grew up in this county, so places like Falling Branch and Rocks State Park are the norm for me. I still appreciate their beauty, but not nearly as much as people who don't have ready access to them.
In the weeks since then, I have thought that time and time again about this county and the types of programs and activities that are offered.
Friends of ours introduced me and John to disc golf and since then, we have tried to go to Scarboro Hills Disc Golf Course at least once a week.
The site has been open since 2004 and offers a free course with 18-holes through fields and woods. All you need to bring are discs and it's easily a couple hours of fun.
We had no idea the course even existed, but now spend a good deal of time there. It helps, too, that it is five minutes away from our place.
John and I are also trying to do more outdoor activities and have started playing tennis again.
We used to travel to C. Milton Wright High School, which has lighted courts at night – something I have yet to find elsewhere in the county.
Now that we are in the Dublin area, John and I have also been using the tennis courts at Dublin Elementary School.
Sure, they are usually covered with branches and both courts have giant cracks running through them, but they are free for public use.
John and I have been able to have a picnic in Rocks State Park, hike to the King and Queen's seat and use the county's trails quite often.
We have yet to visit Eden Mill Nature Center in Pylesville, but that park is on the list as well.
Last year, I covered the Envirothon for The Aegis and walked through Eden Mill, enjoying the trails and water access I had forgotten about since I was in high school.
Even as I write this column, my appreciation for the county we live in continues to grow. I understand that there is still stuff to be done and more trails to be built, but I think we are blessed to have access to the facilities the county offers now.
I went to the county website to look up parks and found out there are 111 parks and recreation centers throughout the area.
These range from playgrounds to trails and historic buildings, such as the Liriodendron in Bel Air.
There is no shortage of things to do or places to see in Harford County, the majority of which are free to the public.
Obviously, I've only ever lived in Harford County so I can't speak to the facilities offered in other places throughout Maryland.
All I know is that we are very blessed to have access to fun outdoor activities and to be able to easily appreciate all the natural beauty Harford County has to offer.