ST. PETERSBURG — Rachel Crozier and her mother, Amy George, were taking early morning walks with Wilson, Crozier’s 5-year-old mini goldendoodle. It was a safe way for them to spend time together during quarantine.
But by July, they’d grown bored of walking around the same neighborhood. So they endeavored to visit all of the parks in St. Petersburg, 150 in total.
That wasn’t such an easy feat. They found inconsistencies on the list and map of parks on the City of St. Petersburg’s website. Crozier and George are both fairly new to the city, so they spent as much time figuring out logical routes as they did on the walks.
George created a spreadsheet with locations, routes that might encompass 3 to 5 miles and parking information.
They began with Abercrombie Park and were delighted by the boardwalks and water views.
From then on they walked together twice a week, beginning at 5:30 a.m. They completed their mission to walk every park in March, ending with the Treasure Island Beach Trail. They logged 148 miles total.
“It felt like we saw every inch of the city,” Crozier said. They discovered new neighborhoods, murals, museums and restaurants.
One surprising find was the Indian mounds they encountered near Pinellas Point.
Some of the parks on the city’s list were tiny, like Harbordale Park on Sixth Street S.
They came to recognize the telltale trash can and bench that are found at most of the parks maintained by the city.
“We enjoyed seeing that you don’t have to go very far in this city to find some kind of park,” George said.
She carries a baton on her walks, mostly for protection in case she has to “bop something on the head,” which hasn’t happened so far. She sometimes twirls it as she walks.
George said that while it was difficult for them to pick a single favorite park, they never would have found “new favorites” Coquina Key, Dell Holmes Park, Clam Bayou, Historic Round Lake and Pinellas Point if they hadn’t set out on their mission.
They also saw fellow walkers who would always smile at Wilson, who Crozier says is in “the best shape of his life.”
But it was the mother-daughter bonding time that was the most special.
“It’s time to chat,” Crozier said. They had intimate conversations that she said at some point became “what happens on the walk, stays on the walk.”
“I got to spend all this time with my daughter, which was the best,” George said.