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Bluffton University Nature Preserve BridgeThis adventure started as all of the best ones do. “I wanna take you somewhere,” was uttered by one of my good buddies, and I, of course, replied, “Sure.”

This friend has a history. She’s been the one most likely to make me do something that is totally out of my comfort zone. “Here hold my baby.” I hadn’t held a baby in decades and was sure I was going to break him. “You really need to try sushi.” I come from a meat and potatoes family, and sushi sounded scary. But now, sushi is my favorite food, and I try to hold everyone’s babies. In the end, she has a pretty good track record. 

So on that sunny afternoon when she said, “Let’s go,” I went with barely a whimper. 

We pulled off at the sign for the Bluffton University Nature Preserve, and after I took some pictures, she said, “Okay, we’re not going that way.” I had just had some minor dental surgery and she said she wanted to take me to the easier way that didn’t include a hike. I just thought to myself, “Cool. She’s taking it easier on me this time around.” She had fully lulled me into a false sense of security. 

She parked on the side of the road and we wandered into an alternative entrance. It was almost like the place that time had forgotten. Despite being very close to civilization, it felt like we were very far away from everything. We moved slowly as I tried to document all of the beauty with my camera. 

Bluffton University Nature Preserve And as I had my head down trying to capture yet another piece of nature, my friend announced, “There it is.” It was a suspension bridge. 

“Are we going across that?”

“Of course we are!”

That’s when I started getting antsy. I have anxieties. I have a fear of heights. But by the big grin that had taken over her face, I knew that those would have to be stowed away for the day. I was going over that bridge somehow. 

I climbed up and started making my way across the suspension bridge. I heard the call of, “How are you doing?” I yelled back, “Best. Day. Ever,” through gritted teeth and heard her resulting laughter. I could do this, with the laughter and all. 

I slid my hands along as I kept urging my body to move forward. Based on the carefree way my friend was going across it, I knew that it was all in my head, so I could do this. I could do this. And her slow progress reminded me that she knew I could do this too. 

As the bridge creaked, I took my final steps onto the platform with a kind of victory dance. And she came bouncing behind me with a victory grin. 

We were rewarded with more gorgeous nature that felt more like a place for fairies to frolic, rather than two middle-aged ladies that were celebrating a victory over fears. But there we were happily exploring every single nook and cranny. 

The Bluffton University Nature Preserve is a beautiful spot for exploring and spotting all kinds of animals. You can find hiking trails and places for kids to play, as well my now infamous suspension bridge (I conquered it so I’m calling it mine). It’s a perfect place to bring your whole family or to just get away with your friend who seems to always know what’s best for you. 

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