X Marks the Spot: Students find favorite places around town

Watkinsville, Ga., senior Chad Cown enjoys relaxing on the hammock in his front yard. “The tree it’s attatched to is a great climbing tree,” Cown said. “And it’s nice to see everyone walk by between classes.”

Kayla Boyd

Amid the turmoil and chaos that has become the last few weeks of the semester, it is important to remember to stay relaxed and levelheaded, no matter how frustrating classes become.

Athens, Ga., senior Chad Cown and Corbin senior Sterling Franklin have figured out the best places around Bowling Green to unwind and distract themselves from their busy lives.

Cown’s favorite place on campus is directly outside his front door. A white and yellow hammock from Brazil is strung up between a sturdy tree and a porch post to provide a mini vacation without having to venture out of his own yard.

Situated on State Street across from the red concrete Western Kentucky University sign outside of the library, Cown said he and his housemates have had the hammock up for about a year.

“It’s really relaxing and fun,” Cown said. “It’s a great view of campus, and you can sit there and watch people walk to class.”

Having a hammock hung up year round so close to campus can have some interesting effects.

“Sometimes we’ll have random people come by and just lay in it for a while,” Cown said. “The tree offers some really nice shade, so it’s a pretty popular place to hang out.”

One of Cown’s housemates, Pensacola, Fla., senior Chris Donahue spends his fair share of time in the hammock.

“I take a lot of naps in that hammock,” Donahue laughed. “On Saturdays, we hang out and drink beer. It’s my favorite place on campus.”

Across town, Franklin has found her own place to relieve stress and hang out.

The Bark Park off Cave Mill Road is about five miles away from Franklin’s house. It’s a place that allows her to spend time with some four-legged friends.

She adopted a pitbull beagle mix from the Humane Society a year and a half ago. Since then, she and her dog, Marlon Brando, have made going to the Bark Park a regular affair.

“Having a dog is the closest thing to having a child as you can get without actually having a kid,” Franklin said. “Dogs are man’s best friend. And taking your dog to the Bark Park is like letting your best friend make other friends.”

Franklin lives with two roommates who also own dogs. All three canines are indoor animals.

“They know when they’re going to the Bark Park,” she said. “We have a pitbull beagle mix, a Yorkie poo, and a Chihuahua beagle. If everyone rides together, that makes for an exciting five-mile car ride.”

The Bark Park isn’t just about the dogs, though. Franklin said going to the park is the easiest way for her to relieve stress.

She also feels like the Bark Park has a certain sense of community to it which makes for some friendly conversation.

“We’re mostly all dog owners, so we share tips and tricks about dog stuff,” she said.

Franklin believes the best aspect of the Bark Park is that everyone is there to have fun and make new friends while playing with animals.

“It’s joy,” she said. “It’s simple joy. I go prepared to get slobbered on. Dogs are just so excited there, they run up to you and you pet them and play with them and then meet their owner. It’s a conversation starter.”

“I know people who go without dogs, just for the camaraderie,” Franklin said. “I love when people play with and pet on my dog.”