Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Swimming Holes

What would summer be without swimming? On those hot days when the air sits heavy and motionless and the pool is cloudy with other people's sunscreen there's nothing better than, what my kids call, "Nature's Swimming Pool."

Quick and easy access to these perfectly round pools carved out by waterfalls is the thing I missed most during the sweltering summers when we lived in NYC.

"Didn't you go to any swimming holes when you were growing up?" I used to ask my husband. "There must be some undiscovered private places around here somewhere."

He was quick to remind me, that while NYC has lots of amazing things going for it, undiscovered swimming holes an hour's drive from the city aren't on that list. As a kid, he spent time going to the beach and hanging out at the pool. I spent time riding my bike five miles up a country road and playing at a place not unlike this one.

It was a place where you could jump from the top of the waterfall and your feet would just barely touch the bottom.


Last week I decided my kids needed a little swimming hole magic in their lives. I packed the car with kids, friends and food and drove an hour out of the city to this place.

Like the swimming holes of my youth there was a waterfall that had carved a pool deep enough to allow for jumping from fifteen feet above. Child #1 eyed it. "No," I said before she could even ask.

The water was so cold it took your breath away for a moment.

But the day was hot and so one-by-one we all dove in. A ledge of stone where the water was only two feet deep made the perfect entry point. The shore was lined with enormous rocks where we sat in the sun while the kids paddled around and tried to spot fish swimming beneath them in the crystal clear water.

It's true that Portland lacks many of the things that NYC has to offer. But in the summer when I can drive here

and still be back in time for dinner, I don't miss them at all.


Anne Gallagher said...

Funny, I was just thinking about swimming holes yesterday sitting in the pool with the Monster. It smelled like swamp. And reminded me we had a swimming hole at the old quarry and used to go when we couldn't get to the beach.

I think swimming holes are a sacred tradition from childhood. There arent' many left anymore. Like phone booths.

Beylit said...

I have an aversion to natural bodies of water mostly due to a slight ookie factor I have with fish. That being said one of my favorite places in the world when I was in high school was a swimming hole out near my aunts property in the hill country of central Texas.
Not only was the spot formed by a waterfall, but the fall itself was actually a smooth winding chute which made a perfect slide. I can't name the number of times my brother and I hiked the half hour through the woods to this spot and spent ours scaling the mossy rock wall just so we could slide down the waterfall and be shot five feet out into the air before plummeting down into the 20 foot pool of clear (fish free) water. It was the only time during those precious teen years where he and I completely got along.

I had forgotten all about that place. Thanks for the memory.

Alison DeLuca said...

You are so lucky to have a magical place like that nearby! There is one in New Jersey - a quarry - but it gets packed with people and they even dare to CHARGE MONEY to go in. Swimming holes should be isolated, and they should be free!

I'm certain your kids will have that memory for a long time. You are a wonderful mom!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

How beautiful!

There are a few places like that up in the Pocono Mountains, but not very many that are isolated and free of tourists!

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Beautiful! That looks like so much fun. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

This looks delightful! I grew up in the city, so I never had a swimming hole either. I may have missed a lot :)

Misha Gerrick said...

Such a beautiful spot. ^_^

erica and christy said...

There's lots of water in Wisconsin, but wow, this is very clear! The lakes around me are so green right now, it's gross. :( I didn't grow up where I live now, I might have to take my kids on an adventure to find something like this!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I wish I was there!

T. L. Cooper said...

I grew up in the country. A creek ran in front of our house and another ran behind the barn. They joined near the road on one end of our property. I don't remember either being deep enough for a swimming hole, but they sure were great for wading. Maybe this was because we lived in the country and swimming holes were kind of commonplace, but going to the pool was a really big deal for us. I'm not sure I appreciated the swimming hole, but then again I don't remember the water looking as fresh and clean as it does in your pictures...
Glad you had a good time at the swimming hole. :-)

Joanne Noragon said...

This is wonderful; the water is so clear. The kids look mighty pleased.

nutschell said...

I miss those swimming holes! No time for that lately:)

Nicki Elson said...

That looks amazing! Not much in the way of swimming holed in northern Illinois, so to me this looks like the prize for winning a reward challenge on Survivor.

M Pax said...

Portland is an awesome city, and I love being able to get away from it all in Oregon. It's fantastic.

Emily R. King said...

I love the PNW for this very reason. Beautiful pictures! We have a few swimming holes nearby, but I usually opt for the beach. I'm an ocean kinda gal. Good thing too, because I live on an island. :)

Shell Flower said...

Yep, swimming holes are a total "must" for childhood--and adulthood, IMO. There are several in my town and around the county here, including some waterfalls about a mile from my house. Oregon has some really amazing swimming holes, though, I must say. I love the reservoir near Cougar (Terwilliger) hot springs. I haven't really been to any near Portland, but my sister lives near Cave Junction and they have an amazing swimming hole. Like Emily says above, we really are spoiled in the PNW! said...

Aw, while I miss the beach terribly, we've got a local park just like this one. Its swimming holes are the town's salvation throughout the summer. I love it, and this post. Thanks, Johanna.


Weaver said...

Too fun! I love the pictures. Brrrr though. Thank heavens you finally go numb. lol

Barbara Watson said...

Private, out of the way places to swim are my favorite. Feeling like you're the only people inhabiting earth in those moments is quite an awesome thing.

Johanna Garth said...

Anne, I love the idea of them being a "sacred tradition"

Beylit, that sounds like the best swimming hole ever!

Alison, charging money seems contrary to the whole swimming hole notion.

Dianne, the free of tourists part is key.

Thanks Rachel.

Carol, my husband can identify but he's been quick to make up for lost time.

Misha, right!

Erica/Christy, the water was sooo amazingly clear. Green water grosses me out too.

Alex, that would be fun!

TL, isn't it cool that you had a childhood where swimming holes were commonplace.

Joanne, they were :)

Nutschell, the summer's still not over.

Nicki, I love the idea that it could be a place on survivor!

M Pax, so true!

Emily, I love the beach too.

Shell, yes the Cougar hot springs are fun too. Except my kids are now old enough to be uncomfortable by the clothing optional aspect.

Robyn, that is so cool that they're in a local park.

Donna, I know. I took some VERY quick swims :)

Barbara, absolutely right!

laura thomas said...

We used to swim at a rock quarry similar to this. It was so clear and cool. The bottom looked like you could touch it, but it was so deep. A trick of the clarity. I miss that quarry. The water here in Alabama is warmer than my shower:)

Anonymous said...

I love swimming in swimming holes. They are usually pretty darn cold, but that's okay. They are fun and a great way to build family memories.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I wish I could have gone swimming at that "Nature's Swimming Pool!" It looks so much more beautiful and a lot more fun than the swimming pool at my gym. At that place people don't swim for fun; swimming seems to be more about working out than anything else.

Talli Roland said...

Colour me jealous! Oh, sigh, to be home again. I used to love swimming in these kinds of places.

Chuck said...

That looks absolutely refreshing considering today was 104 and beating sun. Reminds me of when I was a kind...good times.

First installment of my Belize vacation is up for reading...

The Bookworm said...

That looks like fun! We have a swimming hole about half hour from us. I agree, Natures swimming pools are the best.