The Boyfriend and I took a recent day trip to our neighbor to the north: land of aggressive drivers, the Red Sox, seafood, and dropped “R”s. But we steered clear of Cape traffic and headed to Western Mass–the part that most Massholes refuse to acknowledge, and cell phone companies don’t important enough to plop a tower in.
We headed out with a packed lunch and lots of towels in search of swimming holes. Our first stop was Knightville Dam, where supposedly there were a few places to swim. The dam was impressive for about all of two seconds, and there were people picnicking, but they looked a little too familial to us and there was no sign of a place to swim. We kept following the directions on swmmingholes.info, but found ourselves a couple miles out on an Army Corps of Engineers Road not wide enough for two cars to go, in the middle of a field, still with no sign of water to doggie paddle in and called it a bust.
Next we trekked north to Glendale Falls which was beautiful, but not very “falls-like.” We picnicked on some rocks overlooking a mountain and a bit of valley, but there still weren’t many places to swim. A woman we met said that usually the rocks we were sitting on were part of the falls and that she had never seen it so dry. Bummer. We did hop in some water and sit under a small waterfall for a bit, but the swimming hole could barely fit the two of us. Pretty as it was, we were in search for something else so we, once again, moved on.
After much too long on Massachusetts backroads with no cell service to assure us we were headed the right way, (The Boyfriend expected me to read a map…A map?! Who does he think I am? Christopher Columbus? Magellan?!) we finally arrived at one my favorite places: a part of the Cold River that we like to call the Naked River. This swimming spot is on Route 2 about 4 miles west of Charlemont, where folks who like to share their flesh with the world come to sun bathe, cool off in the water, and possibly scrape their precious bits and pieces on some rocks. There’s a good path, but don’t try to carry too much because you do have to scramble over some rocks to get to the swimmable parts.
Both The Boyfriend and Anti-Couric asked a very important question: What makes a certain place a known naked-hangout? The answer: I have no flippin clue. But we did see some not so attractive flesh and wang. (Please don’t tell the Gay Guru about this–I don’t want him encroaching on my special place in his search for schlong).
What makes the unattractive nekkedness bearable? The “whirly pools” where the river water flows over rocks creating chilly jacuzzi-like pockets where you can tuck in, be massaged by the river and cool off, all at the same time. While it is wooded around the river, it is wide enough so sun shines through, warming the water and rocks so you can sunbathe as well. There are trails on either side so be prepared for gawkers if you plan on strutting around in your birthday suit!
From there we drove a few miles down the road to Shelburne Falls, where the Bridge of Flowers and glacial potholes can be found. A very cute town, it’s worth a jaunt down main street and a look at these pretty attractions.
The bridge makes you want to go home and plant a bower of flowers in your own scraggly looking yard. It’s maintained by a nonprofit group that takes donations for the maintenance of the place. There’s also a guestbook that people can sign. Most locations are local and mundane, but you’ll find a fun one like Greenland or New Zealand once in a while too.
The “potholes” are awesome because they look unearthly when they are truthfully more earthly than most of what we see each day. Glaciers that moved through ages ago, made its impression for us all to ogle at today.
There is a landing area where you can look down on the formations and the dam, but if you go around to the back of the brown house (which is now abandoned but used to house a gift shop), there is a way to climb down and walk among the circular oddities. Just be sure you’re not in flip flops, or worse, heels.
With a stop among the hippies in Northampton for some delicious Thai, we finally made our way home smelling like, well, we had been hanging in rivers all day.