Grant T. Mitchell: Where to?

Something about the sun, water and beauty of Mead’s Quarry releases a flurry of dopamine and pleasant feelings in anyone who goes to the iconic Knoxville location.

I remember the first time I heard about the quarry. I was in high school and had heard some of the other kids talking about swimming and having a get together at the quarry. It sounded exciting, and I was swiftly invited to the outdoor extravaganza.

Unfortunately, I was too big of a wuss to attend what surely would have been a good time. Two years later I would go to the quarry in my freshman year of college with friends Nick and Michelle.

Frankly, I was nervous.

Nervous in part because I’ve always had some level of self-consciousness about taking off my shirt, but I was also nervous about being in the unadulterated outdoors. I was largely an indoors person, or at least more of a city-type explorer. I was never much the outdoorsman or adventurer.

However, as soon as we arrived at 3518 Island Home Pike, things were different.

For the first time, I felt invigorated by a location. The feeling was a kind of excitement that washed over me, of which I can only think of comparing to something like an archaeologist making some enormous discovery that changes the course of their careers and their research.

In short, Mead’s Quarry is the only place that totally puts my mind at ease and makes me that comfortable. Nothing else will suffice as a substitute.

Half of the quarry is surrounded by giant stone ledges and cliffs, while the other side is much more accessible and easily grants entrance to the cool and, admittedly, sometimes frigid waters.

Available for rental at this great place of leisure are paddle boards, kayaks and an odd canoe or two.

If instead you would rather park, take some floats and relax with friends on the water, you can do that too, free of charge.

For me, the quarry is not only fond memories with friends from one of my favorite years of college, but it is also the solitude and solace I need when things sometimes feel overwhelming or hectic.

One instance of Mead’s Quarry providing me tranquility was when I had a particularly rough time in one of my math classes. I wasn’t satisfied with the coursework or my career trajectory, and was debating changing majors.

After a long day of dealing with this math class and pondering rather frantically about my entire life and future like the worrier that I am, I decided to drive to the quarry and swim for a few minutes.

Suffice it to say, a few minutes turned into an hour, and an hour turned into a few hours.

Before I knew it, the sun was setting and I had to get out of the water before sundown when they lock the gates.

As soon as I got out of the quarry waters, looked up to the sun setting over the peaks and felt the wind in my damp hair, I took a deep breath and said, “life is good.”

The moral of the story here is that we all need places that put us in tune with the exact place and time in which we are alive. Tomorrow is not a guaranteed thing no matter what age we are at or what level of health we hold. Sometimes to remind ourselves of this and snap out of the rat race of work and education, we need places like Mead’s Quarry.

Whether or not you need a reset, I highly recommend Mead’s Quarry for a wonderful day.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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