THE SWIMMING HOLES
Julie Wernersbach & Carolyn Tracy
Genre: Travel / Outdoors / Swimming
Publisher: The University of Texas Press
Date of Publication: May 16, 2017
Number of Pages: 240, 100 color photos
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Nothing beats a natural swimming hole for cooling off on a scorching summer day in Texas. Cold, clear spring water, big old shade trees, and a quiet stretch of beach or lawn offer the perfect excuse to pack a cooler and head out with family and friends to the nearest natural oasis. Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or an unforgettable summer vacation, let The Swimming Holes of Texas be your guide.
Julie Wernersbach and Carolyn Tracy highlight one hundred natural swimming spots across the entire state. The book is organized by geographic regions, so you can quickly find local places to swim—or plan a trip to a more distant spot you’d like to explore. Each swimming hole is illustrated with an inviting color photo and a description of what it’s like to swim there, as well as the site’s history, ecology, and conservation. The authors include all the pertinent info about admission fees and hours, parking, and on-site amenities such as showers and restrooms. They also offer tips for planning your trips and lists of the swimming holes that are most welcoming to families and pets.
So when the temperature tops 100 and there’s nothing but traffic in sight, take a detour down the backroads and swim, sunbathe, revel, and relax in the swimming holes of Texas.
This book is what I never knew I needed. A few summers ago I tried to remember the name of that awesome swimming hole from my college years at UT, and it took a while to find it. Between Google and Yelp, I eventually did. But a book like this is exactly what I needed. No more scrolling through poorly written and incomplete reviews (if they exist at all) on Yelp.
True to guidebook form, this one is clearly organized with the park or swimming hole’s name, address, phone number, and web address. Below that, you get hours of operation, fees (they can vary), rules, camping options, and amenities. But the parts that really shine are the pro tips and summaries of the areas and the swimming holes themselves. The pro tips are delivered in a casual and quirky tone. I could picture a sun kissed local sharing those tips with me. The area and swimming hole summaries are beautifully written and more descriptive than the accompanying photographs. The descriptions of each region covered in the book are lovely to read as well.
As a mom, I appreciated any information that related to kid safety and nearby activities. And getting the skinny on which swimming holes had places to eat either on the premises or a short drive away are awesome too.
I know it is backwards to bring up the introduction last, but I thought the gravity of the underlying message would make for a better “outro” for this review. Clean up after yourself. This is said explicitly at least five times. I counted. We want other people, especially future generations, to be able to enjoy Mother Nature’s wonderful amenities, so we need to do our part to ensure that these treasures are protected and maintained.
I highly recommend this guidebook to Texas natives and visitors who enjoy the great outdoors and water activities. Like me, I think you will be pleasantly surprised to see how many swimming holes are just a short drive away.
Julie Wernersbach, Austin, is the literary director of the Texas Book Festival and a former marketing director at BookPeople, Austin’s largest independent bookstore. Carolyn Tracy, Austin, is a freelance photographer who works for an animal welfare nonprofit. They are the authors of Vegan Survival Guide to Austin.
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