Growing up, the best place to get away from it all was the great outdoors. And one of the best getaways in my corner of the Midwest was the old quarry..

A rutted, barely passable dirt road wound through trees before emptying into a clearing that surrounded the flooded rock pit. With the exception of a worn gravel ramp, jagged cliffs ringed the pea green pond.

You never knew what you’d find when heading down there — headbanging teens having a beer bash, a swimsuit clad couple relaxing in the comparatively clean creek nearby, a man letting his golden retriever run loose. Once when I hiking down a narrow footpath, I came across a guy who got his pickup stuck in the mud while four wheeling. I was amazed when he and his friends freed the vehicle. I was even more amazed that he got it back there in the first place.

There was a frayed rope swing attached to a tall tree that overhung the pond for those who dared. Rumors abound of submerged cars and industrial barrels resting at the bottom.

Now a responsible father of two little ones and a wife with a minivan, I had a chance to return to the old quarry several, several years after those those days when I could get away.

We parked in a proper parking lot next to a metal sculpture. The quarry now boasts two wooden viewing decks and concrete trails.

Parts that even remotely pass for lawn are mowed. There’s a paved path down to the water. The whole place has been renovated to reflect the bedroom community that sprung up around it.

Although I missed the edge the place once had, it was amusing to watch the family enjoy the spot. My mom walked around identifying birds. My 7-year-old son had fun trying to skip rocks, and my daughter, age 3, ran down the ramp and got into ankle-deep water before she realized she was in the pond.

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