The Sampler at
Abe Martin Lodge
If you think about it, everything is a matter of perspective.
Everything you see is a product of what vantage point you are seeing it from.
The brand spankin’ new indoor aquatic center at the Abe Martin Lodge is a many-angled thing. From the outside, the huge structure has been gracefully and tastefully integrated into the oh-so traditional look of Brown County’s premier lodging destination. From the inside, huge walls of glass reveal the rustic beauty of the setting.
But if you really want to see the 12,000 square foot acquatic center from the perfect perspective, you need to see it through a child’s eyes.
Accordingly, I gathered up a random sampling of my niece and nephew units and headed to the 16,000-acre Brown County State Park, the crown jewel of the Indiana state park system, and to the iconic Abe Martin Lodge, built in 1932 of hand-hewn native stone and oak timber cut in the park.
Over the intervening 70 years, the lodge’s 30 guest rooms have been augmented with a 54 room annex building, 20 housekeeping cabins and 56 rustic cabins. There are also meeting rooms for any type of function. Abe Martin Lodge truly has accommodations to meet any need.
There’s a great cozy, rustic style restaurant, a unique gift shop, two spacious and comfortable lobbies for relaxation, and beautiful outdoor verandas overlooking the sloping back lawn, park and, in the distance, the hills of Brown County.
But with the addition of the aquatic center, which features a huge water slide, a sort of “lazy river” water channel, fountains, and a grotto-like spa and whirlpool with a Brown County stone waterfall, hospitality at the Lodge has moved into new territory.
It is more than a “state of the art” water entertainment facility it—is full on architectural/aquatic art, kinetic sculpture, if you will, with the random active element of the seemingly inexhaustible energy, excitement and wonder of children.
The central feature of this watery paradise is something called a “zero entry pool,” a gentle beach-like slope from the edge down to a three-foot depth. This wide, shallow pool features fountains that spray from various different directions, a tower which spurts, spews, and gushes water, including by means of small dump buckets.
This feature proved essential for introducing my two-year-old nephew gently into the drenching new surroundings. Here, he could gradually get acclimated to being sprayed, splashed, and finally dipped, until he became an enthusiastic devotee. He particularly liked the “water canon,” which allowed him to direct a large spray of water around at different members of our party.
I can report that having a large spout of water dropping directly onto your head from about ten feet is an oddly soothing and disassociative experience, which I feel certain, if pursued to its logical end, might ultimately lead to true enlightenment.
His sister, the five year old, is a bit timid, but fell in love with the waters of the looping, moving water channel which resembles the “lazy river” feature at some outdoor water facilities. It wraps around a little circular cove with an underwater bench, with everything done up in blue tile and a concrete finish that is brown and has impressions of leaves and vines—a very classy look.
She could spend apparently endless hours simply leaping from the submerged ledge, across the circular opening into her waiting uncle’s arms. To see the play of angst, hope, and accomplishment across her face each and every time makes it worth the time and effort. Their cousin, a year older and fearlessly bold, was soon up for the water slide.
She climbed all the way up and I watched to see her appear out of the flume at the bottom into the catch pool. By and by, she climbed back down.
“Are you afraid to go?” I asked.
“Do you want me to go first?”
So, I hauled myself up the no-skid steps to the highest point in the building—its worth it just for the eagle-eye view of the wonderfully-designed facility—and then took the plunge. And I have got to admit that is a good-sized, full-grown, adult type water slide. After that, the niece was on the slide for about an hour, up-and down again and again.
Safety has been built-in. There are two lifeguards on duty, one right at the bottom of the water slide, and the day I was there, there were two more staff members present at all times. The layout of the building makes it virtually impossible for a child to get out of your sight with a simple look around.
The center also has a roomy pool dedicated to water volleyball and basketball, and is equipped with a chair lift for the aged or differently-abled. There is one feature however, that must have been included more with the older clientele in mind, and that is the big, beautiful hot tub/whirlpool complete with a dribbling waterfall that drizzles hot water over your head as you back and legs are massaged by pulsing jets.
The kids weren’t too interested, but I spent quite a bit of time there. A fella’ can get pretty sore chasin’ kids around.
Later, we took the kids to eat and we ran into one of our own grown cousins. We all recollected how we used to swim down at the old swimmin’ hole in the woods behind their house. My, how times change.
And then again, they don’t.
The same eager squeals of delight, the same looks of hesitation and triumph, the same unfettered delight in the art and technique of splashing must have been on our faces, all those years ago.
Have we really changed so much?
I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective.