Monday, March 21, 2016

Spring Forward

Hello everyone! I'm back, as is the blog. And as per my tradition after a vacation, I'm going to recount the adventures -- mostly for my own later benefit, but also in the hopes that you might get a tiny bit of enjoyment out of it too.

This was a group trip up to Steamboat Springs, all of us staying in a suite graciously shared by some good friends. Skiing by day, drinking and playing board games by night; that was the plan. And on the first night, the eve of the Daylight Saving switch, visiting Steamboat Springs' most well-known non-skiing attraction: Strawberry Park Hot Springs. About 10 minutes outside of the town, at the end of a long dirt road, you'll find this idyllic setting.

But I didn't take the lovely photo you see above, in large part because it was well after sunset when we visited the place. There are virtually no lights up there. Those in the know -- which did not include us -- had brought glow sticks and waterproof flashlights to find their way around. We relied on their occasional light, and an iron grip on any handrail we happened across.

I understand there are something like six pools of varying temperatures at the site, but we never found them all as we hobbled around in the dark. But we did start out at the hottest of the hot, a lobster boil of intensity that seemed at first unbearable, then became briefly pleasant, before soon encouraging us to find literally safer waters.

The bulk of the night, we stayed in a nice, jacuzzi-esque pool, looking up at the abundant stars until clouds slowly rolled in and a light, dreamlike snow began to fall. Only a stone wall separated that pool from the near-freezing water of the pond (river? did I mention I couldn't see?) outside. Whenever you wanted a moment's relief from the heat, you could splash some of that cold water on your face, or sit on the steps, half out of the springs and enjoying the brisk mountain air.

After dark, Strawberry Park Hot Springs goes "clothing optional." I don't know if this is the reason for the lack of lighting or a consequence of it, but you might well not know about the policy without reading the brochure. From literally just four or five feet away, it was too dark to see more than a person's silhouette. From ten feet away, you couldn't even be sure if your familiar friend of years was in front of you, unless you could hear them speak. So if you've ever wondered if public nudity is in your nature, this is an extremely low risk environment in which to give it a go.

Frankly, we probably did this part of the trip all backwards. We should have gone to the Hot Springs after days of skiing, to relieve sore muscles. Nevertheless, it was great experience, not to be missed.

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