Sunday, August 4, 2013

Buttons, Bones, & a Battery: Trip Part 3

After another glorious breakfast, I took a little time to snoop around the Main House. Our hosts had some interesting collections, and I engaged in a little history conversation with Mr. H. after spying an old weapon on the wall. He showed me a drawer of Civil War-era bullets-- among them, an actual Minie ball. These balls were responsible for the loss of many soldier's limbs in battle.

He also had a bullet he had found in a nearby area, where Teddy Roosevelt was known to have hunted elk. Based on the age and type, this bullet could have been used by Teddy. I really loved this printer's cabinet. Just opening each drawer was a little like opening a present. You didn't know exactly what you'd find, but it was pretty cool. 

There were at least ten drawers of buttons!

Our first plan for the day was to spend several hours at the famed Hot Springs Pool. This pool "has been a sanctuary of relaxation and fun for over a century." Its "rich minerals have been soothing and restoring all who swim, soak, and play here for generations." Sounded wonderful. Upon arriving, we noted the sign to leave your marijuana at home, then paid the equivalent amount of four baby goats (just guessing?) to enter the pool. 

Before long, I realized that this is an international gathering. People come from all over to experience this place. We should feel privileged to even be here. Never mind the smell of rotten eggs, and the elderly European men in Speedos. I scrounged a couple of lawn chairs in the grass, then settled in to read for awhile. The kids took off for the pool. (But not the water slides, because those cost extra).
The people-watching was as good as at the airport. I noted a man nearby who had a very interesting haircut. In fact, I sketched it onto my notepad. Picture something that looked like a helmet, attached to a strip of hair that crawled from the temple, down and around the chin. Then, I saw three more men with the exact same haircut. Maybe a cultural thing? I knew of no men here who would don that hairdo, let alone with three of their buddies. 
A man sitting several feet from me (who left his gross flip-flops right next to my chair) was reading the SAME book as me ("Wild" by Cheryl Strayed). I quickly put mine away and pulled out my notebook instead, afraid I'd become his book club buddy. Plus, he was there first so he had the reading right. 

I tried to write a little, in between the head sketches and listening to other languages around me, enjoying the sun. Then the kids and husband came back. 
Grouchily, the kids laid down in the grass. "It stinks! I can't get that taste out of my mouth! I'm ready to go!"
"What? We can't go yet."
"I'm hungry!"
"Our lunch is in the truck, which is about two miles away. Once we leave, we don't really want to walk all the way back in here."

Clearly, the altitude and nibbling on the breakfast was getting to them.
"Plus, I just paid half your college savings to get in here!"
Of course, this was a joke. We have no college savings.

So after I dipped myself in the gray-ish warm water for a little bit, we packed up and headed to the truck for our tailgate picnic.
So much for the rich, nourishing minerals of the mountain springs. It was time to find our camp.

Here's a travel tip. It's not a great idea to spoil yourself at a Bed and Breakfast and THEN try to go camping. This was not my original plan, but that is how it worked out based on the availability of where we wanted to go. 
We drove back through the beautiful canyon, then off a road that took us to a locked gate. We had the code, so we drove on through the Ranch, up to the building where we were supposed to check in. People milled about, putting on helmets, getting on ATV's, with no one looking eager to help us. Finally, we went inside a little place and hesitantly paid for our next three nights. (That's another thing about camping-- you always pay BEFORE, which can be scary). 
The host/rancher said he would take us to the cabin, and hopped on his own ATV, complete with a real live border collie sitting on the front. 
Then guess what? Our truck wouldn't start again. Oh glee. So the rancher pulled up his truck, and after a jump, we were on our way. Farther up the trail. Up a completely rocky road. Around curves. For miles we bounced. Was he taking us up to the edge of a cliff? If he went over, would we follow him? 

Finally, the cabins. We had to park on the road up behind them. We jumped out, leaving the truck running, our flip-flops becoming shovels for the dirt. The rancher flashed a white smile across his tanned face. "How'd ya like the ride up?"
He took us down to pick out our cabin, since there were three open. First of all, I should say that the view was breathtaking. But it was remote. The air was dry, the ground was dry, and the flies were biting. We were close to a big bath/shower house, but there was no electricity despite the lightswitches inside. We located the power outlet as big as my fist, just laying outside, taunting us. Apparently, they did use the juice for special events (people get married up here), but not for campers. 

We picked out our cabin. Was it a bad omen that there was a pile of BONES right outside it? I could feel a meltdown coming on. Luckily my daughter had hers first. I tried to convince her it would be fine, all the while wondering what I had brought us to. We unpacked our stuff, shoving it in the cabin. Then we took off again down the road, to town for a truck battery and for a reassuring sign of civilization.

Summer's not complete until you blow a wad of money on a local carnival. While hb bought the battery, the kids and I found a carnival just being set up for the town's Strawberry Days. We did not partake in Strawberry Days-- after all, we don't like crowds THAT much. But they did want to ride The Sizzler. Just the thing to take their mind off troubles. As soon as the ride started, my son's face went pale and he mouthed to me, "I'm going to throw up." There was nothing I could do but pray. His sister was on the inside of their seat, so it wouldn't hit her due to the shifting gravity, but who knows what would happen with flying vomit. Suddenly, I had a horrible flashback of a time my brother played on a huge bungee jumper at a ski resort, and then came down with crippling altitude sickness. I prayed that The Sizzler would not sizzle my son in the same way. My prayers must have worked, since after a couple of rotations, the color came back and he appeared fine. We blew more money in a maze of mirrors, then headed back to our happy little cabin.

The evening's dinner: hot dogs. Yes, it was part of the plan. After settling in, we all felt a little better. Up here, there was no wi-fi, but amazingly the phone service was great. This meant a lot of reading. I'm thankful to have kids who like to read (when there is nothing else to do). A group of horse riders came through, and tied the horses right outside our cabin while the riders went down to eat at the chuck wagon. I took a moment to go talk to them (the horses), and wonder what they were thinking as they looked back at me. The only other camper-- a lone woman-- came out to see them as well. Could I camp alone like her? I don't know, but maybe someday I will try that. 

At dusk, I walked around the pond, and hopped over a little creek. I stopped still when I heard some trampling through the brush. In a second, a deer and I came face-to-face under a full moon. Those kinds of things you can't plan for. 


  1. I have had so much fun reading about your summer trip. I'm so glad you journaled ought to print it out and put it in a scrapbook.

    1. Thank you. Yes, I should do that. I hope to make a digital album, so maybe I can just print and stick it into the back. Also, the kids reminded me that at the ranch, there were sticky weeds that stabbed their feet as they walked. Forgot that small detail.