We have been in Colorado, camped up in the mountains and enraptured by a few days of peace and nature. This morning we break camp and pull out onto the sleepy dirt road that leads to the highway.
We don’t expect much, just where we’ve been. After a couple of days off the road and having been redirected mentally, I’m feeling a bit foggy. There is an orientation about driving cross country, a certain heightened excitement in a nervous system replacing complacent downtime. A fluffy soufflé effect in the morning’s eggs from elevation has been a major and fascinating event. It has been extremely relaxed.
“Whaoh!” Speeding cars, people everywhere! “Where am I going?”
The scenic route through southern Colorado to the Mesa Verde Monument has been knocked out with a landslide. We’ve both had enough of Colorado traffic and crowds. DF has been mentioning hot springs for a few days. We call the Orient Land Trust, but they are full. I suggest just heading home on the Interstate south and trying out Faywood Hot Springs. It has been an itch on the bucket list for quite a while now.
There is a long drive ahead. It is a long way just to get to Santa Fe to get off of the two lane roads. We’ll see how far we get.
With goals in mind, it feels like a constant ,”Are we getting near it yet”? There is a familiar spot here and there, but chomping at the bit to get to the barn seems to spread the time out, slowing it.
I want to at least get through Albuquerque and find a cheap little motel in one of the more remote little towns along the Rio Grande Valley. We need to arrive before the towns roll up their streets for the night, which can be very very early.
We find a dilapidated Motel 6 in the nick of time. It certainly feels like we have had enough for one day.
Tomorrow, by afternoon, we’ll be soaking in mineral baths.
Back on the wide Interstate highway, running along the verdant Rio Grande Valley, you can see for miles ahead and behind. It dips in and out between substantial and desolate hills. There is a tendency to speed and then slow down at the peaks in the road, then scout for police patrols, before knowing that we can once again speed up downhill through another valley.
I tell DF about the time driving home in my new 1985 GMC truck. We had been out for weeks and were ready to get home to Tucson. I buried the speedometer going through the ring of numbers into the low speeds again. Zipping along way over the speed limit, the gage said that I was going only twelve miles per hour. None of that today.
We’re feeling free out on the highway. There is plenty of space between everything, so we easily remain undisturbed and naked. New Mexico is legally a topfree state. I suppose that its people and its government are just very relaxed. There seems to be a lack of concern for the details of other people’s lives and behaviors. We might as well be sitting in a backyard naked, instead of in a packed Honda Civic doing 80.
We have already called for reservations at Faywood Hot Springs, when we pull off for the shortcut through Hatch, New Mexico. This saves a bit of time, avoiding a return to Las Cruces. The two lane highway shortcut brings us back to a more familiar look and feel of desert, distant mountains and big blue skies. It feels like we’re getting close to home.
Hatch, the “Chili Capital of the World” is capitalizing on its reputation. There, an airstream trailer has been crushed by a giant red chili pepper.
It is the first in a collection of Americana.
Ancient icons sit beside the city streets and on top of commercial buildings.
Colonel Saunders, Bob’s Big Boy, and Yogi the Bear, draw out memories of days past.
Paul Bunyan and classic cars are a delight.
We pass through this, heading west.
There is a sense that Tucson is out there, like it is just over a hill, or two. We’ll be seeing the same sunset, tonight.
As we near, we get on GPS, but realize that it is taking us 25 miles out of our way. Thanks to the nature of the desert with its wide open spaces, we can see the hot springs from where we are and avoid the extra time and distance.
The Hot Springs:
It is a nice place, not a collection of shacks, but well-kept adobe and stucco. The foliage is very thick. It has desert landscaping.
After so long, it feels good to walk among the familiar plants of home.
We check in, finding everything that we might need in the gift shop. For now that is a bag of ice and an Eskimo Pie.
I’m excited to find the latest edition of “Hot Springs of the Southwest” on hand. It is the 40th year and 14th edition! At home, my old books are nearly ancient. Things change, they dry up, they get overrun, and they get bought, or become illegal. Remote hot springs are often just that, remote. It is disappointing to go to the trouble to get there, only to find the old road has washed out, a rancher has blocked access, or those dangerous little critters that manage to live in the hot water have taken over. Thank-you Bill and your cohorts, for keeping up with this resource’s needs through years.
We get our map of the resort to find the way to the clothing optional section. We have been assured that we have been given one of the best spots. Upon our arrival there, we’re certain that it is.
We’re of course immediately with towels in hand, on our way to the waters. These are healing waters, as the refreshment after a long drive, while stuffed nearly constantly in a car.
We sit and relax. We’ve been tired since Colorado. This is so much better than sitting in that motel room last night, binge watching “Gunsmoke” reruns.
This is truly an oasis in the desert. There are multiple pools, or tubs, each with a different temperature. We start testing the cooler and work our way up, Goldilocks style. Our surroundings are set up for a multiple day excursion. It is nice to know that this is here. When our usual hots springs are closed during the summer heat, we’ll have this option.
There is a couple here. They are locals. They came here from Michigan, where they frequented Turtle Lake resort. We had been there just days before. A lot has however happened since that.
Nice folks like to be helpful. They recommend the City of Rocks, nearby. They tell of a secret extra place in some rocks where we might be nude. She has good memories of their exploration in west Texas and chili cook-offs in the Big Bend area. She describes the mountain’s scenery, that I had no idea was there. We tell them of our website, some of our adventures and give them our web address. They seem to think that we could try that part of Texas and spend a good amount of time nude. I make note to investigate this possibility.
We try a couple more clothing optional tubs. One is hot hot and one cool, like a sort of cold plunge.
Wrapping up in sarong and sundress, we explore the textile areas. There are good facilities there and the clubhouse is well stocked with books and jigsaw puzzles. There are some private pools over there and a few small cute rooms for rent.
There is a bench up on the water tower’s hill, ideal to sit and watch those rich New Mexico sunsets.
We find laundry facilities, lots of toilets, a Watzu pool and showers. One shower is of the mineral water. It is outdoors, no roof, in the fresh air.
I inspect their desert xeriscape landscaping. I have a blank canvas of a yard in my new Tucson digs and this is giving me ideas. In the atrium, circled by meeting rooms and the check-in window, there are numerous matates. These are the grinding stone bowls that the Native Americans used for grains and paint. Found around here, they attest to the long use of these waters and its seclusion.
“Want to stay an extra day?” We will if the weather holds up. The monsoon has been coming around.
We eat India food and make our way up a hill to the labyrinth and a star observation chair. If we are up for it, this night there are to be meteors and the conjunction of Mars and Venus. The sun leaves for the day, big and bright orange from California smoke.
We go back to camp in just flip flops and walk over to the tubs for another hour or two. There is a perfect electric lighting set up, which is subtle for watching the night sky. Through the trees, as we relax in the waters, a full moon pops up.
We dance together standing in the pool under the moonlight, whispering the song “Dancing in the Moonlight” to keep time.
As our skin begins to wrinkle, I have thoughts of how to build a salt water pool at home something like this and then, there are pretty much no thoughts at all.
A Peaceful Night’s Sleep:
The creosote smells like home. We climb into bed without clothes or care and I comb DF’s drying dark hair for her. Under just a silky ultra-light down quilt, we sleep without the top enclosure cover of the tent. There is just the airy net around us under the stars. We listen as peacocks make calls in the brush nearby.
Next post, I’ll report on the henge, labyrinth and spiritual side of things.
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