So, when we rolled into Glenwood Springs, Colorado, we were ready for a break. We checked into a nice hotel and, reading the literature they provided in the room, I learned that Glenwood Springs is named for a mineral spring that has been in continuous use since the 1800s. Actually, I'm pretty sure the Native Americans used it long before the 1880s, and they likely introduced the European settlers to its pleasures.
I was dying to go.
So, next morning, we packed up our swim suits and headed off to the springs. For a measly $15, you get an all-day pass to use their pools. The large one pictured above - it is easily twice the size of an Olympic pool - is at a steady 90 degrees. No coal is burned, no gas is used - this is hot water and plenty of it provided free from Mother Nature all day, every day as far back as anyone can remember. The thermal water carries a light whiff of sulfur but I looked all around for the Devil and could only find regular folks like us soaking in the water.
Some were clearly regulars who stood about in small groups gossiping and laughing, or hailing a late comer. Some were surely foreigners; we heard several different languages. And some were like us, passers through who just stopped for the day.
That first immersion in the silky water drew from me a sigh of pure pleasure. Not only was it wonderfully warm, but almost immediately it eased my aches. We water walked for about 45 minutes, chatting and enjoying the people watching as we got a little gentle exercise. There is an unspoken etiquette (we saw no signs about what not to do) so all the walkers veered off gently to avoid the klatches of stationary talkers. No words were spoken, just gentle smiles exchanged as we glided by.
There was an Asian family of mostly women, all clustered around a small child, a little girl of about 6 or 7 whose head was completely bald in the way that only happens during chemotherapy. The child was very ill, listless and barely moving as her family's hands supported her in the water. I can only hope that she got some benefit from the mineral water, and from her family's loving attention.
When we were ready to stop walking, we moved over into the hot side of the springs. In that pool, which is nearly as large as an Olympic swimming pool, the water is at 104 degrees, a huge, open air hot tub. Imagine a clear, blue sky above and a blood-red mountain at the far end, with trees and fresh fall air to counteract the hot water.
Our next stop was Aspen and I was eager to see that famous town, but I have to admit I'd have been happy to stop for several days in Glenwood Springs if I could have returned daily to that delight.