Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Quick Retreat Home

I've been planning this for some time, but the timing couldn't have been better. And I couldn't have held out any longer.

I've been busting my butt for months now, since the book came out, working on a gazillion different things, trying to keep up with everything and I finally got to the point where I needed a break. January, February and March were nonstop, the only days I really took off were the beer tour in February and my birthday- last two blogposts.

I scheduled this a while ago, knowing I would need it, hoping to catch the mountains at a time with good weather and few people- in between ski season and summer, also known as mud season here.  I like to come up to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs because I always have come here for peace and quiet- since the days when I lived just on the other side of the pass in Gunnison and Crested Butte.

Back then Mt. Princeton was a run-down, barely held together 1860s bathhouse with a couple of hot springs pools and some spots along the creek where you could sit in the springs bubbling up from the creekbed unless it was the high water spring runoff season. The place smelled like mildew and rotting wood, and walking on the wood floors you wondered if you were going to punch a hole through the floorboards.
Along the back road from town to Mt. Princeton is an old schoolhouse that marks a road I used to run often when I lived on this side. It goes up a hill to some towers but gives a spectacular view of the Arkansas River valley. It descends a steep hill next to the chalk cliffs and into the hot springs area along Chalk Creek.
It's been long since renovated and improved, now it's a real resort with about half a dozen well-maintained pools and the creekside area remains, but it's been reinforced and the building no longer looks like it's about to crumble. And they've added a spa, and the lodge and rooms on the hill have been updated and at least a dozen cabins built on the property.

It's between Mt. Princeton and Mt. Antero. Ponderosa pines, aspen, and pinon pine dot the hillsides. The 14,000 foot peaks of Antero and Princeton are overhead.

I call it home because it is. We have property up on Trout Creek Pass about 15 miles northeast of Buena Vista. And it's just the other side of Cottonwood and Monarch Passes from Gunnison and Crested Butte. South of Leadville where I spent every summer in the 1990s. The other side of Poncha Pass from the San Luis Valley and Alamosa, where Dennis lived and trained for a year under Coach Vigil. This is all home. Back in the 90s when I was teaching at Western, I used to come over the hill once a week to soak in the hot springs, it was my sanctuary then and I guess it always will be.

The wind comes down the canyon and the breeze makes that mesmerizing sound- the one I can't ever get enough of- as it whooshes through the pine needles- that's probably the biggest sensory draw for me. I love that sound. I think between that and the sound of ocean waves crashing on the beach- those two sounds are my favorite and I could fall asleep to either one.

I made the reservation for a room way up on the hill, and they gave me the best room on the property- the westernmost room with the best view, and I scheduled a couple of massages at the spa, and planned to relax, soak, do some writing for me, and generally veg out.

I did all of the above except the writing. It felt so good to do nothing.

Last week sucked, we lost someone from the running community, Kirsten. As much as I hate cancer cliches, I'll say it anyway, cancer sucks. She was too young (45) and had too much left to do, like raising her twin pre-adolescent girls. It totally completely sucks. Her memorial service and funeral were over the weekend and Monday. I went to the service/mass at the church on Monday, many of us from the running community were there. It was really hard. Really. I'm not going into any more details but it just really, totally, completely sucked.

So this little retreat I had planned couldn't have come at a better time.

Our neighbor across the street retired recently and he kept an eye on the girls (Velcro & Gypsy) while Dennis was at work. I drove up Tuesday morning and took my time, got there around 1, checked into the room, and went down to the pool until my massage appointment. It was warm and spring-like, warmer and springier- if that's a word- than I can ever remember it being in April. I soaked up the sun for an hour and then had my massage, which was perfectly relaxing.

I went back out to the poolside after, then walked back up the hill to my room. I went into town to get some Mexican food-take out- and went back to the room and just relaxed.

When I woke up- early- I made coffee and watched the sun rise- what I could see. It was cloudy and the sunrise wasn't colorful like it often is- casting pink hues on the mountains. This time it was subdued. I sat out on the patio overlooking the mountains and it wasn't even cold. I went back in the make another cup of coffee and when I came back to the sliding glass door, someone was watching me.

With about 10 friends.

I normally would run up the big hill toward Mt. Princeton and see how far I could take the trail before it was packed with snow, but I didn't feel like it. I just wanted to relax. So I went down to the pool and got in the water, soaking in the hottest pools first and ending up in the big pool. The sky got cloudy and the wind picked up, so I decided to go up to the lodge and have breakfast and see what happened.

After I ate, the sun came back out. It was windy, but not cold. Getting out of the pool I was only cold until the wind dried my wet swimsuit and then it was perfect.

There were other people around but it wasn't crowded at all. I was able to clear my mind and not think much, I took some pictures but if I wasn't in the pool, I was on the chair closing my eyes and soaking up rays. I decided that I was sick of DOING and I wanted to just BE. And I think in life in general I need to BE a lot more and DO less. So if I got nothing else from this trip, that was my revelation from the universe.

I stayed out there all afternoon until about 3:30 when I decided to head home, timing things so I could avoid the worst of rush hour traffic in Denver. It was not too bad of a drive.

And now I'm home in Fort Collins and it's late and I'm with my girls and Dennis is asleep upstairs, and things are good. And I can breathe again.

No comments: