Are you guys tired of my Utah stories yet? Too bad! Here's another!
It was our last day in Utah and we had woken up too late to get a decent day in on the slopes. We perused a Utah guide book to see what our options were for the day. I mean, we had pretty much seen everything Utah had to offer; snow, Mormons, pubs, and child molesters. Speaking of, we decided to text Acid Chef (what? we had pre-abduction Stockholm Syndrome) to see if he had any ideas. He suggested the Hot Springs which sounded relaxing and exotic so we began getting ready and packing our bags with bathing suits and towels. We decided to head to Park City first to walk around and grab some lunch. We picked a little sushi place that didn't seem too expensive or too far of a walk for our need to be instantly gratified. While eating, we googled directions to the hot springs. Just to be sure we asked our waiter if he knew how far the hot springs were. He was more than happy to help (Utahnites are very friendly) and seemed eager to have someone to tell his life story to. He began with, "Yeah I know where the springs are," (only telling us a third of the way before saying, "and then it gets complicated") and ended with, "So I can't wait to get off work today because I've been writing this song about a tambourine and it's my first time writing a song but it's really good stuff because it's an analogy to life because a tambourine just sits there and doesn't make any music unless someone shakes it so it's like saying 'Hey, don't just sit there being useless like a tambourine, do something with your life.'" He walked away and I needed a moment to let his pot brownie philosophy on life sink in. My friend turned to me and asked, "Is everyone in Utah on acid?"
We finished our lunch and piled in the car, following google to the hot springs, excited to be doing something new and different. I pictured flat lands with steam rising from holes you can't see, a picturesque snowy mountain backdrop, and some hot mountain men who may or may not be high telling us, "Hop in, there's plenty of room." We warily followed the directions past some horses, canyons, and ice castles, unsure if we had passed it until we reached a sign for The Homestead Resort. "Yay! Here it is!" we cheered and pressed our faces to the car window, looking around for signs of steam rising from the ground. We saw written signs for parking, accommodations, and adventure. By process of elimination we deduced the hot springs must be under the "adventure" category. We followed signs that led us to the adventure center building.
We walked in and eagerly announced to the desk lady, "Hi, we're here for an adventure!" She pushed 3 waiver forms across the counter and asked us to sign. She added that for an extra $5 we could rent snorkels but we thought, "Who wants to look at each others legs and butts in a hot tub?" No thanks, we told her, we were just excited for a relaxing soak.
She pointed us in the direction of a huge raised rock mound and told us we had to walk up a few stairs so we figured the springs sat atop the rock.
We walked up a few steps and the only passage of entry seemed to be a steel door at the base of the rock. This doesn't look like the right way, we thought, but since there were no further stairs we assumed we reached the entrance. We opened the door and followed the path through the cave, very Raiders of the Lost Ark-esque, until we reached a girl at a counter in a cave. We approached her as if we were unsure if she was human or spoke English or if she was just a troll that inhabited the cave. We stared at her until she put down her crime novel and stammered, "Um. Hi. We're here for the, um, hot springs?" She rolled her eyes at us as if she was tired for always being confused for a non English speaking cave troll. She said, "The changing rooms are over there, there are lockers here for your stuff, and when you're done come back to me and I'll give you your life vests and tell you the rules." What the? Life vests? Rules? For a little hole in the ground filled with hot water? We did as she said and changed into our suits. We returned to her and she gave us the vests and showed us how to inflate them and loop the strap through our legs and up to be hooked at our backside. "I've never worn a life vest that gave me camel toe before," said Care Bears.
After we were read the rules we were pointed to a cave opening past her troll checkpoint station. There we stood at the edge of a body of water, the size of nursing home exercise pools, still enclosed in the cave. There were about 10 other people floating about in their camel toe inducing life vests, seemingly unaware by the fact that people wearing life vests floating around in a cave is a tad peculiar. They seemed to actually be enjoying themselves, holding conversations while floating about on their backs. I felt like I was 14 and wearing a bikini for the first time again, conscious of my body, and feeling like everyone was rating my parts. The three of us slinked into the water in an enclosed area where we assumed the water must be warmer, kinda like the hot tub section of a pool. This was not the case. It seemed this little section in the water with a seating area was just built for timid people who were too embarrassed to swim near others.
The Hot Springs, also called the Crater, was the furthest thing from what we had romanticized in our imagination. Where was the steam? The view? Even the temperature? I felt like I was sitting in a lukewarm bath. We splashed some of the water onto our arms. Isn't this water supposed to be good for your skin, we asked each other, the only justification to be sitting in lukewarm water with 10 strangers. We looked around the cave enclosed stagnant water and wondered how this could be sanitary. The cave troll had told us we had an hour before the Crater closed but somehow, we thought, we probably wouldn't be using up the hour.
We joined the rest of the people in the non sectioned off part of the water and tried our best to pretend we were enjoying ourselves. Then suddenly we saw bubbles sprout up from below. "What the hell is that?" we swatted water at the bubbles to push ourselves backwards away from the...bubbles. Where the hell is that coming from? We looked down and saw shadows moving below us. I immediately thought sharks or at least some whirlpool that would suck us under. Some of the other swimmers floaters had on masks and were looking at something under the water. What the hell was under there? Why didn't we splurge the extra $5 so that we could figure out what was going on under our dangling feet? I began to whimper. "I don't like this at all!" I admitted. Care Bears, who felt the same way, laughed at us. We're such typical North-Easterners who can't just sit in a body of randomly bubbling water in a cave and relax, she said. It's true but so be it. I'm sorry that I don't think being attacked by the bubble monster is relaxing. Just then the bubbles started again and the shadow looked like it was getting closer to the surface. What do I do in a shark attack, I thought. Karate chop nose or poke eyes? Gah!!! Karate chop or poke?? And just when I was about to make a last minute decision, a person in scuba gear emerged from the water. Oh right, we thought. We did see some signs about a scuba class earlier. That explains the bubbles, at least, but not why anyone would volunteer to pay $15 to soak in a lukewarm public bath in a cave.
I think we were hoping if we stayed in the water a little longer something would happen like maybe our skin would turn into gold or at least the water would get warmer, or maybe we were trying to be open minded and show we could appreciate new things, or maybe we just wanted to stay in until we felt we experienced it long enough to make having paid $15 worth it. We looked at each other, me, slightly crying, and agreed, we had had enough.
We got out of the water and quickly squeezed our damp bodies into our clothes and half ran out of the crater. "I am traw-mah-tyzed," declared Care Bears in her best Samantha from the Jersey Shore accent. I emerged from the steel door crying as if I had just been tortured for 15 whole minutes.
We got in the car and made a pact, "We're never going to speak of this ever again." And we drove home in silence.