We woke before the alarm, which we’d set since we’d made plans to meet Just Jim for breakfast at the classic Rose Cafe. It was a small, cute place, the entire front wall made of windows, vintage-print yellow wallpaper on the accent wall and ceilings, stamped tin and old china plates on the walls, coffee in big sturdy mugs with size to wrap both hands around them. Good thing we got there as early as we did, because within 15 minutes every table was full. We tucked away omelettes and toast and hash browns, talked trail and logistics. When we were almost done, Goldfish walked up to our table! We hadn’t expected to see him again since he’d gotten off trial in Chama, killing time until the snow melted, but had rented a car and was driving around sightseeing.
We grabbed our swimsuits at the hotel, then crossed the street to float in the fancy hot springs before our massages – admittance all day was included. The layout was lovely, 25 different mineral water pools spread throughout the resort, melting their travertine over the concrete like candle wax, lending an enchanting, not-so-pretentious-after-all atmosphere. We soaked for half an hour before a masterful massage. It was called the Wrath of the Rockies, which honestly put me bit on edge – wrath? Good god I’d had enough pain of my body’s own creation at this point, I didn’t need wrathed by somebody else – but it was just what I needed. I walked out more healed and hopeful than I’d been since the trip had started.
The afternoon slipped away with more soaking time, testing different temperatures and different pools. When we got hungry enough we went for smoothies and bubble tea, and Calypso taught us to play Dutch Blitz, kind of a 4-way version of Speed. We checked a couple of gear stores for hats, since mine had ripped straight across the top of the crown in this last section (likely thanks to New Zealand’s harsh UV exposure) but all I found were more for souvenirs than hiking.
Prana and I collected our boxes from the post office and hammered out our resupply, the reward for completion being a return to the pools for several more hours. I drifted in a blissful state of relaxation, watching the sky as dark clouds gathered and massive gusts of wind peeled dust off rooftops like a hand was whipping a blanket off a bed. Suddenly wind hammered through the pools, sandblasting our faces with dirt and lighting cracked open the navy clouds. It was over as quick as it had started.
We pulled ourselves from the pools reluctantly, but as late as it was, it was time for dinner. Crusoe was set on Cajun food, which sounded divine; we hauled it back to our rooms to find ourselves locked out; or more accurately, to find everyone was locked out. Something had failed in the eletronic lock/ key card master system mechanism, and there were no other kinds of keys that would allow us in. We chatted with the forest service wildfire fighters who were waiting outside their door across the hall, and the system kicked in again eventually.
All the Cajun things were delicious – the best fish and chips Prana and I’d had in this country, the gumbo and ettoufee top-notch. We’d also gotten a a boxful of beignets (pronounced ben-Yay: one of the reasons I’d fallen in love with the restaurant was they printed phonetic spellings on the menu for their dialectical dishes and sayings). What is a Ben-Yay? It’s name sure seemed pretty joy-inducing! Turned out they’re kind of between a funnel cake and a donut – also somewhere between pretty damn delicious and counter-productive nutritionally. The ben-Yay! portrait really breaks down the 3 emotional stages of ben-Yay! consumption: anticipation, skepticism, and finally regret- regret whether choosing to stop or choosing to continue eating them.
Sated, soaked, and satisfied, we climbed into bed and I melted into full relaxation.