“Are you wearing something under your clothes?” I ask my friend Valerie as we stand at the riverside pools of Remington Hot Springs. “Yes,” she says. “I’m wearing something.” Indeed, she is wearing a bathing suit. I am not. I probably should have thought of this before now.
I glance around at the folks already soaking in the 100-ish-degree pools. The ratio: 5:1, clothed people to naked person. Naked guy. This is not good.
“I’ll go naked with you,” Valerie then says. “I certainly don’t mind going in the hot springs naked.”
I am relieved. Turns out, she prefers going in without a suit, as do many hot springs aficianados, which Valerie definitely is. As for me, I soak maybe once a year. I’ve soaked in springs along rivers all over the place, and before this, I’ve always asked about the etiquette for the particular location. But at Remington, I had always soaked in the buff. And now my streak remains– in more ways than one.
Suits or not, the springs work their warm, sulfur-scented juju on me, and, I hope, on Valerie and our fellow tubmates.
Speaking of tubmates, have you ever noticed the way you interact with people you’re sharing a tub with? I find it easiest to converse eye to eye with Valerie, who’s a trusted friend, and to the person sitting two people over from me, who’s buffered from me by Valerie. The guy in the shorts sitting next to me? When I speak to Shorts Guy, I speak to the river, or to my toes.
Upon exiting the pools, I don the JCPenney fleece garment my in-laws gave me several Christmases ago. What can I say? It is warm and easy to change under, and I’ve dubbed it Night Night Bear Robe. Anyway, I roam tub-to-tub, taking photos. Like hot springs elves, the Friends of Remington volunteers scrupulously keep these pools clean and maintained. If you wander about, you’ll notice that they have etched messages such as “Eternal Love” and “Children of the Earth” into the floors and walls and steps of the river-rock pools.
I leave Valerie, Other Naked Guy, and Shorts Guy talking and tub-hopping amiably. As I ascend the trail to the dirt parking lot off the Old Bodfish Road, shiny trinkets embedded in the cement-worked steps catch my eye. Tiny tiles and crystalline stones and colored glass. If I were a magpie, I might be tempted to pluck the little treasures from the cement. But I am not, so I click a blurry pic instead.