Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hot Tubs

Two hours of tennis, one hour of racquetball, and 2 1/2 hours of running full court basketball left me in a coma-like state when I arrived home 30 minutes ago. I grunted forcefully as I sat down in my usual living room chair, and as soon as my bruised left butt-cheek hit the cushion, I knew I wouldn't be able to get up for at least 5 minutes. My knees were sore, my butt was sore--pretty much my entire body was sore. Standing upright in a shower didn't sound like a great idea at all, so I turned to one of my favorite man-made creations in history: The Hot Tub.

It was dark outside, so skinny dipping wasn't going to scare the neighbors. I have no problem wearing a swim suit while I hot tub, but the dang things get so wet that drying off becomes a pain. No suit and drying off takes about 8 seconds! Not to mention the freedom, FREEDOM!!! that only skinny-dipping can bring. I wasn't quite sure if the hot tub would make my knees better or worse, but they feel fantastic right now, as does the rest of my body. Hot tubs are magic.

As I sat there getting a back massage and foot massage simultaneously by the jets on either side of the hot tub, I got to wondering... what are my favorite hot tubs? This got my mind going, and I thought back to a few hot tubs long ago. I think the first hot tub I was ever in was at Iron Springs, WA, which is on the north end of Long Beach. It was an indoor hot tub, and the family went out there for a couple of Easters in a row. One of my parents' friends had a place out there that we stayed in one year, then the next year we rented a little cabin. I don't really remember any good stories from that hot tub, I couldn't have been older than 5 or 6 at the time, which is why it didn't make my...


I can hardly contain myself, eee! There really isn't any criteria other than the fact that these top 5 stand out in my memory someway, and #1 stands out more than #5. So, without further adeu, I present to you:

#6 Portland(honorable mention)
Not a grand hot tub by any means, but I really enjoyed sneaking into the hot tub at "The Wimbledon" apartment complex in Portland with Stacey. We got a couch off of craigslist the first day we were in Portland, and still had our (crummy) Budget truck, so we decided to make use of it and grab as much furniture as possible from around the city on that first day. Turned out a girl who had graduated from Reed College and stayed for the summer was moving out, and wanted to get rid of her couch.

While we were carrying it out of the apartment complex, she said something about feeling free to come on by and use the hot tub whenever--the complex didn't check ID's and there wasn't a key entry. Sweet. Stacey and I made the trip down to Southeast Portland a handful of times and made use of the hot tub, while maintaining our cover as "friends of room 211."

#5 South Lake Tahoe
The Beach Club hot tub in South Lake Tahoe. The hot tub wasn't on the beach, but in their hotel near South Lake Tahoe's "strip." I think once upon a time when Stacey and I made a trip up to Tahoe when we were living in Sacramento, we stayed at the hotel, and really liked the hot tub. It has a waterfall down to another hot tub, and I remember thinking to myself, "This wouldn't be that hard to sneak into."

A few years pass, and I'm living in Tahoe. You better believe I am at that hot tub every Friday before hitting the poker tables. It wasn't every Friday, but I had to mix up my hot tub strategy, because if they start to recognize you, that's a bad thing. Who goes to the same hotel every week during the Spring, in Tahoe? I'd usually wear a hoodie. Sometimes I'd just walk right through the main office and say "Hi." Other times I'd wait in my car for others to go in, then pretend to be friends of theirs.

It was great to hot tub before hitting the poker tables. I'd visualize what I wanted to do, what I wanted to refrain from doing, and I'd just be in a great frame of mind to wreak havoc at the tables. I think sitting in this particular hot tub is where I first realized how much of a reality becoming a teacher could be.

#4 Big Sky, MT
These hot tubs are amazing. They are huge, and there are two of them side-by-side. The fact that they are at a ski-resort where one of my first college friends, Lauren, has a cabin, doesn't hurt! New Years 2001-2003 were spent out in Montana for Andrew and I. We'd drive out a few days after Xmas, and spent the entire day on the road, giddy for four or five days at a ski resort. We'd ski for three or four, watch all of the college bowl games on New Years, then drive back to Seattle on the 2nd.

Lauren's cabin/condo was a very brisk one-minute walk to the hot tubs. Five or six of us would head out to the hot tubs after dinner. I'd step out the door with a sweatshirt, a swim suit with a towel wrapped around my waist, and sandals. The 19-degree freeze would instantly hit me like a ton of bricks, and I would cough. My nose hairs made themselves known for the first time, as they froze into tiny little frozen shards as I try to breathe through my nose. I go back to breathing through my mouth and coughing every other breath to start out.

Watching the Seattlites scurry to the hot tub, trying to get to the heat of the hot tub, while carefully avoiding black ice along the way--must have been a site for the locals. We'd finally get to the hot tubs, and they would usually be packed. 40 or so people in the hot tubs--not ideal, but everyone was on vacation and having a good time, so the 40 people were all friendly and good to have conversations with. It snowed on us while we were in the hot tub a couple times over the years, and that was an amazing feeling. We'd watch the steam rise from the hot tub and evaporate the flakes as they fell. Everything is white except for you and the hot tub water.

#3 Chateau LaCoste
Kristina's hot tub. Easily one of the coolest rooms in a house I've ever seen. The solarium, which is filled with plants and is made out of entirely wood, has a hot tub. The ceiling is all window, so you can sit in the indoor hot tub and look at the stars all night long. When I lived at Kristina's for January and February this year, my first mission was to get her hot tub working again ASAP. I had a hiccup to begin with, but I eventually got the sucker working, and it was marvelous.

More than a few times we got to take advantage of the amazing hot tub. We'd grab a bottle of wine, turn off all the lights, and blast Radiohead or Ani DiFranco while sitting in the hot tub staring at the stars. When we got hot, we'd open a window and hop outside onto her deck and see how long we could last in the freezing cold before having to hop back into the hot tub. The stars were even more amazing out on the deck. Nevada City isn't the largest city on Earth, and she has very few lights out in the woods--but when you have that many stars, who needs lights?

#2 Sweet Home, Seattle
Might as well near end close to home. My Dad got permission from my Mom to get a hot tub 15 or so years ago. Not many dirty stories on the home-front hot tub, I try save that for other peoples' hot tubs! I did have a lady friend take my suit off once, when she didn't think I'd let her... but that is about as dirty as it gets. Maybe slightly dirtier, but my memory is hazy. "My" hot tub ranks #2 simply because it has more stories than any other hot tub out there. I've obviously used it many many more times than any other hot tub, so the fact that it has the most stories isn't too surprising.

I've had two-hour-long conversations with my Dad about life, love and his life and what regrets he's had. He hasn't had many. I love hearing about his past, and what made him the man he is today. He imparts wisdom on me every time we're out there, whether I want his tips or not. Compound interest, yes Dad, I know what it is. Yes Dad, I know, I took finance and accounting in college, I understand compound interest. The question he's asked me the most out in the hot tub has been:

"So, the thing I've never understood about poker is what happens if you have $100 and bet all your money, and I only have $99? I can't call your $100, so I have to fold? That doesn't seem fair!"

He's literally asked me this question AT LEAST 30 times in my lifetime, and probably a dozen of those in the hot tub. Sometimes I answer him, and tell him that he only has to call whatever he has left, and I'd just take a dollar back. He understands it for the night, then usually asks me again the next week if I talk about poker with him. Some times I'm not as nice, and agree with him, berate him, or make up a fantastical story about how you have to then put your watch in play, or your house, the title to your car, your oldest son, and even the shirt off your back.

But seriously, my Dad and I have had some amazing talks out in the hot tub, and those are the most memorable times I've had in our hot tub. A distant second would be finishing a tough day of skiing and hopping in the hot tub with Andrew. We are in coma-like states like I was today, then my Mom walks outside with two plates of dinner--salisbury steak, rice and corn. And lets us eat dinner in the hot tub. Oh my God, that was heaven.

#1 Sun Mountain Lodge
Where to start, where to start... I guess #5 will have to be the hot tubs at Sun Mountain Lodge, in Central Washington. Sun Mountain is this little resort near Winthrop, WA. Winthrop pretty much survives based on tourism. In the winter, the rich go to Sun Mountain to cross country ski and lounge in style by the humongous fire places and yes, hot tubs. In the summer, all of the poor families come with their little poop-machine kids and ransack the place.

OK, not quite. The place is high class though. We once ate dinner and saw the guy who made those "WE WON'T BE UNDERSOLD!!!" commercials, where he got hit with a pie in the face at the end of every 30 second clip. Man, YouTube needs to get its act together and get one of the old commercials up. I can't remember if he was in auto sales or if he had a furniture warehouse, but that guy with the funny looking face and barbie-wife was a fixture in the Seattle community for at least a decade from 1985-1995. Actually, we didn't even notice him first, we noticed his wife with about 10 layers of makeup on. I asked, "Isn't that the wife of that guy in the commercials?" Then I realized the guy in the commercials was sitting across the table from her.

But lets get back on track. The hot tubs at this place were amazing. The main pool's hot tub you could swim mini-laps in if you wanted to. There were little pods all around the deep end of the hot tub, so people could set their drinks on them while they schmoozed. Of course, as a kid, it was my goal in life to hop from pod to pod across the hot tub without falling in the water lava. I don't think I ever did make it all the way across.

There were two other hot tubs at the other cabins, and each had a 10pm curfew. But again, I was a kid, and what do kids do best? That's right, get into mischief! We'd scurry around at night, dodging the bats that swooped down every few minutes to try and use my blond hair for their nests.

The best times were when my sister was off at college, and I got to invite Marc up for the few days in paradise. He has a better hot tub story than I, but I'll leave that for him to blog about... once he starts up a blog. The Sun Mountain hot tub in Marc's story has since been concreted over, and I'm pretty sure whatever Marc and that girl were doing in the hot tub led to the masonry. Oops, I've said too much!

But yes, all of the years, all of the change, and all of the hot tub nights with chocolate mouses make the Sun Mountain hot tubs the clear-cut #1 when it comes to hot tubs I've visited.

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