Sunday, March 9, 2014

Naked Bath House Bathing, Hot Springs AR

You probably didn’t know that I’ve never been a big fan of flying. (And by “not a big fan” I mean completely terrified, hah) That’s kinda going to be a problem since one of my major goals/plans is the travel around the world. I have also never flown alone.. until yesterday! The funny thing is, I don’t think I have really been that scared of it since the first couple of times… but it totally just became my story because I said it to myself and others so many times. The truth is… I actually kind of like it now! 
 Ok.. Maybe on the first flight I thought that.. and I got a little cocky about it.. And then I got to my gate for the connecting flight and this was my plane
 What are we taking a remote controlled toy plane?! It was so small that we even had to walk up the stairs to get in.
So maybe my new found confidence was tested a little… But as the plane “filled up” and I use that term lightly-since I think there were about 25 passengers- I got pretty excited I had a my whole row to myself- all two seats- haha. I told you this plane was insanely small!
 I had the window all to myself
Or… then again, maybe my window seat didn’t actually come equipped with a window. 
Since I had all the extra space, I worked on some Anatomy and later listened to a podcast. Ironically they were talking about how they found a new ligament in the human knee that they didn’t know we had. Well they found that out back in November or something- but I’m a little behind in world events. 
My flight landed on time, despite leaving at least a half hour late. Sarah picked me up and we headed straight for Hot Springs AK- specifically Bathhouse Row.
It’s a super cute little tourist town- obviously famous for the hot springs.. We had plans to go to a bathhouse but walked around a little bit first to check things out.
Apparently we-needa biscuit.
 But we decided to get pancakes instead. This place was straight from the 1940’s 
 There were certainly no gluten-free pancakes on the menu… but when your at the “Pancake Shop” getting an omelet is just wrong. (Plus there wasn’t much for food in the area) We both went with two blueberry 
They were good, cheap, and had a ton of fresh blueberries inside. WIN. 
I almost finished them, even though I felt full halfway through- I would later regret that decision- stupid consequences. 
After pancakes we headed over to one of the bathhouses. I can’t remember the name of the place, and I don’t have any pictures because your not allowed to take any. Sorry! The natural hot springs are said to have healing properties, so bathing in and drinking the water (well not drinking the bath water, hah) is good for you! And people have been going to this specific Hot Bath since 1912.. and literally NOTHING about the building or bath house has changed since then.. BUT this place was cool and extremely bizarre rolled into one..

Think One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest… after the lobotomy..  Hold that image in your mind… 

So you take this super old elevator (like the ones with the weird accordion cage door things) up a couple floors. They usher you into the white marbled wall “locker room” where you get completely naked and stand ass first against a hospital curtain thing.. Then some attendant lady asks if your ready, opens the curtain and wraps you up in a thin white sheet and tells you to "sit here” and wait for them to come get you. 
Someone comes around the corner and calls your name and then you follow them into another big white marble wall room with rows of hospital curtains (It looks just like an ER waiting room) She shows you to your bath which is already prepared for you- closing the curtain. It’s a large claw-foot tub with what looks like a giant immersion blender at one end. And then she took off my sheet and told me to climb in and watch my step. Once I got in there, she turned on the huge blender and shoved a rolled up towel under my neck, gave me a tiny little dixie cup filled with the “hot spring water” and told me to enjoy, shutting the curtain. 
Call me crazy…. but I couldn’t relax.. I just looked at the old school clock on the wall in front of me (which was broken so even though the second hand was moving around and around… the minute hand was not- so I had no concept of time) And waited. And let me tell you, that blender made quite the current. A couple of times I tried closing my eyes thinking that it would help me to “relax” or at least calm my anxiety that someone was going to jump into my curtain cubicle and try to give me a lobotomy. But every time I did, I would lose my focus and the current would lift half of my body off the bottom of the tub- like a human buoy bobbing up and down, but really I was just a naked douche in a tub of “special water” 

She finally returned… and “washed" my arms, legs, and back with a scratchy loofa mitt thing before asking me to get out, wrapping me back up in my sheet and walking me to a sits bath. A sits bath is exactly what it sounds like.. You put your butt in an ass-shaped crevice which is filled with the hot water- basically it’s an ass bath, with water coming into it from a streaming kind of jet at your lower back. It’s supposed to help with low back pain and hips… or just make you feel extremely uncomfortable as your sitting in a room filled with woman in the shitting position with a small hand-towel covering your boobs. Um, yeah- I could do without that one and it wasn’t over fast enough. 

Again, I was asked to get out, stood there completely naked pretty much in the middle of the room this time, until I was re-wrapped in my sheet and then led to the steam box. It’s like a little shower stall with a wooden bench inside to sit on. (Thankfully she put towels down first) Then it was off with my towel again-( a LOT of woman saw me naked haha.) Once your seated, they close these metal flaps that have a half moon cut out on each so that when they are both closed together, there is a circle for your neck to fit through- Then shove the sheet around your neck to prevent the steam from escaping- tell you how to get out if you need to- and walk away, “Enjoy” This part I actually really liked and is tied for my favorite parts of the whole thing. 
 After 5 or so minutes in there, she released me, wrapped me, and told me to take a seat on one of the cushioned tables and handed me another dixie cup of “Spring water”. She went to this sink that was filled with the hot spring water, grabbed 4 soaked towels and came over. These towels are HOT. The first she wrapped over my shoulders and upper back, the second at my lumbar and one around each of my legs. Then finished it off with a cold towel around my face and left me to lay there. It felt amazing. This was my other favorite part. 
Finally she came to unwrap me and took me to the final stop.. the 180 degree shower. She took my sheet, and told me to step in and rinse off (which I don’t really understand since I’m pretty sure I took like 2 baths at this point.. what exactly was I supposed to rinse off?) I stepped in, and the shower heads were arranged in a half moon, with at least 10 stacked rows.. so from your shoulders to your knees water was spraying directly at you from a ton of tiny pin hole shower heads. The water was so hot I thought my skin was going to melt off. She asked me if I was done and again I put my ass towards the curtain with my arms up, she gave me a towel and then wrapped me up one final time in a new sheet before handing me off to the massage therapist. The massage was normal, but the ironic thing was, at least 10 people saw me 100% naked in the hour of the whole bathing process and it was NBD.. this lady held the sheet up over her face as I got on the table like I needed some privacy. Hmm.. I don’t think that makes sense. Haha. 

Overall, the whole experience was completely unique, slightly terrifying and quite interesting. I’m so glad I got to go.. because this is definitely one for the books! A big thanks to Sarah for suggesting it and driving us there! 

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