A Road Trip Around Some Of The Hot Springs Of Colorado, and Thoughts About the New Normal

A Road Trip Around Some Of The Hot Springs Of Colorado, and Thoughts About the New Normal

Wintertime can be long, if you live in the snowy Rocky Mountains.
We thought to take a road trip, in order to break the routine and give ourselves a bit of a change of scenery and atmosphere.
It is cold all over Colorado, so we thought that a hot springs road trip would give us an opportunity to see some of the old West, and to enjoy some much needed days of soaking in several of the hot springs that we have not yet visited.

We packed our car with warm clothing, toiletries, snacks and thick bathrobes, so we would not freeze outdoors on the decks of the snowy hot spring pools.
All the pools are outdoors, and are mixed gender, so unlike in Japan, you do have to wear a bathing suit.

Because the weather can be very snowy, we decided to limit our daily driving to about two hours.
It was a snowy morning when we drove west towards the city of Grand Junction.
The weather in Colorado can be very localized, and in Grand Junction we saw no snow around the city or on the mountains.

We stopped for lunch in Glenwood Springs, a hot springs town with two big hot springs located close to our house.
Because we visit the Glenwood Springs hot springs often, we only stopped for lunch at a favorite taco place in the downtown.

Since Covid, this popular taco place is doing only takeaway, but luckily the town has installed sunny geodesic domes in which people can sit and dine outdoors.
We sat in the warm and sunny dome and admitted that eating there felt better than in the always busy tiny taco restaurant, where we often had to share tables with other diners.

The drive to Grand Junction was easy and enjoyable.
There was almost no snow on the mountains or by the side of the highway, as we passed by the town of Palisade, famous for Colorado’s best tasting peaches.
Beside amazing peaches, Palisade is also a grape growing region, with several small wineries.

Upon arrival in Grand Junction, we checked into our downtown hotel, and went for a walk around the downtown.
Grand Junction has lots of street sculptures and shops selling curios, antiques, old memorabilia and finds, local art, jewelry, crafts, handmade candles and more.
We sat in a cafe, and later had a fabulous dinner in our favorite restaurant called Bin 707.

The next morning we had a breakfast of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and New York bagels.
It was wonderful to have a tasty bagel and lox breakfast in a western town, that was as good as you would get in Manhattan.

Our first hot spring pool is located in the town of Ouray (pronounced You-ray).
The drive was about two hours through a vast valley.
We passed by a small western town called Delta, with a wide main street and lots of historic buildings.
From there we passed by Olathe.

The town of Olathe is known as the center of the corn growing region of the mountains.
In the summers, we often buy their sweet corn in farmers markets.
Now in the middle of winter, the fields stood empty.

From there, the valley narrowed and we drove through the town of Montrose, on a narrow road by the side of the river with tall mountains towering around us on both sides.

The small town of Ouray is charming and historic, with renovated old buildings, shops and hotels.
People come here to climb the rocky snowy tall mountains that tower above the town, and to experience the landscape in jeep tours during the summertime.

We saw guys in fully geared pickup trucks, carrying helmets, crampons and climbing boots.
The downtown is only a few blocks long, but it offers a variety of shops, inns and restaurants.
The dramatic, tall mountains hug the town on all sides.

The Ouray hot springs has a basic changing room with hot showers and toilets.
We were asked not to use the lockers, but to leave our belongings on the pool deck while we bathed, a strange adjustment for coronavirus times.

The main deck has a few big pools, but only two of them are very warm for use during the wintertime.
There is also a big and heated lap pool.
We soaked in the hottest pool, enjoying the non sulphuric mineral water, surrounded by the beautiful mountains.

In town, we saw a herd of deer walking on the side streets, the way you would normally see street dogs in other cities.

Our hotel for two nights is the historic Beaumont hotel, located right on Main Street.
It is beautifully and tastefully renovated, with big atmospheric rooms and spacious bathrooms.

We had dinner at a busy restaurant called Brickhouse 737.
The menu, although small, features upscale dishes done perfectly.
The town offers dining options for all budgets, from saloons to family pizzerias.

The next day we walked around town, took pictures, visited the stores, ate and sat in a cafe.
The jeep rental shops and expedition guided tours were all closed for the winter, and a few of the cafes and restaurants were closed temporarily because of Covid, but the small town did not feel closed up.

Most people wore masks on the streets and inside stores, as is now required in Colorado.

I was thinking about the concept of the “New Normal” that everyone is talking about.
How will the world look post coronavirus?

All over the world people are hoping that things will get back to the way they were, and hopefully very soon.
But in my heart, I am hoping that some things never go back to the way things were.

It is amazing to me that the “new normal” includes restaurants and hotels cleaning and sterilizing public places, tv remotes, door knobs and all surfaces that should have been cleaned on a regular basis even before Covid.
I really hope all these cleaning practices will continue forever.

In the city of Grand Junction, we went to see a movie in a local movie theater called The Picture Show at Grand Junction.
The movie was called “News Of The World.”
It was a good movie about a traveling ex-soldier who traveled around Texas after the Civil War, reading newspapers to groups of remote and often wild settlers.

The movie was enjoyable, but the theater experience was FABULOUS.
The “new normal” meant that they did not pack the theater with too many people.
We sat in spacious oversized armchairs that reclined into beds with elevated legs.

We laid in these comfortable beds, covering ourselves with our coats as blankets, and noted how quiet and enjoyable the theater felt, when there was so much space between people.

In restaurants and cafes, the tables are pleasantly spaced and you always see someone cleaning the tables and surfaces.

Pre-Covid, places were packed with people, and you often had to clear leftover glasses and plates yourself in order to get a table.
Often the busy waiters acted as if they did you a favor when they ran a dirty cloth to clean the tables of crumbs.

Some things will probably not return to the way they were, but I am not sure that is something to regret.
Think about it, before 9/11 and the bombing of the Twin Towers, you could board planes with a knife, scissors, a drink and liquids.
Post 9/11, everything changed and the new normal means that you have to remove your shoes, your electronics, and you cannot carry a bottle of water or anything sharp.

And these security measures extended not just to airplanes, but also to public buildings, schools and theme parks like Disney World, where they check the toddlers’ backpacks and diaper bags before allowing them to enter to see Mickey Mouse or Snow White.

Twenty years after those terrible terrorist attacks, the new normal is still to check for any potential weapons.
We all got used to it and accepted it as unpleasant but a necessary fact of life.

I do hope that one day soon we will be able to walk the streets without face masks, but I do hope that they will keep cleaning and sterilizing public spaces, keep some social distancing inside cafes and restaurants between tables, in buses, theaters, concert halls, lounges and ski lifts.

Tomorrow we will continue our road trip to Durango, a small historic town with a hot springs.
See you soon.
With warm smiles,

2 Comments on “A Road Trip Around Some Of The Hot Springs Of Colorado, and Thoughts About the New Normal”

  1. It is interesting reading this post, you are traveling about in the land of my youth. each step is like a memory recalled. this is so refreshing and just knowing you two is such a blessing. these are recalled from the memories of youth before Vietnam and the complexities and follies of being an adult. thank you for this breath of fresh air. Love and blessings to both of you

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