Hot Springs, and a brewery? Saratoga, here I come!

I didn’t manage to get up in time to avail myself of the continental breakfast at the little motel in Walden (the town). I’m not quite sure how I found it, but I noticed that Saratoga wasn’t far away, and it had been mentioned in that 1000 things you really want to do book. When I looked for places to stay there, the Saratoga Spa and Resort, which also has a microbrewery, was the obvious choice. Sure, it was $140 and I’d just spent a night in a hotel, but I couldn’t resist. Well, I can’t say that’s true. I didn’t try to resist.

On the way out of Walden there was a sign that pointed to some sand dunes. One of the guys I’d talked to while I was watching the moose on the way to Walden mentioned these dunes and said they were pretty darn cool. The sign said that it was three miles off the county road I was on, so I decided to check it out.

There was some sign that said something about some kind of motor vehicle permit that I hope you needed only if you were planning to go off road. These sand dunes are one of the few, or only, wilderness areas that allow vehicles. Normally wilderness areas disallow even bicycles. In the wilderness, it’s just you up against nature. No machines, except guns, I suppose.

I pulled Walden up to this big sand hill. It was starting to look like the kind of sand that Walden might be stuck in forever, so I donned suntan lotion and set off on foot. About halfway up the hill I decided that the Chacos were not any advantage. Not far past that, the good camera’s memory card filled up. I deleted some pictures, but then the battery died. I resorted to the cell phone.

The dunes were pretty cool. I don’t often want to have one of those four-wheeled things, but it looked like it’d be pretty fun to ride around in this vast expanse of sand. I made it back to the camper and to my delight, was able to find my spare battery for the SLR and the charger for the battery that had just died.

Google suggested another way back out of this area, but I didn’t trust it. On my way back to the highway I came across a sho’nuff cattle drive. There were a bunch of cowboys, on horses, and they were driving cattle. I stopped there in the road, killed the engine and took some pictures. This really is the west. Cowboys drive cattle on horseback just like they did a hundred years ago.

I passed a single bicyclist on a lonesome stretch of road. An old hippy that I’d met in Ecuador made me promise that if I passed any long distance bicyclists I would offer them water. I couldn’t figure out how to do that on this little two-lane highway. I passed with a feeling that I had let him down.

I came up on the Wyoming border. There was a place to pull over, so I stopped and got the requisite pictures of Walden by the sign. As I was about to leave, the bicyclist approached. I felt a little awkward waiting for her there, as she was a woman traveling alone and I didn’t want to seem like a threat, but wait I did. I offered her water. She didn’t need any, but thanked me for the offer. I offered to take her picture by the sign and did so. She took my picture. We chatted for a few minutes. Her name was Jane, and she had friends in Saratoga. I forced her to take a business card and headed on down the road.

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A bit further down, I noticed what appeared to be an abandoned farmhouse. A little further down still was a small road that was now in total disrepair. Perhaps they abandoned it and re-routed the road that I was now traveling on. I pulled Walden off onto the grass-filled road. I didn’t go far before I decided that I was uncomfortable taking Walden much farther, so I got out, put on suntan lotion, and hopped on the bike.

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There was another little set of buildings a little ways down. They were very clearly marked “No Trespassing.” I didn’t want to pass any tresses, so I rode on down to the farmhouse. It was a few hundred yards off the road, with a barbed-wire fence and a little stream in between. I was not to be dissuaded.

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I dropped the bike, climbed through the fence, found a place to hop over the stream, and made my way to the house. It was completely cleaned out, but it made me feel like I was visiting a ghost town. I got some pretty cool pictures.

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Walden was waiting for me at the top of the hill.

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I ran back to the stream, found a place to get over it, ran back to the fence and made my way back to the bike. As I was pulling back onto the road I saw Jane coming into sight. Hoping that she wouldn’t think I was a stalker, I waved as I pulled back onto the highway.

I pulled into Saratoga in the early afternoon. I stopped at a little museum and talked to a docent for a while. She said that the public pool was currently closed for renovations and because it had been completely flooded in the spring rains.

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The signs directing people to the public pool are clearly marked. I got there and saw that the pool was closed, but there was another sign that said “Hobo Pool,” which I’d read about previously. I talked to a woman who was on her way out, and she informed me that the hobo pool was still open. It was too hot for her, but it drained into a stream passing by and it was pretty pleasant there.

It turned out that she had spent considerable time living in her Subaru station wagon (considerably nicer than the one that I used to have). I gave her a tour of Walden, which looked quite spacious in comparison. She is a musician and performs under the name WHAT WAS HER NAME. She gave me a sticker with her name on it. I suppose I should get some stickers.

After our tongues were tired, I decided that it made more sense to get to the posh spa ASAP and check out the free pools the next day. It took me a while to find my way to the Saratoga Spa and Resort. I had no data connection, so my GPS, though it knew my location and that of the resort, was no help in driving there. I spent a quarter hour playing “getting hotter/getting colder” with the GPS before I finally found my way there.

I got checked in, moved in, took a quick little tour of the grounds, and at 2:45 went to the pub in hopes of getting a beer and some food. The place didn’t open until 3:00. The bartender got me a beer, but I had to wait a while for her to put in my food order. The beer was fine, though the couple beers I most wanted to try were sold out.

I paid five bucks for a plush robe and made my way out to the pools. There are half a dozen or so that have little teepees over them. I assumed that this was so you’d have enough privacy to be able to enjoy the water without a bathing suit, something I subsequently learned was not the case. The water in all of the small pools was pretty darned hot. The pool that’s big enough for actual swimming was pretty comfortable, though.

I hung out in the room and wrote for a while before going to dinner. I sat at the bar for a while, but couldn’t interject myself into the conversation of the septuagenarians at the bar, and eventually gave up and got a table. The place was crawling with a group that I inferred had some religious affiliation. They had tons of kids that flooded the room with the pool table and the chess board with foot-high pieces.

After dinner I played guitar on a little porch for a while before taking another dip and headed for bed where I learned that I do not have seasons four and five of How I Met Your Mother. It was a grave disappointment.

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1 Response to Hot Springs, and a brewery? Saratoga, here I come!

  1. trena says:

    Really great photos; it’s like a different world out there.

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