From a $65 Shower to Washing Underwear in a Sink
Presidents and their wives have stayed at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. It’s one of those old establishments nestled into the rolling hillsides of Virginia where you can learn Falconry for a thousand dollars an hour and play lawn games on perfectly snipped grass.
It’s the place where I decided to take a shower after a few freezing days and nights in my RV at the Peaceful River campground, with no shower facilities. I was a bit past due for some soap and water. A Google search popped up the hotel’s offer for a natural mineral springs day pass at the Homestead which included full use of the women’s changing area, complete with heated lounge chairs and showers with light and sound effects for three different types of rainfall.
Range Rovers and Teslas stopped at the circular driveway entrance allowing women in calf-high fine leather boots - of a modest heel height – to step out into the brisk chill of the autumn tinged misty afternoon. The women pulled on sleek gloves for the fifteen second walk to the Homestead’s entrance where a white-gloved bellman opened the door.
My attempt to park Goldie, my Class C motorhome, in the upper level parking lot, tucked away from the worthy patrons failed miserably. I missed my turn and was forced down the slope of the circular drive with my rumbling V-10 engine pulling my house on wheels with her peeling decals and duct tape remnants from my attempt to reattach an awning bracket after hitting a pole in Rhode Island. It’s hard to sneak by in a loud and large vehicle. Her engine roared to climb the steep hill before I could steer Goldie into the anonymity of the parking lot. I packed up my day bag and walked down the hill where I tried to blend into the ranks, but I’ve never been fond of plaid.
After I paid sixty-five dollars I was given a tour of the women’s area and was told about two separate lounging rooms with a fireplace and selection of teas, mixed nuts and fresh fruit to snack on.
I used to work in a fancy spa. I reflected back on the day I’d overheard a very distraught spa client complain to a manager that she was quite dissatisfied with the quantity of bubbles in her bath before her body treatments. It was just four days after 9-11 and my mind couldn’t grasp how that woman justified her complaint.
I don’t ever want to lose my perspective that the sixty-five dollar shower was an absolute luxury. During my travels this past year I’ve seen people who live without running water in their dwellings. Modern day plumbing is truly something to be thankful for – and when it’s gussied up with brass fixtures and fragrant soaps it’s even more lush. I had a private shower cubicle with an area to change, hang my clothes, the thick terrycloth robe and as many towels as I wanted to use. The marble tiles surrounding the shower area were spotless and a dispenser supplied shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
I slipped on my bathing suit – oh wait, that’s pure fiction. I struggled to squeeze myself into the bathing suit that fit me two years ago and found my way to the serene lavender scented heated sauna before braving it out into the cold and steady rain to the Jacuzzi and the natural mineral spring water.
Divine. Water everywhere, surrounding me from the earth and sky. After sleeping curled up in a ball for warmth, opening my arms wide and stretching my back in the heat of the water liberated my spine and eased my tightened muscles.
I ordered a chicken salad sandwich to bring inside and eat in one of the tranquil lounging areas where I wrapped my legs in a thick comfy blanket and indulged in a Wi-Fi fix after having none for three days.
Then, after I lounged every ounce from that room, I got my laptop and went to the area with the fireplace, made some tea and got even more of an Internet fix, even getting a bit of work done.
Finally, after soaking, showering, heating, cooling and lounging for almost four hours, I was complete with the experience. Walking back through the grand lobby I stopped for a complimentary iced tea and slice of lemon pound cake with icing.
And then I drove back to my campsite down by the river.
And today, I washed three pairs of underwear in the bathroom sink with lemon dish soap. I’m in Panama, where it’s hot and humid and I hadn’t packed very efficiently the night before my flight. It was an impromptu trip to Panama to see the house of my dreams, a Balinese style home in the mountainous jungle of Altos Del Maria that sat on almost an acre of land with a gentle creek running through the property. The home spoke to me and my vision for the next chapter of my life. It had a beautiful casita and a huge master floor area of a thousand square feet where I imagined I could rent the space for yoga and wellness retreats, have flexible living space to use for Air bnb and have the solitude I crave to get my writing done, or the procrastinating about the writing.
In order to be close to the house, I booked an Air bnb close by, hosted by a wonderful couple who moved to Panama from the United States after their own RV adventure. Without a washer available, and a curvy forty-minute drive down the mountain, I did what came naturally, filled the sink with soapy water and washed the underwear.
I’ve washed underwear in the sinks of Paris, France, the Swiss Alps and New York City. And I’ve done spa days in fancy places. The beauty of these experiences is in the contrast and in the happiness they both provide along with the perspective that conveniences like a washer and dryer in the house are a luxury, drinking water from the faucet is miraculous, air conditioning truly a divine invention and a fridge full of food a true blessing.
I never did get to see the house of my dreams in Panama.
After having it on the market for four years, the owner decided at nine o’clock the night before my appointment that he no longer wanted to sell the house. Was it a bait and switch as was suggested by an expat?
I think it was the divine comedic timing of the Universe. It was the house that inspired me to go to Panama, which may be my new frontier.