Photo credit: Meriah Nichols / Overland TravelingMom

Photo credit: Meriah Nichols / Overland TravelingMom

The weird thing about hot springs is that we dread other people being there, we hope and pray that we’ll be alone. Our hearts sink when we see another car round the bend of a road, or, if we round the bend of a trail and see a head (or heads) rising out of the water.

I say that it’s weird because, honestly, if we talk to the people who are soaking, we invariably like them. They seem to always be cut from the same cloth that we are – which makes sense, I suppose – us all going out in the freezing boondocks to sit like we do in undeveloped hot springs. We are bound to like each other once we get going.

We didn’t talk to anyone new this time at the Hot Springs, any of the Hot Springs. We shied away from others arriving, waiting until they had left again before we got back in the springs. Others did the same for us. We were grateful.

Photo credit: Meriah Nichols / Overland TravelingMom

Photo credit: Meriah Nichols / Overland TravelingMom

Crab Cooker Hot Springs

My husband Mikey and I packed the kids up – Mac-Q in the Ergo Baby Carrier, Moxie in the Kelty Kid Backpack (Mikey tends to prefer it, saying that the metal frames in the pack makes it easier to carry the kids), Micah on his own two sturdy feet. We headed around to Crab Cooker, which is an easy walk from Shepherd’s.

I love the walk – have you ever read Clan of the Cave Bear? The entire walk there is set from something like Valley of the Horses. I always half expect to see the Ayla/Jondolar or the Mammoth Hunters to come around or something, clad in rugged fur-wear (cool boots!), brandishing bones or archaic stone tools.

Anyway. I digress! We walked along, gulping down the view and hoping that the hot springs would be empty. It wasn’t. But the red-headed, long-bearded young man in it was super nice to jump out, dry off and head out, leaving it all to us.

Photo credit: Meriah Nichols / Overland TravelingMom

Photo credit: Meriah Nichols / Overland TravelingMom

I really can’t say much more about this hot spring. It was perfect. The air, the sky, the water temperature, the company. Absolutely everything. I thought the sky might part and the angels descend upon us because, really, that was a slice of some delicious heaven.

The Wonder of the Night Sky

Later that day, back at Shepherd’s Hot Springs, the sun was curling itself up and slipping out of sight. All of us were back in the water, full, relaxed, deeply happy in that way that makes you really quiet. We sat there, all five of us and watched as the stars came out, one by one, then dozens by hundreds by thousands. The entire sky, completely filled with nothing else but the magic from the universe that surrounds us.

Photo credit: Meriah Nichols / Overland TravelingMom

Photo credit: Meriah Nichols / Overland TravelingMom

Our skin curled and wrinkled from being the water for so long, but we didn’t want to leave. Not the kids, not Mikey, not myself. We watched as the Milky Way unfurled its gleaming light above us, felt the power and mystic beauty that lies throughout and within all life, the cells in our body singing to the light of the stars. Those stars…a night sky that begins at one’s feet. Undiluted by not even one man-made light.

Pure. Whole. Strong.

And we forget this – I forget this – forget that we are essentially all made of stars, that this is healing for us, has something to it that can help our hearts and minds. The universe is made of love, and it’s light shines through the stars. How can we forget this? Why do we forget this? Am I the only one?

Because when I was in that water with my beloved and our kids, the necessity of the stars hit me like a ton of bricks, went straight through me and out of my eyes in the form of tears.