The poor man's SPA (or is it the only authentic definition of SPA?) is the hot spring, bubbling up naturally from between shifting tectonic plates, releasing the heat of an earth rumbling largely unnoticed in many parts of the world, or in this case - across the San Juan river. In what must be a massively under-mentioned impossibility of metaphysics, with coffee shop patios and a paved dog path just across the river, a piece of heaven has clearly descended into the center of Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
I have soaked in hot springs threaded with algae in the middle of Yosemite and in ones corralled by ugly 80's style hot tubs along the banks of the french broad river as it cuts through what remains of the ever-shrinking Appalachians. In fact last year I got a bit obsessed and toured every hot spring in Truth or Consequences, a New Mexican town built around it's abundance of hot spring resorts, and Ojo Caliente - the place so dear to me I mention it only in passing hoping you'll forget and leave me my most perfect paradise. The challenge facing these excessively generous gifts from the earth is they must stratle the line between hippie paradises with naked old wrinkly European men smoking hash and engaging you in seemingly benign conversation and the Los Angeles refugee seeking spiritual healing from her excess - but you know, not TOO much retreat. "Yoga-laties on site please!"
Pagoasa Springs is the revelation of hot springs. There is no Hot Spring in America that more adeptly quenches the thirst of all those who may be seeking healing from the earth or just a good manly dip in a snow-banked river between soaks. With the peaks of the San Juan Mountains scratching a piercing blue sky all around you and a crystal clear river providing prey to the fly fishermen beneath you, I promise you will never have a better soak than in the waters the Natives called "Pah gosah."
I can imagine no better place to turn 29 and I'm quite certain that while laying out on a slab of rock in my bikini with 103 degree water massaging my back and the Colorado sun rehabilitating my sickly white skin, something changed in me. Something fundamental, like an internal polar shift and without my even noticing it, on the last day of 2009, while turning 29, happiness became me.