Happy Places

Diary , NSFW Apr 02, 2023 No Comments

Laying in a warm bath tub under a palo verde tree, listening to the coos of mourning doves and gazing at the fluffy clouds above, I thought to myself I really needed this.

I’d been in Phoenix for work, and took and extra day in town before heading back home. Without anything on the day’s agenda, I decided to drive the 50 miles out of the city to a hot springs I’d visited years before.

I’d first found the hot springs on a trip with friends where we pulled over to get gas. Down the road was a hand-written sign that said “hot springs” and it looked like there was an oasis of sorts in the distance. What’s that about? We didn’t investigate and just resumed our drive, but I took a mental note and figured I’d look into it another time.

A couple of years later I was traveling alone, and decided to check the place out. Indeed it turned out to be an oasis, with a wonderfully funky appeal. It’s tucked away, surrounded by trees and tall grasses. The hot springs themselves are natural and are not artificially heated. There are several pools on the property, both communal and private, each with its own unique vibe and atmosphere. The overall atmosphere is rustic, nicely maintained but casual with an earthy feel.

On my first visit, I wasn’t sure what to expect so I asked for a private pool. It was nice enough, but I figured the next time I’d brave the communal area instead. This was the right choice, since the communal area has a nice variety of pools (including the aforementioned bathtub), as well as lounge chairs for sunning. The vibe among the other bathers was friendly but not too intrusive, and I liked the camaraderie. Men and women of all shapes, sizes and colors, just relaxing and enjoying the tranquility together.

The staff were friendly and welcoming, and it felt like this is a labor of love. There were various little buildings and campers scattered around, and at one point there was some blues music playing off in the distance. This all felt so relaxing, and so different from the daily stresses.

When I first arrived the guy asked how long I was going to stay. I wasn’t sure, so I said an hour and a half. When I first got into the tub, I’ll admit I wondered if 90 minutes was too long… I mean, would’nt this get boring? But once I got into the swing of things, I wondered if I should have arranged to stay longer. It was the escape that I really needed. A happy place for sure.

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(Advisory: This next section includes NSFW nude photos)

Back at the hotel, I found myself in an altogether different atmosphere, but one that was also a happy place of sorts. I’d booked the hotel through Hotwire, in an attempt to dodge the astronomical room rates found in Phoenix during the springtime. With Hotwire you chose the general location and grade of hotel, but you’re not entirely sure what you’ll get. With a roll of the dice, I got booked into a boutique hotel in downtown Phoenix.

The hotel turned out to be trendy and stylish boutique hotel. The room was sleek and contemporary, with concrete floors, cool light fixtures, exposed electrical conduits… an artsy, industrial look. The bed was positioned in the center of the room, rather than the usual placement against the wall, so it became the centerpiece of the room. The walls were adorned with original art pieces, which were available for purchase. Sort of hotel meets art gallery.

Downstairs the lobby was more of a multi-purpose space, with lounge seating, the requisite cocktail bar, and a market/café combo. Like the rest of the hotel, the space was designed with a modern and minimalist aesthetic, featuring high ceilings, concrete floors, and clean lines. Instead of a sit-down restaurant with waitservice, the café had the fast-casual order at the counter format, and then food would be brought out to wherever you decided to sit. There were tables by the windows, high-top bar tables, outdoor seating, and the bar itself. Intermixed with this was the market itself, with an interesting mix of gifts, books, local stuff, and food. I really loved how casual and comfortable this all felt. Plus the food was delicious, and the staff were really friendly and welcoming.

But back to the room, and specifically the shower. The shower!  I’ve got a thing for nice showers, and those who follow my photos will have noticed I do a lot of my photos in the shower. Here the shower was massive, of the walk-in variety with a frosted glass window looking into the rest of the room. It all felt very spa-like. Rain showerhead, high-quality fixtures, and great lighting. Sure, why shouldn’t a shower have great lighting? Also a mirror, which if I’d had someone with me could have made it even more fun.

But back to that thought… I really needed this. One thing I’ve noticed recently when I’ve told people at work that I’m taking time off, is they’ll often say something like “good for you!” This feels different from before, where taking time off felt like creating an inconvenience for others. For a lot of us, working through the pandemic was really stressful, and it was hard to take good quality time off for oneself. And now, with staff shortages in so many sectors, it’s still hard to take time off. There’s a sense that people are overworked and stressed, and a sense that they need to look after themselves to avoid burnout. So sitting there in the tub in the warm water under the sky, I realized how stressed I’d been, and how good it felt to take a moment to unplug and relax.

Finding that happy place. Sometimes it can be pretty simple. A quirky hot springs in the desert, or a hotel with a really great shower. I don’t ask for much!

To see the full NSFW portfolio of the shower photos, click to see the backpage here.

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Nate

Writer, performer, public speaker, wing guy, gym buddy, sympathetic ear, naked chef, and all-around good-natured exhibitionist. Say hello at nate@natebeck.us.

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