I have a picture of myself when I am a little girl in a patterned one-piece swimming suit, playing with a herdof My Little Ponies on the side of the Glenwood Springs Hot Springs pool, paying no mind to passersby. I remember sitting in my polka dotted dog intertube here, taking afternoon naps with my dad on the grass, and being heartbroken the year I couldn’t ride down the waterslides because I broke a blood vessel in my nose and had to have it cauterized.
Hot springs have become a bit of a hobby for Alex and I in the last few years, but Labor Day in Glenwood Springs has been a family tradition since before I was born. Now I have grown out of my blissful girlhood and am admittedly irritated with parking and waiting in line among the holiday weekend masses. When my sisters and I were growing up, my parents would get up early and leave the campground to get a parking spot at the pool. When we all woke up we would eat breakfast there and head into the pool to pick our prime spot on the grass before the crowds flocked in. But now each of us girls have built little families of our own, adding husbands (for me, a fiancé J ) babies, and dogs to the tradition. This year we didn’t get to the pool early and had to contend with mid-morning crowds. But once we got inside it was just the same as ever.
There are 15 different minerals in the water, and the springs that fill the pool deliver 3 and a half million gallons of hot water each day. Needless to say the pool is huge, leaving plenty of room for groups of visitors to have their own space. Kids climb the stairs on the west end of the pool to wait in the line at the top for a ride down a waterslide. People’s bare feet slap along the wet, narrow pool sides as they make their way to the bathrooms, snack shack, or hotter pool on the east end. The smell of sulfur is subtle in the air and the polished rock bottom of the pool cast the water in brownish hue.
Our family breaks into small groups, traversing the pool from our grassy daycamp at one end to the hot pool at the other. We watch my nephew proudly jump off the side and I realize my parents were doing the same thing with his mother-their first kid- 30 years ago at this pool.
A holiday weekend visit to Glenwood Springs certainly doesn’t offer the quietude that I often seek in the outdoors, but as my irritation with the crowds dwindles I realize that the familiarity of a lifelong family tradition is a pretty cool feeling too!