Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Living Like Hippies

Ever want to live like a hippie? Traveling from town to town in a bus, making family at every stop, growing long, unkempt hair, and making pants out of old blankets? Me neither. But I knew Mike would find it appealing so for his 32nd birthday we took a trip to Mystic Hot Springs in middle-of-nowhere Monroe, Utah.

2 hours south and 1 hour east of Salt Lake is a very small town. And in that small town is a hot spring owned by Mystic Mike. You can stay in a tent, pioneer-style cabin or for a real hippie experience, you can stay in a converted school bus. Which, of course, is what we did.

Groovy, man
On the property are two pools into which the hot water flows but most impressive are the Victorian bathtubs.

Sometimes the water was very hot

Most of the time we had the place to ourselves. But the other people there were some of the most, um, unique people we have met. First, there was Mystic Mike, the owner. A very laid back dude who lives in the only house on the property with his girlfriend and her daughter. He used to do some kind of work in the music production business and has bands come out to perform as often as he can. Here is a picture of the stage in his living room.
He records the bands on some fancy cameras and puts them on his you tube page. Here's a video (this is the band we saw) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6N13CFDaBA.

Speaking of the band... Rising Appalachia performed for us. They were so gracious to perform in this small living room in front of an audience of 12. They are very talented and it was a fun, cozy concert.

Another local worth mentioning is Tammy. The cleaner/masseuse/occasional cook. My favorite story with her was I asked her what is the best place to eat in town. She said she "highly recommended" Sage Grill, Bully's and the Mexican place. We drove into town and checked out all the restaurants, which were Sage Grill, Bully's and a Mexican place.

Finally, there was Apostrophe. I probably don't need to say more but I would be remiss not to relay some of his words of wisdom. Quotes from Apostrophe:

"I don't know what's strange, but I know what's real."

"A family of 3 is harmony. Then you have 6 then 9 and then you have everything."

Apostrophe was at Mystic cleansing his spirit for "my brother and his twin." Are they not both his brothers?

Those are just a handful of the characters we met. There was also the girl who came here at the suggestion of a rest stop man, the sometime chef who was living "off the grid" and the guy who made his own pants out of blankets.

Lainey loved staying in the bus. And we can add it to our list of strange places we have stayed. The current list is
1. An old elementary school (slept in a classroom)
2. A haunted hotel (complete with creepy dumbwaiter in the room)
3. An old school bus

Those are the places we have stayed on purpose. It does not include the accidental strange places, like the bathroom floor of a Disneyland hotel. But that's a list for another day.



Lainey trying the peace sign again...looks more like "live long and prosper."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


We recently returned from a trip to the Big Easy. N'Awlins. I found it to be a beautifully historic town, but too centered around drinking. Bourbon street is fun to see once, but by the second day I was annoyed with how loud it was and instead of trying to catch beads, I was trying to dodge them.

Nevertheless, some interesting things did happen on the trip. And I hold voodoo responsible.

It all began the first day we were there. We woke up bright and early to see the number one site on our list. The cemetery, of course. And it was beautiful and creepy at the same time. Who could ask for more?

So there we are, having a good time and I turn the corner and see Lainey kneeling at a voodoo alter. Behold.

Wait, let me make it scarier.
In voodoo-ese "xxx" is significant, as you can see here.
After kneeling at the tomb, Lainey sat down and started writing x's in the dirt. SHE STARTED WRITING X'S! We all swear none of us told her to it. You would think I would have taken a picture of this, right? Wrong. I turned around and ran the hell away from her.
As I wandered the cemetery I stalked a tour group who paid to learn things. When they stopped at the voodoo queen, Marie Leveau's, tomb I listened in closely. The tour guide explained the origins of voodoo and who Marie really was. Turns out voodoo is a religion and does a lot of good and actually empowers women. Cool.
I better redo my graphic then.
I guess the voodoo spirit found Lainey because when I went back to apologize to Lainey for running away she was dancing on the tombs.

And from here on strange things started happening on our trip. Things I can only attribute to the voodoo.
1. Major Hot to Major Cold in a Matter of Hours
The first day in New Orleans was spent marveling at how hot it was and scoping out shops to hit the next day to buy more tee shirts. You see, we had packed based on Utah's version of 70. A couple short sleeves, several long sleeves and a light jacket. But Louisiana has a totally different idea of what 70 feels like. Apparently, their 70 is our 90. It was so hot we had to shower and change our clothes before venturing back out for dinner. We went to sleep that night with the air on full blast.
The next morning we awoke to thunder, lightning, rain and about 40 degrees. Instead of scoping out shops for tee shirts, we were looking for hats and blankets. Depending on who you talk to, the change in weather was either good voodoo or bad voodoo.

2. Getting Caught in a Parade
One night we took a carriage ride. A haunted carriage ride. Well, the carriage wasn't haunted but it took us by haunted locations. Look how scared we were.
Bad voodoo met us and we got stuck in a traffic jam. Behind a horse and a garbage truck. But then the good voodoo kicked in and we found that the reason we were stuck was because a parade was happening. So we hopped out of the carriage and joined the fun.
Our carriage driver ensured us that he always knows what is going on in the city and he had no clue this was going to happen. A parade that appears from nowhere. Other forces were definitely at work here.
3. Emergency Evacuation
Saturday morning as I was getting ready a very loud and annoying fire alarm went off in our room. Outside the door over a loud speaker, a woman's voice repeated "There is an emergency in the building. Evacuate immediately. Do not use the elevators." I looked at Mike who's eyes were as wide as mine. Not only was this a scary situation on it's own, but it came on the heels of the Boston Marathon bombing and a bomb threat at a nearby hotel the day before. Mike scooped up Lainey, who had been sleeping, and I grabbed some clothes and shoes for her and we headed out of the room.
My dad was already in work meetings and my mom was in the room next door. Between our rooms were double doors I hadn't noticed before. They were closed and said "Do Not Enter." So we headed to the exit stairs down the opposite end of the hallway. We walked down the stairs, Lainey clinging to Mike and shaking. There was a group of women in their bathrobes and bare feet following us. We all made it outside (on New Orleans streets in our bare feet) and went around to the front of the hotel. It was as if nothing happened. No one was outside. People were milling about business as usual in the lobby. We talked to the bell man who said there was no problem and we can go back up to our hotel.
So we went back up. Poor Lainey was covered only in a jacket and shaking. We started to get ready for the day again when the alarm went off again. Loud buzzing and "Emergency" over the loudspeakers again. As we were gathering our clothes again and about to evacuate it stopped. A few minutes later it started. Then stopped. Then started again. Then stopped.  We decided to get ready as fast as possible and leave before it went off again. This time, though, we got my mom from her room. She said she was pounding on our door the first time when we must have already been going down the stairs. Sorry maw. We didn't mean to leave you. We were only following the rules.
This is how my dad so aptly described what happened. 
 Luckily, the alarm did not go off again during our stay. Although every time Lainey hears something she still says "mom, noise?" Bad voodoo.
4. Everything She Touched, She Got
 Perhaps in an effort to make up for the alarm debacle, good voodoo rained on Lainey and she got the Midas touch. Anything she showed an interest in somehow ended up back in our room and in our suitcase. Mike thinks this has something to do with Grammy, but I think it is good voodoo.

5. The Commando 450
You know how hotel showers are typically low-flow? And you're always wishing for more pressure? Of course, on this trip the voodoo gave us the Commando 450. And this is what we were like:


While the good and bad voodoo was exciting and it was a great trip. It was nice to return home and have everything back to normal.