Soaking in the Iron Spring

I didn’t think our last day at SMU-in-Taos would top the hike to Williams Lake, but I was wrong.

Today we went to Ojo Caliente spa and resort, home to geothermal mineral water that has flowed from a subterranean volcanic aquifer for thousands of years. It was first used by Native Americans more than 1,000 years ago. In the 1500s the Spanish soaked in the springs, and we continued the tradition today. At the spa, adobe buildings surround a courtyard filled with flowers and sculptures. Soft Native American music playing in the background set the tone. Our group was challenged by the signs that said, “Whisper,” but soon we were so mellow we hardly talked.

Muddy Doug.

First stop was the 104-degree Iron Spring, warm iron-rich water beneficial to the blood and immune system. Next we moved to the mud baths. Yes, we were wearing swimsuits. We coated ourselves with cold soupy mud and sat in the sun until it dried. After we washed off the mud our skin was as soft as a baby’s. Next was the 100-degree Soda Spring followed by the 107-degree Arsenic Spring, which is not poisonous but good for skin conditions. By this point we were so relaxed we didn’t care if we had skin conditions or not. After the cooling pool and wet and dry saunas, we were practically in comas.

Just the right number of cooks in the kitchen: Doug, Jose and Jeanne

Only one thing could rejuvenate us – lunch. At the spa restaurant I had the best gazpacho: tomatillo and green chili.

For our last evening together, Dr. Ubelaker hosted us at his house for chili, baked beans, salad and cobbler. We had just enough cooks in the kitchen with Jeanne, Doug, Sandra, Jose and me stirring things up. Dr. Ubelaker grilled elk brats, too, for a wonderful party. We spent one last evening admiring the view from his flagstone patio. The mountains we saw in the distance were in Colorado, 40 miles away.

Before it got too dark we took a look at his cactus garden, and the new cactus species he recently discovered. We gave him plenty of suggestions of names for the new species and for his house.

This little guy needs a name.

Facts of the Day

  • Two couples in our class celebrated wedding anniversaries on our trip. Happy 38th anniversary to Les and Ruthann and 32nd anniversary to Doug and Jeanne.
  • Cactus plants occur naturally only in North America. They have been imported to Europe and South America.
  • Cactus were the last plants to evolve. They evolved about the same time as rabbits.