The girls are gracious. They wait for me at the airport, grab a bite to eat and are all smiles and hugs and, “God, it is soooo good to see you,” when I arrive.
Cate has a master plan, and we are her pawns, in what seems to be a bathing weekend.
First stop, Carson, a small town north and west of Portland in southern Washington. Once a vintage hotel, the bulk of Carson has been replaced by a golfing resort, but oddly, they have kept the remains of the original bathhouse, a rickety white wooden building with rows of claw foot bathtubs fed by sulfur hot springs.
Men and women have separate sides, and tubs are separated by white cotton curtains. $20 secures a 35-minute soak in the most rotten-egg-smelling 136° water you can imagine, followed by followed by a “wrap.”
Think of this as cocooned mummies in a long room of white cots. We are covered in towels, sheets and a blanket, tucked in on all sides, a light towel over our eyes, and left to sweaty thoughts.
It’s incredibly quiet in the room, except I think I hear Sue turn over. After what seems like forever, I start to wonder when the bath attendant, Kelly, is going to unwrap me. The girls and I have already been chastised for talking too much in the “quiet” zone, and I’m not anxious to draw her ire.
Suddenly, her voice chides rather impatiently, “Lady, it’s past four o’clock. Do you think you might want to get up?”
I drag my arms from their cocoon wrap and am chagrined to discover that I am the last body in the room. The other girls are showered, dressed and gigging at me as I shuffle toward the shower dragging my draping. I curse their “evil” joke of leaving me as the “lone mummy.”
On the way to Cate’s house, we try to find a wine store — not an easy prospect out in the country. We settle for a gas station that has a convenience store, which sells — well, we won’t talk about vintage or maybe even the grape.