Yesterday I had a detoxifying and relaxing soak in the Boulder Hot Springs, only a half an hour from Helena. It was so so so nice and so very sweaty! They only charged me seven bucks for the afternoon. I spent time in the one hundred and six degree mineral bath, the steam room, the outdoor ninety-eight degree pool and a few seconds in the freezing cold pool (when I started to overheat). In the hot mineral bath, when I would submerge up to my neck I felt pressure on my chest, like the hot water was a heavy weight – very weird. The place was nothing fancy or shi-shi, just plain, humble, rejuvenating tubs with a mix of people, young and old, rich and hicks. Now I’m all young, healthy and radiant. I’d say nearly unrecognizable.

When I’m in Chicago next week, maybe I’ll check out the Division St Russian & Turkish Baths or the Chicago Sweat Lodge or the luxurious, inviting, cat-friendly Peterson Bath!

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I know, it seems that the whole US is getting hit this winter especially Chicago. But I left Chicago to get away from cold and snow and it followed me. I can’t remember the last time I had snow boots . . . and I had to buy them this year. Well worth the purchase because I’ve used them a lot. (I didn’t even have them in Chicago because they clear the sidewalks.) Seattle typically has a mild winter with maybe a day or two of snow, max. They had a couple of weeks worth of snow which basically shut down the town. If vehicles were out on the road, they had chains on their tires because of the ice.

Back about a week before Christmas, they got hit with the stuff that stuck around. This wasn’t going to stop Larissa and I from going out to meet men. One of Larissa’s friends invited her to a Christmas party at a bar with a bunch of guys that she sailed with in the summer. Seattle had snow-packed and ice roads so Larissa didn’t feel safe driving, even in her all-wheel drive vehicle. Michelle was meeting us there and she was the brave one because she drove her front-wheel drive car. She also had lived in Chicago and didn’t let snow scare her off the roads. The roads were fairly flat from her house to the bar but from Larissa’s there were some big hills (typical for Seattle).

We walked down to the bus stop, hesitated and then walked down the street with our eyes on the bus. In the 2 1/2 miles to the bar, we did see one bus pass but we happened to be between bus stops. There were no cars out – no cabs, for sure! Everything was blanketed white, people were moving slowly and we were bundled up for the walk. We’d catch the bus for sure on the way home.

One of the guys that we chatted with that night turned out to be very into sports and nature. He said that he enjoyed rock climbing and on the way up the mountain, slept in his tent on the ledge in snow. Yikes! Not one part of that sounded enjoyable to me. He also loved mountain biking – I prefer paved paths (or packed gravel). This guy lived on his boat and rode his bike everywhere, up and down those big hills.

When I visited my mom in Farmington, NM a few years ago, I drove up to Durango, CO to rent a bike. I was in biking shape because I rode my bike (7 miles each way) to and from work, on the streets of Chicago and paved path by Lake Michigan. At the bike shop, I told them that I wanted an easy trail so they showed me where to ride. Even as I was beginning on the slow up hill loose gravel, I was slipping and sliding. It got more challenging as I road up and down over dirt moguls through tall wild flowers and prairie grasses. The sun was beating down on me as I heaved and hoed over the terrain with sweat dripping down the back of my pants. This was supposed to be enjoyable? I made it but knew that the next time, I’d need to be more specific. Where’s the level paved bike path through the trees, with the chirping birds, spotted sun, lazy breeze and the latte/juice stands? I really enjoy spending time in the forest, swimming in lakes and hiking small mountains, it refreshes me. I used to think that I was such a nature girl, but I’m finding out that I’d prefer to wake up in a bed with a down comforter in a heated cabin.

After a night of nice sailors, but no love interests we walked up the street to the bus stop with Larissa’s friend who invited us to the bar. She was headed in the same direction. No bus. We kept walking until we stumbled upon a man at the corner laying on the ground. He had a nice orange North Face coat on along with green cargo pants. Definitely not homeless. We peered down at him and asked him if he was okay. He was so drunk he could barely speak but we found that his destination was only a couple of blocks away. Larissa and her friend picked him up and I held onto the sleeping bag that her friend had been carrying. This friend was actually going to stay with a bootie call (not sure why she had a sleeping bag). The man couldn’t walk on his own and he slurred when he spoke. He had been at a bar since two in the afternoon (it was around 11pm). In the silent, motionless night, a fire truck came barreling down the street to the corner where we picked up the guy. They drove up to us to see if everything was okay – we told them all was super duper, just on duty as good samaritans. I looked behind and noticed that a guy in a house had opened the window. He asked if we needed help but I nodded no. Everyone was watching. At least I know that the guy would have bee fine.

We got him to his apartment but then he said we had to back away from the door – it was his girlfriend’s home and she probably wouldn’t have been keen on seeing him drunk with three girls. We waited to make sure he got in safely – it was freezing. Once in, we left and had to walk the whole way home again! No cars, buses or cabs – crazy.

I was in a coffee shop this morning, what’s new? Well, now I’m in Helena, MT. I know, a little crazy. Seattle wasn’t working out for me at this point, so I decided to take a road trip to visit my mom. She’s consulting at a hospital in Helena. It’s a cute mountain town with streets such as Prospect Ave., Last Chance Gulch St., Horseshoe Bend Rd., Paydirt Dr., Gold Rush Ave., Hideout St., and Saddle Dr. Sounds so romantic, but I haven’t seen anyone riding horses or slinging guns. I have seen cowboys in big pick up trucks on cellphones.

People look me in the eye here . . . such a freaky thing. In Chicago, we don’t look at each other. Here they try to start up a conversation with anyone . . . figure out where you’re from and why you’re in town. Very friendly. The weather has been better than both Chicago and Seattle – in the mid-40s and sunny. I probably only wore my sunglasses once in the 2 months I spent in Seattle. I’ve been here 3 days and I’ve had to wear them twice. Feels good to be in the sun.

The coffee shop this morning had an interior that resembled the days when sidewalks were wooden and the streets, dirt. It had booths and bar stools scattered in little wooden nooks divided by walls and columns. For instance, there was a booth in the back that had it’s own room with an old rickety screen door. It’s all old grayish wood throughout the shop with mercantile such as postcards and Asian pottery for purchase. It had a cozy atmosphere and seemed a bit private. But then I overheard an interesting conversation.

“I don’t know who my father is because my mother who was a meth addict and drunk slept with many men. She died when I was four years old.” It was a female’s voice but I couldn’t see her. I kept trying to listen but I only caught a few more details. It sounded as though she had been to therapists, but didn’t like them. One even suggested she undergo hypnosis for help with post traumatic stress in which the victim has to re-live the situation in order to move on from the event. She said she had no intention of re-living her childhood. Then she was talking about fiance problems. She said that he would get into trouble when he drank – they would fight and he was mean. Her solution was to keep him busy so he wasn’t tempted by the bottle. So she set a schedule for him. He went to a bible study and was starting his own business – Quickstar – the multi-level marketing company related to Amway. She said that she was pushing him to religion and if he’s challenged with learning about god, that will solve the drinking problem. Yikes! It sounded like she was going to re-visit her childhood, but this time it wasn’t her mom who had the problem, it was her fiance.

All that from the coffee shop – people fascinate me! Then the guy who was sitting to the right of me was on his computer playing a video. I recognized the voice of Eckhart Tolle, a spiritual teacher. He writes about how people create drama within their lives because they’re so focused on the past and future. He teaches about living in the present moment. And that you can’t fix people, you have to accept them for who they are or remove them from your life. I wanted to go grab the girl and put her in front of Eckhart – maybe then she would wake up. But then again, maybe she wouldn’t.

That’s all they’re talking about out here. It’s still snowing. I drove to Vancouver, WA (near Portland) from Seattle on Saturday and had to drive about 40 mph the last half of the trip because the roads were snowy and slick. The normal almost 3 hr trip took 4.5 hrs. It reminded me of driving in South Dakota in the winter. In Chicago, the interstates are usually pretty clear because of the plows, salt and amount of traffic. They don’t salt out here, but use gravel and have only a limited amount. There were a few trucks and SUVs in the ditch – one was even upside down. As I scanned radio stations, I noticed that even on the channels that play pop music, the DJs talk about Christianity (not in Seattle, though). It was a shock when I was in Vancouver for Thanksgiving. A bible reference would be mentioned, so I would flip the channel thinking I was on a Christian station. But no, all sorts of music channels. Not sure that it was all channels, but the ones the I was hitting. It makes me uncomfortable because there are all sorts of religions. But I guess mainly Christian in this area.

Anyway, today is bad weather again and they’re recommending no travel. My cousins came over to my aunt and uncle’s yesterday, but they had chains on their vehicles. Now I understand why there are so many big SUVs and trucks (4-wheel drive) out here – especially when going through mountain passes. It’s people versus nature. When I was on the interstate to Vancouver, at one point over halfway through my trip, all sort of cars and SUVs pulled over to the side of the road to “chain-up”. It was like a trend, once a vehicle stopped and people noticed what they were doing, everyone had to do it.

I felt the tug, but then resisted. I have a set of chains in my car, thanks to my uncle who gave them to me over Thanksgiving. I didn’t want to take the time to put them on because I knew it would take me a bit since I’d never done it before. I figured I’d drive slow. The way they work is you get two chains for either the front two or back two wheels. Since I have front-wheel drive, I’d have to put the chains on my front two tires. The maximum speed with chains on is around 40 mpg.

My uncle said that since I have a Prius, it’s probably good in the snow. I never thought of it before, but he said that because of the weight of the batteries in the engine, even distribution and the fact that I’m closer to the ground I’m good in the snow. I made it to Vancouver, but I couldn’t make it up their driveway!

Last Saturday night, Larissa, Michelle and I went over to Larissa’s friends’ house for a holiday theme party. So much fun – a lot of people dressed in the 1950s-60s eras. It started snowing that evening, so it was very pretty outside. Although the house was on a steep hill so I had to pray that I wouldn’t fall on my ass in those boots. In the photo (from left to right) is Cindy (the host – love the dress, I’d wear it out to any party), Michelle, me (I bought that dress at a second hand store for about 5 bucks – score!) and Larissa. My dress was so tight that it fit me like a rubber glove. Good thing it fit, can’t be picky when you go to a second hand store. Excuse me please, do you have this dress in a size bigger and perhaps in navy blue? Forget it. In the photo below is Larissa, so cute! I don’t think she’s smoked a day in her life, but she’s a good actress. The only cancer she’d get from that cigarette would be from the high fructose corn syrup. She’s drinking a Harvey Wallbanger, yummy. Nice glasses!

Yikes – look at Chicago a couple of days ago (compliments of Stacy). She shot these photos from windows in our apartment. The red tree is in our backyard. It looks so pleasant and beautiful. I’m just glad to be looking at them through photos and not from the window – hehe!

Stacy sent me photos of Fig and Sy today. Sy is getting so big – see her photo compared to the first one (click on Pets and go to New baby girl!). She’s growing up without me watching her! I miss them . . .