Last night I finished reading The Wizard of Oz to the girls, so then I started asking them questions. What was your favorite part of the book? Did you like the play we went to on Thursday? What was your favorite part of that? (By the way, the play at the Scera right now is Frog and Toad and it is absolutely delightful! If it's still playing, take your kids.)
As it was getting late, I told the girls it was time for bed. Lilia says to me, "Mom, can't you stay longer? I enjoy talking with you."
Oh how I wish I could bottle that up for the teenage years!
I feel similarly when my parents are around. They stayed the night with us on Friday, as they were down visiting Grandma McEuen for her birthday. It's always great having my parents here for whatever time they can afford to us, and to talk and reminisce about the old days. Some of my siblings and I joke that the best part of going home when no one else is home is that you get all of mom and dad's attention to yourself.
Before Grandpa leaves, he always asks the girls when they'll be going up to Idaho to visit him. And then he always says he'll take them to the hot springs.
The hot springs are as big a part of the Christenson family as jumping off the rolling teeter-totter onto the trampoline or jumping off cliffs or fishing on Memorial Day.
One hot springs in particular was the object of many Christenson outings: Oakley Hot Springs (or Whitely Hot Springs as it was known to some). Oakley, Idaho is a quaint, pioneer town. It has a really neat "feeling" to the town. You almost get the sense that the pioneers are still trudging around the place. Those who follow LDS apostles know that David B. Haight was born and raised there.
About four to five miles outside of Oakley was the Oakley Hot Springs. They closed the place down within the last five years, sadly. The Oakley Hot Springs, like everything in Oakley, looked as though it was established sometime in the late 1800s. It consisted of one large pool that was known as "the cold pool" and four other smaller pools that were similar to oversized, concrete hot tubs.
Two of the smaller pools were "private" rooms, where you could lock a door, but maybe that's just what we thought. I don't remember any of the doors ever being locked, except I do remember my mom and dad going into one of the rooms and asking us not to disturb them. There's a reason my parents had 10 children.
Another one of the hot tubs had a huge hose of water jetting out of it that you could run over your body for massage and relaxation. And the other pool was so hot it would cause your skin to turn red.
After lounging in the hot pools, we'd run and take a dip in the cold pool, then back to the hots, then back to the cool. It was a pretty rundown joint, but we loved it. We had birthday parties and family reunions there.
One time we went on a school holiday in February, and the dirt road leading there was completely snowed over. We couldn't get through with our van, so we hiked into two-feet snowdrifts (both ways) to get there. Sure enough, they were open and let us in.
Now that it's shut down, Grandpa says there's a new hot springs in Almo we'll have to try. Almo is even smaller than Oakley. I'm not sure if it can hold the same magic for me as Oakley Hot Springs, but as long as I can sit and chat with my parents and children a little longer, I'm game.