Friday, July 7, 2017

Hot Springs Etiquette

Umpqua Hot Springs
We're on an extended road trip across the country and last week we stopped by a couple of hot springs here in Oregon.  Both were noted on web sites and by the signage there as being "clothing optional".  But it was obvious from the comments on the various web sites that a lot of people don't like the nudity (the "hippy-dippy naked people") they encounter.  We didn't have a lot of time, so we concentrated on just the two most popular public springs where nudity was supposed to be common.

Leading up to the forth of July weekend, we encountered a lot of people but only a few who were nude at Umpqua hot springs.  It was awkward.  The few who were nude tried to stay away from the textiles and their families, reaching for towels and covering parts of themselves up as they entered and left their tubs.  With my not wanting to put on my bathing suit (I reluctantly brought it) and my wife absolutely refusing to wear hers, we waited for an open tub far away enough from others that they wouldn't see us once we were in the somewhat murky water.

That didn't help.  A large clothed family settled into the tub next to us.  They seemed grudgingly OK with us not wearing anything, and I wasn't going to waste my time scurrying for a towel and trying to cover my bits as we moved into another basin.  Grrr...

It wasn't as I had hoped, but the next day we tried the other spring (Cougar Hot Springs).  What a difference.  A woman at the trail head collected our $6 each and asked us straight up if we were aware that the spring is clothing optional.  I smiled and said yes (thank you).  She answered questions, was very pleasant, and was there to watch the cars in the parking lot.  The outfit she works for cleans the springs on Thursday mornings.  Fortunately, it was Friday afternoon.  Unfortunately, it was the Friday going into the forth of July weekend, so there was even more people at that spring.

When we arrived at the spring after a short hike, it was wonderful to see that almost everyone there was nude, happy, and perfectly at ease.  People came, took their clothes off, socialized, and casually moved around no differently than if they were at a nudist resort.  Most of the time we were there the only people who were not completely nude was a few older couples and a couple of guys who were part of a large mixed group of otherwise happily naked young adult friends.  For some reason, those guys decided to keep their shorts on even though the other men and the women with them (who outnumbered the guys) stayed happily nude.

A couple of young (probably only 16 or so) girls came later and joined us.  I assume they grew up as nudists or at least grew up being nude in hot springs.  My wife was concerned about them coming on their own, but to tell you the truth, I felt they were much safer around the people there than around the people at the first spring.  One large older full blooded looking native american was there that my wife thought was a bit creepy around the girls, but I found him to be rather majestic.  There was a German, a Polish, and a Japanese couple there, about our age.  All chatty and fine with everybody being nude.

But most of the people there were young (20's, early 30's) with only a few being loose couples and the others being part of the large group of friends.   All very friendly and social.  We stayed several hours, chatted with just about everyone, and hated to leave.  Just as we left, another large clothed family with young children set up on one of the lower basins.  I felt sorry for the kids.  At least they should have been allowed by their parents to enjoy being nude there.

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