What’s Relaxing?   7 comments

The topic on the Open Book Blog Hop this week is “What’s Your Go-To Relaxation?”

Alaskans live a pretty active lifestyle, so of course, my go-to relaxation is a bit … uh, active.

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My go-to relaxation always includes water, preferably hot water and low light. If I just want to relax for an evening, I fill up the bathtub and soak my cares away.

But my all-time relaxation strategy involves more than just sitting in hot water.

Image result for image of northern lights

If I have my perfect plan for relaxation, it involves some sort of exercise … hiking from Angel Rocks trailhead to Chena Hot Spring Resort (about 15 miles) along treeless ridgelines is my favorite, but that can only be done in warm weather. In winter, we drive the 60 road miles to Chena Hot Springs Resort, which is sort of an athletic feat because of the cold and the moose and caribou occasionally crossing the road.

When we go to Chena Hot Springs Resort, we plan several hours of ‘bathing’. There is something so relaxing about shedding the layers of clothing necessary to stay warm on the trip out there. Gloves, hat, coat, sweater, boots, socks, pants, undershirt … it’s one step at a time that just leaves the world back home in the locker.

The only gear you need at Chena Hot Springs Resort is a bathing suit and a towel and if your feet are sensitive — flip-flops or water socks. I leave my cell phone in the locker. My watch. Everything.

My first stop is one of the two indoor Jacuzzi tubs. Heating with hot springs water, they usually take a couple of minutes to get used to so I can slide down into the water. If I’m lucky, nobody but my husband joins me, but usually there are people already there. You can tell the old hands. They don’t talk. They sit with their eyes closed with bubbling water up to their shoulders. The newcomers feel the obligation to chit-chat … except the Japanese tourists. Even if they speak English, they also understand the importance of silence in the hot springs.

After maybe 10 minutes, we shift over to the “cool” pool. This is a shallow swimming pool where there are usually kids playing and splashing. We would skip it entirely except that it gets us ready for going outside. It is also heated by the hot springs water, tempered with cold water and the water runs about body temperature, which feels cool when you’ve been in the Jacuzzi. By bringing your core temperature back to normal, the outside air doesn’t seem quite so brutal.

Understand. We don’t go to Chena Hot Springs in the winter unless it’s below freezing, probably below zero. But the true relaxation zone is outside. Children are not permitted out there. Outside, you have a choice of a large Jacuzzi or the rock pool. We usually turn to the outdoor Jacuzzi first.

Image result for image of chena hot springs rock pool

Depending on the time of evening we get there and a whole lot of other variables, the northern lights will come out. We sit in the tub along with our fellow relaxers and watch these ribbons of color dance across the sky. If the aurora is active, we might spend hours in this tub. Sometimes we’ll stand up to cool off. Once we hung out there for four hours watching the lights.

Then there’s the rock pool, which is my ultimate relaxation spot. It never gets deeper than about four feet, so you have to squat a little. It’s a “natural” pool — it was created by the resort owner, but the water flows off the hot springs with just a tiny bit of tempering. There is snow on the huge rocks that surround the pool. When you get too hot, you can climb out on the rocks and cool down.

My favorite thing to do is go to an area where there are no other people and just float on my back. The fog from the rock pool prevents me from seeing the aurora, but the warm water and quiet chat of my fellow bathers just takes me into a zone where I could almost fall asleep (not recommended in hot water).

And then there’s the drive home, which oddly enough is also relaxing. We stay well below the speed limit, watch for moose and maybe listen to some classical music … once we regain radio reception.


Posted February 20, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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7 responses to “What’s Relaxing?

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  1. Wow.


  2. I like to see the northern lights someday. Anytime there’s a prediction that they MIGHT be seen in my area, it’s a cloudy night.


  3. Gosh, that sounds simply awesome.


    • It is. I enjoy it the most when we hike in because I feel like I’ve really earned it, but in the winter, when it’s dark out and cold – you don’t do anything. You just relax. And you come out feeling like a noodle.


  4. The contrast between the cold and that pool must be crazy. It’s so beautiful there.


    • It is. If you’ve ever hung out in a hot tub, you know how your heart starts to pound after a while. But it’s so cold here that you can stand up and cool off in a minute or two.

      And your hair freezes. Mine’s quite long and my daughter, when she was a teenager, would make sculptures with it. I have some Medusa-like photos of me.


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