Like most rites of passages there always requires a few challenges to overcome. For my Hatchelorette it’s the driving. Over the next 5 days I will endure over 3000km of open road as 8months of pregnancy hormones surge through me. My hips, pelvis, pubis and just everything have begun opening many months before and long stretches of sitting are no easy feat.
Hatchelorette n. It’s the last hurrah before one gives birth (“hatching day”), happens in the third trimester when the final countdown begins. A journey that celebrates the mother to be as the women she was, is and will be. It must also be a solo adventure in the wild, an adventure than emboldens you and reminds you that your are amazing and capable of anything. – Melba Seto.
The first 4 hours eclipsed easily enough but as the day wore on I found myself alternating butt cheeks quite frequently. The last week I’ve been getting some serious calf spasms and cramps in the evenings so I always tried to keep flexing and circulating my feet periodically to keep the blood flowing in hopes to prevent some incredible discomfort later.
Before my journey I had a rough idea where I wanted to go. Like Smeegle under torture I whispered “Hotsprings…. Montana…” but I didn’t have an exact final destination. I did a little research in terms of mapping out certain natural hot springs, their location and that’s pretty much it.
As the hours passed I tossed around which place to go first, so I start at the farthest point and try to get there before nightfall and then begin the hot spring tour the next day ? Or do I try to hit the closer ones first and make my way down? Either way the hot springs were far. The closest one being 7-8 hrs drive and the farthest (on my bucket list ) 9hours away. Which would place me at the Gates or Yellow Stone National Park. Which seems a little too far for me in such a short time, I think it may be an adventure for another time.
Mark and Emma! #VanLife
The other motivating factor was I knew some amazing friends of mine, that I met while climbing in Potrero Chico,Mexico, were skiing in Big Sky, Montana. They’ve taken a few months off (which they do quite often) to travel around in their Sprinter and ski all the things. Big Sky Ski Area was only a couple hours from all the places I wanted to do. If possible I wanted to rendezvous with them.
Pondering and Pondering
The great thing about road trips, especially alone, is that is gives you a lot of time to reflect, ponder and just take it all in. I thought about all the people I loved, all the wondering humans in my life and how I met them. I thought about all the places I’ve climbed and will climb. While all these thoughts gently circulated in my mind, my hand would rest on my belly constantly feeling the Little Humans comforting kicks. They’re getting bigger.
I marveled at the changing landscapes and wondered how many buffalos had been felled at each plateau I passed. I thought about hot springs. I thought more about Yellowstone. I would be so close. It would be a shame to not take a peek.
Over the couple of a few hours, I decided to make the push all the way south to Bozeman, Montana where I would meet Mark and Emma and then go to Yellowstone upon the next morning.
Ford’s Drive in
All that pondering made me famished so I made a pit stop in Great Falls and by chance happened to find a super cute Drive in fast food joint! I love these things! I’ve never actually been to a true old school American Drive in! They had “hoppers” and everything! (Teenage bubbly servers than bounced up to your car window to take your order.) I had a delicious crispy chicken sandwich and a root beer float. The perfect combo to rejuvenate the womb and get back in action.
By this time I was able to contact Emma and with only 3 hours or so between us we concluded with a plan to meet at Norris Hot Springs. Great! Looks like my hot spring tour will actually begin tonight.
This last section passed by easily, as the sunsets in Montana are unbelievably captivating. Just the way the mountains and hills captures the light, everything looks gold. Rays of light just beam through the clouds and tickle mountain sides. Beautiful.
By 7 pm I made it. Norris Hot Springs.
Norris Hot Springs
Having only been to Canadian commercial hotsprings and completely isolated ones, I never thought there were any other kinds in between. Following the paint worn signs to Norris Hotsprings did not leave one with any great expectations and the roads were quiet with little traffic so I didn’t expect much. Which made it all the more rewarding. A nice peaceful pool with a couple friends…nope.
In the Middle of Nowhere.
A totally funky atmosphere I never expected!
This was like a hipster, Mountain hippy, coffee bar mixed Mexican Italian rusticness. You walk in and the first thing that throws you off is the guy playing live acoustic music in the bubble tent. Then you’re struck by this amazing view of the rolling mountains, which is only a hop skip and a jump from a simple wood framed fence that separates the establishment from … nature.
The hut to your left serves as the cashier and also the place that serves the drinks of the gods… alcohol…. “soon my precious soon.” And in the middle between the cashier and the magic leprechaun playing music, is the wooden pool filled with 50 people holding delicious cups of beer and… eating food! I think I just entered some sort of dream world!
Within a minute of taking this all in I hear a chorus of “MELBA! MELBA! MELBA! MELBA! MELBA!” It was like the gates of Olympus have opened to welcome me on the end of my first feat and celebrate he commencement of my HATCHELORETTE.
I have arrived.