After finishing dinner and setting up our tents, Zach and I retired to our sleeping bags and slept under the clear, star studded skies of the Rocky mountains, satisfied by the fortune of our first day wandering the west.
When we awoke, we were greeted by our kind host just before he drove off to work.
"Why don't you guys stay an extra day if you want. I've got free passes to the hot springs about a mile down the road. You can wash up and relax, and then be on your way tomorrow morning." It was another offer we could not refuse. I knew a shower was in order after traveling without one the last few days.
Zach and I hiked down to the hot springs after breakfast. It was to be my first natural hot springs experience. In my mind, I envisioned a river filled with warm volcanic water, flowing through a pine forested ravine. In actuality, it was much different. It was nothing more than a giant swimming pool fed by a nearby hot spring. Nevertheless, Zach and I were more than happy to go for a swim.
For the first half hour, we basically had the entire swimming pool to ourselves. While enjoying the peace and quiet, all of a sudden three bus loads of middle school aged children pulled up into the parking lot. Our relaxing environment was about to be infiltrated by sixty hormone enraged 12 and 13 year old boys and girls who were enjoying an end of the school year field trip to the local hot springs. Knowing that our swimming pool was about to filled to maximum capacity, Zach and I retreated to a separate corner hot tub that could comfortably sit about seven people.
As the rambunctious students gradually made their way into the main pool, I noticed on several occasions small groups of girls whispering and giggling and looking over towards us while we sat relaxing in the corner hot tub. "Oh no, here we go again." I told Zach.
One thing you should know about my old roommate, he had a knack of attracting women and girls everywhere we went. I would usually observe and study what kind of forces were at work in these situations. I was always left to "clean up" after Zach, after he had first pickin's of the women available. I always had to listen to girls fawning over how much he looked like Brad Pitt. Anyways, I knew things were about to get a little more interesting. Also in college, Zach and I had developed an obnoxious habit of getting "into character" before heading out to the parties on the weekends. Usually we would pick a subject or nationality, and remain in character for the duration of the evening, usually to the entertainment and sometimes disgust to the girls we'd meet. The hot springs in Durango were to be no different.
As we continued to observe the chaotic scene before us, I noticed a group of girls had mustered up the courage to come over to the hot tub where Zach and I were. As if on cue, one of the girls bashfully blurted out to Zach, "Are you Brad Pitt?!!"
"No, I'm Michael Pitt, Brad's brother" Zach replied.
That was a new one I hadn't heard before.
"And this is my friend..."
"Joe Ford." I responded. It was the first thing that came to mind. "I'm the son of Harrison."
The girls seemed less convinced with my persona and as usual, concentrated their attention on Michael Pitt.
"What's Brad like?" one of the girls giggled.
"Oh, he's nothing like you see in the movies." Zach responded.
"He used to cry and hide under the blankets every night."
"Really?" one of the girls asked intrigued.
"Yeah, he used to pick his nose and eat the boogers. In fact, it's a habit he still hasn't broken to this day."
"Ewww, that's gross!!" one of the girls exclaimed.
For the next fifteen minutes Zach told story after story to completely de-bunk the myth that Brad Pitt is worthy of the title: Sexiest Man Alive.
Just before Zach wrapped up his montage of Brad Pitt childhood stories, one of the girls asked for pictures and autographs. Our last twenty minutes at the hot springs consisted of Zach and I posing for pictures and autographing scraps of paper, notebooks and diaries as Michael Pitt and Joe Ford. Sometimes I wonder where those pictures and autographs are today. Nevertheless, it was a memorable way to start the beginning of our travels in the west.