Bozemama Chills Out at Norris

December 11, 2012

Posted By: Bozemama

I love the holiday season a whole heck of a lot, I really do. I mean the kids and I are so in the spirit that we proudly station those giant elf dolls as greeters in our entrance without even thinking twice about how cheesy that really is. But every year I start to lag a little at the halfway mark in the marathon toward Christmas. Right around this point in December, the initial festive zeal wears off and the last surge of adrenaline has yet to kick in. I find myself in a kind of dazed limbo where all I want is a brief respite from the garish phantasmagoria of red and green and the lines and the carols.

This is what happened Saturday when I woke up in a strangely Grinchy state and just couldn’t get the jolly in my holly. The kids were similarly muddle-minded and off their game. (“Yay! Bridger Bowl is open and it’s snowing, but I’m tired and don’t really want to go skiing . . .waaah . . .”) It was clear that we needed to get out of the house while keeping a safe distance from any skiing or shopping.

And so we went to Norris Hot Springs, aka The Water of the Gods  for a little getaway. Genius really. I had actually never been there before but had heard a smattering of positive reviews especially from my 13-year-old daughter, Hermione, who went last year to see her friend’s dad play with his band The Free Radicals.  At her urging, we packed up the car, picked up some pals and took that stunning drive west on 84, dodging snowflakes and thanking our lucky stars for the magnificence of the area.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing this unique spot, let me be clear:  There are few places that so perfectly typify the antithesis of commercialism and greed than Norris Hot Springs. Much smaller than Chico or Bozeman Hot Springs, Norris has a 30 by 40 foot wooden plank pool (made from locally milled firs) that’s just big enough for a comfy soak with friends and family but intimate enough to make new pals. (Shout out to my new peeps Rebecca and Paige from Virginia City who taught me that wearing a hat while soaking helps prevent painful ear freeze. Woo hoo! Am forever in your debt!)

There’s no gift shop or vending machine or any heated indoor space of any kind actually -- just a few Port-a-Potties and a couple ramshackle dressing rooms. But what Norris does have is a delicious menu of locally sourced foods as well as many festive beverages, including nice wines and local microbrews. Mmmmmm. And the best part is that – on a chilly day like Saturday – you can eat while soaking. Seriously. What could be better than chowing down nachos topped with Sabo ranch beef, sipping a Salmon Fly Honey Rye and listening to Bluegrass while your kids splash around happily? Very little, it turns out. Now that I’ve done this, I can tell you that I don’t remember being this chilled out (while at the same time being toasty warm) in a long while.

The only tense moment of the entire day happened when I became apparently so relaxed that I unwittingly cast off at one point, unmoored and unwilling to drop my beer, floating aimlessly until Hermione came to my rescue. (At least now I know for sure what I had always secretly suspected--that my breasts actually can be used as runaway flotation devices.) Anyway, after a few hours of soaking in minerals, spectacular views and fresh grub (not to mention beer for Mama), we came home restored, refreshed and ready to deck the halls without decking each other.

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