Oct 9, 2013

A night in a yurt

This sounds like the title to either an obscure Murray Head song or a lost Marx Brothers movie …

Our story begins with a text conversation between me and the fake wife in July.  Christine was booking places to stay near Crestone, Colo., and had discovered Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa.  She asked me to take a look at the website. 

It seemed like a good fit considering the hippie vibe I was already getting from the area, and the idea of spending a couple of hours relaxing in a mountain-fed hot spring pool sure didn't suck.  Still, I was concerned a little about the room rates and availability of the on-site hotel due to the Crestone Music Festival taking place and the short time frame before our trip and the limited number of rooms.  Then, I saw they offered lodging in yurts (I quickly ruled out the tepees).  I was amused.  And intrigued.  Half joking, I contacted Christine and suggested we book a night in a yurt.

Later that morning, I got a text back:  “We are not staying in a yurt.”  Ok, so apparently glorified camping in a luxury Mongolian-style tent is not her style, I thought.  I recommended she book a room anyway because I liked the spa.  Plus, she wanted to treat her daughter to a massage there.  She agreed to call to get a reservation. 

Later that afternoon, I got a text back:  “We’re staying in a yurt!”  It was Yurt #4, in fact, that she booked, and the more reasonable rates and three twin beds inside the tent apparently sealed the deal.   

Fast forward a month, and after a day in Salida, Colo., we drove 30 minutes south, up the mountain range and into the San Luis Valley to Joyful Journey and checked in to start our evening of yurt life. 

Joyful Journey advertises its yurts as being far from rustic living.  I say it was just rustic enough to be fun (the long walk to the shared bathroom facilities got old, though).  But let the pictures help you decide.  Come take a tour of Yurt #4 …

Come on in, your yurt is waiting!
Three twin beds as advertised …

Having no air conditioning, we found the yurt to be somewhat stuffy when we arrived.  But we quickly resolved the situation by turning on the standalone fan (we were, after all, wired for electric) and opening the window flaps.

Notice Christine's daughter and her daughter's boyfriend fixing the yurt window?  And the usual CR-V photo-bomb.
This came back to bite us later, as a mountain storm rolled into the area.  Yes, even a well-constructed yurt can have leaky window flaps.  And when the canvas doesn't quite reach the door frame … well, there’s another problem.

Call me crazy, but this could become an issue ... 
Still, we quickly acclimated to our new surroundings.

I was Baby Bear in the middle.
Ken, aka "the Beast of Virden".  They don't call him that for nothing; he really is from Virden, Ill.
Christine settles in.  I'm still trying to figure out how she got a cell phone signal.
We took full advantage of the table and two folding chairs inside the yurt to have a makeshift picnic for everyone.  Christine, always thinking ahead, made sure we had plenty of provisions from the health food store we stopped at earlier in Salida. 

Let's get this party started.
Another bonus of yurt living is the “hole” in the center, which is covered by plastic, creating a nice skylight.  Well, it would have been a nice skylight if it hadn't stormed. 

But the biggest plus to staying at the spa was free access to the hot spring pools.  We did not let this opportunity go to waste. 

And when you’re in a 106-degree pool and the cool rain is coming down around you, it’s a pretty cool and relaxing feeling.  

It was a cold, wet walk back to the spa. 
We had just one small problem with our little yurt and tepee neighborhood, which only became evident in the middle of the night.  

Yurt village

Tepees, or teepees, ot tipis, it's all the same ... 

It's hard for a yurt to stand out among other yurts.
You see, all yurts look alike.  And when it’s a dark and stormy night in the high desert, sometimes you can lose track of which yurt is the right one.  So, imagine our surprise at 2:30 a.m. when a polite but possibly drunken intruder opened the door to our unlocked yurt and asked for Doug.  Before any of us could wake up long enough to respond to our guest, he stopped fumbling around and said, “Sorry, got the wrong yurt.” 

The door closed, and he was never heard from again.  I guess he didn't notice the sign posted on the yurt wall.

All in all, it was a fun and rare experience.  The spa was just the relaxing break we needed, and the yurt was, umm, de-yurt-ful.  Perhaps I’ll try another yurt someday for comparison – next time, without the prowler. 

Speaking of next time, if you think staying in a yurt is unusual, wait until I tell you about the UFO Watchtower near Hooper, Colo. 

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