Interaction Shorties: Harmonica Fire and Being Young Again

Lissa and I have had the pleasure of meeting all sorts of interesting people here at Goldmyer Hot Springs. Visitors come to relax, heal and enjoy being out in nature and are willing to share their stories with us. We have met people from all over the world, from Russia, China, Japan, and Australia, to London, Czechoslovakia and Fiji. Our youngest visitor was just barely eight months old, out on his first camping trip, while our eldest visitors camping in the damp Washington weather were in their seventies. Goldmyer also attracts various hiking/outing clubs as well as many youth groups. This subcategory, Interaction Shorties, will highlight some of my favorite (and maybe not so favorite) interactions and stories with visitors of Goldmyer Hot Springs Wilderness Preserve.

Harmonica Fire

Lissa and I are always receiving gifts from visitors, usually of food. But on Monday, June 4th, to commemorate our two months of being here, and the full moon, we received a very different kind of present of the non-edible variety. It was just another typical wet, dreary day in Washington, when a 65-year-old man with long grey hair, a green backwards baseball cap and an old-school backpacking pack with the external frame wandered up to the cabin and rung our bell. Accompanied by a friend (a first-time visitor) Mink Fire was up for a relaxing afternoon soak. He was a funny and chatty guy that makes drums and plays the harmonica. Although our interaction with him was brief he still made an impression on us, especially since he came bearing gifts; harmonicas! Both Lissa and I received a lightweight harmonica; a green one for me and an orangish-red one for Lissa. After receiving our presents, I hopped online to download some sheet music and figure out how to play this little wind instrument. Several websites claimed that the harmonica is the easiest instrument to play but the hardest to master!

As Mink and his friend said their goodbyes we told him that we would have mastered the harmonica and would be jamming with him in the springs the next time he comes for a visit. I wished that I could have gone up and soaked with him as he was a very interesting person to chat with. By the end of the evening I was well on my way to mastering the mouth organ, blowing away to ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’.

Being Young Again

Every once in a while we get a large group of visitors that are all from a particular nationality. These groups are always a pleasure to host. It is a wonderful learning experience to interact with them and to find out what their perception of “wilderness” is and to see how our cultures clash out in the woods. This past Sunday we had a group of eleven Asian people visit the springs for an afternoon soak. Most of the men and women in the group now lived in the states but at least one guy was visiting from Hong Kong, and I believe that most, if not all, of this group were originally from somewhere in China. Having never been to an Asian country, let alone out of the U.S. except to Canada, I would assume that Asian peoples are very modest seeing how these groups request a block of time in the day with no nudity. I have noticed that most of the Asian people that have visited the springs wear some sort of swim attire while soaking.Upon arrival, the group was very inquisitive about the cabin and hot springs, as well as about me. One of them even mentioned that I looked like Mark Zuckerburg (creator of Facebook) and was possibly him hiding out in the woods from the law (not sure what that’s about). Some of the people in the group appeared not to speak much English, if any, so my answers were constantly being interpreted as well as questions back to me.

Chinese for hot springs

A carved rock with the Chinese symbol for hot springs sits on a table in front of the caretakers cabin at Goldmyer.

After the group had spent some time up at the springs I decided to go on rounds to see how everyone was getting along. Walking up to the springs I came upon a sight that is not the norm up here; everyone was splashing around in the springs like little kids in a water park. Some had borrowed plastic pots from us and were pouring water on themselves while others were merrily chatting away while waiting for their turn in line for a dip in the cold pool. The group enjoyed their time here differently from other users that end up with a lithium induced coma, becoming like limp jelly fish out the water after soaking. There were a few however, sitting in the cave in a more relaxed state with wet towels over their heads. When asked if it was hot enough in the cave for them they replied “No, it is just right.” Seeing the child-like wonder and enthusiasm in this group of 40+ year old adults up at the hot springs brought a smile to my face.


One thought on “Interaction Shorties: Harmonica Fire and Being Young Again

  1. It’s so great being able to share a little of your experiences at the Springs!! It is so much livelier than I thought it would be with all the visitors!! What a great and apparently life changing experience!!

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