The following is a continuation of the story of my and Cheryl’s trip to the Lake Austin Spa and Resort in Austin, Texas to meet author Claire Cook. Lucky duck Cheryl won the trip courtesy of Claire, Lake Austin Spa, and Touchstone Books (a division of Simon & Schuster). Lucky duck me got to be Cheryl’s plus one! If you’d like to read the other installments of our adventure, you can find them here.
Saturday, June 2
Morning Exercise & Breakfast
Dinner Friday night—yeah, I could have licked the plate clean. I don’t know what exactly was in the jus or even whether I ate chicken or quail or game hen, and I don’t care, because I could have licked that plate right the heck clean. The only thing keeping me from doing so was recognizing that we were in a room full of other diners who kept pointing while saying, “Those are the girls who won the trip!” I probably wouldn’t have looked very dignified.
Somehow after all of the travel, exploring, and eating we’d done the day before—even finding ourselves back in the garden after dark, covertly pinching off a piece of chocolate mint to add to our water bottles—I still found myself wide awake at five o’clock in the morning. This would seem unreasonable unless you know that for me, given the change in time zones, I had just slept in for a whole extra hour. I climbed out of bed, grabbed my Nook, fiddled with the door lock for what felt like an eternity—really, why couldn’t I remember whether I was supposed to twist the lock up or down—and then eventually made my way onto the front porch.
The air was cool, and the breeze carried with it the scents of lavender and rosemary. No one beyond one lone staff member was out and about yet. Perfect. Energized by Claire’s talk the day evening before, I was ready to get to work for real, and the first thing I needed to do was to write everything down. Wouldn’t you know, though, I’d not even thought about bringing a notebook and pen with me. I thought I’d learned my lesson last September when we trekked it to Valdosta and Gainesville, but no, apparently I had not. So I did what any modern person would do. I whipped out my tablet, the fact that I’d only ever sent two text messages in my life notwithstanding. How hard could it be to type out some notes on my Nook? It turns out not very. I became pretty proficient at typing with one finger on the small touch screen, and before the sun even thought to come up, I had everything I could recall written up.
I quietly snuck back inside; though there was no need to because Cheryl was already awake (I guess that was sleeping in for her, too), and I changed into my yoga pants from the evening before, a gray t-shirt, and my tennis shoes.
“I’m going for a walk.”
And I did. I walked around the two loops, which according to the map online equaled one mile, five times. Not shabby. Then I headed back to the room to grab my camera. At that time, Cheryl was up, dressed and heading off to the gym to mess with the elliptical machines. Not too many resort guests were out yet, the sun was beginning to rise, and that seemed like the perfect opportunity to get some good shots. Apparently, I haven’t taken enough morning shots in the summertime. All of that cool air started turning steamy as soon as the sun climbed up over the hills. Steamy air does not make for good photographs. It makes for condensation on the camera’s lens and on the lenses of my glasses.
Hadn’t I learned this lesson last summer when I tried to catch a sunrise? Evidently not.
After attempting to take some photos of the property, many of which I shared with you all a couple of days ago and some of which I did not,
I wandered to the hammock at the far end of the green, saying hello to the critters that I passed along the way.
“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Duck. How are you both this morning?”
“Good morning Mr. Raccoon. I hope you’re well. No, No. Don’t come to see me. You can just be on you merry way.”
If anyone had been out and about they surely would’ve thought me insane.
I climbed into the hammock with surprising ease, lay back, and crossed my legs at the ankles. Skiers were beginning to make their daily appearance much to the chagrin on the few fishermen already out on the water. Though, for the most part, the relative calm of the morning could still be felt in the wind that whispered across the water and through the trees all around and over me.
I lay there for a few minutes, toying with my camera and watching a raccoon skitter past the boathouse, before deciding to explore the water’s edge.
There was a low wall near the water’s edge, and the temptation to walk balance beam style down the length of the wall was strong.
However, I know my limitations and the desire to stay dry outweighed any fleeting whim to relive third grade playground glory days, so I sat on the wall instead.
Nothing of profound interest happened in those few minutes. I simply sat there looking out over the water and breathing the cool morning air, choosing not to think about anything in particular for a little while. The place where the land meets the water—be it shore to lake, beach to ocean, or bank to river—is sacred ground for me. This spot at the furthest tip of the resort held the sort of peace where it’s simpler to just sit and be still for a time. So I was.
I’m not sure how long I sat there listening to the water and the birds, possibly a few minutes or more, when I heard something behind me. I turned to see Cheryl dancing down the path towards me, wires from her i-pod ear buds swaying to the music as she mouthed words to the music only she could hear. Some people in life plod (I, for instance, am a plodder) while others (like my husband) strut. Cheryl dances. She plopped down next to me, folding her legs up underneath herself, and pulled the buds out of her ears.
“I love that song,” she exclaimed. I don’t remember which one she was listening to, and in the end it really isn’t all that important. What struck me was how happy she seemed. Endorphins released by exercising are wonderful things. They’re even more wonderful when you’re able to enjoy them in a place like this.
We stared out at the water for a few seconds more before talking about things: school, work, kids, life. Eventually we opted to get up and head to breakfast in order to further our quest to try new things and, you, fill oour grumbling bellies. Hopefully no one would be too offended by our sweaty post workout glow. If they were, they didn’t say.
Cheryl indulged in a plate of fresh fruit and Migas—an egg dish that hails from Texas. Migas are made with eggs and cilantro and tomatoes and tortilla strips. My extreme dislike of cilantro (it tastes like soap) prevented me from trying that one, but she seemed to really enjoy it. I discovered that I prefer my omelets stuffed with something other than goat cheese and roasted tomatoes. I never thought I’d say that. I mean, I like those three things independently, but together…no, just no. I did discover a penchant for granola, a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt, and dried blueberries. Up until that moment I knew of Greek yogurt, but at seven dollars a container, I had yet to give it a try. Good bye sour cream. Good bye plain, watery, thin yogurt. In that instance, Greek yogurt became my new go to gal.
Choosing to sit at the Friendship Table in the dining room, we met two lovely ladies that morning—Eleanor and Johanna. I’m pretty sure those were their names. If I’ve gotten them wrong, then I apologize. I’m also fairly certain that they’ll probably never read this, so they most likely won’t know that I got their names wrong; however, if they do, I hope they forgive me. In the course of eating breakfast with them, we learned that this was Eleanor’s third visit to the spa this year. She told us that as she grew older, she began to realize that it’s okay to do something for herself every now and again. The spa was her treat to herself, and that was important in order to maintain a healthy outlook on life. Again here was that idea of needing to be good to one’s self in order to be your best for others.
After some chatting, we said goodbye to our new breakfast companions, and then we finished our meal and headed back to our room to clean up and prepare for our day. Up until now, everything had been a leisurely stroll in the park. Today, though, was our spa day.