Confused? Interested in the first part of our story? You can find out all about my and Cheryl’s trip to the Lake Austin Spa Resort courtesy of Claire Cooke, Lake Austin Spa Resort, and Touchstone Books (Simon & Schuster) here.
Saturday, June 2
It’s no secret that I prefer doing things for other people. I’m extremely uncomfortable focusing any sort of attention on myself at all. That seems a little strange for someone with a blog, huh? Here within this realm of virtual pages, I get to be all me, me, me, me; however, in the real world, not so much. Granted, I don’t do too many things that don’t make me happy; however, the thing that makes me happiest is doing things for other people. What can I say? I’m a giver. Anyway, the idea of going to a spa and having someone do things for me—unnecessary things—freaked me right the heck out. Of course, this didn’t mean that I wasn’t willing to give some of those things a shot.
At 9:40 Saturday morning, Cheryl and I walked the garden path to the spa house, entered the main lobby, checked in, and were escorted to a back room where an attendant handed us two robes and gave us a brief tour. We were shown where the large dispenser of cucumber water was located, should we get thirsty, and we were shown the showers, restrooms, and the—ahem—clothing-optional sauna. Cheryl and I cut our eyes at each other, and I knew we were thinking the same thing: not a chance. The young lady showing us around—I have to admit to myself that she was much, much younger than us—showed us how to use the lockers, and then we were on our own.
We stood there looking at each other for a moment, and then in a fit of giggles that would have been more appropriate for a pair of sixteen year olds than thirty-six year olds, we shed our clothes. Were we really going to get manicures and pedicures in only our underwear and robes? Yes, apparently we were. We locked up our belongings and headed upstairs to the main waiting area. There were women in robes everywhere, talking and enjoying themselves. We stepped out on the screened porch and sat in a couple of rocking chairs to wait. We were really only there for a couple of minutes before two women came to get us.
We were led back downstairs to the salon where we picked polish colors while our manicurists prepared the pedicure stations. I chose a shiny wine colored polish for my toes and clear for my fingers. Cheryl chose a purple-pink color for her toes and a light pink for her fingers. As I indicated earlier, I really have next to no experience with this sort of thing. I get my hair done now and again, and I have my brows waxed when they begin to be unruly caterpillars that could give a 1980’s Brooke Shields a run for her money, but I’ve only been to a few salons before. I have never, ever before had someone do anything to my feet. This is why I spent the two weeks prior to our spa visit preparing for this very moment by scrubbing the soles of my footsies with a pumice stone.
We climbed up—as ladylike as we could, which is to say, not very—onto the raised benches, the bases of which held large basins filled with very hot water. Across the basins were bars covered in what looked and felt like some type of (p)leather. I lowered my left foot into the water and placed my right foot on the bar.
My manicurist, Melissa (I think that was her name), made the comment, “Wow, your feet are really soft,” which pretty much sent Cheryl into peals of hysterical laughter. Well, maybe it wasn’t really hysterical, but she definitely laughed at me. Melissa looked at us both with an expression that said she wasn’t getting the joke at all. Really, how could she?
“What she’s laughing about is that I’ve spent the last couple of weeks using a pumice stone so you wouldn’t have to touch my calloused feet.”
“I bet you’d clean the house before the maid came, too,” Melissa said.
“I’d totally do that,” I admitted.
We all laughed, and from that point on it was smooth sailing. The four of us talked about kids, jobs, weather, places we’d lived, jobs we’d had, our spouses, Davy Jones, and anything else that crossed our minds. It was really fun, and that doesn’t even begin to go into how fabulous the Heavenly Hydration (yes, those are the ones we chose to do) pedicures and manicures themselves were. When we finished, we not only looked and felt fabulous on the outside, we also felt wonderful on the inside.
When the last nail dryer beeped and we were officially finished with our treatments, it was ten minutes to twelve. We had our scheduled lake cruise at eleven, so we quickly changed back into our t-shirts and shorts and took off for the boat dock, depositing our robes into the laundry bin on our way out the door. In less than five minutes we were at the dock, and I was realizing that I might actually want to bring my camera, so Cheryl watched my things while I took off for our room. I was back before too many others had shown up.
Eventually, we took our places on the boat. I changed my seat from one of the bench seats in favor of one of the captain style chairs (yes, I live in a port city—or did for sixteen years, but I am still really just a landlubber) because I thought it might offer a better vantage point from which to take pictures. Luckily, I wasn’t wrong in this assumption.
It was still pretty warm out. I’d slathered up with lots of sunscreen that morning, so I didn’t get too red. Well, let’s just say I didn’t turn into a total lobster—darn Irish genetics.
There was a nice breeze on the water.
The houses on shore were huge.
Okay. They were more than huge.
Especially this one:
“Why would you put a waterfall on the front of your house?” Cheryl asked.
“Because you can,” I replied.
The hills were steep.
The boat docks in the water don’t often belong to the houses at the tops of the hills; however, on occasion, they do.
The difficulty in reaching the docks is solved by using funiculars, which are like little inclined railroad cars on railways. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of one.
Overall, the boat trip was really a good idea. It also afforded us a unique view of the resort.
I was grateful to Cheryl for choosing it, and we both had a really good time.
When we got back, it was around one o’clock. We both had side-by-side full body Swedish massages scheduled for two o’clock, but we were starving and we knew that the massages wouldn’t be over until three and then we’d need to get ready for the evening’s book release party for Claire’s new book, Wallflower in Bloom. So, throwing caution to the wind, she and I went to the dining room for lunch. We both built our own small salads. I’m not sure of what Cheryl’s was comprised, but mine was baby spinach, sprouts, sliced mushrooms, ranch dressing, a single dried apricot, and a single dried fig. Then we sat down with our drinks (lemonade for Cheryl, lemon verbena tea for me) and looked over the menus.
I knew that I’d probably want something light for lunch. I mean, in less than an hour, someone was going to be giving me a…massage…you know. I’d never had one of those, and given how freaked out I was about getting a pedicure, which just involved someone touching my feet, I was nine times more nervous about someone doing something to me that included the words “full body” in its name. I didn’t want to climb on a massage table after having eaten a heavy lunch only to end up with a stomach that was knotting while my back muscles were unknotting. That, I figured, would be less than relaxing.
Then I looked at my menu and all common sense and reason flew right out of my head at the sight of three words: grilled lamb chops. I don’t remember anything else I had with them. I just remember eating them and trying not to let my eyes roll back in my head while I savored what would probably never be served at my table at home. Cheryl had a Zucchini Caprese Panini, of which she shared a piece with me—and, yes, I did share some of my lamb with her. We did a lot of sharing after that first meal—you know, the one we dared not share with another soul. When we finished, I declined dessert since I was already beginning to worry that I’d maybe overdone things right before that massage; however, Cheryl, who smartly opted for the lighter sandwich, chose the cheesecake frozen yogurt, which she ate to go.
When I say that Cheryl ate her yogurt to go, I do not joke. She and I sprinted back to the spa, quickly changed into another set of robes, and then made it to the stairs just as our masseuses were phoning downstairs to find us. We were almost late—oops! We were led down a hall into a quiet dark room, and our way, my masseuse asked what type of pressure I preferred. I confessed that I had no idea because this was my first massage, so she said she’d go with medium pressure and if it hurt to let her know. So they stepped out of the room, we disrobed in another fit of giggles, and climbed as quickly as we could underneath our respective sheets on our respective spa tables.
If you’ve never had a full body Swedish massage, this is me saying that you should. If I could go back right now, this very second, drop everything, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars style, I would. Oh…my.
For the first few minutes, I was acutely aware of the fact that my stomach decided that now was the time to gurgle. Loudly. After those few minutes, though, I didn’t care. Never was any portion of my body not being massaged visible. I was always covered by a sheet, so there was no need to be embarrassed. Full body meant back, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, head, calves, and feet.
How was it all? When it was over, Cheryl put it perfectly, “That was the fastest fifty minutes of my life.”
This was a type of hedonism I could get used to.
Our masseuses, I really did never catch their names, or maybe I just didn’t remember afterwards, left the room so that we could get back into our robes. They then walked us back to the stairs, probably to make sure we weren’t going to collapse, and told us to drink plenty of fluids. Feeling like limp spaghetti, we made our way back to the dressing rooms where we put on our bathing suits. In less than ten minutes, Cheryl and I were going to take a water yoga class.
Yes, we were.