Yesterday, I had the opportunity to enjoy an outdoor shower after my kayak trip down the Bogue Chitto. One of the things on my list at my dream home is an outdoor shower. I don’t mean I want a shower faucet outside to rinse off after gardening, I mean I want a lovely, high end outside shower. There is nothing like having fresh air, hot water and the feel of a natural surface underneath my toes while I’m sudsing up with a sweet smelling lavender or peppermint soap. I imagine I’d take a lot more showers if I had one.
The first time I ever used a real outdoor shower was at Gray Bear Lodge in Hohenwald TN. It’s a yoga retreat center complete with outdoor sauna and hot tub – clothing optional. The center is set in the mountains of Tennessee, and the buildings are all log cabins of varying shapes and sizes. The yoga studio is probably the most beautiful yoga studio I’ve ever seen. It was all wood inside and out, and we had to hike 1/4 mile up the side of a mountain to get there. Huge windows took the place of lighting during the day. Whenever you wanted a shower, you could shower in the outdoor shower in the middle of the cabins. A beautiful rainshower faucet hung over wooden decking and a sand foundation. The shower walls were wooden slats with a tiny bit of space in-between for air circulation. The fencing or whatever you would call it surrounded the shower in a spiral enabling you to walk in and shower without being seen. I supposed someone could come look between the slats but if you can go out to the hot tub and see nudity, why be so nosey? Lovely soaps and gels were displayed in large sea shells in sand. It was there that I fell in love with the idea of an outdoor shower.
When I went to Kona on my Women’s Quest, we had an outdoor shower. Our accommodations were basically outdoors, and the only room that was totally enclosed was the toilet hut. Plants and vines enclosed this shower. There was some issue with privacy there, too, but we were all women, so who cares? It had a sand and rock bottom to match the ‘flooring’ on the footpath back to our sleeping hut. It was simpler in design, but it was in Hawaii, so who needs design? Just breathing in the ocean air and Hawaiian sunshine is ambience enough.
Yesterday’s shower was a bit less elegant, but I loved it just the same. The wooden structure let the air through, and I still felt the feeling of the wood floor on my feet. Any shower where I can see the sky overhead makes me happy. I wasn’t expecting it to be anything special as it was just a functional shower at a canoe outfitter, but when I stepped under the hot water, my memories of Gray Bear and Hale Kai came flooding back. I found myself drifting away in a sweet bath of sunshine, carbon dioxide and liquid softness. I thought of my trips back to my little sleeping hut at Hale Kai in my sarong and flip flops. The ocean breeze pushed through the Bogue Chitto forest and creeped past the wooden siding. I could almost hear the laughter of the other women who swam with dolphins and manta rays with me. The mountain air from Tennessee filled my lungs, and I swear I spotted a seashell. I reached for my sarong and was shocked to see my Athleta-wear hanging nearby.
It’s not really the shower that matters, I don’t guess. It’s not the siding or the place where it resides. It’s whatever it is about the experience that taps into something deeper that grips my heart. In one afternoon after a beautiful float trip, I visited the mountains of Tennessee and the black sand shore of Kona in a trip as real as the day’s kayaking. Now, that’s what I call a travel bargain. I’ve just got to have one.