Finally. FINALLY. I've lived here for almost two decades, and finally I have found out what the secret is to the mysteriously happy, glowing ladies I spy every spring. I mean, it's Mud Season for goodness sake - at this point of the year I am pasty-white, anemic, and damn cranky from lack of warmer summer rays. I always assumed these serene women must be the Adirondack equivalent to the Stepford wives - blissfully unaware that they have entered the post-skiing/pre-hiking-biking-boating/what-do-I-do-today season.
The Muddy Background Info
Let's take a moment to set up how this adventure came about... It's spring break, my son has had no school for two weeks, and I'm working from home trying to decide which Mud Season activity to highlight. Oliver is lamenting (and by lamenting I mean repeating over-and-over-and-over as 5-year-olds are wont to do) the fact that I won't take him out to ride his bike. Now, in my defense, this is his brand-new Christmas bike, bigger than he's used to, and there isn't much dry land to be had. And, while the snow has begun to melt, it's still cold and the puddles are just getting bigger and bigger - I can just imagine the soggy, frozen mess he will become. However, he's an outdoor enthusiast with tons of energy and being inside is killing him.There's not enough snow for his beginner skills to hit the trails, the ice isn't thick enough ice for him to skate, we've already walked around the lake a few times this week, it's too mucky to go for a long walk in the woods, and too warm to build a decent snowman; I can't take the begging any longer. I finally give in. I take him down the street to a patch of parking lot that has a bit of pavement showing, and he joyfully takes a few turns on his big-boy bike, then I hear it. The dreaded wail of a child, "Mommmmmmm, help!!!"
I had let him go around a snowbank and being all-boy he had spied a huge icy-mucky-slushy-puddle - and gone straight for it. He was stuck, ankle-deep in slush, and not able to go in any direction. Of course, once I saved him - managing to soak myself in the process - he thought it was awesome. I need a break. A mommy-only break. A quiet, relaxing, rejuvenating, kid-free for-just-a-couple-of-hours, moment. And then I hear, "It would've been okay if I had tipped all the way over then I wouldn't have to take a bath tonight, right, because I'd already be all wet? But, Mom, you DEFINITELY need a bath, you're all mucky. And you better not wear your sneakers inside, they're all wet and muddy. Can I do it again??" Yup, I need a break - or a drink - probably best to put myself in time-out. And, you know what? A luxurious mud bath sounds fabulous, I mean, 'tis the season, right?
So, friends, follow me up this inviting set of stairs, and help me relive my dirty little journey into spring...
Secrets of the season
Here is one of the many great things about Mud Season in Lake Placid: there's still plenty to do, and you can usually do it on a whim. Want to play in the mud? Let's hit the spa. In this case my choice is the beautiful Spa at Mirror Lake Inn. I call to consult with the very-friendly spa staff, and in keeping with the mud theme, I am soon scheduled for the recommended Seaweed Wrap. I will admit I am a little apprehensive, I'm envisioning strips of slimy seaweed encompassing every inch of skin - and the thought is not pretty. But, hey, I'm up for the experience - I mean, if an award-winning spa offers this service, I'm sure it's got to be good.
I arrive at the Spa at 11am, leaving myself plenty of time to take a dip in the whirlpool and realx in the eucalyptus steam room before my noon treatment. I'm promptly greeted by the friendly staff and shown into the calming womens' sanctuary. I've requested a tour of the facilities and the Spa Manager, Annie, cheerfully obliges.
My apologies in advance: I didn't think it was appropriate to drag the staff photographer along for this little adventure - didn't want to scar him for life with the inner workings of ladies' grooming habits - but my camera decided it didn't love the dim lighting as much as I did and some of the pics are a bit fuzzy. You should probably just plan to experience it for yourself ;)
I'm not going to lie. I'm feeling like a kid in a candy store. I don't get out much without a loud little sidekick, and the quiet is the first thing I notice. Well, that and the mirrors...
I get a chance to check out some of the different rooms - and some really interesting looking massage equipment. I'm definitely intrigued - there are a few things I'm going to have to come back and experience for sure. Check out a few of the highlights...
Time for action - and by action, I mean relaxin'.
I don the signature MLI robe and slippers, and make my way to the whirlpool where I share a contented sigh with Kellie, a mom of three who is relaxing before a Swedish massage. Although she's from nearby Tupper Lake, this is her first time at the Spa - her boyfriend is visiting from England and had booked treatments for them both. I can pretty much guarantee from the contented look on her face when I ran into her a couple of hours later, she'll be back.
After 15 minutes or so, it seemed like the perfect time to hit the steam room. The eucalyptus steam room, to be exact. With horrible year-round allergies, there's something amazing about being able to breathe freely after spending just a few minutes in this room. Jenna, a brand new mom from Ausable Forks, agreed. She was taking advantage of a gift certificate from her mom, before returning to the working world. And boy, she sure seemed content.
It was noon at this point, so I figured I better head out to the sitting room and wait (patiently) for my turn! As I was getting ready, I took a couple of minutes to talk with Emily & Cynthia. They had just returned from their treatments and were glowing, literally. This mother-daughter team from Saratoga Springs were visiting for the day, specifically for a spa getaway. They are frequent flyers so-to-speak, and try to get to MLI "as often as possible." (I'm beginning to sense a theme here...)
Yup, this time it's all about me!
Dulcie is my therapist for the day and she greets me with a smile and a cool drink. Bring on the seaweed!
We head to a room at the end of the hallway. Dulcie goes over the basics of the process with me, and I have to admit, I'm a bit overwhelmed. As we've established in past blogs, I am a bit clumsy and there are two different beds, several positions, plastic sheets, and a huge shower to navigate. She assures me that I can handle it, and off we go!
Time for action, and by action, I mean immobility
Dulcie has me start the process face down. This first part of the treatment is a full-body exfoliation of the back and then the front (and as a bonus you get to keep the special glove that's used). This part alone would have left me with a smile on my face and fresh-feeling skin. But, oh no, this is just the beginning. Next comes the seaweed wrap. I'll admit, I'm relieved to find out that there are no actual strips of seaweed involved. Nor does anything smell like fish or muddy bog water. Dulcie applies a mud-like substance that is virtually smell-free to every acceptable place and then it's time for the second step.
I hop off the first table (okay, not hop, I actually get off very carefully, hoping not to get mud everywhere) and get ready for phase two - the European soft pack, dry float. This is the part I'm a bit nervous about. I transfer to the second table and sit on what feels to be the equivalent of my brother's waterbed from the 80s. I carefully center myself on the center and then lay back for the final application of mud. Once that is applied I am cocooned in plastic sheets, several of them. This is the only part I thought felt a bit odd - but that's fair. Here I am having my wet-muddied body stuck to plastic sheets in a mummy-like fashion, it's an odd, unfamiliar sensation.
After being slowly lowered and getting used to the feel of being suspended in the water, you are treated to an amazing scalp and face massage. At this point, I totally forgot I was mummified. Actually, I totally forgot almost everything as I almost fell asleep. SO relaxing. SO, so relaxing.
Next up, the most awesome shower I have ever experienced. 5 powerful jets quickly and efficiently wash away the dried mud. I can only dream of having a shower like this. Of course, I can also imagine what my water bill would be, as I'd never get out!
The final step was a return to the first bed for a milk-like moisturizer to be applied. At this point I am pretty much jelly. I do not want to get up. I do not want to leave. I am more relaxed than I have been in ages.
Sadly, Dulcie has clients after me, so after a few more minutes of breathing in the peace, I must head back to the sanctuary and reality. However, there's no rush to leave so I make myself a cup of tea, grab a handful of almonds and dried fruit, and sit back to relax and chat with the ladies. Mollie, visiting from Harrisburg, PA, is waiting to go in and assures me she has never had a bad service. She and her husband own a timeshare in town and when they visit 3-4x a year, she always tries to hit the Spa. With a new 6-month-old at home, I'd be surprised if she stayed awake during her massage!
My own perfect day & a bit of a night
Finally, I decide I must head back to the real world. I am ready to take on the 5-year-old with a smile. Heck, I may even let him play in a mud puddle or two. I am struck with the array of women I have met today - all from different backgrounds, some on vacation, some local, all on the same mission. Now, I know the secret - and moms from near and far, older and younger, agree. I have discovered the origins of the coveted, relaxed look of those Adirondack-Stepford Ladies: The Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa. I'm sure I'm glowing...
Upon returning to the office, I held an unsanctioned poll with a few of my co-workers and it was unquestionably confirmed that I did, indeed, have the softest (not to mention smoothest) legs. Want to give me a run for the money? Come visit during mud season - we've got the lodging, dining, and nightlife to keep you satisfied straight through to hiking season. Oh, and insider's tip: sign up online to join the Mirror Lake Inn Spa Club for some downright dirty deals.
P.S. Heck, I felt so sassy, we even met up with friends for an evening of BBQ and live music at Smoke Signals. Who says you need to hide out during Mud Season - obviously not the Lake Placid locals!
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