A SPA’ ctacular Asheville Vacation #29

Why is it that the human spirit craves new vistas? What makes your eyes yearn to see different views than they’re accustomed to, even when our everyday views are magnificent? Running the most mundane daily errands provides me with luscious views of the White Oak River, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Intercoastal Waterway, and yet I am delighted to look out of our hotel window today and see the soaring Blue Ridge Mountains.

This five-day getaway is a Valentine treat from The Spousal Unit, a week early due to The Teenage Morose One’s high school wrestling schedule. We’ve been having spa treatments at the sumptuous Grove Park Inn in Asheville.

Underground pools at the Grove Park Inn Spa

 From the moment you arrive at this subterranean palace, you are pampered and spoiled, and enveloped in an atmosphere of utter tranquility and peace.

Lap pool

The folks responsible for this facility have left no stone unturned in providing the spa guests an almost out-of-body experience. The harsh reality of returning to the REAL WORLD after your treatments can be jarring. Almost as jarring as when The Unit snored loudly four separate times during our couple’s massage!

Subterranean water features

As fabulous as the spa is, we don’t stay at the Inn itself.

Grove Park Inn Image from blakehouse.com

 I know it’s historic and that most people swoon at the thought of staying there, but I’m creeped out by old things. I know, I know, so why did I marry The Unit? Guess that’s why I don’t go near antique stores. What is that smell the moment you enter? It always reminds me of my great grandmother’s house when I was a little girl. Give me modern, new, and contemporary any day of the week.

I lean toward The Grand Bohemian Hotel in historic Biltmore Village, within walking distance of so much, and housing the magnificent Red Stag Grill.

Red Stag Grill @ The Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville NC

With its hunt theme, it could easily be too masculine, yet it is a feast for the eyes. Loved the menus and wine list that light up so they can keep the restaurant light very low and atmospheric. You’d be hard pressed to find elk, caribou, antelope, bison, and pheasant offered at our restaurants on the beach, but here you can unleash your inner caveman; it’s recommended you leave the fur loincloth at home.

To break up the very long trip back home, we stayed at our favorite B&B, The Arrowhead Inn outside of Durham.

Log cabin on the property of Arrowhead Inn Durham NC

This was a Super Bowl first for me. First time watching it in a log cabin, first time watching from a Jacuzzi in front of a roaring fire. Best Super Bowl of my life? You betcha!

For my loyal ladies clamoring for some more Texas Toast, off we go. I had just started getting bookings for swimsuits, and had my first full two-day gig with one of my favorite photographers scheduled for a Monday and Tuesday. An old classmate of Boy’s from the University of Texas was doing a summer internship in Williamsburg VA, and had invited us to come down and visit for a few days. He was house sitting in a very spacious home right in the center of town, so our only expenses would be train fare, food, and Busch Gardens. So off we went for a rare and long overdue three days of fun.

And fun it was until Sunday, when we decided to spend the day at the beach. It was a rather dreary and overcast day for July, so there weren’t many people there. The water was grey and opaque and I probably wouldn’t even have gone in, except for the fact that I wanted to wring every ounce of fun out of this weekend. You might recall that life with Boy was less fun than a barrel of monkeys!

I remember floating and bobbing along, without a care in the world, when I felt something brush against my right leg, a very BIG something. The irony here is that the original movie “Jaws” was not released until the following week, so the thought of a shark didn’t enter my consciousness. Being from farm country in the heart of Texas, I had only been to the ocean twice before and was none too savvy about critters living in there. As in CLUELESS!

There it was again, an almost ephemeral touching sensation, like angel wings passing over your leg…until the fire started. My entire right leg was suddenly shooting white-hot arcs of flame and I remember shrieking and screaming, knowing a deadly sea creature had taken possession of me. By the time Boy and our buddy had pulled me out of the water and onto the beach and I saw what was attached to my leg, the screaming began in earnest and I don’t remember it abating until our arrival in the emergency room about an hour later. Remember, there were no cell phones in 1975, and I have no recollection of any lifeguards being at that particular stretch of beach, perhaps that’s why it was so isolated.

The hideous thing that had rapped itself around my leg was huge and gelatinous.

They don't sell these at PetSmart! Image from withfriendship.com

 Our friend grabbed a beach towel and cut off the horrible bubble, or head, but the venomous tendrils were wrapped from my hip down to my ankle. A passerby warned not to try to remove them, as the venom would transfer to the next person and cause the same severe burn.

After about three hours in the emergency room, the utterly disgusting Portuguese man of war was finally removed from my leg but I looked in horror and disbelief at the mess left behind.

This ran from ankle to hip/Image from dailymail.co.uk

 There was barely a half inch of real estate that wasn’t covered in horrid red slashing welts and my first thought was of my two-day swimsuit booking. Flash back to the rogue lobster incident, and all the same thoughts came rushing into my head. The agency and the photographer are going to be furious with me; it will take months if not years to heal these scars, and what will happen to my career in the meantime?

The ER staff told me to expect the pain to last for probably one month, the scars for as much as one year, and that the sucker who wanted to sea waltz with me had tentacles approximately 15’ long. They also had this advice for future visits to the ocean. Always bring several bottles of unseasoned meat tenderizer containing bromelian or papain and bottles of rubbing alcohol along when you pack for the beach. Sure, let’s pack up even more crap than we already do for any possible contingency. Why not pack up a skilled OB/GYN in case of an immaculate conception which results in an unexpected beachside delivery?!?! I mean, where does it end?

By the next morning when I arrived at the studio and showed the photographer and client (Danskin, Cole, Jantzen?) the offending leg,

24 hours after being "wrapped"..the miracles of retouching!

I had almost worried myself to a point of full projectile vomit. Unfazed, they all agreed that was what retouching was for, and it wouldn’t present a problem at all.

Moral of this story? Don’t worry, be happy, and JUST SHOW UP, no matter what.

4 thoughts on “A SPA’ ctacular Asheville Vacation #29

  1. You are a trooper. I was stung last summer during a vacation in Savannah. I jumped from the water screaming that I had been stabbed! The lifeguard laughed, spritzed some sting med on my leg, and told me the thing had barely “nudged” me.
    Glad you got some pre-Valentines relaxation time!

  2. You look amazing!!! I have recently caught up on all your blogs..I am so fasinated in the adventurous life you have lived..I’m always excited to hear another “Texas Toast”story!

  3. That spa and that log cabin … oh … my … god! You’ve got a good Spousal Unit there, Renee! My husband, 10 years older, always says to me, “I’m lucky you like old things.” He’s a smart man.

    As for the Man-0-War, I already said … oh … my … god! So, I’m speechless. And I will never, ever, ever go swimming in the ocean on any beach on the east coast ever, ever again.

    And, another gorgeous photo, by the way! Love the white glasses – I do believe they were recently “in vogue” again, no? I loved when I worked at an ad agency in NYC and they showed me the before and after retouching shots of models. Kinda made me admire my cellulite (okay, I’m exaggerating!). Anyway, you get BIG points for getting through that ordeal!

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