This story is a request from my old friend Delores, my favorite coworker and pretty much best friend from back in Portland. She somehow got a kick out of this. She was older than me, and kind of a grounding influence, but also a whole lot of fun to throw some beers back with. I know her life is full of grandchildren now, and I am happy that her cup runneth over, but sometimes I am still jealous that I can’t be a part of that on the sidelines like I used to be. I miss her dearly, and would love to catch up with her over all of the lost years. In fact, I can’t think of a better place to do that than Bagby Hot Springs….Also, sorry in advance if this story has way more details than are necessary. It’s all a word jumble.
This all went down when I was living in Portland, I was in my late twenties. Bagby Hot Springs is located about an hour and a half outside of Portland in a forest. When I moved to Portland I had heard of it, but the older people in the restaurant I worked at seemed to frown upon it – ” oh, Bagby….that’s where those hippies go to do their drugs, It’s dangerous up there, just a bunch of lunatics smoking dope”. Which, to someone younger like myself, almost seemed like an endorsement. ‘oh, sweet. where is this magical place?’
I am actually not quite sure why I never went there. I had a car, so I easily could have. I guess though, this was before gps, and I may have been worried about getting lost, and somehow it seemed like the kind of place you had to go with someone – kind of like taking a friend or a guide on an LSD trip. You have to choose wisely. And, it just seemed like a pain in the ass to get out there in general. But certainly, I had been curious for years about the hidden secrets of Bagby Hot Springs.
Around this time, a couple that I was very good friends with got married. I was by myself at their reception. I met a guy at the bar named Danny and struck up a brief conversation with him. He seemed nice, and then I forgot about him. After a couple of hours at the fancy reception place, time ran out and everyone got kicked out. All of the boring people went home, and all of the fun people ended up at this complete dive bar. I don’t even remember the name of the bar, it was all a blur.
Anyhow, I’d been having a great time celebrating my friends and ended up at the bar ordering another drink, and there was that guy Danny again. We resumed our conversation. I will admit that I was kind of mildly attracted to him, and he seemed to like talking to me. But I was also completely convinced that he was gay. He swore up and down he was straight, but the way he spoke (in that international gay voice) and gesticulated… no way. But I was also enjoying the ‘is he or isn’t he?’ aspect. At one point I drunkenly said “If you are so straight, I dare you to kiss me”. He did. And then I think I was horrified because I realized I only actually liked him because I couldn’t have him, so I just went home rather than escalate it.
I don’t even remember how I got home. I must have walked, because I remember waking up the next morning with seriously the WORST hangover of my life, and had to get up and walk a mile or two to get my car before it got ticketed or towed. It didn’t get towed, but I’m pretty sure I got a ticket.
Anyhow, months passed and that night was forgotten, nothing at all came of it. Then my friend (the bride of that wedding) had a birthday party. This was maybe in November or so – it was one of those months where it was chilly out, but not freezing in the city. I remember vividly what I was wearing: some black knit pants, a very thin pullover sweater, a hoodie, and shoes that looked very similar to this:
Several friends gathered at a bar to celebrate. I had had several beers and the evening was winding down, and Danny walked in with a friend. It was funny to see him, but whatever, no worries. We talked for a bit, and the bar was getting close to calling last call. Most of the people in the party had gone home or were paying their bill. Somehow Danny’s friend that he arrived with disappeared with other people that were leaving, and then it was just he and I with the bar about to close.
Somehow, the topic of Bagby Hot Springs got brought up. Either he had just been there, or was planning to go, or was just extolling the virtues of it. I mentioned that I had never been there. “OH MY GOD. You HAVE to go!” he said. I agreed, and said I’d put it on my list, and then he said, ” Let’s go right now!!! I don’t have to be at work until 7am, we can get out there, I’ll drive us, we can soak in the springs for an hour and you will be back before dawn!”
This was at 2am while the bar was closing. I was torn. Of course it was crazy, and of course I should just go home like a normal person, but there was this nagging thing in me that said ‘God, Tanya, you never do anything crazy or fun anymore, you are turning into an old person. Throw caution to the wind, those are always the most fun times’. The rational part of me spoke aloud and said “yeah, but it wouldn’t be any fun to go there without a beer to drink though, and all of the stores are closed, so maybe some other time.” thinking that would shut down the conversation and it would be a great excuse. Danny replied ” I have a six pack in my fridge at home. Actually, it’s my girlfriends, but she’s at work on the graveyard shift. We can grab that real quick and go”. And somehow that sold me on it.
We went to his apartment and picked up the beer. It looked very much like ‘her’ apartment. She was in student housing and worked for the University in some capacity, but I don’t know what, given she worked in the middle of the night. The apartment was very much feminine as opposed to masculine, let’s say that.
Anyway, off we went! The trip out there was fine, I was drinking a beer and Danny was not. The roads grew darker and more foresty and desolate. The roads were curvy, and often one side was rock and the other a steep drop off. Snow started appearing on the roadside. I was impressed that he remembered the route to this place because it was out in the middle of nowhere.
We finally arrived, and then it’s a 1.5 mile hike to the hot spring tubs. In complete darkness. In those shoes I was wearing. I have no idea how we managed that, I guess the moon was bright. It was cold, and in places icy, and I can’t believe I didn’t twist an ankle, but it went pretty fast. And then we were there. A little freestanding shack with a couple of trees hollowed out as tubs in the middle of the forest on a cold night. Awesome! We awkwardly stripped down to our underwear and got in.
There was this kind of underlying thing or feeling like we were doing something wrong. I knew that if I were his girlfriend and knew he was up in the hot springs in his underwear with some random chick I’d be furious. (especially after I saw her and realized that quite frankly, I was far more attractive than her).I would also be particularly mad about the missing beer in the fridge. But absolutely nothing like that went on. We soaked in the tub for a while, and then Danny looked at his watch and said “Oh SHIT!, I have to get back. My shift starts in two hours!”
So we powered down the hillside,which was made much easier in that we were fucking freezing. Our underwear was wet and all we had was a thin layer of dry clothes on top of that. We made it over that creek with the log crossing and knew we were almost back to the car, with it’s heater.
Once in the car, we took a minute to heat back up, both shivering. Then we were back on the road home. Danny was clearly worried at this point he would be late for work. He was a barista at Starbucks, and I imagine if you show up late to that job you are shit outta luck. He was driving faster than I was comfortable with, and at some point I tried to make a joke, but also serious and said ” I know you have to get to work, but we don’t need to pretend we are in the Indianapolis 500. Can you slow down a bit?” …He acknowledged it by grumbling something about yeah, he was just worried about work, but he did ease up on the gas a tiny bit. However, probably not thirty seconds after I said that, after tensing my muscles with every curve in the road, we came upon one and the car started sliding. As a passenger, my foot was pedal to the metal on my imaginary break. I looked over and he was panicking. I just remember saying “oh shit, we’re going over”
And so we did. I wondered if that would be the moment I would die. The car rolled a couple of times off the edge of the hillside and came to a stop.
The car came to rest pinned by a tree at an angle. The tree was outside of my door and Danny was positioned up higher on the angle in the drivers seat. I noticed that suddenly the car was engulfed in this horrible smell of…shit. I wondered if Danny shit his pants. (I have since come to realize that when you go through something traumatic like this your body just panics and expels ever kind of horrific gas within). But anyway, I wondered about that, and it made me all the more anxious to exit the car. I didn’t want to get out on my side because who knew how precarious that tree was and if I got out the car could roll on top of me. So I think I crawled into the back seat and exited out the opposite side on higher ground. As I was doing so, I DISTINCTLY REMEMBER saying “Is there anything I should grab on my way out?” He said no, so I crawled out and we were safe outside of the car and scrambled up the hill to the road.
Once on the road, Dany naturally started freaking out. “Oh my god…. Fuck…. FUCKKKKKK!!! What have I done?” etc. I tried to calm him and be like ‘ well, shit happens, it was the ice on the road, not you?” …and then he reveals….” This is my girlfriends car. She doesn’t know I am driving it, and I have a suspended license”.
“oh.”…. I didn’t want to say it, but I was like ‘yeah, you are totally in deep shit then.’
And then I thought to myself ‘ I guess he didn’t shit his pants or I would notice more of a reaction about that’, so that’s refreshing.
I know everyone will want to know why the license was suspended, and I honestly can’t remember. I think it’s safe to assume it was for some shady shit though.
It was freezing out, and right before dawn, so I said ” I know you are freaking out, but we need to start walking to keep warm. You can do what you want, but I am going to walk until I run across a car.”
He begrudgingly followed. I think he may have had a cell phone (although this was right at the dawn of them) If he did, he was unable to get reception, because we were out in the woods. One car came by and we flagged them down. They would not pick us up but offered to call police. We kept walking.
At some point I noticed that all Danny was wearing was a short sleeved shirt. I was freezing, but I offered him my hoodie because I had a thin sweater. Although this was definitely an internal debate because he had a winter coat in the car, and as I exited said car I said “Is there anything you need me to grab?” and I was really full of resentment that he had not been thinking clearly enough at that time to be like ‘oh yeah, that super warm winter coat would be nice, thank you.’
With no heat, my wet bra and underwear were pretty much forming icicles. Those fucking shoes I was wearing with their heels weren’t helping either. And neither was Danny. God. What a fucking idiot. I felt bad for him, but I didn’t.
After walking a few miles, FREEZING, (especially because I sacrificed my fucking hoodie to Danny who was too stupid to get his god damned winter coat from the car) a guy in a truck picked us up. We explained our situation and that we needed a ride to civilization, and the guy clearly wanted money, saying he had no gas in his truck, blah blah blah. Unfortunately, Neither Danny or myself had cash. I’m sure we gave him whatever we did have, but the best he could do was ” Well, there is a Job Corps camp up ahead, I will let you out there. They can help you”
Job Corps. I’m sure it’s a great program, but my understanding of it (which may be completely wrong) is that it is a bunch of kids who have run into trouble with the law or drugs, or can’t deal with school, and so parents send them to this place out in the middle of the woods far from society to learn discipline and stuff. Which is all fine and well, but weird that we should end up there. When we arrived all of the kids surrounded the truck and eyed us suspiciously, and kind of excitedly too, as we were newcomers. We got a little tour of the Job Corps campus and they parked us in the cafeteria. I think they gave us some bacon and eggs, which was awesome.
Then, Danny started making calls. His girlfriend wasn’t answering ( she had worked the graveyard shift and was probably sleeping). I should say here that I guess I should have tried calling someone too, but the only person I could think of was my dad, and that was way too embarrassing. I am sure my dad would have picked me up, no doubt about that, but I didn’t want to broadcast to him that I had put myself in this completely fucked up situation. I wanted Danny to try to get us out of this situation first. So then he called his girlfriends best friend. She answered. She agreed to pick us up, and would be there in an hour.
God that hour was awful. All of the friendly banter that had happened less than 3 hours ago between Danny and I was completely void, and we were both just in our own private hells.
Finally, we see the car in the distance. ” She’s here!” Danny said.
God, I was so happy. Then, “Oh . my girlfriend is with her”. Oh, for fucks sake. I wondered how this was going to go. Would they let me in the car? I don’t know that I would want to drive me home if I were her, even though I didn’t do anything.
Thankfully, she was gracious enough to let me in the car, although it was an awkward introduction. You could tell she really wanted to lay into Danny, but not only was her friend driving, but I was there, this weird anomaly. It was a very tense ride to town, where we stopped at a gas station to call the police and try to figure out the situation with the car. The girlfriend and the friend were dealing with that and I had a moment alone with Danny, and I said “So, maybe I can get a bus from here. I am trying to think of how to do that, do you know?” And what sucks is that I hardly had any money in my bank account and don’t even know if I could have afforded it. But he said “Oh my god, No. You HAVE to stay for the ride home, otherwise it’s going to be bad. I need you here as a buffer because she won’t completely go insane if you are here, but she will otherwise.”
And so I stayed. From there we went on to drive by the crash scene where the car was being towed from the hillside. It was totaled. The girlfriend nearly had a stroke and I just tried to make myself as small as possible and blend into the car upholstery. Danny and I did not say a word to each other.
The car ride home was equally surreal and lasted approximately 200 hours. As we hit the outskirts of town the girlfriend exclaimed “Oh, there is an Olive Garden in Clackamas, do you guys want Olive Garden? The Tour of Italy is awesome”……. sweet fucking jesus, what the hell are you talking about? I thought. But she was serious. Not only did I not have the money to buy an extravagant meal at the olive garden, but what the fuck – did she mean all sit around and eat together? I pleaded to please just get me to my car in Portland. I no longer wanted to be held hostage. They called in an order and sat in the parking lot waiting for the to go order. She again asked if I wanted to join them with their takeout at home , and I was like ‘oh my god no, especially when you sit down in your living room with your sweet olive garden food and try to get a beer out of your fridge and realize that it’s gone, we took that last night along with your wrecked car to Bagby Hot springs.
So finally they dropped me off and I ended my crazy night about 15 hours later than planned.
Danny and I never spoke again.
My legs hurt for days from walking miles in those shoes.
The girlfriend called my answering machine several times to check on me. I think she was terrified that I would sue.
I went to a party later at my married friends house (man, those guys were constantly partying!). They were talking with this chick, and when I walked up they said “remember that time you went to Bagby hot springs with our friend Danny?” I immediately rolled my eyes and launched into “Oh my fucking god. What an idiot. I WISH I could forget that. jesus”.etc…. An eyebrow was raised , and they said “You must not remember our friend”, and introduced me to the girl standing next to them. “No. I don’t think we have ever met”… And then ” Oh, you have, I was the one that picked you guys up that day”. Oh MY God! It was the friend (the friend of Danny’s girlfriend. I still can’t remember any of their names)!!!! Then she happily went on to say that she and Danny were dating. I had trouble stifling the laugh. well, whatever to them, hope it worked out.
Many years later, my brother got married. It turned out his wife had some friends in common with mine, and somehow it came out of the woodwork that we both knew Danny. Apparently she had at one point been engaged to him. So, that was a weird coincidence.