Dan, the Man from Thermopolis

If you are motoring to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, in all probability you’ll stop in Thermopolis, a small town, southeast of  the park, for a swim or soak, in the ”World’s Largest Hot Springs,” located in Hot Springs State Park,  where there are two privately owned thermal facilities. We have been visiting Thermopolis for about twenty years, and enjoy swimming in the outdoor pool, where the water is approximately 94 degrees. In the cold of winter, it’s fun to duck in the hot water to get the icicles out of our hair.

It’s hard not to notice Dan Moriarty, part owner and manager, of the Teepee Pools, the facility we prefer.  Dan is not particularly attractive. He’s overweight with a grey beard. He was a former alcoholic and suffered many illnesses. Managing the pool requires knowledge, and is labor intensive. Dan and his crew are out in all kinds of weather to assure that the equipment is functioning. This fall, the roof of the Teepee Pools suffered damage from hurricanes and can’t be repaired until spring. Meanwhile, Dan has been conferring with contractors, state officials, and his partners, about replacing the roof. They decided on using brick red metal paneling that will be both attractive and able to withstand rough weather.

Dan had the habit of greeting us with brash “can you top this” remarks. I wasn’t offended. I’ve known people with harsh demeanors who were good -natured. It is my observation that the bravado is only a mask for a person’s insecurity. Marty and I are fond of Dan. We enjoy getting together for lunch or dinner. He’s intelligent, and is not reluctant to talk about politics. We’ve exchanged many heated discussions. Who else, but Dan, would keep us up to date on the news and gossip of Thermopolis? We can also depend upon Dan for information about good restaurants.

In the locker room at the pool, I overheard some women describing Dan as a womanizer, and disrespectful of the opposite sex. I have the impression that he is the first person a woman, or anybody, would turn to when help was needed. He has often been accompanied by a date, when we went out, and was always considerate. We recently met Dan at a restaurant with several women. He was with the local women’s basketball team and had treated them all to dinner!

Dan would discuss some of the problems caused by customers. There are those who don’t watch their children. There are others who bring small children into the hot tubs, ignoring signs prohibiting children under 14 from using the tubs, citing serious health risks.

One of the most bizarre stories, Dan told, is of George, an older man whom we knew. When he passed away, his wife approached Dan about having a special funeral at the pool, because George loved swimming and spent part of every day there. She suggested bringing George to the pool in his bathing suit, after nine in the evening when the pool is closed. Dan bellowed, ”NO WAY.” We can always count on Dan to entertain us with his stories.

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Meet me at the Mikvah?

Now I’m going for Aquatic Therapy. In November I experienced a bad fall and have sustained pain and fatigue, and have been sapped of my strength and vitality.This is not me. I recently underwent two knee replacements like a trooper. After all the diagnostic tests and treatments,  it’s been determined that I have Spinal Stenosis; a condition everyone endures to some degree, when aging. The Stenosis is caused by calcification in the spine which presses on the surrounding nerves. I’m being brief. However I won’t be offended by corrections from the medical professionals. It seems like there is no cure for this other than having an operation. Since the opinions that i get about back surgery are mixed, I decided to resort to an operation only as a last resort, when and if I can’t walk.
Since I love to swim, I decided to try Aqua Therapy. There aren’t many places in my area t with this program, but I did find a small private facility that offers both PT and Aquatic therapy The pool is 15′ by 10′, similar to a Mikvah, the ritual cleansing bath used by Orthodox Jewish people. It can accommodate two people, is equipped with parallel bars and even a whirlpool. Various flotation aids and weights are also available. The exercises are not strenuous, or unusual, but  because I am buoyant in the water I have a good workout in half an hour. Exercising will not cure the problem, but I am hopeful that with it,  I can strengthen my muscles, increase my mobility, and marginalize the symptoms of the Spinal Stenosis. Who knows, maybe I’ll even  lose a pound or two in the process!  If only the pool was large enough for a little swim after all that work.
I am not complaining. There is a bowl of Hershey kisses at the desk; a little reward for work well done and a little something to boost my energy.Image