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TravelTry a rustic retreat with hot springs By Judy Wiley McClatchy-tribune Tucson, Arizona | Published: 01.21.2007advertisementFAR SOUTHWEST TEXAS — Chinati Hot Springs is a rustic retreat in the Texas reaches of the Chihuahuan Desert, a quiet and remote compound where the owners' dogs run up to greet you before anyone else does. A visitor in the right frame of mind could spend a whole day in the arroyo (watch out for javelinas) putting together a collection of water-worn stones in pinks and grays and tans. Evenings are for floating in 109-degree mineral baths beneath a glittering night sky, finally seeing the Milky Way again, watching for the next shooting star. This is not a place to be indulged or pampered in any conventional sense. The semi-private tub I used was gritty and mossy on the bottom. My room had no shower, just a sink and toilet, so the mineral baths really are for bathing. The adobe cottages house simple, concrete-floored rooms stocked with Mexican blankets. Mine had two space heaters, and I needed both. My semi-private mineral bath was a deep, black fiberglass tub with a pipe for a spout. You prepare your own meals in the spacious communal kitchen, from food you've brought. Caretakers Krissy and David Sines provide coffee. The luxuries here are the kind that bring you peace if you let them: a morning spent reading in the sun beneath a brilliant blue sky; an afternoon nap in the utter silence of the desert; a moonlit night resting in a rocking chair after a steamy, hot bath. Getting there: Marfa is about eight hours from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and the hot springs are about two hours from there, any way you do it. Unless you have a vehicle built to drive over big rocks and down into steep slate washes, take the long way — that's U.S. 67 to Texas 170 to Ruidosa, and then up to the hot springs, about 100 miles from Marfa. The "short way" is Pinto Canyon Road, only about 50 miles from Marfa — but beware: for about 18 miles it's nothing but a sliver of dirt, often washed down to bare rock, cut into the sides of hills. Who should go: Travelers who love the desert. I went alone, but unless you really are seeking solitude, you might feel more secure taking a group of friends. Rates: Rooms and cabins range from $75 to $95 a night; camping, which includes use of the mineral springs, is $15 a night. Pets are welcome. Neccessities: Bring your own food. You can store it in the communal kitchen's refrigerator or keep it in your cooler. Also bring your own toiletries and blow dryer. They are not provided. Rustic really means rustic here. And this is truly a getaway — your cell phone probably will not work. Mine didn't. Information: 1-432-229-4165. www.chinatihotsprin gs.com.
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