|Watson Wash Well
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Watson Wash Hot Well, Aridzone, Arizona, Report.
From Rt 70 in Thatcher, Arizona, go North on Reay Lane to the end. Turn left on Safford-Bryce Rd. After Watson Lane on the left, turn right up Watson Wash, marked by a dip in the road and derelict cars on their sides, used to channel the water. The tub is 0.2 mi. up on the left.
4 Moons sometimes. Two lemons and a pit most weekends.
Veterans of all of six hot springs and wells as of this writing, we're happy to say that 90% of all age people using even the relatively public ones do so unencumbered by unhealthy cloth. Great. That's during the week. Our first full weekend at Watson Hot Well was a (clothed) disaster. People running around all over the place with clothes on. People in the tub with bathing suits on. People in the tub FULLY CLOTHED in street clothes. Radios blasting for hours. Engines revving needlessly. Many drunks. Cans, bottles, broken glass, and other litter all over the place. We cleaned Sunday morning; by afternoon, there was more litter on the ground than when we started. Binocular GAWKERS on the bluff ogling fully clotheds. Saturday night when it was completely dark we went in the tub, nude, of course. Two suited women who weren't together said they didn't mind but both left and didn't return. Sad. Sunday evening, we headed for the tub but turned around and went back to the motor home because of loud music and three clotheds in the tub in complete darkness. In other words, go to Watson during the week; on the weekend, be prepared for anything. All wasn't lost, however = we spent the entire time nude in and around our RV in the large flat area a hundred yards from the tub.
Watson Hot Well is somewhat like th'Eagles "Hotel California"-in that "this could be heaven or this could be hell." But, at least, you can check out AND leave anytime you want, unlike in the song.
And except for the total disaster that nearby Thatcher Hot Well was, we've had mostly positive experiences at springs. When we hit Thatcher, we were completely turned off! It was very discouraging; we're not against people who don't have much $; we had precious little our first three years on the road. What we don't approve of is people who don't take care of themselves or our precious Mom Earth, by choice. What they do is take, without contributing to society in return. They also leave mounds of garbage and trash. Yet it seems they always have $ for drugs! We were offered several varieties, twice, while there.
When that motley crew told us Watson Well was far worse, far dirtier, and inhabited by "undesirables", we wondered just how bad it could be! We'd pretty much decided not to go, but then remembered our own oft repeated advice--DON'T take some else's word for it--go find out for yourself. We went and were we ever glad; we spent two (week) days during our first visit to Watson and hated to leave. The place could be cleaner, but all the many responsible regulars take out more than they bring in. And from time to time people drive vehicles up to the fabulous tub and crank up the volume of their radios, apparently convinced that all within 500 yds want to hear their too loud music. Nothing is perfect; when Watson is bad, it's awful, but when it's good, it's REALLY good, even sometimes on weekends three regulars report; it all depends on the mix of people. We had a particularly rewarding Sunday morning soak during our second visit, for instance.
The three former regular users who built the tub in 1993 really knew what they were doing. The BLM threatened to destroy it, since it wasn't `authorized' by them, but it's still there. The tub is deep enough to be underwater up to one's neck sitting on the bottom, it has a drain plug so the water can be let out for cleaning, and the pipe bringing the water in can be adjusted to be a heavy shower or a large jet on aching muscles. The neatest feature is that the overflow makes a little waterfall into a large, constantly flowing foot bath so the amount of sand tracked into the tub is minimal. Carved in the cement in low relief where people enter the tub are the words, "NO SWIM SUITS." Those words have been used more than once to keep clotheds out during the week, but on weekends, it's hopeless.
At a perfect (for us) 102 degrees, Watson Hot Well faithfully delivers 27 gallons per minute of clear, odorless water. We and others drank it and enjoyed it; some have suggested it was too brackish even for cattle. The temperature of Watson is ideal for really long soaks. Most of the time Bill is out of a hot tub in less than ten minutes and Camilla follows a minute or two later. Not so at Watson = one can stay in for hours without becoming overheated. Elevation 2,900 feet.
Three of the adults we met at the well were Mormons, die hard nudist Mormons, at that. They said the few in their religion opposing nudity were doing so because of their own interpretation of the bible and that their opinions had no basis in scripture. They all believed being free of clothes in nature was completely compatible with their religion, founded by Joseph Smith and further promoted by Vermont's own Brigham Young. By the way, did you know Brigham Young was from Whitingham, at the end of Lake Whitingham, aka Harriman Reservoir, the largest body of water in the Green Mountain State and home of The Ledges?
Two families with children were there during our too short visit; we smiled, as did the father, as one 8 year old boy donned pants in a panic when he saw Camilla walking nude (with Bill, also nude) toward the tub. We wondered why he didn't put on a hat, a shirt, or shoes. He stayed in the tub, but for about 15 minutes, he couldn't even turn Camilla's way. After a while he could at least face her and talk with us normally. The next day when two mothers arrived with a little girl and boy, he put pants on again, but at least didn't hide his eyes.
All the land around Watson Hot Well is BLM, meaning camping is free for 14 days. Day or night, there's a nice view from the campsite on the bluff above the hot tub; it can be reached by leaving Watson Wash, turning right, then taking either the first or second dirt road on the right. If one has four wheel drive or a really good climbing two wheel drive vehicle, the top of the bluff can also be reached by driving up the rocky track to the right of the tub.
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