On Winter Our Life

Wintering In Sweetwater

Knowing we can get into hot water any time we please certainly takes the bite out of cold weather.

I have not said, “I hate winter,” once since we got our salt spa. Knowing I can get into hot water any time I please certainly takes the bite out of cold weather.

A hot tub was not on our radar until we made plans to get the back deck resurfaced. I remembered how much we enjoyed the built-in tub at our place in Virginia, so I thought we could extend the deck and add a spa. Bob liked the idea and our friends with hot tubs said we wouldn’t regret it.

We went with Ted’s recommendation and chose the Aria, a five-seater Freshwater Salt System Spa with pulsating jets and a triple stream fountain. The price tag was staggering, but we had the money and figured it would help ease our aches and pains for the next twenty years or so.

The old Sweetwater, named for its Sweetgum supports and after a California friend’s favorite retreat.

We decided to name it Sweetwater in honor of the crumbling tree house in our back yard where I used to sit and relax before it became unsafe.

Concrete delivery day

But first, we had to get a concrete pad thick enough to support 4,600 pounds—the estimated weight of the tub, the water, and five passengers.

Before the pour
New sidewalk

We had them throw in a sidewalk to the garage because, why not? (It also made the concrete load large enough to be viable.) It’ll keep our shoes from picking up grass clippings and dragging them into our cars.

Spa pad area, prepped and ready for mud
Aria landing pad
Newly-delivered Aria Hot Springs Spa

A few weeks later, we watched four guys wrestle the tub from their truck onto the pad that Bob (aka “Project Manager”) had measured and marked with blue tape for the precise location.

And then Bob, aka “Spa Boy”, filled it with water. He tests the water nearly every day and is continually tweaking the salt, pH, total alkalinity, chlorine, and who knows what else.

Testing the water feature hardness


Spa deck

After everything was in place, Martin and Pedro replaced our back porch flooring and added a step-down deck just six paces from our back door. I’m not going to lie, those six steps can be excruciating in the cold. But then we soak in that 100° water and gaze at the sky or make idle conversation until our bones are glowing.


I also picked up a water toy at the PTA Thrift Store in Pittsboro. We named him Hector. Bob pointed out that Hector is not a true octopus because he only has six legs.

We usually visit Sweetwater after dinner and TV—no more climbing into a chilly bed with frosty bones. We watch the planes, pick out constellations, and sometimes bathe in moonlight or catch glimpses of shooting stars. Occasionally, we have our morning coffee out there and watch the birds start the day.

So yeah, our new spa was a splurge, but it has already been life-changing. Our muscles and joints feel exceptionally supple, we sleep better, and winter has become bearable. No regrets here.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

4 replies on “Wintering In Sweetwater”

The sky is our roof! We don’t sit out there if it is raining. Will see what happens in the summer when it’s too hot. Then, maybe we’ll put up an awning.

I’m so happy for you two! So nice to have things you’ve always wanted and make you feel better, too!

Don't be shy - leave a comment!