Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wilbur Hot Springs, California (4.0 Stars ****)

For centuries, the powerful hot mineral waters of Wilbur Hot Springs have drawn those seeking their healing powers. Reestablished in 1972 by Dr. Richard Louise Miller, Wilbur is a place where consideration and mutual respect reign supreme. Getting to the spring is fairly easy and only about 2 hours from San Francisco. It is easy to miss the small dirt road (Bear Valley Road) right off of Highway 20. From first approach the road seems somewhat daunting in that it is all dirt and brings back bad memories of the road to Tassajara. However, Bear Valley Road is fairly tame and well maintained. About 4 miles up the road you will reach the famous "metal bridge" where you turn left. You then reach a beautiful and private gate entrance way. Then you know you have arrived. The property is very well maintained and boasts a private deck with a "flumarium" that allows you to soak in differing hot spring waters ranging from 98 degrees F to 109 degrees F. There are outdoor bathrooms, showers, a deck, a cold mineral water bath, a sauna, and yoga center. The beautifully maintained lodge is very warm and inviting. There is a wonderful social room, restful library, and massive professional kitchen. Various weekends have cooking classes with invited professional guest chefs. You need to bring your own towels and food. Linens are provided by the resort. Overall a wonderful experience and place to visit.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tassajara - Oldest Budhist Monastery in U.S.A. (3.0 Stars ***)

Tassajara is the oldest budhist monatery in the United States. In order to reach the retreat one must pass a highly steep and treacherous road. It makes the Mt. Washington Highway look huge. Much of the road is dirt and with steep cliffs and no guard rails. Originally, the camp was a luxury retreat for only a select few. When the resort failed, it was then converted into a retreat. There are both natural and hot springs. The kitchen serves mostly vegetarian foods. It is strongly recommended to take the shuttle to the resort and leave your car parked near the entrance of the dirt road.

Vichy Springs, Ukiah, CA (4.0 Stars ****)

Vichy Springs is one of those special places in the world with a world class champagne bath. There are also a number of hot tubs and springs. The champagne bath consists of a tub that you lie in and fill. The cool water fills the tub and you are then submerged. The water has high levels of bubbles or bicarbonate. The small bubbles surround the bather and stick to them. They then begin to penetrate the skin capillaries. This gives the sensation of the bath getting warmer. There are only three of these types of baths throughout the entire world. The other ones are located in France. The hot pool is next to a replica of Monet's bridge crossing Vichy Creek.

Esalen & Big Sur (4.5 Stars ****)

Esalen is another favorite place for outdoor enthusiasts. It is located a little further down past DeetJen's and the Ventanna Inn. Use of the ocean view hot tubs is limited to only those customers who also take a course. There are a number of excellent courses offered and the housing is optional. Food served is vegetarian. Esalen is most famous for the hot springs, ocean views, and massages.