Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stewart Mineral Springs, Weed, CA (3.5 Stars ***)

Stewart Mineral Springs is a rustic resort near the border of California and Oregon and is a camping enthusiasts dream! At first impression, this place seems more like a camping place for Boy Scouts. However, don't let this discourage you from taking advantage of their bathhouse and bathing ritual. You won't be disappointed! You will automatically be transported into a quieter and more spiritual state of being the moment you enter into the peaceful comforts of Stewart Mineral Springs. For more than 130 years, the resort has welcomed visitors into its haven of well-being that relaxes the mind, revives the body, and restores the soul. Native Americans used to consider this a healing site and there was an understanding that no fighting would take place on this sacred site. It is easy to see why they considered it a healing site. The moment you come onto the grounds, you feel yourself relax. Begin your journey at Stewart Mineral Springs with a soothing mineral bath, a relaxing sweat in Northern California 's last dry wood sauna or revitalizing spa treatment. The bathhouse is the healing headquarters for the resort. It houses 13 private bathing rooms where water bubbles up from the ground cold, is heated to around 180 F, and run into deep tubs for soaking (20-30 minutes). While naturally exfoliating your skin, the silica mineral water begins the process of purifying your body, then the large wood sauna and final dip in the creek completes the purifying process (in March it was 2 C or 34 F). Parks Creek runs through the property, a dipping pool has been carved out for your "Cold Plunge". The significance of the cold water is to wash off all of the surfaced toxins that have come out during your bath and sauna while building your immune system. The Native Americans believed that by submerging your body and head in the creek, all of your stress was washed downstream. The bathhouse is surrounded by wide wooden decks overlooking Parks Creek, where you may sunbathe and relax to the sounds of the rushing stream. It is believed by many, with first hand experience, that the mineral water is one of the most, if not the most, powerful healing waters in the world. The water has a lot of silica and it feels slick on the skin. You have to fight the temptation to rub your skin (silica can abrade the skin and leave a rash). There is also an attendant on duty to help you get started. This is why they limit the bathing times from 10 AM to 6 PM on most days. Once you understand the bathing ritual, process of heating the water, the unique features of the mineral water, and the need for the attendant, then the limited hours and charge of $20.00 per person makes sense. Note that if you stay at the resort you still have to pay for the use of the bathhouse. For this reason, it may make better sense to stay up the street at the Mount Shasta Resort, or the O'Brien Mountain Inn and then drive over to the springs for the bathhouse opening at 10 AM. This resort also appears to be quite seasonal so often times the restaurant or smoke house may be closed. Also, Stewart is full service, so you can call ahead and schedule a massage if you like. Lastly, don't forget to stop at the Olive Pit (off of I-5 in Corning, CA, for some outstanding olive oil, samples, and pickled spicy garlic. The best place to eat in Weed would be the Black Bear Restaurant (the original). Also, the food at the Mount Shasta Resort is quite good. Other sites to see in the area include the Sundial bridge at Turtle Bay, the Shasta Caverns, the Shasta dam, Brigadoon Castle in Igo, and the Shasta Dinner Train. Please call ahead in most cases to make reservations.

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