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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stress & Hot Springs: A Birthday Story

The holiday weekend was a quiet one around here.  Mostly by choice.  Stress doesn't play fair with most people, but for me it can knock me out cold.  I've been haunted pretty regularly lately by headaches so I took this weekend to unwind.  This agenda of mine did not make everyone happy (ie certain family members took it a little personally), but at the end of the weekend I was headache free so it was worth it.

Christmas is quickly followed by the holiest of days, my birthday, and I was determined not to let myself get all worked about that either.  Which is a quite a feat for me.  I have what some people might refer to as "Birthday Issues."  Being so close to Christmas I spent most my childhood birthdays in a car traveling north from the relatives.  Even if we hadn't been traveling most other people were, so birthday parties were out of the question.  Then there is always the joys of the joint gift.  "This is your Christmas and birthday gift."  Sigh....okay, I'm done whining.  I'm an adult now, or posing as one pretty seamlessly these days so it's up to me to make myself feel special.  So I thought really hard about what I would want to do for me on my birthday.

What kinds of things make me happy?

  • Nature
  • Massages
  • Being Warm
  • Pretty much anything new age or hippiesque (urban dictionary & I both agree this is a word)
  • Kitties
  • Yummy Food
Hence, my plan to take myself to Stewart Mineral Hot Springs was born.  I got all the info and asked for Monday, the day before my birthday off, because they are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the winter.  It all fell into place and I even gained a travel buddy.  My mom thought it was a fantastic idea and invited herself.  Which seems fitting since she's the one who did all the work on my original birthday anyway.

So Monday, I met up with my beautiful and absolutely hysterical friend Beth for lunch before she flew back home to San Diego.  I miss her already. Then said goodbye to both my sisters, Bri Cherie and Randie Leah before they headed north to Portland.  My mom and I got on the road to head north as well, to a lovely little town called Weed (note the sarcasm).  It was a quick drive and the weather wasn't all that bad.  I basically knit the whole way there, whoa maybe I am getting old.  Anyway, we got there and checked in and then gave ourselves a little tour of the property.  I heard there was a gazebo located over the mouth of the hot springs and I wanted to see it.  We finally found it upstream, but because of the weather all we could see under the glass was condensation.  There was however a little altar that had been started by guests in the gazebo, which I thought was cool.

On our way back we saw some people emerge from the bath house and one brave woman leaped into the creek in only her birthday suit.  I shivered for her, nothing could possibly make me jump into that icy water.

We got to the bath house and changed and headed into the sauna.  I love saunas!  I seriously want one in my house one day.  As my mom put it "It's just feels like Redding in the summer."  I think this may explain one reason we moved north so many years ago.  We relaxed in there until they came and got us for our massages.  My massage was in a little room that looked out over the creek.  It was a beautiful view and the massage itself was very relaxing.  I nearly fell asleep when she started massaging my face.  Of course that meant it was nearly over.  Why can't massages last forever?

After that I went inside to take my mineral bath.  They actually pump the water from the hot springs into little private rooms with bathtubs.  When I went inside to wait for my room, I  saw a lady sitting there with Tarot cards.  I asked for a reading and long story short it was exactly what I needed.  I know not everyone is down with the Tarot, but they have come through for me so many times I've stopped being skeptical.

I was floating on cloud nine by this time and I seriously didn't feel my feet touch the floor as I made my way to the little room with my name on the door.  The room was big enough to hold a the long vintage claw foot tub and  a little chair.  The size didn't matter this was my room for the hour, all mine.   I slipped into the hot sulfury water and sighed.  I almost just made sulfur sound romantic and soothing didn't I?  Well, in a way it was.  It was part of the experience, just like all the naked people wrapped in sheets, or the fire blazing in the wood-stove in the lobby or the the fluffy kitty roaming the halls.  It was all so life affirming in a way.  Okay before I get too off track and sentimental, back to the story.  

I sunk into my bath and just focused on breathing.  What I didn't know at the time was apparently there was a system that some people used: 10 minutes in the tub and 10 minutes in the sauna.  While I was slipping into a zen like coma, my mom had been told of this system and was trying it out.  My time was up  way too fast and apparently I was the last one still locked in my room, cause they had to come and get me.  When I found my mom she had embraced this experience more than I had anticipated and was heading down to the creek to jump in.  She wanted me to join her, but I know crazy when I see it and headed to the shower line instead.  Me and my birthday suit were staying nice and warm. She didn't jump in, apparently ankle deep was enough experience for the day.  "It's like the Sacramento river, only worse" was her description of the snow melt.  We showered, got dressed, talked to the resident kitty, and sat by the fire before leaving the serenity of the springs.

On the drive down to Mt Shasta I think I said "I am so happy!" close to twenty times.  I felt completely refreshed and rejuvenated.  We stopped at The Goat Tavern for a quick dinner before we headed back to Redding.  I ate there on my birthday last year with an amazing friend of mine and this year the food was even better.  I had a lightly seared ahi tuna sandwich with some sort of wasabi sauce on ciabatta bread.  I was in food heaven!  It put me in just the right spirits to make the rainy drive back home to reality to finish out the holiday season.  In fact, I almost felt like maybe I had evened the score with my old enemy stress, well, for the time being anyway.

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