I’ve always loved going to hot springs. They renew my spirit and melt away the tension I seem to always carry in my body. It’s been a relatively quite summer so far, as most of our work this season is still coming up, especially when we travel to Brazil August 12th with the Assad Brothers. However, I love getting away from the responsibilities of taking care of a house, and made last minute plans with my son, Mike to go to our favorite springs, Orr Hot Springs. It’s a wonderful old resort situated in the coastal mountains west of Ukiah, along an old stagecoach road that goes to the coastal town of Mendicino. I took Mike there when he was barely 6 weeks old, so he has a soft spot for it as well.
The trip from my house in Novato to Orr travels through some beautiful scenery, which includes lots of wineries, and the charming town of Hopland, which has the Hopland Brewery and the Real Goods store to recommend it. You get to Orr Springs Road just after taking the State Street turnoff in Ukiah, and it quickly begins to climb steeply into the mountains. The views are pretty inspiring, with lots of evergreen trees and golden hillsides as distractions. After climbing over the top of a crest, the road descends quite sharply. I still remember the alarming feeling I had on a previous trip when I tapped the brakes only to find out that there wasn’t much there.
We arrived at Orr in the heat of the afternoon, and checked in at the office. After a refresher course on the rules that make staying at Orr work quite well (store your food in the large industrial refrigerators, clean as you go in the kitchen, no food in the baths) we set up our tent in the campground right on the river. It was amazingly peaceful. Unfortunately, our tent’s zipper was broken, so for the whole trip, our tent was wide open. Luckily, it was so warm that it hardly mattered. One morning, I woke up quite early, and made my way to the baths in the semi-darkness. Not a bad way to wake up.
We spent the next couple of days soaking naked in claw foot bathtubs steaming with silky, sulfur-infused hot water, sweating out the toxins in the steam room and sauna, diving into the cold pool carved out of the side of the hillside. We also hiked to a redwood forest, and I woke up every morning before Mike, made my tea and sat and meditated in the beautiful gardens of Orr. Highlights include sitting in a tub on the roof of the bathhouse gazing at the stars after dinner, and listening to a local singer-songwriter who was well into her 70’s with whom we had been chatting naked in the steam room just minutes before. It’s a divine place that merits many repeat visits.