Before I left this weekend, I did my best to put myself in a hippie mindset. I dug out my most hippie apparel (think yoga meets the outdoors), downloaded Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success for my drive, gathered healthy snacks (dried organic mango, anyone?), and made a vow to go make-up free (thanks for the inspiration Twenty-Something Travel).
Turns out I may have been overdoing it a bit. As soon as I was out of my car and had a good look around, I realized the clientele of this little hot springs retreat outside wine country was more diverse than I expected. In fact, pretty sure you could picture anyone in your mind and someone similar was there. Young, old, plump, thin, rich, struggling, tattooed, clean-cut, foreign, hippie, otherwise.
I guess when I heard naked, I thought it would be a specific kind of person. But really, people from all walks of life seemed to be alright with it, minus, of course, me. I was one of maybe four people who opted to remain covered. The others were all women, (interesting, right?), of various ages and backgrounds.
I did feel a little bit like the weirdo for keeping on my suit, but there are some things I’d rather keep a mystery. Likewise, I could have done without seeing everyone else’s mysteries, although I totally got that I was on their territory, so if I didn’t like it, I could leave. Regardless, the whole time I found myself wondering where should I be looking… Do I look people in the eyes and nod hello? Do I avert my gaze whenever I cross someone’s path? Is that old woman really talking to me with her legs wide open like that?
Fortunately, the vibe was definitely not sexual. It was more like visiting a different country with alternative norms than my vision of some hedonistic hippie hang out. Signs even reminded people to honor each other’s personal space. I never once felt intruded upon.
Out of my element or not, it was a good adventure. It kind of reminded me of that family resort on Dirty Dancing, complete with activities, a movie theater, a restaurant, and charming, if not slightly rustic accommodations. There was even a community of people who live and work there full-time, not unlike the movie.
While I did get a little restless without my phone, or laptop, I enjoyed the beautiful grounds, mellow vibe, sound of running water, hiking trails, labyrinth, free yoga three times daily, massage, and sunshine warm enough for sunbathing in January. I even allowed my mom to wake me up at 5:30 in the morning to hit the hot springs in the dark, when the pools are practically empty. As I floated on my back and stared up at the stars through a canopy of evergreen trees, I understood the allure of the place. Pure magic, clothing or not.
Even though I had a relaxing time, I would only return again with someone who really wanted to be there. It was not entirely my thing. I don’t love soaking in water shared with naked strangers, no matter how progressive I like to think I am or how wonderful the yoga offerings were. I prefer the ocean and a little technology, I suppose.