Sunday, June 29, 2014

Uncharacteristic decadence...

My 1st reaction...serious grossness!

The thought, not to mention the mental picture, of me lolling around in a mud bath is almost as uncharacteristic as me actually enjoying the sociability of a temporary park hosting job. Not exactly high on my bucket list but nevertheless I can now say I did it.

The occasion is a celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary, traditionally done with china or platinum, probably not too practical for motorhome living.  The location is the charming town of Calistoga, CA, touted for its geothermal hot springs guaranteed to melt away tension, spectacular wines to impress the toughest critic, and restaurant choices from haute cuisine to Southern barbecue...all in a relaxed style.

We stayed 4 nights at the Calistoga RV Park located on the grounds of the Napa County fairgrounds. Being able to walk the 3 blocks into downtown was a bonus.

The natural and cultural history of this Northern Napa Valley town adds another dimension to the wine country experience.  Much of the regions's history is still alive in Calistoga from its authentic Victorian architecture to its world-famous hot mineral springs and spas.

The downtown area is chocked full of shops, art galleries, and of course, a wealth of B & Bs offering overnight accommodations complete with spa packages.

Lovely murals adorn the sides of many buildings.

Yellowstone's Old Faithful
Calistoga's Old Faithful

 While not quite as dramatic as Yellowstone's, Calistoga's Old Faithful Geyser blows off steam every 15 minutes or so, and is worth a visit if you want to pay $12/$15 per person for the show, with picnic grounds, a petting zoo, and the mandatory "exit through the gift shop", a great film by street artist Banksy we saw in Port Townsend a couple of years ago!

Our decadence involved good food and wine, of course.  For the anniversary dinner we chose the fantastic Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant at the Culinary Institute in nearby Saint Helena.  Our particular menu choices included a starter of braised 5-dot meat balls topped with a poached egg on a bed of pickled radish salad which we shared, followed by goat cheese and mushroom raviolis for Howard and mouth watering lamb for me.  We later shared the slow-baked mousse...all to die for (possibly from heartburn).

 Though not a big fan of wine-tasting excursions (I don't like to pay for tasting) we did visit Markham Vineyards as I like their red blends.  When it comes to buying I will stick to the likes of Costco and Safeway whose inventory is a lot cheaper for the same product.

 On our last day, Thursday, Howard was completely immersed in soccer, so fueled by pressure from well-meaning friends I called Golden Haven Spa, highly recommended, and got a "last minute deal"....which brings us back to my immersion.  I went for the works; the mud bath, facial, and massage.  It was glorious and I loved every decadent minute...well maybe not the act of entering and exiting said mud bath.  I thought for sure I would sink into 104 degrees of muck that smelled like sulfur, but instead floated on top of about 3 feet worth.  I was covered from head to toe, with an icy cool towel on my forehead, then left alone to meditate (stew) for 12 minutes while listening to some soothing background music.  My attendant checked in to make sure I was OK, then off I went to hose off and shower followed by another 15 minutes in my own private mineral hot pool.  The facial and massage were icing on the anniversary cake. Howard completely enjoyed his day as well.

All done, outta' here!

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