All Things Stewart Mineral Springs
News & Op-Eds, continued
News & Op-Eds, continued
(For vintage article on current 'ownership', scroll down past end of editorial)
and body freedom issues brought to
fore with banning clothing-optional 2016
(click here for beginning of editorial)
Some of the writings here, while dated, done years before shutting bathhouse and new 'owners' showed true murky colors, still provide food for thought and are relevant in brainstorming any possible future of the Springs, beyond current abysmal stranglehold of place.
As a result of inappropriate 'ownership' changes of Stewart Mineral springs operation, critically including forbidding mindful nudity in course of spa outside private tub, the health and freedom-minded lifestyles of untold hundreds of locals and regionals thousands more on the national and global level have been sorely compromised for years now.
Many repeat visitors from far beyond area and overseas, some only familiar with Stewart's -- over time website's been viewed by Chinese, Czechs, Spaniards, Japanese, Canadians, Russians, Germans, British and French -- were no doubt also stunned and dismayed. They'd now nowhere to go to enjoy their accustomed bohemian Euro-style spa resort experience while touring U.S.'s West Coast. (Harbin re-opened, but some had always preferred Stewart's more intimate scale, setting, and lack of former's Bay-Area influenced, sometimes bold and lascivious air.
Of course such radical body freedom was only one component of the Stewart Springs experience. But it was a vital one. Some might even say it served as the linchpin that, for all open-minded, free-spirited visitors, enhanced all others -- like the place's spectacular depth in nature, healing waters, rare vortex energy, historic rustic ambiance -- to a profound, almost supernatural level.
Some (like writer) first gave them the benefit of the doubt, thinking the new absentee stewards (yes, a grievous oxymoron) were not intentionally trying to alienate customer base but were simply clueless, unaware how such an action would spark a firestorm of adverse reaction from the sea of then-faithful supporters.
During their dubious course of management, doggedly intent trying to convert place to suit their own super-structured, buttoned-down, quasi-new-age shtick, the thinking might've been that being in seller's market business would naturally continue to thrive by tapping a boundless mainstream/upscale market. And it would grow despite -- or even because of -- the radical shift in operation...which, after all, was (from their possibly skewered viewpoint) only upsetting a few low-spending, kinky locals. Ones that, truth be told, they no longer necessarily wanted as patrons.
If more upscale or mainstream client base never manifests -- seems impossible since rash call to end spa and massage service -- new 'owners' might find indeed themselves between a rock and a hard place.
For while they'd gotten rid of the once-loyal bohemian support base they hadn't attracted enough visitors of other persuasions...maybe, assuming wanting to go essentially private, not even enough gung-ho on Pneuma's convoluted formula for achieving enlightenment through long pricey workshops, retreats and two-year certification programs, or select outside group willing to accept new strict, limited scene and drink the kool-aid.
And even in the trey unlikely event they ever DO gain viable traction despite shuttering bathhouse and closing down the historic heart and soul of the place, one salient fact would forever dog outfit: a new customer base -- or exclusive private use, even -- built over the intentional destruction of long-established, free-spirited popular culture would forever brand the outfit for their reckless, spirit-crushing usurpation of a globally popular establishment.
Every day would serve as a tragic reminder of 'owners'' shocking betrayal of place's one-time long-nurtured, cooperative, unassuming air. It'd be more than a tad self-defeating (and detached from reality) to advance outfit's purported overarching aim to raise global consciousness over the very ruins of the place's long-established and beloved healing and rejuvenating culture.
'Ownership's' board of directors reportedly even wanted to enact the momentous c/o ban a half year sooner, in the summer of 2016. According to outgoing manager (whose veracity was at times suspect), they were persuaded to hold off until November. If true, maybe it was only out of consideration of long-standing bookings, made before 'owner' change, wanting to avoid massive cancellations and livid fallout from open-minded (vs. clothes-minded) bookers who might show up unaware of drastic policy change.
Maybe, too, thinking was there might be a riot if day visitors long accustomed to nudity option were one sultry 90-degree day abruptly told, "Sorry, you've gotta cover up now. No more nudity for you. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation. Tell your friends!"
Yeah, that would've worked.
Easier to spring it when it was too cold for going bare outdoors for any but all the bravehearts making accustomed heroic icy plunges into the freezing creek waters.
They couldn't be persuaded to allow even one clothing-optional day a week to accommodate the legion of more freespirited long-term fans -- local, national, and international -- who'd so long supported and revered the place and far preferred enjoying it au natural...or were at least okay with it, so long as the body-liberated scene was kept on the chill side.
Again, the new policy was possibly triggered over the shock of a doubtful story of some visitor playing with self on the deck in 2016. On off-chance this actually WAS true, outgoing manager no doubt saw a golden opportunity to sound the red alert to new 'absentee owners', prompting a fast draconian ban. An alternate explanation circulating among staff was that new 'ownership' group itself -- or their wives -- who had frequented place for retreats over the years, being socially conservative, even fundamentalist, had been very put off by place's nudity. And so maybe manager had fabricated the story out of whole cloth on the fly just to make getting rid of the naked
people an absolute slam dunk.
However it came down, it's profoundly sad...and more than a tad ironic, in light of Pneuma's transpersonal psychology branch having historic roots in human potential movement that included nude group-therapy workshops in the late 1960s, held in such places as Esalan at Big Sur, CA (practice made a feature story in Life magazine).
Getting renewed in
the nude eschewed
Stewart Springs has had a long history of flip-flopping on the policy, perhaps a schizophrenic stance on the subject reflecting that of society. Verboten until Goodpastures took the helm in the 1970s, it was again banned during the first half of Foggy's ownership in the 1980s and 1990s except for the option of a brief, chaste nude dip in water with immediate covering on emerging...that is, without risking censure by management and disapproving stares of others, affronted by such lascivious displays and husbands' riveted interest.
Then the body-oppressive mandatory cover-up policy vanished in 2000...almost as if to celebrate the new millennium with new-found enlightened transparency and boldness of spirit -- see When Body Freedom Returned to Stewart Springs -- and wouldn't make its dread reappearance until late 2016.
It suddenly allowed nudity in the sauna, outer sundeck, and creek's cold plunge area while requiring covering in halls, lobby, and inner sundeck by bathhouse door. It was a compromise hammered out to try accommodating everyone's lifestyle as best possible. Though at times unwieldy and even seemingly arbitrary, it worked. more-or-less, making the place more inclusive of varied visitor backgrounds and, many would agree, becoming far more healing, uplifting, and rejuvenating resort for it. see History
To bare or not to bare...
Granted, c/o or not c/o is a ticklish call for any rural mineral springs resort.
Does one provide a place where people in a perma-dressed world have an option to get free of unnecessary coverings in a natural sheltered environment and enjoy an enhanced state being among kindred spirits while more effectively cleansing and purifying... in the process regaining/reinforcing the
positive body acceptance of toddlers that was perhaps thought forever lost? But at the risk that such radical departure from deep-entrenched social norms potentially causes unsavory scenes and misbehavior if not keeping an ever-vigilant, mindful handle on things?
Or does one try to avoid causing vague to intolerable discomfort by the many either in seeming denial of human biologic reality or who simply prefer to keep covered out of modesty and/or to avoid unwanted attention (or simply not wanting to awaken from oppressive, conventional-behavior conditioned dream), and so insist it's not unreasonable to demand that EVERYONE keep covered during public portions of spa regimen, by God...even in bohemian stronghold of northern California amidst gentle nature, which on exotic 90 degree days could beg to be more fully enjoyed through a bit of lighthearted skinnydipping, nude sunbathing and sauna-ing?
It can be a thorny call either way IF not handled sensitively.
If opting for banning nudity, ignored or dismissed is the extreme discomfort it causes would-be freebodies who are far more sensorily in tune than the numbed-out perma-dressed and forever foot-shod... suddenly forced to keep wrapped in constrictive man-made, sensory dampening cloth that prevent any fuller attunement to natural elements
that can magically expedite and enhance a spa's regimen's purification and rejuvenation potential.
Of course, as a result of Stewart Springs hybrid, 'cool here, not cool there' policy, it was on one level neither fish nor fowl.
Though it became tenuously, kinda-sorta c/o, it never became a full-fledged nude-friendly spa retreat, joining others in the regional sisterhood of rural mineral spring resorts. This was at least in part due to lack of any planned freebody zones, place having had a long tradition of perma-wrapped mindset, with clothed visitors and often body-freedom indifferent workers striding by tubrooms and into sauna and out onto deck and down to creekside putting a damper on more would-be freebody enjoyment.
Naturist philosophy holds that the right of those chosing to be mindfully nude in appropriate environments outweighs the right of those made uncomfortable being around such nudity.
While no honest and rational thinker can credibly deny that the healing process in a spa resort -- whether upscale or rustic -- can unfold more easily when partakers can opt to get free of all textile restraint (after all, again, who bathes with their clothes on?), such places can still feel the need to ban nudity...kow-towing to society's prevailing age-old body alienation. They cling to threadbare cultural and religious beliefs, oblivious to the critical need to allow such body freedom in a enlightened, fair-minded way and thus more readily facilitate healing...possibly fearful that
business volume would drop off cliff if allowing it. And be condemned by the public morality police, possibly along with 'ownership's' associates, family and friends.
Again, ever since 2000 Stewart Springs had wobbled between the two camps. Effort to try accommodating everyone -- Sunday nudists, dyed-in-the-wool freebodies, textile junkies, and relative nude-phobics alike -- as fairly as possible could sometimes feel like an exercise in futility. Both would-be nudists and bare-notters were left grumbling around edges over awkward checkerboard of "Okay here, not okay there" freebody zones.
At the time it had seemed most doable compromise at the time given the layout of bathhouse and rich diversity of visitor lifestyles. And would've worked better with active, mindful support of management rather than hands-off, passive suffering of distasteful policy they felt saddled with from previous management with 'owner' approval, natural result for Springs never having been any more of a genuine clothing-optional resort, like wider region's sister springs.
Going to the extreme of No Nudity PERIOD created a torrent of adverse reaction by what 'owners' may not have realized (or did but didn't give a flying leap) was a significant portion of place's devotees and its off-season backbone support...
...one, again, that included many comfortable with clothing-option even if passing on option themselves. To repeat (at risk of sounding like a stuck record), they no doubt sensed that such body freedom -- besides creating a far more relaxed atmosphere conducive to deep purification, letting go, and rejuvenation -- enabled individuals to develop positive body acceptance and experience giddy physical liberation after a lifetime of society's mandated body oppression while in public.
It could make for easily fast-tracking re-integration of body, mind and spirit on profoundly higher levels.
So no longer accommodating far-flung base of nude-opting visitors marked a dumbfoundingly lamentable turn of events, the worst since Stewart Springs closed its gates to the general public for years in the mid 1980s for want of business amid absentee 'owner' s inability to find suitable management.
Its former policy -- though, again, at times awkward and seemingly arbitrary -- enabled untold thousands the world over to maximize the healing benefits of spa regimen while gaining/reinforcing generous measure of positive body acceptance. No one was left out...except perhaps the duly freaking champions of false modesty, the dues-paying members of the Keep It All Hid Society, and, in extreme cases, your gymnophobiac -- those having a pathological fear of nudity...their own and/or that of others.
It can't be stressed enough: having the option to be mindfully clothesfree, alone or among others, amid the wild harmony of nature during a relaxing spa regimen is a rare therapeutic and often liberating experience.
It's one that helped distinguish Stewart's as a progressive-minded retreat haven, championing, albeit ever so tenuously, a policy eminently support-worthy in our neurotically perma-dressed world. Result: life-changing liberation from crippling body shame -- the dam preventing radical body acceptance suddenly burst -- quickly enabling re-integration of body-mind-spirit on higher levels.
Changing Room Chaos?
One wrinkle in changing policy maybe not considered was place's ridiculously tiny changing room. It long served as a co-ed changing area -- not well, but served. It was an impossibly small and narrow space with a side bank of cubbies and two curtained nooks in back.
On busy days there could be over half a dozen visitors wanting to change at once plus others wanting to access stashed belongings. No practical places for separate men's and women's changing rooms existed in bathhouse short of maybe sacrificing employee break room, unused juice bar or a tubroom. As things stood, chaos and frustration -- making for decidedly unsettling energy non conducive to meditative calm desired in place ostensibly dedicated to purifying, healing and relaxing -- would've resulted if 'owners' didn't relent
and work out a more reasonable, realistic, doable c/o compromise. (But hey, with coronavirus supposedly prompting permanent bathhouse closure, no problema.)
Before policy liberalized, two current tub rooms, #2 and 3, were changing rooms -- no tubs then -- spaces with actual doors, far better accommodating changers while preserving modesty by gender.
Would You Bathe
With Your Clothes On?
Another matter: dress code at creek's cold plunge. Unless allowed to briefly skinnydip as they did formerly, even during otherwise no-nudity-allowed years, pure misery was downer result. It was just too weird expecting visitors to awkwardly keep on cold wet sheet, towel, or sarong and walk around in drenched cloth. It severely crimped the ability to cleanse, heal and rejuvenate.
In cold weather it was sheer torture.
Then there was the safety concern. One's coming out of coldplunge in winter with sheet on and navigating often slippery stone steps was made more difficult and accident-prone, encumbered with suddenly heavy, more binding, drenched cloth that one suddenly became preoccupied with lest some dread wardrobe malfunction should occur. It detracted crucial focus from avoiding missteps or losing traction on sometimes slippery rocks and suffering a real mishap.
Again, even though nudity was banned before 2000 under Foggy, an exception was made for the actual creek plunge, making recent policy the most restrictive in almost a half century.
Tyranny of Cloth
What better way was there to integrate physical, psychological and spiritual sides of individual on higher level -- one of supposed primary aims of new owners' affiliate, Inkarri -- than by experiencing precious mindful body freedom during spa therapy in delightfully natural environs?
Again, in our depressingly overdressed world, being even briefly liberated from mandatory cover-up and the tyranny of cloth at places like mineral springs could work wonders. It easily allows for dramatic breakthroughs in positive body acceptance and physical liberation, enabling advancing one's spiritual journey to higher levels for feeling happier in one's skin.
Because we are still in such a dominant, cover-up obsessed world, many felt the only realistic and fair solution to avoid excluding anyone's druthers would be to strike a compromise...
...a fair balance for visitors of either inclination. Such thinking of course assumed, perhaps erroneously, that 'owners' hoped to broaden diversity of customer base, rather than narrow it to more conventional-minded mainstream, or possibly even privatize grounds.
Granted, the checkerboard of clothing-optional zones could be cumbersome and confusing -- and even totally arbitrary. For, if new to place, it was weird having to wrap up to only go the few feet from tub to sauna...lest one appear to be streaking
between points. It detracted from any easier energy flow. But, given condensed bathhouse set-up and diverse visitorship, it was (again) possibly the best possible compromise and may yet remain so under new 'owners' should they ever miraculously have change of heart (writer's offering million-to-one odds)...or, under future appropriate new stewards that arrives like the cavalry to Fort Stewart, rescuing the place from fiery perdition of hide-bound morality and moneyed meddlers' bold seizure of the long-time simple, bohemian-friendly, egalitarian-minded retreat.
Launch Clothing Optional Days?
Sister mineral springs Jackson Wellsprings, outside Ashland, OR, faced the same issue. They resolved it by striking compromise and making hours from evening on clothing-optional and adults only, and one evening a week women only. This works well for them since they were open til midnight pre-Covid to serve much larger nearby population.
Had current 'owners' grasped the merit in establishing more inclusive and enlightened policy rather than trying to make place over to lah-de-dah, upscale hideaway for own, quasi new-age-y shtick, pricing out and lifestyling out most fans, Stewart's might've finally integrated and fine-tuned its policy...and at last joined wider region's fraternity of sister springs, making mindful-nudity option the relative non-issue it so richly deserves to be.
But tearing out tubs in bathhouse and repurposing building show that, all along, they had zero intention of ever altruistically serving the public in any spa capacity...that, instead, they held misguided long-range plans to overhaul realm to serving as an semi-exclusive compound for their own use, possibly with spa-indifferent visitors subsidizing the scene through simple lodging and workshops/retreat organizers who, again, could accept the restrictive scene.
'Owners', if not having such deep pockets they can weather the place as a perpetual money pit, will in time either have a miraculous change of heart or -- far more likely if having been dependent on former patrons who now stay away in droves to make their nut -- ultimately give up and put the place back on the market.
Even if they DO manage to build up a solid new customer base -- or are, in fact, hell-bent trying to privatize place outright, they will in time be made keenly aware of the veritable Mount Everest of bad karma they've created. Are they conscious enough to eventually try to redeem themselves, chalking it up to experience and letting go of the place they'd coveted to become their own, and seek out more appropriate stewards...thus assuring themselves at the last an ultimate positive place in realm's legacy?
That's the question.
If every fan of place visualizes them waking up to what they've created for themselves and resolving to make up for it by finding progressive-minded steward(s) to shepherd the Springs back to being a genuine spa, becoming at long last a nonprofit healing and rejuvenating retreat for mindful wellness-seeking, nature-loving peoples everywhere...
...THEN Stewart Springs might regain and build further on its former global reputation as a modest rustic bohemian healing spa resort...one once again open to the public to serve the greater good in full resonance with the greater Mount Shasta region's culture and the wild waters forever flowing through the realm.
Writer Ward served as SMS volunteer assistant manager 2000-2002 under Mary H. while living on grounds. He created and maintained the cold plunge for 14 years and has self-published works covering body acceptance and body freedom inspired by his own liberating experiences at Springs.
First in 34 Years
First in 34 Years
by Stu Ward
August 1, 2016
December 2017 note: Eighteen months after penning this writer realized he had the wool pulled over his eyes. Had naively hoped new 'ownership' would make everything right once 12-year old manager Rowena P., lingering vestige of 34-year, profit-driven Foggy reign, was at last out of picture.
Didn't realize they were apparently on same page in many ways. They seemed to resonate with her vision of "Refining the Culture" by working to overhaul visitor base to build a more "respectable" clientele reflecting own buttoned-down, well-insulated lifestyles, while in their own case supporting place's doubling as far-flung outfit's headquarters...maybe, as some suspect, privatizing it outright in time for groups' own exclusive use.
In any event, they made it clear long before permanently closing spa service that they no longer wanted to deal with bohemian-minded and alternative-culture energies, which -- duh -- ALWAYS gravitate to alternative-healing, bohemian-minded spas like Stewart's had been for nearly a century and a half until they snatched it away from the public.
Rather than try to update article, writer let it stand ,with only a few changes...like clothing-optional ban that took effect three months after first posting. Consider it a testament to how easily one can get snookered if naively taking people's intentions at face value via their posted infomercial sizzle.
Some 34 years after last 'owner'', John Foggy, essentially inherited the springs from the previous 'owner' after investment loan default and did the best he could with the wayward healing retreat with which he at times seemed to have little resonance beyond it being an offbeat income generator, Stewart Mineral Springs sold to new owners on January 19, 2016.
In happy contrast, new ownership, though also absentee, is at least semi-involved in spiritual field.
Members of Inkarri Cultural Association, along with affiliated Pnenuma Foundation,
turned onto the place years ago during repeat workshop retreats. They'd stayed at various mineral spring resorts in wider region for their periodic retreats, always looking for one to call home base.
Among other things, they're into Inca shamanism and providing support to Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and Q'ero Nation in Peru. Their Pneuma System "seeks to integrate spiritual, psychological, and physical aspects of the individual" and "centers on transpersonal experience as a powerful method leading to inner transformation." Aim: "...to deepen our experience of the Sacred, both within and without of ourselves and thus learn to live our life with increasingly deeper awareness and clarity."
Sounds like a good fit. To further quote site:
"Inkarri is a Quechua word that means morning sun, a symbol of spiritual awakening at the dawn of a new era. The word Inkarri also alludes to an Incan myth, where the son of the Sun, an enlightened being, will come in the future to assist humanity and restore harmony on the planet. This correlates with other mythologies and prophesies within many cultures, such as the Tibetan culture, which makes reference to the Buddha Maitreya as the Buddha of the Future."
Founder of California's popular, small Cafe Gratitude restaurant chain, Mathew Engelhart, was briefly new 'co-owner', but since sold interest. (One can only wonder why...) Owner formed corporation with board of directors, each member having financial stake.
(On weird side note, for legal purposes Stewart Mineral Springs is now on record as Golden Eagle Resort. Last steward didn't legally register name Stewart Mineral Springs in time and someone else snagged it and has been holding name ransom ever since. Was easier re-naming place if only for legal purposes than pay extortionate fee to buy it back. Apparently the concern in the Bay Area began weirdly touting some operation there as Stewart Mineral Springs; hopefully few were mislead into thinking place had actually branched or changed locations -- as if it could.)
While living even more distant -- as far away as L.A., Mexico, even South America (and one thought former owner location in S.F. was far) -- new 'ownership' will no doubt over time work to prioritize projects and shape policies for management to fulfill that reflect evolving hopes and aspirations for place once they become better acquainted with its history and traditions.
One of Inkarri's stated goals is "To promote profound personal transformation". Since recently banned optional mindful nudity during spa regimen can so easily and dramatically promote this, it's hoped that any day new owners will connect dots, reconsider, and let management bring Springs back
into resonance with former glory as down-home, spiritually-grounded rustic healing retreat...one liberal-minded enough to permit modest measure of mindful nudity...one that the dedicated Stewart family manifested and ran for nearly 80 years, from 1876 to 1954, though not clothing-optional; and Goodpasture family ownership through 1970s and Foggy ownership's last 16 years, from 2000 through 2016, when happily it was. see history
Co-manager couple Ted and Rowena held ten-year contract with former 'owner' Foggy that expired at end of 2016. New, younger management was groomed by outgoing general manager Rowena and have now nominally taken helm. [later note: She decided to stay on to work in background management capacity, coordinating visitor groups and in fact remained senior business manager;
her lingering involvement continued to shape and enforce new policies as directed by new 'ownership', almost entirely by remote, through November 2017].
On a sad note, husband and co-manager Ted passed away late October 2015, at age 65. He'd been diagnosed with late-stage liver disease somewhere around very beginning of tenure in 2006. He dedicated remaining years to evolving Springs infrastructure as approved or directed by Foggy, initiating many notable improvements and repairs visible throughout grounds. Firm believer in Spring water's healing properties, regular soakings very likely extended his life many years, before liver failure finally claimed him.
To former 'owner' John Foggy's everlasting credit, he saw the wisdom in keeping the rustic charm of place intact, thus keeping it unique among northwest's rural mineral springs resorts, delighting visitors with its quaint summer camp feeling...and was liberal-minded enough to allow clothing-optional in second half of 'ownership' (if perhaps only because it helped send business volume through the roof).That he sometimes let place's upkeep slide distressingly is now ancient history, forgiven especially since he plowed so much back in during final years.
Fly in Ointment
Word from old manager is new 'owners' are basically happy with the way place is. They're reportedly open to fine-tuning operation through management and staff directives based on popular visitor feedback.
Alas, this included many supposedly complaining to outgoing manager about how much they were turned off by the 18-year clothing-optional policy. Based on what's suspected an exaggerated, or even outright fabricated, report of isolated incident of some old man publicly jacking off on sundeck in 2016, owners decided to end tradition of body freedom at Springs. Cover-up became required everywhere outside tubroom and shower stalls. (see above editorial; also home-page story, editorial sidebar and SMS Facebook feedback in Rants & Raves)
Barring this one not-so-little wrinkle for everyone treasuring place's Euro-style tradition of permitting simple nudity in appropriate areas for maximum spa benefit and enjoyment, Stewart Springs, after one long, uber-strange trip, now hopefully appears in more appropriate hands.
Two indications: First thing 'owners' did was raise everyone's wages (albeit raising admission to cover). [...or thought they did; apparently it was only management positions, while workers were still sweating away at minimum wage.] And they committed to pouring every cent of profit during first two years back into place. Among other things, this enabled new manager Josh W. to get a decent heavy-duty work truck for place.
If new 'ownership' in time relents, appreciating how clothing-optional ban holds back place's deeper transformative potential for visitors, then new management, with support of staff and so-minded regulars, can work to elevate c/o policy to more conscious, respectable one, prompting dutiful compliance by visitors. In time c/o could become the relative non-issue that it is at other popular regional rural spring resorts.
Then Springs might then at long last be freed to soar like an eagle to lofty new heights as a beloved healing and rejuvenation center and workshop/event retreat.
Whatever side of c/o issue visitors fall in on, all who revere place no doubt wish involved parties well with their new stewardship.
March 20, 2015
With sporadic on-going work-trade efforts, creek coldplunge, new tarp liner installed, gaining needed depth - now up to four feet or so off stone steps in.
Just in time for spring equinox.
March 8, 2015
New Clawfoot Tub
Bathtub room 7 next to sauna, offline for month or two, now back online with new clawfoot.
March 1, 2015
Sauna Wood Refinished
During annual work session last Monday thru Thursday, caretaker Russell sanded off old finish of sauna's floor, benches, wall and ceiling and re-coated with linseed oil, made from flax seed. While oil coating is natural, it still makes for fumes that any chemically sensitive (like writer, who it made nauseous after while) might react to until it's finished outgassing.
Original coating, applied when new sauna built, used woefully inappropriate, toxic outdoor deck coating, which noxious outgassing left anyone at all sensitive gagging. Some were unable to use sauna for over month or two without getting headaches or becoming nauseous.
New finish makes wood bit darker, lending more womb-like atmosphere to sauna. Can't resist: new finish makes sauna more...Finnish.
February 21, 2015
New cold plunge maintainer
Frequent visitor Mario of Lake Shastina has taken on chilly job of rebuilding Springs' cold plunge from moi. Plunge is distressed since big rainstorm created creek rampage that severely damaged it. Breached rock wall is once again repaired -- challenging six hour labor -- making it once again safe to dip in the creek. Mario wears wet suit to stay relatively warm in 43 degree waters.
Work-trader, he could always use help. Challenge now, as always, is to deepen creek floor by removing rock and gravel, slow process, as well as heighten rock wall, to try to bring plunge back to at least waist depth, rather than current knee depth that can make easy plunging a bit iffy.
The deal for workers: one free bath for every earnest hour of work. See operations manager Josh if interested.
Writer had to step down after over-ambitious rock moving resulted in hernia. started first, recent cold plunge pool in 1999 and built it up and maintained it 14 years as labor of love.
December 17, 2014
Work Traders Needed to Repair Cold Plunge
Heavy rains and resulting flooding of creek last week threatened to destroy the cold-plunge dam. Water level was almost up to base of angel on the island. While dam managed to hold, it did wash away top layer of rocks that covered now exposed brown and blue tarps and, worse, filled up so much of plunge with rocks and gravel depth is under knee height, making immersing a bit more laborious.
Once writer's longtime bailiwick, health issues no longer permit lifting heavy rocks. New work traders with strong backs -- and maybe wetsuits, including booties and gloves, for working in 46 degree water -- are needed to repair plunge to former depth.
Deal: one free bath/two saunas for every hour of work. if you know of someone that might be, spread the word. Contact Josh for details.
Sept. 21, 2014
Weed Fire Aid
The Springs, along with other local motels, helped ease a tragic situation created by the nearby Weed's fire disaster by comping all its unrented accommodations for Weed's suddenly homeless.
The office desk accepted donations to help one single mom of four who lost her home in the hard-hit Angel Valley neighborhood on north side of town.
Mendera, indefatigable builder, crosses over
Mendera, who dedicated last two years of his life making substantial improvements to the Springs he loved, left us April 2nd, 2013. Work was inspired by his belief region was possibly the site of original Garden of Eden.
Among his many accomplishments, usually done along with dedicated Mexican work crew led by foreman Jesus, were re-building car bridge, building new twin bathhouse showers, replacing bathhouse floor, enlarging conference hall deck, replacing A-frame upper deck, zenning out landscape all around bathhouse, building new foot bridge across creek below conference hall...
His last -- and in some ways greatest -- service was saving the day when late 2012 deluge's aftermath (see below), changed creek flow and threatened bathhouse and stairway. He directed earth-moving equipment to shore up banks plus had placed huge foundation boulders for new cold plunge.
Such ceaseless work efforts built up improvement momentum that continues apace with current groundskeepers.
His presence is missed.
A powerful late autumn rainstorm sent a raging torrent down the creek and wiped out old cold plunge of 14 years, threatening to take bathhouse stairway as well but for emergency efforts.
Flood was a double whammy: heavy warm rains served to melt heavy snowpack that then fed into creek. adding to water rampage.
Creek island accessed by plank bridge was partly washed away as well. Its angel statue, however, weathered deluge unscathed. The walking plank itself was retrieved far downstream by four workers hoisting and toting heavy sodden timber a hundred yards and wrestling it back into place, working in near-freezing waters.
New plunge was hastily built up by work traders and help of Jesus's crew the following spring and summer. Unfortunately, rooted rocks on plunge bottom couldn't be budged, making for trickier footing once in water. On plus side, it's just as deep as old one, and steps leading in built by Kierra have never been so zen.