So, after all that past and future backpacking trips my woman kind of convinced me that she also needed some activity that she enjoyed. Ok, I don’t mind, as long as it is not shopping. If there is something that we can both remotely enjoy, then it should be fine. Plus, I think that everything should be fair and not only goes what I want. And besides, what’s wrong with a hot spring?
Anyway, she was talking about going to some hot spring for a very long time now. So I said – you want it, you plan it, just add some activity for me in it.
The fact is that there are many hot water bubbling places around Bay Area. Some require backpacking to it (like Sykes or Kern River), sometimes for a couple of days; some are actually fancy new-age resorts. After some research Rita settled on Harbin Hot Springs.
Harbin (and don’t ask me why they named it this way – I don’t know) is a small strange to general population place a bit north of Napa. It is situated in a small valley of sorts with a small river running through it. It is basically a resort. Somewhat zen resort. Well, more than somewhat – it is a very zen resort. There are many reason why I’m saying this. There many activities there mostly geared toward discovering your inner something. Yoga is very gentle and not sweat inducing. Some sort of dances; lectures about tantic massage and ecstatic feelings, etc. And on top of it the closing is optional at the pools. I thought Americans were quite skittish about showing any part of their skin to anyone. Never mind all the media stuff. But it seems there enough people to fill this place. Guests who were dressed were quite an exception.
The resort has several pools with different water temperature, one large lap pool, one smaller very hot pool, and medium size meditation pool (no talking there). For all my time there I was trying to figure out what was so special about the water. It seemed just plain water to me, though without all that chloride that accompanies any jacuzzi you see normally. But perhaps I missed something.
There is a small store that looks like WholeFoods on steroids. Not in terms of quantity, but in terms of quality of the products. There is a restaurant which was kind of disappointing – it sells large portions for a lot of money. Either they want to make more money or get people fat. However, there is also community vegetarian kitchen which seems to be favored by most. When we were there it was quite full and busy. It provides fridge space, lots of tools and huge stove to cook your vegetarian stuff.
So, we had a nice weekend there. We camped along the aforementioned creek. Went for a hike on Saturday, then went to yoga, which was more like gentle yoga for seniors, then ate and went to the water. It was after dark so the pools were quite empty (still they are open 24h). In the morning we went to a bit better yoga, had a huge breakfast and Rita went for more water and I was reading. They sell tickets by the 6h intervals. We just bought 24h and had to leave. This gave me a good excuse to drive the car out and read my National Geographic.
To summarize I will probably go there again. I wouldn’t go there in Summer due to the heat and I wouldn’t go there for more than 2 days, though one just might sit there and read. What was strange was the demographics of the people there. They were primarily white at the age of late 30s and up. There were a couple of African Americans and maybe 2 Asians. That’s it. No Indians or any other groups, not many youngsters (above 18). Strange, I wonder why that is. However, there were many Russian speakers. At least a lot more than their percentage of the general population.