Category: Experiences (Page 3 of 3)

Oasis Spa in Calistoga

Last week we took a short vacation in the Wine Country in California. As part of that we decided to get a mud bath. We’ve never done that before (in reality, I’ve never done any spa activities before) and Mike had a boyish fascination with the idea of being in the mud.
Our first choice for spas wasn’t available, so we booked treatments at the Oasis Spa, located at the Roman Spa Hot Springs Motel in Calistoga. The place did resemble a trailer from the outside, but inside it was generally pleasant.
For those, who like us, have never taken a mud bath before I am describing the experience at Oasis Spa.
We started by going into a changing room, taking off our clothes and covering ourselves with long blankets. From there we were taken to the mud bath room, a private room with two mud tubs and two mineral jacuzzi tubs. We were told to take a shower and then go into the mud.
That was more difficult than imagined, however, because the mud wasn’t really soft mud. Instead it was peat moss, with chunks of wood and whathaveyou. The attendant helped by pouring mud over us. There were pillows to rest our head, and at various times the attendant came with glasses of cold water for us to drink and cold towels that she put in our heads. That was quite nice and relaxing.
What was not nice, was the view from the mud tub. All you could see was an old tiled wall, with pipes and hoses coming out of it. Even a picture would have improved the situation. I guess you are meant to close your eyes, but still, some decoration, a picture and a few hanging plants would help. Of course, what would help most is if they redid the whole room.
Neither Mike nor I were particularly impressed by the mud bath experience. He was disappointed than the mud wasn’t really mud and he’d still like to try the real thing. I thought that the experience was just overrated. In all, I think we spent 20 minutes in the mud bath.
What we both enjoyed much more was the bath in the spa tubs (after showering of course). These were filled with bubbles and were very relaxing. The fact that there was a plant and a window nearby (and no pipes) made the view a little better. Mike was so relaxed that he fell asleep. I just laid there contented. I think we stayed in this tub 20 to 30 minutes. Once again the attendant came to put cold towels on our head and give us water.
After we got out and shook the bubbles out of our bodies (it’s recommended that you not take a shower so as to not take away the minerals that have deposited in your skin), we were led to a room with two cots, told to get inside the thin blanket and relax. They gave us lavender eyemasks to put on our eyes and there was a little running water fountain. After the draining hot baths this was a very pleasant experience. So relaxing that Mike, once again, fell asleep. I just stayed there thinking about whatever. I’m not sure how long we stayed there, 10 to 15 minutes perhaps.
It was finally time to get dressed and go.
In all we had a very good experience (save for those ugly pipes), and I’d definitely like to try a spa again. Though next time, I’ll probably try a different one.
Oasis Spa
1300 Washington St
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-2122

How is does it feel

to grow up in a place and stay in that place? A couple of nights ago I dreamt about my country house. It was a bungalow, with an open kitchen and a large living room below, and then a long deck that my mother turned into two rooms by putting a large dresser in the middle. My parents bought it when I was 7, and I last played there when I was 12. But those five years of going there practically every weekend were probably the most important in my life. Isn’t our childhood, after all, the most important period?
I miss that house, but I miss it because I miss being a child again, being there and then. I wonder how I’d feel if instead of leaving and cutting my childhood, I’d just stayed. Would the places have any less magic for me? Would I search for images of those five years in my memory? Would I long to play cops & robbers, or have a chorizo sandwich, or play with our brand new walkie talkies (was I ten when we got them?).
And will my kids childhood be so meaningful to them?


I spent an afternoon alone with my 4-year old. We went to a “Disney Family Day” at the Oakland museum. She made a clay tea-cup, had her face painted, watched a magic show and ate two ice-cream bars. She had a great time, and so did I.
-Israel continues its attacks on Palestine and Lebanon. Countless civilians have been and continue to be killed, and the infraestructure, as it is, of the two countries continues to be destroyed.
-Hamas & Hezbollah are fighting back, killing civilians as well.
-The war in Iraq continues, a suicide bomber killes 25 people in Baghdad.
It’s the end of the world as we know it. Only that it’s not. More like business as usual, as it has been for the whole history of humanity only with much more deadly weapons.
But the incongruenty of having fun while the world goes to hell is difficult to digest. And yet, I really don’t know what I can do.


Last week Mike and I went to a seder for the first time. For the uninitiated – like us – a seder is the ceremony/meal that Jews hold to celebrate Passover. The Last Supper was a seder. It was an interesting experience, most of all as all of us there were novices. Some of us had been raised as christians, however, so the readings from the Old Testament were somewhat familiar. But the symbolism of the food items served was new to us, eating bitter herbs to remember the bitterness of the slavery in Egypt, an egg with symbolises spring and new life. Indeed, what I enjoyed so much about the text was the possibility of not reading them literally, but as methaphors for a person’s spiritual or just personal growth. There is even one part where the text has you say “I freed myself” and indeed that may be the whole point.
Other parts of the text were actually just ironic. In one part the readers are exorted to not “oppress the stranger for you were strangers in Egypt”. I wonder how Israelis and Jews in generals can read this verse year after year, while they oppress Palestinians with all their might. But rationalizations are wonderful things – and apparently stronger than any religious beliefs.

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