My birthday came, and with a friend I escaped to one of my favorite places. We headed to The Vichy Springs near Ukiah. I am not the only one who loves minerals baths. A century ago, Jack London and Mark Twain, used to spent time in the outdoor baths, in search of peace and relaxation. I wonder if they ever met.
“Let’s stay in-land,” my friend Jack had said while planning my birthday.
“Yes,” I had replied. “The coast will be too cold this time of year.”
“Since you like bubbles,” he had retorted jokingly. “We could go to the Vichy Springs again.”
“That sounds wonderful.”
After a few hours of driving north on highway 101, we arrived at our retreat. Nature was all around us, with yellow hills and old oak trees still standing tall. A great amount of deer inhabited the Vichy Springs. The wild creatures did not seem too afraid of humans. Green grass within the vintage resort must attract them. At nights, thousands of frogs sang an unchanging melody without a break.
“We should go see the Redwoods,” my friend said the following morning.
“I love trees,” I replied, “and especially Redwoods.”
We put on our hiking boots and left our cozy hideaway. For a while, on small winding roads we drove, to finally meet with the giants in a park called Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve. We took the designated paths and stepped into an enchanted world.
A few other wanderers were already walking the earthy path. Tree lovers. Yet our eyes kept on looking upward towards the ends of the gigantic trees. Taking pictures was not easy. How do you take a great picture of a Redwood tree? So I tried.
The feeling of being tiny against colossal trees, made me dizzy. I had to sit. Then, instead of looking up, I looked straight ahead, at the wide trunks and the dark brown barks of the forest’s giants.
Some giant trees had faces that looked strangely bestial. Other trees were half burned by a fire that occurred decades ago. Still, most Redwoods withstood flames that barely damaged the bark of their resilient and tenacious species. They keep on living.
Starting to walk again, we encountered an old Redwood that had unfortunately collapsed. The tree displayed a burned entrance that led into a large dark open space, hidden within its trunk. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. How tall is that tree, I wondered? My bed could fit in there, I further reflected.
While being dazzled by the forest landscape, giant Redwood Roots unearthed in a storm, popped here and there, as we stepped deeper into the bosky landscape. Another fallen Redwood with spectacular exposed roots resembled a web. A wood-web, I said to myself.
As we walked under an umbrella of tree tops, we encountered a young couple enjoying a rest, sitting on the mammoth roots of a tree, admiring the view and perhaps sensing the magic vibes emanating from the woods.
We hiked further and stopped for lunch. The sun was shyly appearing through the verdant canapé of Redwoods. I wore a warm scarf and a jacket. We sat and breathed in the forest perfume. We listened to silence. No birds or cars nearby. Hearing the silence all around us was a moment of joy. Just us, my friend and I, and the Redwoods. We felt small but we felt happy. We felt lucky to be able to admire a piece of nature that has never been altered by human hands.
While staying at the Vichy Springs retreat, we of course took several baths. Every day, we appreciated the time spent in the outdoor minerals baths. On our third day in Mendocino, I was finally able to relax. Lounging in a warm therapeutic bath, I watched tiny bubbles invading the surface of my entire body. When I moved my legs around, the water seemed warmer, and bubbles left my body to rise to the surface. Exploding at the edge of the water, I felt in a giant champagne glass. And I do love Champagne.
While I was busy watching millions of bubbles surfacing my skin, a sudden gasp of wind startled me. I looked up, towards the oak trees standing in front of me and reaching high towards a blue sky. Many of the oak trees were already dressed in Halloween costumes, made of Spanish mosses. With the wind, the fading green mosses dandling from the oaks’ branches waved at me and seemed to say: “Halloween will be here soon.”
Yes, I did drink Champagne while on my birthday escapade. I also visited a Fish Friendly winery in Mendocino and tasted an organic Brut sparkling wine made in an sustainable environment. I had a great birthday.