And Then There Were None

by Nancy Bestor

I have a hard time silencing my brain. Many nights I lie awake in bed, conducting a committee meeting in my head. It’s often when I’m trying to get to sleep that I come up with new ideas, plans, and of course, worries, that I don’t think about when I’m busy performing other tasks. Thus it came as no surprise to me on a recent trip with my daughters to a spa in Calistoga, CA, that when I was supposed to be “relaxing,” my mind instead worked double time.

We were on a Spring Break trip to visit my family, and since we were in the Napa Valley, I decided we should take a morning and pamper ourselves with a mud bath, mineral water soak, steam, and blanket-wrapped cool down at Indian Springs Resort and Spa. For $95 each, we spent over an hour luxuriating at the Spa, and theoretically, “detoxifying and relaxing.” It was indeed luxurious, and although it may have detoxified my body (but how would I know?), it really didn’t relax my brain.

As California’s oldest continuously operating pool and spa facility, Indian Springs boasts four thermal geysers that produce mineral water, as well as a deposit of volcanic ash that runs through the property. The water supplies the mineral pool and steam rooms, and together with the ash, creates the mud for the mud baths. The resort grounds are beautiful, and it was fun to watch the other guests ride around the property on bicycles while wearing white robes.

After checking in, we were ushered directly to the mud baths, where once you’ve showered, you are helped into a deep tub of warm gooey mud. An attendant covered us in the mud, and left us to “relax” for 10 minutes. Here is just a sample of the relaxing thoughts I had during my 10 minutes of mud bathing. “I wonder if someone could be murdered by being buried alive under enough of this mud? Am I going to be hungry for lunch? Is that really my stomach poofed out so big under this mud? Does the attendant remember that I am here? Are my 10 minutes up yet? This is the longest 10 minutes of my life.” And so on, and so on, and so on.

When the attendant came and helped me out of the tub, I moved to the shower to wash off. Let me tell you that mud from a mud bath gets everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. No further words are needed.

Then it was on to the mineral soak where I bathed in a luxuriously deep claw-foot tub. I enjoyed this part quite a bit. From a clever tray placed over my tub, I was able to drink delicious cucumber water, and clean my cuticles with a wooden cuticle pusher—a nice touch. Soon though it was time for the steam room. Sitting alone in the steam for about 10 minutes, my mind wandered again. “I wonder if someone could be murdered by being locked in a steam room for too long?” These thoughts are likely the result of too much Agatha Christie in my childhood. “Am I going to be hungry for lunch? When is the attendant going to come and get me? WHEN?” Again, not so relaxing.

Finally, I moved to the blanket-wrapped cool down, where fresh cucumber slices were placed over my eyes and soothing music played. And in case you’re wondering—nope—I didn’t relax here either. Instead I wondered if the sound was turned on on my phone, which I had put into the pocket of my robe to take pictures. And, additionally, I had to pee, which does not lend itself to relaxation.

Indian Springs is a lovely spa, and I’m certain a less anxious person would enjoy it more than I. The staff was quite attentive and friendly, the spa and its offerings quite luxurious, and the property stunning. Perhaps I’m just not a spa gal. I’m guess I’m going to stick to my bathtub at home, where murder wouldn’t be quite so easy.

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