family women's retreat 2008
As we headed into the Oregon Cascade foothills, the towns became smaller, and the road more winding. Soon, the only signs we passed were for camping grounds and mileage markers. Anytime I am on a road that can only be accessed in summer, when the snow has melted, the fallen logs cleared, and the washed out sections repaired, I know I am headed somewhere worth going.
"Is this your first time?" he asked.
"It sure is!" I answered.
"Well, it won't be your last, I can promise you that."
Breitenbush was the fourth hot spring I was visiting in less than a year, on a quest to find a replacement for the long, rustic California camping trips of my late teen years. I needed to find somewhere to visit every year that would allow me to unplug and disconnect from the world. Somewhere with the essence of a camping trip, but with mattresses and toilets.
After the welcome message from my bearded friend at the gate, Breitenbush Hot Springs was looking promising. Until this point, none of the hot springs I had checked off of my list had warranted a return visit. Hours after leaving Sol Duc Hot Springs earlier that year, the smell emanating from my body prompted my friend to ask me, "Did you just fart, or is that your hair?"
I brought my mom with me to another hot springs, this time in Northern California. The grounds and the pool were beautiful, but signs everywhere reminded us of the importance of "quietude." By the second day, the "quietude" was deafening and we were both breaking into offensive fits of giggles at regular intervals.
On a trip to Portland, two friends joined me to check out Carson Hot Springs, in the Columbia River Gorge. There, we were segregated by gender, for their special soaking treatment. The baths, old, peeling, claw foot tubs, were pleasant enough. But afterwards, laying on cots, sweating in under layers of wool blankets, we were aggressively "hushed" by the heavy set attendant in a white uniform. I felt eerily like a patient in the TB ward of a poor house.
Up until my arrival at Breitenbush, nothing had hit the right spot between rustic and comfortable, affordable and all-inclusive. My expectations for Breitenbush had been pretty low, based solely on my $164 bill for two nights in a dorm cabin, all meals, entrance to the pools, yoga class, and evening activities. I mean, really, you get what you pay for, right?