Friday, November 09, 2007

The Chimeric Oasis in the Distance

I don't know what it means that Harbin Hot Springs has come up twice in the last 24 hours, but surely it must mean something (like that I wasn't hired to write that article totally sucks, and that the older woman doing yoga in the pool on the Harbin website totally rocks). But this isn't about Harbin, where I spent a delightful day many years ago. It's about Orr.

Hot water is one of my favorite things. Hot showers, hot tubs, hot springs: I love them all, hence that day at Harbin, many more days here than I could afford, countless visits to slightly dank Asiatic-ish hot tub places across the country, lovely afternoons at dammed-up hot springs in the California mountains, not to mention every morning's too-long shower, which I know wreaks havoc with my skin and our oil bill, but I can't help it.

But I have never been to Orr Hot Springs, and that is an issue (that Orr appears to lack a website also seems meaningful).

When S and I lived in the Bay Area and were childless and early in our careers (i.e. had a lot more time), we loved to road trip in Sonoma and Mendocino. If we only had a day, we'd go to Marin, especially Hog Island and Point Reyes, and sometimes we went to Napa, but in Sonoma and Mendocino, there are beaches and forests, wineries and hippie bakeries, beautiful green hills and towering cliffs, and winding roads that you know will eventually take you to either the 1 or the 101, so you can get lost to your heart's delight, which we often did.

One lost late afternoon, heading east from Mendocino with nowhere to stay that night, I spotted a sign for Orr Hot Springs. "Let's go there!" I eagerly exclaimed. But we were already past the turnoff, and though I suggested that it would be easy to turn around, S wanted to keep going. He promised me that some day we'd come back.

Well, I'm sure you can guess the denouement of this story. We had a delightful evening in Hopland, enjoying both the brewery and the inn, but we did not return to Orr, not the next day, not on subsequent trips north, not ever.

I began to think--this was pre-google--that perhaps I'd imagined Orr Hot Springs. And in my imagination it became the perfect place, the hot water that would finally satisfy me, the ideal apex of hot spring nirvana.

And then my sister-in-law started going there. Regularly. Which made it even worse.

Now Orr Hot Springs has become a family joke: a sign for the things you want, that you're promised you'll get, but you never do. Everyone rolls their eyes when I begin my Orr laments.

Someday, though, as god is my witness, with this radish in my hand (get the allusion, please!), I will lie in the water at Orr Hot Springs. And it will be good.


Libby said...

Of course you will, Scarlett!

Kelly said...

I've never been to a hot spring, but have done a lot of northern California winter night hot tubbing. My dream is to have a wood fueled cedar hot tub and sauna out in the woods here. Or hell, even on the back deck. You'll come back to Formerly Red State but not really Blue State to visit then, won't you?