5:30am Clementine’s dad picks us up for our door-to-airport service, and we arrive on time for 7:05am Virgin America flight from DCA. But we didn’t see Virgin America on the signs for terminals. Huh. That's odd. I then check our boarding pass: “Um, guys…” And before I say anything further, Clem: “No. You’re joking.” And I reply, “Yeah…its Dulles.” F WORD. Dulles = 29.6 miles away. 33 minutes, or 50 minutes in traffic.
Without skipping a beat, Clem’s dad guns the engine, distracting us with stories about concerts he’s seen and others that he’s missed. “The gas light just came on,” he said, “But I’m sure we’ll make it!” Nervous laughter. Um. Wow. All we can do is sit silently. We arrive at Dulles at 6:30ish. Sam/Clem check in. There was running. There was a nail-biting bottleneck moment at the Security line. There was more running. And we made it. With 2 minutes till the gate closed. I am so thankful Clem’s dad was our driver. Thanks Patrick!!
11:15am At SFO, we picked up our brand new Hyundai Sonata rental and hit the road. We arrived in Calistoga, an hour and a half later, very hungry. We chose Kitana Sushi for its outdoor seating – the weather, oh the weather. Sunny, clear skies, temperatures in the mid-70’s. We were definitely in California.
Photos: Sam Vasfi
3:00pm Clementine and I arrived at Indian Springs Calistoga for our Volcanic Ash Mud Bath. To briefly describe the sequence of events that followed:
1) Mud baths – 15 min. After disrobing (of course), you lay down upon the black, bubbling mud. I thought I would sink into it like a bath, but it was so thick that you don’t sink down at all. You just close your eyes as a stranger glops mud all over to cover you entirely. It's warm, so you're sweating beneath the hot mud, which is weird.
2) You then shower to rinse the mud off. Did I feel like the mud extracted any toxins from my body? I don't know. Is it strange to have mud in every crevice? Absolutely.
3) Mineral bath – 15 min. You are ushered into your own personal hot-spring fed mineral bath where you sip on refreshing cucumber-lemon water & try to avoid the fact that you are taking a bath and you are not alone.
4) Eucalyptus Steam Room is next - for as long as you can take it. It’s hot. I can't even remember if you're also naked in there. I guess I'm trying to forget.
5) Nap Time – 15 min. In your soft robe, you lay down on a bench, and an attendant wraps you in a blanket and puts cucumbers over your eyes and a damp wash cloth across your eyes/forehead. This is where the true relaxation happens, for you are robed and alone.
I think the experience was well worth the $85. It was definitely new and different, and overall I would say it was quite relaxing. Plus the attendants were really professional (though Clem and I heard one of them scold another mud bather for not following her directions for getting into the tub), and we got to use the awesome Olympic sized hot-spring fed pool for about a half hour. If you want more pool time, schedule your appointment for earlier in the day.
7:30pm Dinner at JoLe in Calistoga. This is a really lovely farm-to-table sort of restaurant. We each did the 4 course tasting menu and split a bottle of white wine. Highly recommended – great service and wonderfully prepared food. It was a luxurious cap to a day that was started off panic-stricken and ended thoroughly relaxing.
Forgot to take the photo before digging in. Couldn't help it.
Roasted artichokes, carrots, fresh peas, and pistou.
Seared scallops over corn grits w/blackberries, fava beans and a berry sauce.
And then we stumbled to our hotels and went to bed. End of Day 1.