Monday, December 04, 2006

The Excellent Ojai Spa Adventure

Patty here...

I’ve taken a lot of photographs in my day, from the grainy pictures that emerged from my childhood Kodak Brownie Starflash to the stellar works of art that roll out of my trusty Nikon N6006. Many of those pictures have been carefully placed in scrapbooks on pages tarted up by craft artwork and calligraphic journaling. Others are gradually decaying in boxes in my stand-and-throw room.

Occasionally I fantasize about organizing all of the pictures I’ve taken and stacking them end-to-end in chronological order to see what kind of storyline emerges. If not that, then at least I’d like to create a wall collage featuring my favorite travel photos. You know the pictures I’m talking about, the ones that capture the moment and preserve the memory.

It doesn’t really matter that nobody looks at my pictures except me. Whenever I have a quiet moment to reflect, which is almost never these days, I like to flip through the pages of my scrapbooks and re-live those priceless moments.

The holidays are rushing toward us, so recently I went looking for an old picture of my cat McTigger wearing his Santa hat. That’s when I came across an album I’d made several years ago after one of my many spa escapades.

There are three things you should know about spa vacations: (1) For optimal health and well-being, you must take at least one a year. (2) A spa is not a good place to meet single men. (3) If you are a woman who wants a few laughs with your herbal exfoliation treatment, you should go with girlfriends. Based on that hypothesis, which I constructed from meticulous, in-the-field research, I booked a trip to the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. My two friends and I were only going to be gone for four days, but of course we packed for thirty. After a bit of a drive, we arrived in the beautiful Ojai Valley.

My friends did some graceful stretching, and then we all set off to tour the grounds.

We found a lovely herb garden.

An then quite suddenly we stumbled upon a strange outcropping of ancient stones.

A nearby sign read:

The labyrinth as a sacred symbol has been used by many cultures and spiritual traditions. The Hopi Indian medicine wheel, the Jewish Kabbalah and the pre-Christian Cretan Labyrinth are examples. There are labyrinths carved into stone walls at ancient sites in Europe and in the New World. Labyrinths decorate prehistoric pottery and Goddess figures and can be seen in Africa, Australian and Indian artifacts. By participating in this labyrinth walk you are tapping into the spiritual history of people all over the world.

There are no rules for walking the Labyrinth. You need not think about anything in particular. Whatever comes up for you is what you will receive during the walk. Walk at your own pace. As in life, it is okay to pass someone who may be moving at a slower pace. After your walk, or between walks, you may want to reflect on your journey in writing, or you may want to sit and watch others as they make their way along the path. Please respect the quiet atmosphere.

At least there were no rules about reflecting at the hotel's gift shop. So we thought What the heck? We began to walk the walk.

Suddenly everything seemed profound.

We felt renewed and ready for our first spa treatment.

We entered the Kuyam, which is a Chumash word for "the place in which you smear mud all over your body and inhale the fumes of lemon grass boiling in a nearby pot while you try ever so hard to have a normal conversation with your friends who are...well...NAKED AND COVERED IN MUD."

After exposure to that strange brew of labyrinth, lemon grass, and mud, we began to channel sage advice from yon years of yore.

The trip was truly an excellent adventure even before the cosmos gave us one parting gift—the perfect Edward Scissorhands moment.

Here's hoping this week brings you many excellent adventures...


  1. from Jacqueline

    Well, I click on to Naked Authors and what do I see? The same view, almost, that I see every day when I walk my dog - did you know I live in Ojai (though I confess, I also have roots in the Bay Area). You've done me a favor today - my husband gave me a gift certificate for the spa months ago, and I FORGOT ALL ABOUT IT! Yes, I know, you have to be a special kind of stupid to forget a thing like that. So, I will be booking a day at the spa to spoil myself, based upon your great post. And I didn't know there was a labrynth over there either - now I will have to go and find it.

    Thanks for sharing your spa retreat with us - reminds us how important it is to get away and take it easy. And sometimes you don't have to wander far from home.

  2. What a great post...makes me want a spa day RIGHT NOW ;-)

  3. You are one lucky duck to live so close to that place. I haven't been there since the remodel. I hope they kept the labyrinth. Regardless, I'm sure the place is even more wonderful than before. Relax and enjoy. You deserve it.

  4. Rae, why not ditch work. We'll both make some calls and get a carload of willing conspirators!

  5. WAAAAHHH! I want a spa day.

    Oh hell, I want a spa life.

  6. Louise:

    Big fat DITTO, lady. Sigh. Sniff.

    I live on the east coast and it snowed this morning. And a friend had a meltdown on Saturday night - at us. Busy business monday...

    I wanna spa day TOOOOOOO....


  7. Whoa, a spa life...what a concept. Marianne, too bad your (ex?)-friend's meltdown didn't melt the snow. Hope the day is getting better.

  8. "By participating in this labyrinth walk you are tapping into the spiritual history of people all over the world."

    Ah, such eternal philosophy. Please, should you ever have the opportunity, do not fail to avail yourself of the existential purity of an Iowa Corn Maze. An experience not to be wasted upon those rude and ignoble of spirit.

    And boy, was that one big chia pet.

    Now, being the only guy posting thus far, I'm going to try very hard to avoid the thought of all of you lovely ladies enjoying your communal spa day, with the scent of lemon grass boiling and ... oh dear, what was that other part? Oh yes. "...NAKED AND COVERED IN MUD."


  9. Ah, Jeff, you brave soul!

  10. Corn mazes... yes, very Zen, too....but nothing beats Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska. That's the only place I've ever been to where all viewing it have insanely large smiles on their faces.

  11. Thanks for that tasty bit of information Alice! For the ultra-curious who want to laugh large, see

  12. from Jacqueline

    Carhenge? Do they have any Druid V8's there?

  13. Perhaps your question warrants a bit of investigation, Our Jacqueline. On the next book tour perhaps?

  14. Oh! Would that I were that robe...!


  15. Ha! Where have you been Group? We missed you.