We weren't about to break a habit, so against our repeatedly expressed plans to get going early, we got up around 10-ish to head out a few hours later on towards our next goal.
And because Whitney and I have way too many things we try to keep track of, we absolutely still wanted to try to grab a stamp for our National Parks passport at the Golden Gate Bridge before. Interestingly, we were committed enough to beat Raina and Scott out the door, however we then thought the bridge toll we would have to pay (to get to the official visitor center) was just too much bear, which in the end really was a good thing because I got to drive a really windy road to the visitor center of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which we both agreed was "basically the same thing". Plus, we'd already gotten those awesome shots of the bridge from the spot Scott had taken us to earlier. Feeling quite like we had fulfilled our tourist duties we headed back to the highway.
I would like to add at this point that the Golden Gate National Recreation Area is indeed a mouthful. For a park (or "area") that seemed to have so much to offer just by driving through it for 20 minutes, surely a creative city such as San Francisco can come up with a slightly more engaging name!
We had chosen our highway carefully, because I think I'm speaking for both of us when I say that we like to drink wine. We're not experts on tasting wine, neither of us have a nose for fine wine, nor do we have the red noses to boot. We're like the vast majority of people who enjoy drinking wine every now and then and in the process have developed a couple of wines we tend to like. Grüner Veltliner or recently Temperanillo have been favorites for example. Even for total wine-label connoisseurs we know of the wine country and the their famous valleys, Napa and Sonoma. We also would like to distance ourselves from the words chosen by The Monads in "Mississippi Wine" and think that shampoo isn't, in fact, preferable to Napa valley wine (at last not in the majority of the cases . . . the pun may have been intended). That's an inside joke regarding a song on a mix CD we got from our friend Danny way back in Columbia, SC (yes, we went there). Scott may or may not have been a little sore that we sang that line with such gusto with him in the car the previous day.
After about 48 minutes (completely made up) of research last night and then another 27 minutes (definitely made up, too) of research over breakfast we decided to stop over at the Foppiano winery for a tasting. The price did play into the decision, not going to lie. When Whitney and I arrived, Scott and Raina were pulling in right behind us. Foppiano's seemed like a medium sized operation. Their tasting room was a 40 by 60 foot single room structure, perhaps a former barn with a simple bar and two wonderfully helpful ladies. It all for together pretty well if you ask me. It had a nice roll-up-your-sleeves kind of feel. Very unpretentious and I'm a sucker for that stuff.
Altogether, we tasted six or seven bottles. Two were okay, three I liked and another two were very tasty. You'll have to ask the others for more detailed info because I can't remember or better yet, just go and do it yourself. I think wine tasting is really more about the opportunity to drink a couple of different wines with a group of friends without having to pay restaurant prices. So no, I don't remember the names nor the types, but by the end we walked out with three bottles of wine.
We hopped back into our respective loan-mobiles and drove the last bit up to Orr Hot Springs. It's a very nice scenic drive up and down through switch backs over meadows and through the woods. Our pace on this tight two lane road must have been about average, because on one occasion a older driver let us pass, while at a another one I barely had time to complete a turn before some huge pick up truck blew passed us. I'm going to assume that he knew the roads better than us.
On Google maps, the Orr Hot Springs (fb!) is labeled as a resort. I have a certain preconceived hoity toity notion of what a resort is, but in this case the operation here was decidedly more granola than cruise ship. We were checked in and after quickly dropping our perishables off in the big (and organized!) communal kitchen went to check out our little fancy yurt.
Up the hillside about 40 steps, our yurt was the top most yurt on the hill. It had a big bed, a sky light and right outside the door a tiny deck and two chairs. It was quiet, private and just in general a lovely setting for us to be able to relax and enjoy the time there.
After dropping our stuff off, our first priority was of course to check out the springs and pools area. The way the whole thing is set up is actually pretty neat. The bathing area is separated from the rest of the resort by two little bridges which lead across a stream and through a set of doors. There is then a changing room and outdoor showers before you get to the pools and sauna area. There are basically three areas: 1, a couple of small pools with hot water and a big cold water pool; 2, a steam room and a sauna; and 3, individual bath tubs in little rooms intended for one person at a time.
I had the impression that the facility catered somewhat more to women than it did to men, not in an unwelcoming way. No one was glaring at me for being a dude or anything. It just seemed that more women seemed to know and visit the springs. Since it's a clothing optional hot spring, I guess it's the type of experience that isn't for everyone. This also explains the lack of photos here. While we were there, Whitney and I recalled fondly the good I'll ol' times when she first came to Germany with me and my parents took us to Baden-Baden. If you know either of us personally, it's a fun story. (Whitney: it was one of the first times that I realized I can't look back and laugh at something unless I actually do it.)
After a quick soak, Whitney and I prepared dinner, in part because we felt guilty because the other two had been feasting and dining us the previous couple of days. So Pfannkuchen it was, though this time with gluten free (I think it was mainly rice based?) flour. Turned out pretty good, and after a couple of sweet ones, back to soaking it was.
Whitney adds: The kitchen had everything you would need, equipment and space-wise, to make an excellent meal. It was so great to be able to cook in a full kitchen. That experience rivaled the spa time as the highlight of our trip to Orr.
I would like to mention one more thing: as part of the setup, they had two tubs on an elevated deck outside. They called them the "stargazing" bathtubs and if I had my glasses with me I could have probably seen some nice formations. Then again, they would have probably fogged over.
Relaxed we fell asleep in our yurt, for what felt like an eternity.
Surprisingly then, we woke up about 8 hours later, which under consideration of what passes for "normal time", seems very reasonable. Whitney and I once again got busy in the kitchen for breakfast, and after another soak in the pools we wished our bon voyage our northern Californian travel companions and turned out wheels towards the Redwoods!
Whitney's facts & stats:
None, she was too busy luxuriating.