At Esalen for Patricia’s birthday

Patricia and I drove down to Esalen on the Big Sur coast for her birthday- left Friday, back Sunday evening. It was a good trip, including the Nepenthe gift shop (am three for three in finding interesting clothing there, plus a birthday gift for Patricia).

We just hung out for the weekend eating, sleeping, and soaking, no seminars. Met Wes Niskar (Scoop), teaching on Zen for Cynics, and Ayo from LA, doing a weekend on African percussion, with a side hobby of sitting through timeshare sales pitches for sport and profit.

Esalen is interesting- larger than I thought, more of a community (150 guests plus a reported 150 staff and seminar leaders), less new-age Californian. It doesn’t stand out as it used to; much of its sensibility has been absorbed into the general population. It feels like a summer camp for adults- a mix of 20-somethings working there, and older yuppies who can afford the seminar fees and like the subject matter.

The mineral baths are a much bigger deal than I realized. They have the coolest tub house I’ve seen- luscious smooth concrete construction, tasteful arches and shapes, infinity pools overlooking the ocean, tile floors heated by spring water. I’m not much for soaking, but this was cool.

Esalen has an interesting history, starting as Slates Hot Springs, their geographical name, though it looks like they have changes ahead. They have a named massage style (which everyone else in the world probably already knows). I found it much more stretchy and connecting than other massages I’ve had.

And… googling on another aspect of Esalen, apparently the #1 pickup line in the old tubs was “I really love your energy.”

The view down the coast from Nepenthe’s deck (or “view”, given all the coastal fog recently):

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