Site launched in 2011, independent of SMS management, by longtime local Springs aficionado and volunteer, Stuart Ward.
Until late 2017, was only mildly disgruntled volunteer (relatively speaking) over way things were going. Nurtured belief place would eventually turn around... especially with new -- at first seemingly promising -- stewardship.
Towards that end, continued doing dedicated work-trade, mostly bathhouse cold plunge upkeep, but with fast-sinking spirits once clothing-optional was outlawed.
In wake of shocking changes new ownership made once finally showing true colors, became one uber-disgruntled ex-"employee" indeed. With heavy heart, suspended 17 years of psyched involvement (10% paid, 90% informal volunteer work-trade) to join growing de facto boycott of once-cherished realm. Tragic December 2017 sweatlodge removal and taking out gazebo's love-offering prayer altar, on top of year-earlier, ridiculously oppressive clothing-optional ban, became last straws for writer and countless others, now-former longtime supporters near and far.
Note: some of what follows was written long ago during relatively more tranquil, alternative-culture-friendly times -- or, actually, more alternative-culture-barely-tolerant times. Make due allowances.
(note: If page appears with stretched out lines you've accessed mobile version of site. If on computer, re- enter site at stewartsprings.org )
What has made this rustic retreat tucked away in wilds near Weed, California, revered by so many?
Its mineral water? Age-old Native American reverence as sacred healing grounds? Sound of rushing creek amid evergreen canyon minutes off interstate?
Maybe believed energy vortex amplifying vibrations any present call forth? Or dollop of body freedom -- allowed until late 2016 and if there's a God in heaven will be again -- to fully embrace nature, liberate oneself, and enhance purifying, healing and rejuvenating process?
Or staff who, when not scrambling or caught up in tedium or falling down black holes, could feel transported to summer camp, and whose enthusiasm rubbed off on visitors, and vice versa?
Maybe patina of rustic historic establishment and legend of pioneer Henry Stewart, said to be found near death by natives and brought to Springs and restored, making him a true believer in waters' curative powers?
Of course, that indefinable attraction to Stewart Springs has been for all the above and more.
Surprisingly, no book has ever been written about place. Feeling by this longtime Springs aficionado was that it deserved something more...more than official in-house info and sizzle, ephemeral online reviews, and thumbnail write-ups in springs guidebooks, places' policies sometimes changed before book even off the press.
And so this site was launched in 2011 in hopes of remedying a sorry situation. Original intent: offer more nuanced appreciation, history, and critical analysis of rare jewel that is Stewart Springs, while at same time inviting others to share own thoughts and experiences of place.
New, additional goals: alert general public -- and mineral-spring spa fans in particular -- how new, misguided, absentee stewards (isn't that a contradictory term?) are taking place further away from founder's original non-profit in spirit, love-of-service, down-home operation. How it's erased recent decades' free-spirited cultural climate to remake place to suit conservative mindset and serve as Pneuma Institute's world headquarters and related retreat center...seemingly to be subsidized by public. And, possibly (if giving credence to dire suspicions of some) in future privatizing it outright, shutting gates to general public after 145 years. (see new intro to Rants and Raves)...
...also, crucially, to convince mostly-international owners they'd be far happier -- and restore good measure of now-tattered integrity -- by moving scene to more appropriate location after making earnest effort to find new, appropriate steward(s)...ones who'd be tickled to transform operation and land into legal non-profit healing refuge, dedicated to serving interests of wider general public into natural purification and alternative healing.
Hope is that massive de facto boycott and social media alerts will eventually put to an end woefully misbegotten plans, whatever they might be, exactly...
..that, barring radically changing tune, they'll give up, being conscious enough to realize they've created a bad-karma situation and want to relocate to more suitable place...once redeeming selves by selling to new, appropriate ownership who can see wisdom of resurrecting the downhome, service-loving spirit of essentially non-profit operation's first 78 years by Stewart family and a few other legal stewards following in their footsteps...ones who will finally rescue realm and work towards creating service operation, as in days of yore, with present-day awareness twist...
...thereby enabling people around the world to once again affordably enjoy beautiful, wild, free-spirited retreat as service-based healing and cultural center...one at last free of off-putting for-profit, money-hungry vibes and inappropriate repurposing with attendant spirit-crushing service disconnects and dampening of place's healing and tranformative powers.
If enough fans visualize and pray for this -- owners recognizing utter uncoolness of current scene and becoming mindful enough to find new appropriate steward(s), thereby restoring measure of honor and goal credibility -- then, with crucial help of right angel 'investor' and volunteer regional aficionados and renewed support by growth-minded, nature-loving public, mineral spring fans could absolutely turn place around.
While it's true that last owner essentially still held place captive on critical level for 34 years, realize that two of six post-Stewart-family ownerships were only for very short time indeed. (see History) (Last owner's redeeming virtue was letting long-time-locales managers run things according to own lights, reflecting community lifestyle values (which, happily, coincided with venerable tradition of the place), just so long as the money kept rolling in.)
May this one become the third...clearing the way for magic seventh.
Pages form varied zine collection -- personal Stewart Springs experiences and reflections, history, re-posted articles and online travel review excerpts, informed and semi-informed opinion and analysis, wild speculation, occasional news, photos, quotes, anecdotes on anything Springs related.
By offering diverse takes on extraordinary place -- albeit one with trey checkered history of light and dark energies since advent of so-called civilization -- hope is to foster deeper knowing and help Springs realize greater potential as healing spot, with loving universe manifesting perfect future legal keeper and hands-on steward -- or current owners' hearts miraculously melt.
Site launcher, again, is moi, Stu Ward, former steward of Stewart's. (Yes, synchronicity gone wild.) Though naturally resonating
with name, would no doubt love place -- as it was and is meant to be -- almost as much if only called Henry's Mud Flats.
The Springs enriched my life so much that wanted to give back and enable others, through own intimate knowledge of place plus penchant for writing and out-of-box thinking, to grok realm on new levels...to gleam bigger story of historic realm so long shrouded in mystery of vortex energies that perfectly reflected and amplified imprints of myriad visitors over ages, from sleepwalkers to awakened, nature destroyers to Gaia worshippers.
Since launching, site's received some 84,000 visits around world, maybe 60,000 or so from actual humans vs. crawling search engines. Some leave fast, no doubt looking for additional in-house, commercially-steeped info, doing song and dance to woo one's business, concluding "Well, this site's useless; obviously lunatic fringe".
Others assume writer's just going down memory lane (certainly true in part, but only in part), or is some disgruntled ex-employee with ax to grind... rather than, in fact, one of countless devoted Springs fans who appreciates how on spirit plane past-present-future are all one and wants to seize moment to help catalyze positive change for realm.
Some linger, soaking in stories and re-posted comments of hundreds of visitors, perhaps sampling writer's endless ramblings -- of latter, some well-informed, others speculative, yet others intuitive, using cracked but still serviceable crystal ball.
Most popular pages over past year:
Though formerly trying to keep tone tenuously positive and upbeat -- place having taken numerous slams over time, many, alas, fully justified -- site was NEVER a whitewash, never some shill effort to drum up more revenue for place's 'owner'.
With place having life of its own, site's perspective formerly tried to be one transcending ownership -- especially those seen by dyed-in-wool fans as woefully inappropriate.
Admittedly, before owner change and de facto boycott, writer, who got free saunas and a few baths a year in exchange for informal cold plunge management plus doing things like shoveling snow off sundeck and picking up litter, felt judicious need to pull punches.
Obviously, since having with grave reluctance 86ed myself from place and become radicalized over current situation, there's no problem now in more fully speaking mind.
Focus is both on critical analysis, including ideas of how to further fine-tune place (see New Day Dawning), and, like anything or -one cherished, seeing it as already perfect within its imperfection.
Admittedly, that's one rough row to hoe now, with present interests pulling place even further away from original simple, healing-service spirit of founder's family.
Ever tease apart the word 'realty'? It's 'reality' blinded and depersonalized without seeing 'i'. In such property transfers, it's land that's sold, not business operation itself or well-established ways and customs that happen to be on it.
Meditating on Springs through time as balanced whole can enable better understanding of place's lingering gnarly karma and non-progressive energy patterns it's so long been plagued with...patterns needing to be brought about, dealt with, and banished, thereby letting realm's rare healing properties flow more fully, awakening place to fuller healing potential for every visitor finding their way there.
Goals: manifest new,
ban nudity ban;
return sweat lodge
First, fans suffered clothing-optional ban, then kicking out of sweat lodge. Both tested the forbearance of legion of free-spirited fans' love of place...to breaking point of outright boycotting it.
Countless -- including writer -- vow never to set foot there again until either owners' hearts miraculously melt and beg forgiveness of legion of devastated former supporters after once returning clothing-optional and inviting sweat lodge back...or, more likely, until they read writing on wall and give up dubious intentions, divest, and, ideally, redeem selves by seeking out and selling to new, public-minded steward(s) who, with support of fans near and fair, will restore its soul to serve as affordable, free-spirited, NON-PROFIT, culturally-diverse healing refuge...
...of, by and FOR the people.
First strike came in late 2016 with banning clothing-optional, forbidding time-honored option to merge with elements in creek and sauna and on sundeck, huddled masses happily shedding clothing and stimulating exhilarating release of feel-good endorphins, enabling more effective purification and healing in process. Such personal and social freedom and enhanced healing potential were critically central to place's rejuvenation process for nearly a generation. Take that away and, in many people's minds (check visitor feedback to clothing-optional ban - scroll halfway down), place is essentially bieng held hostage by convention-locked, body-alienated mindset. It destroys any fuller enjoyment of place for countless free-spirited and bohemian-friendly around the world. In times when any rural mineral springs operation in northwest U.S. worth its salt allows some measure of mindful body freedom in course of spa beyond one's private tub/shower, it becomes just another watered-down, conventionalized, clothes-minded rural springs tourist trap, out of fuller resonance with natural setting, healing waters, and place's original reason for being.
Second strike: in December 2017, emptying creekside spring gazebo's altar of years of heartfelt prayer and love offerings, replacing initially with mean-spirited sign barking No This, No That, Violators Prosecuted...a peoples' shrine mindlessly destroyed.
Third strike: also in December 2017, scrapping 45-year-old Native American weekly sacred sweat lodge ceremony, frosting on cake in new owners' seeming aspirations to either mainstream or upscale place with uber-refined mediocrity or eventually shut out public entirely to pursue own private shtick, or some unwieldy variation thereof...which they could be leisurely playing by ear and mostly by remote, as given feedback by on-grounds management, mostly from thousands of miles away.
Regardless of actual intent, it's three strikes and you're out. Out of favor with thousands of former fans now spreading word to tens of thousands more, generating so much ill will and bad press that any bold plans to effectively kidnap once wildly popular healing retreat will fail over time -- even if closely-guarded intentions actually includes trying to shut gates to general public in time and privatize former quasi-progressive-minded paradise to serve exclusively as international Pneuma headquarters.
In last scenario, it's impossible imagining them ever enjoying one shred of peace of mind for knowing how in shutting gates of beloved institution they'd have broken hearts of untold thousands of place's former staunch supporters around the world and created a stench reaching to high heaven.
Karma's a bear.
Unwitting appeaser Hope of this at times gullible writer had been that a new, more fine-tuned c/o policy would emerge once new ownership came to appreciate how mindful clothing-optional policy was an essential offering... a perfect fit for any genuine rural mineral springs...
Especially one in progressive-minded, nature-loving rural northern California...most especially one near world-popular, quasi-bohemian haven of City of Mount Shasta and upper-chakra-tickling big rock candy mountain of Mt. Shasta itself.
Writer's now-abandoned hope was based on three things: hearing from outgoing manager how they promised to pour every cent back into place during first two years; that they'd raise rates of workers to more livable wage; and, crucially, fact that one of affiliated outfit Incarre's site-stated spiritual aims on website claimed to be dedicated towards helping people realize "profound re-integration of body-mind-spirit on higher levels."
Now, of course, towards this goal no other aid is anywhere NEAR as powerful, effective or easily implemented as giving visitors option of experiencing simple mindful nudity during spa regimen, thereby dramatically enhancing healing process on all levels, becoming one with elements.
Writer believed future of Springs as true healing place hinged on ownership realizing this obvious fact, and so promptly re-instating clothing-optional on newly-focused level.
They'd acknowledge simple nudity's powerful body-mind-spirit reintegration potential. And be open-minded enough to embrace place's long tradition of cultural diversity and universal spiritual seeking to find solution to fire/liability insurance issue of sweat lodge that ostensibly caused group to have to leave in first place, unable to afford reported Hobsen's choice of covering $2,000/month fire/liability insurance rider clause quote if wanting to stay. (Such exorbitant amount no doubt was sparked by participant deaths in pseudo sweat lodge near Sedona, AZ some years ago.)
So much for wistful hopes. Obviously, all bets off now. By remaining adamant on nudity ban, taking down gazebo altar, kicking out sweat lodge -- and, reportedly, STILL only paying minimum wage for non-management gigs -- they've proven themselves something akin to villains in eyes of Springs fans everywhere. (see New Day Dawning and home page )
And, of course, it gets worse. Grounds masseuses took pay cut, gift shop consignees had bigger slice taken from sales, employees reportedly no longer receive monthly free bath...and, tragically, dozens of mature pine and cedars -- some no doubt growing contentedly while founder Henry was still caring for place, before World War I -- were mindlessly cut down to make way for new bathhouse greywater septic system, the need of which surely could've been met in far less disruptive, more creative and ecological way rather than blindly caving to outmoded, environmentally hostile, conventional means. (Maybe it was in part a forceful gesture to show, in no uncertain terms, that there was a new sheriff in town.)
No doubt, many people visiting for the first time -- those never having experienced earlier days, which in rarest moments could approach a blissful, heaven-on-earth paradise of joyful communion with nature -- might still enjoy themselves, having nothing to compare current social climate and policies to. For place has charm to spare.
But any the least bit sensitive, among even newbies, might sense the subtle disruptive energetic undercurrents, bent on erasing place's former vibrant culture and replacing it with restrictively bland, conventionally "refined" culture.
This, while still taking dollars of non-discerning unwittingly funding diversion -- along with support of remaining career masseuses and employees who stay dependent on place for making rent or mortgage no matter how much changes crimped one's heartsong...
...and longtime annual, ostensibly spiritually-centered event organizers who appear loathe to change locale, though all too aware (or in abject denial) that all hell has broken loose on the subtle (and not so subtle) planes -- until one day either priced out, become hooked on the Kool Aid, or themselves at last become repulsed by scene...
...or front gates slam shut. Then would-be soakers merrily zipping up hill would be greeted with growling signs like Private Property - Go Away - Violators Prosecuted - No Peak Experiences for YOU - Transcend Yur Sorry Naked Selves Elsewhere
bit of my story
& site's evolution
For what it's worth anymore, following is brief history of my involvement with Springs for any curious about bona fides, my background, and/or site's evolution. Rambling include sidebar on employee burnout and random sprinkling of Springs history. (Some written long before current crisis, so parts have more leisurely, all's-well-relatively-speaking tone.)
Stuart discovers Stewart's
Native San Franciscan, first stumbled onto Stewart Springs in late 1983, five years after moving to region following seven years dharma-bumming around West.
It was for a full moon evening sweat with medicine man Charlie Thom. Flew away October 8, 2013. One of about twelve in modest sweat lodge, am a Springs dinosaur to most, relative newcomer to others -- whose brains sometimes picked for old stories and missing puzzle pieces...like late springs aficionado Jonathan Wolfe, who shared fond memory of 1970's co-owner Carole Goodpasture greeting him at end of walking bridge with cup of mineral water to drink and so begin spa treatment. As Charlie lovingly shared his timeless wisdom and deep roots to land with the little group, was instantly smitten by powerful magic of place... And saddened when soon after operation closed gates to general public for several years for want of finding responsible management willing to work cheap and drum up then-slack visitor volume without distant owner worrying about would-be backwoods operation. (Then extended family of Suzy, Mary, Pat, CeCee, and Linda came along to rescue place. See their story, including writer in time joining their dedicated efforts.)
Same-elevation off-grid patch of juniper-and-sagebrush high desert across Shasta Valley from Springs in Mt. Shasta Vista has been reclusive home most of adult life. Went from growing up in densest population spot in State to one of sparsest. (Formerly anyway, before phenomenal scoff-law pot-growing influx commenced in 2015 to create serious extension of so-called Emerald Triangle...but that's another story.) Burned out on city living and always a nature boy at heart, happily embraced living offgrid in the middle of nowhere.
Sporadic duty freak, felt blessed to become Spring's resident volunteer groundskeeper and man
Friday to late general manager Mary Hildebrand during historic turning point in place's evolution, from late 1999 through early 2002. Place went year-round, clothing-optional, reopened restaurant, increased hours, expanded hot-water system, booked flurry of new workshops, concerts, and retreats... Place began to feel more down-home and happening (if still a little lame around the edges) than anytime since epic Goodpasture stewardship of 1970s.
Blessed because there's an amazing spiritual force afoot there that can super-ground and envelop any receptive, dedicated worker...that is, barring gnarly internal politics, outrageous owner directives, or misplaced workers and visitors. It can enable spirit to at once ground and soar like an eagle in joy of service. Some believe Springs has its own angel watching over place. If true, we perhaps need only be patient about current situation.
Also did two runs as paid bathhouse attendant, in 2002 and 2005. Joy of service buoyed efforts there as well, unalloyed by any gnawing financial needs for having small inheritance, growing small home biz, and living simply in boonies on own land, no always-looming rent or mortgage to worry about (just annual property taxes).
Not that I didn't cause management headaches. Of course I did. Over time I got fired not once but twice. Long stories, but essentially for high -- okay, borderline quixotic -- service standards, inextricably tangled up with with romantic delusions over various co-workers, both interfering with business as usual.
Though not having earned a cent as staff in well over a decade (did sell stones in gift shop for long time), untiI late 2017 kept oar in the waters thru work-trade by helping Mario maintain cold plunge. It was formerly my own bailiwick, having created and maintained it 14 years, until hernia from over-ambitious boulder moving (going undiagnosed for six years of mysterious pains) finally forced stepping aside at 64.
In light of triple whammy inflicted on genuine spring lovers by misguided new owners -- refusing to tune into and respect resort's unassuming service heritage and bohemian-leaning lifestyle of good many patrons -- writer could no longer aid and abet such a heartbreaking scene.
Not being able to skinnydip in very plunge built and often worked on in buff, sometimes along with others, was galling beyond measure. It took grand irony to a new level. Actually got busted for skinnydipping five seconds on New Year's Day 2017 (in manner allowed by last owner, even before liberalizing clothing-optional policy in 2000), when no one around to possibly take offense...except, of course, new dutiful underling who happened to come down just then to fill foot-dip pan in creek and promptly reported me.
But then junking sweat lodge ceremony -- so crucial in helping erase place's karmic blot, slaughter of indigenous peoples who revered land as sacred (see History) -- plus tearing down prayer and love altar in spring gazebo, made unplugging from place an absolute no-brainer. While still dedicated to posting relevant review excerpts, gleaning first-hand reports, and spouting own evolving reflections and understandings of place, boycott by myself and others was spontaneous gut reaction to intolerable situation.
Suddenly countless c/o fans found themselves up a tree.
Every aficionado has their own intimate relationship with place. Unorganized de facto boycott obviously has no leader...least of all any doofus like me. Watchwords of Nobel laureate: "Don't follow leaders / watch the parking meters."
An acquaintance once called me, not unkindly, "the Ghost of Stewart Springs". My influence is naturally nonexistent now...beyond serving as Springs historian, chronicler, and analyst, and maybe haunting ownership's conscience for ignoring place's time-honored ways. BOO!!
Fact: Creek's coldplunge temperature varies widely over year from too-chilly-for-words 30 degrees F. during major winter cold snaps (flowing water freezing at lower temp.) to pleasant, linger-able 70 degrees F. during summer heat waves
Long released from day to day operational cares, writer offers perspective integrating 16 years volunteering and weekly or better use for over quarter century with intimate working knowledge of past, now-sketchy acquaintance with present, and elusive glimpses of possible, unborn future.
Never being dependent on place for income keeps perspective clear, free of any monetized interest.
Main story continues after long related sidebar)
Take this job...
on employee burnout
Sadly, no more than few of countless former employees -- it seems everyone and their uncle has worked at Stewart Springs some time or another -- still visited before December 2017 sea change. More than once in a blue moon, anyhow. (Which, being second full moon of any month having two, averages every 33 months.)
Some got so involved hustling for paltry paycheck they forgot to enjoy amenities and refresh spirit, place becoming just another time-punching gig until something better came along...or work pressures got so gnarly, they ran off screaming.
In happy contrast, during Goodpasture stewards' more leisurely reign in '70s -- simpler times and more modest visitor flow, for sure -- everyone, owners and employees alike, did daily bath and sweat, thus keeping in resonance with spirit of place and reason for being. Work burnout could easily take its toll, in time creating a pronounced disenchantment with place. Especially if strapped for cash and feeling disheartened busting a gut at twenty-five cents over minimum wage on undersized staff. Wages were reportedly raised first thing by new 2016 owners, given reason for prices going up, covering more decent worker pay, at least upper-level positions...serving perhaps as incentive to follow strict orders, work becoming strictly for pay than from any abiding affection for place and desire to turn others onto it.
That said, former (?) two-bits-over-minimum-wage reality could make it all but impossible for any hoping to cover rent or mortgage to experience anything remotely approaching that ennobling feeling of toiling in the vineyards.
ESPECIALLY if being forced to work off the clock and not always getting work breaks. About 2005 writer was
approached and invited to join group of livid ex-employees filing grievance claims with State labor board over former shady practices by owner.
Opted not to, though claimants were well compensated in owner fines. Reason: others, spitting-nails mad, had totally burned bridges with place -- hadn't seen one there in decade -- whereas writer, again, never dependent on place for income, had time of life there playing working class hero, and wanted to stay welcome, not become persona non grata for joining whistle-blowing on then-managers' owner-father. Not so much noble as practical.
Place could be one super-demanding juggernaut of operation regardless of pay -- especially during (at least former) peak season and any holiday weekend. Any employee aware and hoping to last learned in a hurry to work double-time when need be, sometimes even triple-time -- hopefully while keeping positive attitude locked in service mode. Only alternative was being left wanting number of truck.
Writer was spared such burnout, or getting thrown under bus (all these vehicle analogies) only for being volunteer work-trader first and foremost, plus able to mobilize whenever need be. It was only way could keep enjoyment and veneration of place alive. (One exception: things got so gnarly at front desk in summer 2015, with over-her-head, control-freak employee, that had to detach from place, taking site offline a year and staying away four months until hearing person was gone. Turns out it was during stressful period of property-transfer negotiations wrapping up, PLUS final throes of co-manager Ted's terminal illness. see Management in More Rants & Raves) It was disheartening seeing dedicated workers giving their all only later to quit in disgust or be fired over petty internal politics -- conflicts created by former contentious work climate, in turn product of over-focus on profits by last absentee owner, with on-site salaried managers doing bidding. Resulting often-graceless exploitation of overworked and underpaid workers could all too easily quash any effort to offer genuine, relaxed healing service, as so obviously behooves such a place.
Examples: one office worker got fired for being too friendly and personable with visitors, perhaps making others, especially managers, look too unfriendly in comparison. And a housekeeper, wanting to deep-clean cabin in desperate need of it, fell behind mad-scramble work pace disallowing any such diligence, and was also dismissed.
Tawdry but True Dept:
Own, second firing
While sauna-ing and hoping to unwind off-duty one night in 2005, writer spotted a roving young sexual predator who'd been banned for life years earlier for boldly molesting fellow off-duty female employee in sauna at night. Ages had passed since incident. With all-new workers and managers no one recognized him...except me. I shifted gears in a heartbeat. Managers were gone for day, so, only recourse, alerted office.
Alas, at moment it was run by man with long history of sticky-finger proclivities and who would soon get caught and imprisoned for continuing to try plying shadowy trade at Stewart's. Earlier I'd cautioned co-manager Astra from keeping him for this very reason once realizing he'd been hired, but to no avail. As scrambling newbie managers, they were hard-pressed for help -- any help -- at start of super-busy peak season.
Indifferent to what might prove another despicable incident, he acted as if there was no problem at all, saying dismissively, "He paid his admission." Then he hatched diabolically clever revenge plan on me, as earlier on he'd learned how I'd blown the whistle on him once manager confronted him with sticky-fingers allegation and they didn't see fit to protect my anonymity. (He'd acted all chagrined, humbly professed to have mended his ways, become better person, ad naseum.) Now, totally ignoring red alert, he instead fabricated his OWN red alert, delivered to manager later that night after I'd gone, of receiving desk complaints of ME egregiously misbehaving in sauna.
Already out of management's good graces, having already almost been fired once for unrelated reasons and now looking for any excuse to be rid of me in their mad Trumpian revolving door of staff...which fact he knew and shamelessly exploited.
I was summarily fired next day on coming to work psyched up for another busy service stint. I was also banned from grounds six months. And I'd never get an apology for their believing his lie, not even when shortly after he was caught pocketing restaurant receipts and sentenced to three years in state prison. That's how crazy and dispirited things could get.
I received miserable bit of consolation later, when in town he gleefully bragged to a casual girlfriend of mine -- whom he also knew and who'd in fact alerted me of his past job thievery in first place -- how "I just got Stuart fired!" He had underestimated her regard for me and no doubt forgotten her part-Cherokee, hair-trigger temper. She up and punched him in the mouth.
Was fun to rake
place over coals
Disillusionment and outrage over former, sometimes astonishingly gnarly energies have tarnished memory of many, as it easily might've done me had I been dependent on job for filling belly. It can ruin ability to ever enjoy place again short of letting go, forgiving, and pushing re-set button.
It seems some used to actually prefer staying mad, enjoying the piss-and-vinegar rush of righteous rage raking place over coals. Now, since recent developments, with new owners having upped the ante to truly insufferable levels for many former fans, one can either give up on place in sad resignation, suffer changes and go into denial if still trying to cop another long-accustomed soak and sauna now and then, or shun place and spread word to join de facto boycott while visualizing either (unlikely) miracle of current owners' hearts melting OR manifestation of new, appropriate ownership redeeming scene in future.
Anyone the least bit aware soon learns to appreciate how the Springs, rare earth phenomenon that it is, is worlds more than any owner, manager, staff member, person, or operation overlay. It has a life of its own, one saddened by those who don't recognize or appreciate its healing properties and gladdened by those who do and work in harmony with its gifts to freely share them with as many others as possible as genuine service.
Given enlightened stewardship, everyone setting foot on land becomes a handmaiden, redeeming place from over-worldly focus and diversionary use, aiding the rebirthing of sacred healing grounds for benefit of greater humanity.
my story cont'd
time capsule project
Sporadic writing freak, long felt a pull to cobble together some writing on place. Idea first took hold in 2000, at start of two-year groundskeeper stay in little abode above the Cottage and apartments.
It was then called the Shed; it's now called Henry's -- and for good reason.
As some know, this modest structure, closest of any to creek, is believed first one on grounds. Its earliest form was built by none other than founder Henry Stewart (1827-1914) along with friends soon after start of last century. Hard to believe now, but it actually served as the first-generation bathhouse. It had long been relegated to musty storage and semi-feral cat hangout by time I set up makeshift
lodgings in it. Having electricity but no plumbing or kitchen, it held rare treasure -- best river song in whole place, bar none. You swung open big window and sweet thundering creek music flooded the room, filling air with negative ions and white-noise supreme. Such meditation-inducing atmosphere, immersed in so long, no doubt sparked my building interest in place and where it was coming from.
I became first of many resident workers staying there over years. (It's now plumbed and enlarged, served as extra office many years; then combination office/staff residence, as is next-door Cottage; now, no idea.) Wood floor planks beneath multiple layers of curling
linoleum were old. Official, yellowed county health department notice on wall, dated 1934, dourly warned of unlawfulness of more than 34 people cramming into tiny structure.
Being super-impressionable and, like Frasier's Daphne Moon, a bit psychic, I felt I'd tuned into
Henry on some level. I sensed he'd maybe like his larger story told...especially in light of fact place still bears his name. Like many, I wondered what his story actually was, beyond sketchy legend of being rescued by natives in 1850s when life was in peril and brought to waters to heal, decades later buying property to dedicate rest of his life turning others on to it. see History
Who needs a
Initial book enthusiasm evaporated after exhaustive research revealed little written history seemed to exist. Daunted, abandoned project and went on to craft and self-publish two factional novels on body freedom and compassionate diet, honing writing and creative discipline and sating writing lust for a while.
Concluded maybe place didn't need a book after all. Seemed everyone was all right without one...or it would've been written already. Anyhow, history accounts can be dry, so not here-and-now.
Last flash before abandoning project was to cobble together book of everyone's written experiences with place, ala Studs Terkel's shared-bio collection approach on given subject. It also went nowhere. Perhaps it was my at times off-putting manic enthusiasm, leaving others no real room to get much excited themselves...or others' disinclination to write, seeing little value in such pursuit in our seemingly post-literary world (especially if not getting paid for effort beyond seeing byline atop efforts). It was frustrating. Some are made to feel they can't write, probably some long ago English teacher from hell assuring them of fact. But it's said often the best writing is just writing the same as you'd speak, and most everyone can speak.
Email Springs Writings,
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Over time, site has, by default of de writer, become too blogcentric (plus not capable of instant posting, ala Facebook and Instagram) to much attract others to contribute. But original site vision had been every fan contributing own perspective and unique story, mingling with my own ramblings. Hope springs eternal that certain so-inclined readers will sometime surprise me by emailing in own stories and/or two-cents' worth on place to add to site. Stories would go to top of New Tales from Stewart Springs page, with considered opinion perhaps on new page.
One story, heard in January 2020, by woman visiting for first time around 2012: Apparently, some gay men's group had swooped in for retreat or such and had boldly taken over bathhouse, chasing each other about in naked abandon...and she assumed the place was always that way!
Springs seems to be natural mystical realm that everyone adopts as own medicine grounds. At it's best, deeply personal, inward -- sometimes even celestial -- experiences are had there, which elude ever being verbalized, let alone being put in print to be read by parties unknown.
It's the kind of place that, often neglected or abused over years, people have naturally built protective feelings about... A mystical place where everyone effectively directed, scripted and starred in own private super-natural movie, sometimes slipping out of rational temporal mind and into timeless realms, grounds serving as rarefied portal. "That's a wrap on eternal soul memory #7,472."
Stewart Mineral Springs is steeped inside a vanished past, convoluted mystery of man's light and dark impulses wrapped inside nature's dreamlike forces.
Words can fail to do justice explaining staggering, life-changing episodes some have experienced there over the years.
Also, some are naturally disinclined to share any more out-there tales for fear of sounding too woo-woo-ka-choo. Long-ago veteran office manager, CeeCi, for instance, was one day convinced a flying saucer had actually landed on grounds. (Who knows? Maybe scout ship actually did, though there's precious little landing room; maybe at favorite wedding-site clearing, above Conference Hall and A-Frame?)
Trivia: Restaurant building in Mt. Shasta now known as Lalo's was built in 1970s by then Springs owners Carole and Winston Goodpasture and family. It briefly served as town compliment to thriving
natural food restaurant on grounds (which reportedly they also built), deemed by many best restaurant in county at time.
After dedicated resistance to pursuing any online creation -- being die-hard book lover preferring physicality of inked words immortalized on dead trees -- was finally won over. (Losing small fortune in self-publishing ventures no doubt helped.)
Electronic compilations like this are worlds easier to create, vastly cheaper ($22./month, my dime), and allow instant free global access. Plus, can change, re-arrange, add, or delete text and pix anytime. How spiffy is that?
Not least of all, they can be super green: living off-grid since 1978, 98% of time without even generator, all site work is powered by bottled sunshine, from modest solar array. (Sunshine-or-bust teaches energy conservation in a heartbeat).
To metaphysical thinking, earliest human imprints on any given land forever stay embedded in it. For sure, it still resonates with Stewart family's 78 years of dedicated service from 1875 to 1953. see History...also, alas, with earlier tragic Native American massacre taking place about grounds before family purchase -- but, saving grace, before that with earliest, peaceful and harmonious energies of indigenous peoples, revering land as sacred healing ground for time untold.
THAT'S the belief lending hope place can be restored in future under non-profit, community-active stewardship...resurrecting it, as much as modern times allow, with a current, growing-consciousness twist, to its peaceful, pre-historic healing sanctuary lands vibration.
The Springs is like a giant onion inviting one to peel away layer after layer and reveal ever deeper understandings -- of both place and selves. The more one groks place, the more it becomes a no-brainer to want to restore its original spirit.
Most Stewart Springs snapshots are mine, a few are re-posted from Internet. Credit here to Minna C. of L.A. for nice close-up of now-gone gazebo altar.
All, mostly vintage, nudist pictures are from site nudistfun.com (caution: non-secure site; now, sadly, apparently somehow connected to video marketeers catering to pedophiles).
Thanks to all who have contributed or given permission to re-post/reprint writings; they anchor site. Springs fans often appreciate hearing diverse takes on place; the more unique takes are shared, the better the chances of building up critical mass to manifest a dramatic turnaround. Consider adding your own story or two-cents' worth to mix.
Though no formal network exists, together devotees of rarified realm constitute a protective loose-knit mystical lodge: de facto Friends of Stewart Springs, if you will...better yet, a Liberate Stewart Springs collective within planetary oversoul.
For it's a fact: even if one last visited 20 or 30 years ago or more, precious memories of place stay locked in the gourd.
As writer keeps hammering and yammering, it's crucial since draconian changes that informal Friends visualize place gaining new stewardship and re-harmonized energies, and current ones realize they'd be happier doing their thing elsewhere, seeing the light and redeeming themselves by seeking out appropriate stewards who'd be tickled pink seven ways to Sunday to set up place as a legal non-profit healing/cultural center. (Think mini-Breitenbush.)
Don't assume it inevitable that once-treasured place is forever doomed to devolve into conventional watered-down resort, essentially co-opted for private outfit's own needs and mindset and rigid business blueprint.
Demand a miracle. Great spirit might well have other plans IF hearing big enough chorus of heartsongs from all who love and cherish realm.
Of course, current owners' hearts could melt and place return to roots of serving as sacred healing ground for all humanity. Okay, barring such an unlikely miracle, and even if they DO manage to gain viable new visitor base, if they've a modicum of consciousness they'll experience a grand reality check at some point and, hopefully, redeem legacy in Stewart Springs history to brilliant one by seeking new appropriate stewardship now envisioned by place's countless aficionados.
THEN fans might at long last merrily join in and help create a flourishing, open-minded, affordable, culturally-diverse healing retreat, one more awesome than ever.
< A-Frame front door's stained glass inset, artisan unknown