Jason and I went to Napa Valley last weekend, and stayed in
Calistoga. And to help me train for the Avon Breast Cancer Walk, we went on a pretty,
7 mile hike in the mountains nearby (I went on two 3 mile hikes last
week to keep up the momentum). We were surprised at all the animals we
saw. A wild turkey strutted around the parking lot. Lizard rustled in
the underbrush and scurried across the trails, and several hawks
circled above.

At one point, a jackrabbit was casually hopped into a
clearing by us. It saw us and actually came within 5 feet. Of course I didn’t whip out my camera phone in time for a closer shot. We walked
by a small reservoir, and later saw a deer in the woods.

After the hike, we rewarded ourselves to a nice dinner in Calistoga;
my steak was excellent, and of course the wine was good. Our appetizer
was fun too — fried green olives stuffed with bleu cheese. Even better
than it sounds.

Calistoga feels more down to earth than some other parts of the valley, and we found it relaxing. The town’s big attraction is natural hot springs. Native Americans
previously lived near the springs. In the 1800s, spas were developed
where people could soak in the spring water, and take mud baths. It has
had resorts centered on hot springs since then.

We stayed at Indian Springs,
a hotel and resort with an Olympic sized mineral pool. The pool,
outbuildings, and surrounding cottages are really charming
architecturally. I’m not sure when they were all built, but mostly 50’s
or before. The pool itself is a jewel-like aquamarine and is bathtub
temperature. Sunday was quite hot – about 90 degrees – so it was a
little strange swimming in such a hot pool, but pleasant. Laying on a
lounger by the pool, under a striped awning, you see the beautiful
green mountains surrounding the valley. It’s a very pleasant
Mediterranean-looking view.

Near the pool, you can see where the water comes up from the spring
– it steams as it meets the air. Two cooling pools cool the water till
it’s the right temperature to transfer to the pool.

Pretty gardens and a pond flank the pool and spa. Red, blue and
black and white dragonflies skim across the pond. A Thai-style
Buddha sits at the edge the pond, with oranges in his lap. That and
several other design touches reminded me of spas and hotels in
Thailand. And our room had a Thai flavor as well, with its black,
white, beige and acid green palette, black faux bamboo furniture,
modern forms, and black and white photographs of Buddhas. It’s
interesting that this kind of "Thai-Modern" style is currently so
popular in hotels, spas and restaurants, even if they have nothing to
do with Thai culture. For instance, the last place we stayed on our
long honeymoon trip was a boutique hotel in Cartagena, Colombia. And its decor was a kind of Thai-Indonesian inspired hybrid, although of course Cartagena has nothing to do with Thailand either.

On the way home, we briefly stopped in St. Helena for ice cream. There’s also a cool interior store there. We’d never been to Yountville, so we drove through, and past French Laundry,
which we’d like to try. And we stopped briefly in the town of Napa as well.