Monday, November 01, 2010

They Say It's My Birthday

I had such a dreamy birthday. On the actual day, I woke up really excited because I was going on an adventure. I was off to Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Corona with my dear friend, Mary, and my sister, Lindsey.

Bright and early, Mary and I hit the road. It was one of those dazzling days that we get in late October, but without the accompanying scorch of Santa Ana Winds, and a perfect 75 degrees. (Thank you, Birthday Goddess!) First, Starbucks stop for road trip sustenance. I got a frappucino with several pounds of whipped cream cuz it was my birthday. Soon we were sailing up the I-15, an otherworldly landscape of giant boulders in every direction. The hour passed in a flash because of the rare treat of an uninterrupted gab session with Mary--normally we have our kids with us.

Because it was a weekday in the off-season, Glen Ivy was having a killer special with a very cheap day rate. I, of course, got in free because it was my actual birthday. Both of us were signed up for massages but on the spur of the moment she added a pedicure and I got a facial. Those of you who read this post will be wondering why I dared, but it turned out to be a great decision.

Lindsey was still in traffic, so we headed for the locker room and got into our suits and robes--this is how we would remain all day. I was never fully dry, but I didn't get cold because of my robe (courtesy of Mary on my last birthday!) and the glorious weather. Glen Ivy is such a casual place--I never spotted a cell phone, and there was nary a French pedicure or designer swim suit in sight. It's not that kind of spa. I did flout convention and hide my phone--set to silent--in my was my birthday, after all, and I didn't want to miss any calls.

We waded into the saline pool, sheltered by a Romanesque pergola with grand columns lacking only tendrils of ivy to complete the look. Sitting in the steam and admiring the lush greenery all around us, I knew I'd made a good decision for this little field trip. Too soon, Mary was off to her pedicure, but I was able to greet Lindsey when she arrived and show her around before I was whisked off to my facial.

Linda was adorable in her cat-eye specs and Louise Brooks bangs, and put me at ease instantly. Noticing my suit was wet, she suggested I get naked and cuddle under the blankets and she would put it in the oven to be warm when I was done. Nice! Before long, her cool fingers were massaging something that smelled like lemongrass into my cheeks and I'm happy to say that not only didn't she shove anything into my eyeballs, she was meticulously careful to avoid that scenario. She seemed very knowledgeable and said something I haven't heard at a facial in years: "Actually, your skin is pretty clear." Wow, maybe I am getting old. She applied something with a big, fluffy brush at the end and offered me a mirror when we reached the lobby. Not sure how she did it but I looked like I'd just had a week's vacation and lost 10 years. That usually doesn't happen after a facial.

I was just in time to meet Lindsey and Mary at Cafe Sole for a cafeteria-style lunch of salad, soup and paninis, which we enjoyed under an umbrella poolside. The food wasn't that great, but it was filling, and we didn't have time to linger anyway since all three of us had massages right after. Strangely, my massage therapist was also named Linda, and she was great. I did have to ask her for a blanket after the first 10 minutes--I was just under a sheet, and I get very chilly during massages. Other than that, I was drooling the whole time. Afterward, I saw that I had a few birthday texts and felt deliciously naughty texting back "Thank you so much! Just had a massage and am about to get in the pool." What a day!

Met up with Lindsey at Club Mudd, where one quickly puts aside one's squeamishness and is glad one did. We waded into the warm, red-hued pool with a shiny mountain in the center, and slathered each others' backs with the smooth, slippery mud the consistency of potter's clay. Then we waded out to a dry-land mountain that we could squish onto our legs and bellies and feet. When we were completely caked from head to toe, we warmed ourselves in the Wafa, and then stretched out on muddy lounges to dry. The mud itches a bit as it dries, but it leaves a wonderful, rosy glow as it sucks all the toxins from your body, or so they claim. Soon Mary joined us and I waded back in with her and started the process all over again.

After a very long outdoor shower with some delicious hibiscus body wash to scrub off all the dirty bits, we headed to the mineral baths, which were the original Glen Ivy claim to fame. They are small and reek of sulfur, but they feel great. Mary and I soaked while Lindsey just dunked her toes to avoid baking her baby.

Then it was on to the Lounge Pool, a simple concept but one of my favorite spots at Glen Ivy. It's a big pool only a foot or so deep, filled with cushy blue lounges for floating. We glided and bobbed for the better part of an hour, feeling the gentle roll of the warm water and the sun warming our faces. When I opened my eyes, there was a canopy of palms and bougainvillea overhead, and I was so peaceful and relaxed. I wanted it to last forever, but alas, suddenly they were announcing over the P.A. that they'd be closing in a half-hour. Next time I'll get there earlier.

After a hot shower under a rainfall head and a little time for prettying ourselves, it was time to say goodbye to Lindsey (who was heading home in the opposite direction) and head to Temecula--30 miles away--for dinner. Even though it was rush hour, we didn't hit even one minute of traffic (thank you, Birthday Goddess) and sailed into Old Town just as the twinkle lights were starting to illuminate the wooden facades. I had chosen a new-to-me gastropub called Public House for dinner--it looked simple but yummy. Turns out I chose well. We were seated on the back terrace next to a combination fire pit/water feature in cushy lounges and minutes later were being called "luvs" by our decidedly not British waiter/chef. Because I am a low culture kind of gal, I was tickled pink by the "house-made rootbeer and cream soda on draught," and one sip of the latter (resplendent with crushed vanilla beans!) and I was announcing "Now that is liquid crack." Because it was homemade, it was sweet, but not corn-syrup-sweet; real-vanilla-sweet. I sucked back the whole glass in minutes.

Soon, we were spreading some kind of local cheese cured in "vegetable ash" (didn't catch what that involved) onto triangular toasts along with spoonfuls of cherry confit and an arugula salad with some kind of addictive dressing (maybe it had cream soda in it?) Between the cheese and the salt-and-vinegar chips in family-sized portions, we were pretty full by the time our main courses arrived--she had the "Vegetable Menage-a-Trois" with tomato basil bisque, salad and portabello sliders, and I had the Kobe meatloaf with ridiculous potatoes, crisp on the outside and melting in the middle. I had one bite of meatloaf and one of potato and then the whole thing had to go in a box. Never mind--it was my birthday. David enjoyed it for lunch the next day.

Barely able to keep our eyes open after having been massaged, soaked, sunned and sauced with mud all day, we headed home, now sated from a fabulous dinner. Even the drive back was a massive treat, cruising down the freeway reliving all the fine points of our fabulous day.

Lindsey had brought us a beautiful pink, be-ribboned box of cupcakes from Susiecakes, which we carried from place to place all day but were never un-full enough to eat. With apologies to Mary, David and I enjoyed them in front of the Rocky Horror episode of "Glee" when I got home that night. Imagine our delight when we discovered that the frosting (cream cheese for the pumpkin, chocolate for the chocolate) tunneled through to the bottom of the cupcake! Genius!

A quick peek at Facebook (wonder of wonders, I'd been offline all day!) to get a little teary over the sweet b-day greetings, and I fell asleep with a smile on my face. Lucky me--the celebration wasn't done yet. More birthday news in the next post.


Myrnie said...

Sounds divine!

Laural Out Loud said...

I've always wanted to go to Glen Ivy, but after hearing you describe it I NEED to go. Sounds like a wonderful birthday!

Mrs. Chapman's 2nd Grade Class said...

It sounds like a heavenly day! So glad you got to enjoy your day! Happy Birthday!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds fantastic! Glad to hear you had a lovely day. :) Lix

Meghann P. said...

Hi Sam!

Greetings from Glen Ivy! I really enjoyed reading about your birthday visit to paradise! I'm so glad to hear that you had the perfect weather, a wonderful facial, and a relaxing massage to make your birthday even that more special. Hopefully we'll be seeing you, Mary and Lindsey floating in the Lounge Pool or soaking in the Mineral Baths soon!

To your health and happiness,

Meghann P.