Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Jefferson Pools - Warm Springs, VA

A seminar in Charlottesville allowed a little free time for a re-visit to the Jefferson Pools.

The Jefferson Pools, also called Warm Springs Bathhouses and Warm Springs Pools, are two spa structures near Warm Springs, Virginia. The name was changed in the 20th century from "Warm Spring Pools" to "Jefferson Pools". The spa is part of The Homestead, a resort hotel. The Gentlemen's Pool House, which is pictured above, is the oldest spa structure in the United States. The octagonal wood building was built in 1761. The spas are naturally fed by a 98 °F mineral spring. The men's spa holds 40,000 US gallons of constantly flowing water.

Thomas Jefferson arrived in 1818 at the age of 75, suffering from what he described as "rheumatism." He stayed for over three weeks, taking the waters several times each day, in the Gentlemen's Pool House. The Jefferson Pools are continuously fed by several natural mineral springs from deep beneath the earth. The superlative, crystal clear spring waters at the Jefferson Pools are rich in minerals, and are a constant 98 degrees at their source - perfect, natural body temperature. Taking the waters at the Jefferson Pools continues to be a favorite activity today, and it is just as relaxing and restorative as it was in 1761 when the Gentlemen's Pool House was built.

The buildings have changed little over the years, being made of wood with a central pool and a roof that is open to the elements. There are small alcoves around the pool are changing rooms, where you leave you clothes.

Look up at the roof and notice that at its peak is open. In fact, the roof only actually covers the changing rooms and the walkway around the pool. For the most part the roof over the pool is nothing but the rafters. At first this seemed odd but after some thought, it made perfect sense. Given the temperature of the water, it would probably never get very cold in the building, and without the open roof it would likely get unbearably hot in the summer. The gases coming up from the pool base might get a bit intense as well without the extra circulation. As for rain or snow, that wouldn't really matter since if you were in the pool you'd be wet already. Besides what could be more natural than looking up into a clear blue sky on a beautiful morning while soaking in a nice warm tub of bubbling water.

Notice the walkway around the pool with changing rooms off to the side. A visitor is greeted by the caretaker who will offer to show you around. In the Gentlemen's Spa, there is no mistaking the purpose of the place as the building was dominated by a large deep pool (6-7 feet) formed from natural rocks about 120 feet around in the center of the structure.

Other famous bathers include General and Mrs. Robert E. Lee and General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson. While General Lee's visits to the pools were probably an accommodation to his wife, who was an avid soaker (in the separate Ladies Pool House), Stonewall's visits to area hot springs were a regular aspect of his health care regime. Why was Stonewall so conscious about taking care of his health? He saw too many deaths of people close to him. On top of the death of his parents, he also lost his older sister and brother, his first wife and first baby daughter, plus his second child from his second wife. His only surviving blood relative was his younger sister Laura. Some might think him to be a hypochondriac, but understand why he pursued health improvement so vigorously. He had dyspepsia. His doctor prescribed exercise, diet and hydrotherapy for his cure. Judging from today's standard, if taking aerobic exercise, diet workshop and Jacuzzi bath are considered normal behavior, it would be just as normal then, for Jackson to take solitary walk, to eat the food he brought with him when invited to a dinner, and to seek hot spring water-therapy. He was not odd. He was just taking care of his health. He was only ahead of his time.

The water is very clear, and after a closer inspection you will notice lots of bubbles rising from the stones that form the bottom of the pool. You can hear the relaxing sounds of bubbles breaking the surface.

One doorway looks like a changing room (the dark opening without a curtain, just to the left of the post), but the caretaker will explain that down below is a place where you can enjoy a super charged natural jacuzzi jet. It is a small whole in the wall of the main pool and is activated by the caretaker raising a board that allows the water to stream at you. Very invigorating! Also, this area, down below, is where the over flow from the main pool is channeled out of the building through the stream below.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

CA - Parks 08-2011

Duty called me to attend a bankruptcy seminar in Anaheim, CA, and as providence would have it, my friend and veteran soaker, Matt Parks, inquired if I was heading West any time soon and that he was available. We got our travel plans all ironed out and caught the early flight out of the Pine Belt. After a stop in Memphis, we had a direct flight to LAX. I picked up the rental, a Tahoe, courtesy of my Hertz points. First stop was the Beverly Hot Springs, an oasis in the middle of LA.

The Beverly Hot Springs is Los Angeles's only 100% Natural Hot Springs Spa. Originally discovered by an unknown oil wildcatter around the turn of the century and "rediscovered" in 1931, the well's contents sold for drinking water at 10 cents a gallon. Now, many years later, the area boasts a beautiful facility where the public can relax and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of this natural mineral thermal spa in Los Angeles. The balmy waters of the Beverly Hot Springs gush from a natural artesian well 2,200 feet beneath the earth's surface.

The water issuing from the hot spring is heated by geothermal heat, essentially heat from the Earth's interior. Hot springs contain various minerals and elements such as alkaline, radium, sulfur, sodium and alkaline sodium chloride, which have healing properties and health benefits. Medical prescriptions are given by doctors throughout the world for the treatment of a wide range of conditions, and utilizing mineral waters as a part of preventative medicine is widely recognized and encouraged.

Balneotherapy is the practical study and application of the health benefits of water. It is believed that Hot Springs water help stimulate circulation, relax muscles, combat fatigue, alleviate skin disease and cure arthritis, anemia, neuralgia (painful nerve disorder), high blood pressure and certain gastrointestinal diseases.

This is a Korean establishment, complete with Korean showers, which are certainly a different experience than the standard, stand up ones we have here in the States. Those toad stools are to sit on while you shower and scrub.

In Korea, they don't have the bathtub/shower combos that we have, typically, and they don't even have bathtubs. Or shower stalls. The whole bathroom is like a big (or small) wetroom. The shower tap/head is on the wall, only about 4 feet off the floor. No shower door, no curtain. It's pretty interesting. For those not so adventurous, they have standard American style showers too.

One of the best parts of a good hot soak is a contrasting Cold Plunge. This Cold Plunge is kept in the high 50s, a great temperature to cool down from a hot soak. Also, the Beverly has a steam room and a dry sauna. All in all, it was a great way to relax and renew following a hectic travel day. With the trail dust washed off, we do some touristy stuff: UCLA, Hollywood Blvd, Grumman's Chinese Theater, and of course, The HOLLYWOOD sign.

I'm not sure, but I think I should be embarrassed by this. We head to the Pacific Coast Highway and dine at an old, funky Malibu eatery, The Reel Inn,

then it was up a canyon road and finding a hotel room. Was quite taxing and took numerous stops and several towns, but we finally found a spot and crashed. The next day found us worshiping at the Church in the Canyons (PCA) in Calabasas. Next stop was the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Center for Public Affairs is the presidential library and final resting place of Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th President of the United States.

Following his death, Reagan's casket was driven by hearse to the Reagan Library on June 7, 2004. There, a memorial service was held in the library lobby with Nancy Reagan, Reagan's children, close relatives, and friends. The Reverend Dr. Michael Wenning officiated the service. From June 7 to 9, Reagan's casket lay in repose in the library lobby, where approximately 105,000 people viewed the casket to pay their respects. After flying the body to Washington, D.C., lying in state in the Capitol rotunda, and a national funeral service in the Washington National Cathedral, Reagan's casket was brought back to the library in California for a last memorial service and interment.

Built in 1961, the Berlin Wall became known as a symbol of communism. In the 1963 "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, U.S. President John F. Kennedy stated the support of the United States for democratic West Germany shortly after the Soviet-supported Communist state of East Germany erected the Berlin Wall as a barrier to prevent movement from East to West. President Reagan's 1987 visit was his second within five years. It came at a time of heightened East-West tensions, caused in particular by the debate over the stationing of short range American missiles in Europe and the United States' record peacetime defense buildup. Reagan was scheduled to attend the 1987 G-7 summit meeting in Venice, Italy, and later made a brief stop in Berlin. The Brandenburg Gate site was chosen to highlight the President's conviction that Western democracy offered the best hope to open the Berlin Wall. His speech focused on a series of political initiatives to achieve this end. The famous "tear down this wall" phrase was intended as the logical conclusion of the President's proposals. As the speech was being drafted, inclusion of the words became a source of considerable controversy within the Reagan administration. Several senior staffers and aides advised against the phrase, saying anything which might cause further East-West tensions or potential embarrassment to Gorbachev, with whom President Reagan had built a good relationship, should be omitted. American officials in West Germany and presidential speechwriters, including Peter Robinson, thought otherwise. Robinson traveled to West Germany to inspect potential speech venues, and gained an overall sense that the majority of West Berliners opposed the wall. Despite getting little support for suggesting Reagan demand the wall's removal, Robinson kept the phrase in the speech text. On May 18, 1987, President Reagan met with his speechwriters and responded to the speech by saying, "I thought it was a good, solid draft." Chief of Staff Howard Baker objected, saying it sounded "extreme" and "unpresidential," and Deputy National Security Advisor Colin Powell agreed. Nevertheless, Reagan liked the passage, saying, "I think we'll leave it in."

The stark contrast between the east facing and west facing portions of The Berlin Wall is very telling of those times.

A 90,000-square-foot exhibit hangar serves as the setting for the permanent display of the Boeing 707 aircraft utilized as Air Force One during Reagan's administration. The aircraft, SAM 27000, was also used by six other presidents in its active service life from 1973–2001, including Richard Nixon during his second term, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. In 1990, it became a backup aircraft after the Boeing 747s entered into service and was retired in 2001. The aircraft was flown to San Bernardino International Airport in September 2001, where it was presented to the Reagan Foundation. In what was known as Operation Homeward Bound, Boeing, the plane's manufacturer, disassembled the plane and transported it to the library in pieces. After the construction of the foundation of the pavilion itself, the plane was reassembled and restored to museum quality, as well as raised onto pedestals 25 ft above ground.

SAM 27000 is part of a comprehensive display about presidential travel that also includes a Johnson-era Sikorsky VH-3 Sea King, call sign Marine One.

Here's Matt in the Oval Office. Well, that's enough touristy stuff, it's time for some hot water, and we are on our way to one of the premier hot springs in the US.

Our quest begins with a hike of a couple miles through some really neat California desert.

Deep Creek Hot Springs, DCHS, are natural hot springs located in the northern Mojave Desert section of the San Bernardino National Forest, near Hesperia in San Bernardino County, Southern California.

The hike ends at this beach. A wade across Deep Creek and you have arrived! The pools, which in a rock out cropping that overlooks Deep Creek, were built by volunteers over a period of years and are largely maintained by volunteers in the pristine state you see them in today. The beautiful and unique landscape, the soothing hot spring waters mixing with the cool mountain stream, local custom and tradition make for a wonderful setting to be enjoyed by all. Since the time Native Americans inhabited the area, people from all over the world have come to the Springs to get away, soak, sunbathe, relax, and enjoy the natural environment all year long.

This pool is called the Womb.

It is well over 6 feet deep in parts.

This pool is the Wizard.

We leave the desert and head back to LA, Matt to catch a flight home and me to attend the seminar. One of the touristy places that I've always wanted to visit, probably from the days of my youth spent watching the Flintstones carton, is the La Brea Tar Pits.

The La Brea Tar Pits (or Rancho La Brea Tar Pits) are a cluster of tar pits, in the urban heart of Los Angeles. Asphaltum or tar (brea in Spanish) has seeped up from the ground in this area for tens of thousands of years. The tar is often covered with water. This seepage has been happening for tens of thousands of years. From time to time, the asphalt would form a deposit thick enough to trap animals, and the surface would be covered with layers of water, dust, and leaves. Animals would wander in to drink, become trapped, and eventually die. Predators would also enter to eat the trapped animals and become stuck. This exhibit recreates those events.

The George C. Page Museum is dedicated to researching the tar pits and displaying specimens from the animals that died there.

Among the prehistoric species associated with the La Brea Tar Pits are mammoths, dire wolves, short-faced bears, ground sloths, and the state fossil of California, the saber-toothed cat,
Smilodon fatalis.

Only one human has ever been found, a partial skeleton of a woman dated to approximately 10,000 calendar years, who was 17 to 25 years old at death and found associated with remains of a domestic dog, and so interpreted to have been ceremonially interred.

Of more than a hundred pits, only Pit 91 is still regularly excavated by researchers, and can be seen at the Pit 91 viewing station, which is outside the museum, and free to enter.

Next stop was the nearby Petersen Auto Museum. The Petersen Automotive Museum is one of the world's largest automotive museums. It is a non profit organization specializing in the education and history of the automobile. Founded on June 11, 1994 by Robert E. Petersen (who founded Hot Rod and Motor Trend magazines) and his wife, Margie, the $40 million dollar Petersen Automotive Museum is owned and operated by the Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation.

The museum can display over 100 vehicles and owns over twice that. The ground floor displays a virtual history of the automobile in Los Angeles, complete with vintage vehicles and buildings. The second floor houses both permanent and special exhibits.

The evening found us at an Angels game. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are a professional baseball team based in Anaheim, California. The Angels are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The "Angels" name originates from the city in which the team started, Los Angeles, as in "the city of ...." The Angels have been based in Angel Stadium of Anaheim since 1966, but the baseball team name originated in Los Angeles since 1892 in the California and Pacific Coast League before the MLB expansion to the west coast in 1958. The Angels franchise of today was established in the MLB in 1961 through former owner Gene Autry, the team’s first Major League owner who bought the rights to continue the franchise name from Walter O'Malley, the former Los Angeles Dodgers owner who acquired the franchise from Phil Wrigley the owner of the Chicago Cubs at the time. The MLB considers the current Los Angeles Angels franchise to be an expansion team due to the fact that the team did not exist in the major league until 1961.

Next day, I drop Matt off at LAX for the flight home, and I head back to the Beverly Hot Springs. Relaxed and renewed, I head back to Anaheim and my seminar. I'm proud to be able to say that our hotel was just a couple of blocks from the entrance to Disney Land and that I was able to resist any temptation to pay the daily admission fee of about $100. We did have a free afternoon, and I visited the nearby Nixon Library in Yorba Linda.

The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum is the presidential library and final resting place of Richard Milhous Nixon, the 37th President of the United States. Located in Yorba Linda, California, the library is one of twelve administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. From its original dedication in 1990 until becoming a federal facility on July 11, 2007, the library and museum was operated by the private Richard Nixon Foundation and was known as the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace. The 9-acre campus is located at 18001 Yorba Linda Boulevard in Yorba Linda, California and incorporates the National Historic Landmarked Richard Nixon Birthplace where Nixon was born in 1913 and spent his childhood.

Nixon began his autobiography by saying something like: I was born in a house that my father built. It was built in 1913 in the California style with "Bungaloid elements" by his father, Francis A. Nixon from a home building kit purchased through Sears Catalog Home. It is oddly situated on the property, but is in its original condition and position. When the Library was being built, the house had to have a new foundation and Nixon was asked if he wanted the house turned around so that it would face the Museum and blend in better: He said to leave the way his father had built it. Nixon's 80 something year old brother often visits to make sure things are still in order. The house was preserved because Nixon's father sold the land to school system in the 1920s, who built a school on the property and kept the house for use by the caretaker.

Lieutenant Colonel Gene Boyer, President Nixon's Chief Helicopter Pilot, secured the President's VH-3A "Sea King" helicopter, tail number 150617, to be on permanent display on the library grounds. The helicopter was in the presidential fleet from 1961 to 1976, transporting Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford, and many foreign heads of state and government. Boyer flew President Nixon on his final flight from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base on August 9, 1974 in this aircraft.

The graves of President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon located on the library grounds.

Several interesting tidbits about the Nixon Library: 1) the contrast between the video/graphic, visitor friendly displays of the Reagan Library and the black & white photos/not so visitor friendly exhibits of the Nixon Library was very telling; 2) A new Archives-curated exhibit on the Watergate scandal, due to have opened July 1, 2010, was postponed when the Nixon Foundation filed a written objection to the new exhibit. NARA stated a committee would review the objection but gave no timeline for when that process would be concluded. The exhibit opened on March 31, 2011. It was very well done, much in the same style and displays found in the Reagan Library. Also, I liked Nixon and thought the Watergate treatment was fair and balanced; and 3) Approximately 46 million pages of official White House records from the Nixon Administration are stored at NARA's Archives II facility in College Park, Maryland in accordance with the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974. This was because Congress did not trust the recently resigned President with his own stuff. These documents, etc was transferred to the newly-federal Yorba Linda facility from 2007-2009. The Nixon Presidential Materials Staff (nicknamed the "Nixon Project") had no previous affiliation with the Nixon Library, but lent materials to the Library & Birthplace in the past. Upon completion of the transfer of Nixon papers, gifts of state and memorabilia, the Nixon Materials Project will be discontinued. Once the transfer from the Nixon Presidential Materials project is complete, it will hold all of Nixon's presidential as well as his pre- and post-presidential papers. In spring 2010, under legislation passed in January 2004, the Nixon Presidential Materials were moved from the National Archives facilities in College Park, Maryland to the Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California. As of July 1, 2010, all processed Nixon Presidential Materials are available for research use at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California. The National Archives in College Park maintains a small number of reference copies of Nixon White House Tapes and White House Communications Agency (WHCA) videotapes.

Being as I was at a bankruptcy seminar, just a couple blocks down the street from the Crystal Cathedral, which is in a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, I had to drop by.

The Crystal Cathedral is a Protestant Christian church in Orange County, California, United States founded by Robert H. Schuller. The prominent architect Philip Johnson designed the main sanctuary building which seats 2,736. It was constructed using over 10,000 rectangular panes of glass. The name "Crystal Cathedral" is merely an alliterative colloquialism and does not mean that the church is a cathedral in the sense of being a church where there is a bishop's official seat; the Reformed Church in America is governed by elders - not a bishop or cardinal. Nor is the church made of crystal. Nevertheless, it is a Southern California architectural landmark. On October 18, 2010, the board of the Crystal Cathedral filed for bankruptcy in Santa Ana, California. The church has received offers for the building from a real estate investment group and from Chapman University, both with the provision of being leased back to the church. On July 3, 2011, local newspapers and other outlets reported that Robert H. Schuller had been voted off the church's board of trustees by the other board members. Shuller's daughter is now the pastor.

On July 7, 2011, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange announced that it was "potentially interested in buying" the building "to meet the needs of the 1.2 million Catholics in Orange County". Two weeks later, the diocese followed up with a cash offer of $53.6 million which included a lease-back provision at below market rates for a period of time.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Long Road Home (12/2009) - Part III

Our last stop in California was The General George S. Patton Memorial Museum, not to be confused with The General George Patton Museum of Leadership in Fort Knox, Kentucky. General Patton was charged with setting up a training camp at this remote desert location, just prior to his deployment to North Africa and his battles with General Erwin Rommel, The Desert Fox.

The General George S. Patton Memorial Museum, in Chiriaco Summit, California, is a museum erected in tribute to General George S. Patton on the site of the entrance of Camp Young, part of the Desert Training Center of World War II. Exhibits include a large collection of tanks used in World War II and the Korean War, as well as memorabilia from Patton's life and career — especially in regards to his service at the Desert Training Center — and from soldiers who trained there. Development of the Colorado River Aqueduct and natural-science exhibits are displayed as well. In addition, a 26-minute video is shown, detailing Patton's military service and the creation of the Desert Training Center. Though Patton spent less than four months at the Desert Training Center, his establishment of the training grounds directly impacted more than one million troops.

The Sherman Tank and what I believe is a Patton Tank.

As we make our way across Arizona, an opportunity arises for a soak.

El Dorado Hot Springs is located above a subterranean hot springs of pure, odorless, tasteless mineral water. Tonopah translates to "hot water under the bush" in the local native American language. Among the most ancient forms of natural therapy, hot spring soaking has been enjoyed worldwide. The water is naturally heated to an average of 107 degrees, with a ph of 8.2. Some say that it's like bathing in liquid silk.

The Corral has a shade cloth, shower, lounges, and a cold tub.

On the way home, we stopped in California, Arizona, and Texas for Ricky to try out the local Disc Golf.

Disc golf is a disc game in which individual players throw a flying disc into a basket or at a target.

According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, "The object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc." Of the more than 3000 established disc golf courses as of 2010, approximately 87% are free.

The early history of disc golf is closely tied to the somewhat mysterious history of the recreational flying disc (especially as popularized by Wham-O Inc.'s trademarked Frisbees) and may have been invented in the early 1900s, but it is not known for sure.

Modern disc golf started in the early 1960s, when it seems to have been invented in many places and by many people independently.

Students at Rice University in Houston, Texas, for example, held tournaments with trees as targets as early as 1964. Another story is in the early 1960s a few friends would get together in Augusta, GA, at Pendleton King park to toss Frisbees in 50-gallon barrel trash cans designated as targets.

The golf discs used today are much smaller and heavier than traditional flying discs, typically about 8 or 9 inches in diameter and weighing between 150 and 180 grams. The PDGA prohibits any disc to be heavier than 200 grams. Discs used for disc golf are designed and shaped for control, speed, and accuracy while general-purpose flying discs, such as those used for playing guts or ultimate, have a more traditional shape, similar to what you would see on a catch disc. There is a wide variety of discs used in disc golf and they are generally divided into three categories: putters, all-purpose mid-range discs, and drivers.


Well, we book it on home and arrive a few days before Christmas.