Happy Birthday, Mom!



When we made the move north, being close to my Mom was a big consideration. An only child of a single parent, the responsibility of caring for my mom in older years falls on me. While she’s still younger, I want to soak up every opportunity to celebrate life. Our Mt. Shasta birthday get-away was one of those soaks.

We headed out early Thursday morning after school drop with four pillows and 3 bags, and several other ancillary items between us. As we drove north, the gray sky dropped rain making my mom—a bit of a back-seat driver—a little anxious on the roads. When we get in the car, we’re immediately back to 16 and 42. She likes to warn me about “the big trucks, the slippery roads, the merging lanes and whatever else she can think of” somehow not factoring in my 30 years of LA driving which I think should take me out of the “lesson” stage. Since we’ve lived apart for so long it is like losing 30 years of driving credit. Between jumps and gasps, somehow we make it up the highway to Mt. Shasta, still excited about our adventure.

As we headed to the Bed & Breakfast, called the Shasta MountINN, the mountain before us radiated, proud to be wearing her first winter snow. In Mt. Shasta, land of clean air and the best water in the world, skies were blue, temperatures crisp. Innkeeper and friend, David, greeted us and got our bags inside. His garden, breathtaking in every season, showed off her fall colors. With a bit of seasonal remorse, David had “winterized” his garden the day before, bringing in summer’s lawn furniture and getting ready for what seemed like might be a deep snow winter.

“Time for tea?” David asked.
“But of course. Time is all ours,” we said.

We sat, relaxed and talked in the lovely historical home that once belonged to Mt. Shasta’s mayor. Oh, the conversations likely to have occurred from where we sat.

Our next stop was Stewart’s Mineral Springs, a Bohemian mineral bath hangout far from the land of cell phones and flat screens. To get there, you drive past Mt. Shasta, then head out through field and farm, following a white water stream until you hit an area with a one way bridge that you are fairly sure may be facing its last car before the collapse. As you come off the bridge, you see bare butts diving into the creek which that day was 30 degrees. Brrrr. You pass a tee pee used for sweats by a local tribe. (If you’re there on sweat day, you can count on drums galore.) Finding a place to park, and getting out later involves dirt and a thirty point turn.

How to describe Stewarts? Detoxifying. People with names like “Twinkle” helping you. Wrought iron tubs with the sound of the creek coming in the window. The only wood-burning sauna west of the Mississippi that holds about 50 people, some of whom like to stand on their head naked (who does that?) Clothing-optional. Bath, sauna, shower (or creek)—repeat. Relaxing. Renewing. Unique.

After our baths, we headed over to the Spring restaurant where a lady dressed in Indian (eastern) clothes with paint on her forehead like she was celebrating Ramadan and her full abdomen exposed escorted us to a table amongst the trees and next to the creek. A beautiful day for joining nature, a dog was soon up on the deck with us. We watched as he walked in the restaurant, through the kitchen, took a jump in the creek and did the same all over again. Ahh, what different rules here in the land of the spiritual retreat.

After a delicious lunch we headed back to David’s for surprise massages, a nice follow up for two hours of bathing.

Meanwhile, Amanda had started her work day early, ended early and was attempting to time her arrival from San Francisco for dinner with us at The Trinity Café. She was Mom’s ultimate surprise. As a child, Amanda spent time with Grandma alone, but as a teen and now young adult, that time was missing in her life.

Amanda, the organized time machine that she is, arrived exactly at 5:45 when she said she would. I saw her pull in from my window upstairs, waved her up and David helped smuggle her in past Grandma’s room. It was so great to hug my first born and we were like two little kids Christmas morning, pleased with ourselves our plan had worked so well.

We snuck down to Grandma’s room. Knock, knock. “Come in,” Mom said. Amanda steps in and there is silence, followed by laughter and giggles and hugs. “This is my best surprise ever!” Grandma said.

The rest of the time was priceless. Talking, eating, cracking up at Wanda Sykes until our sides ached, eating David’s delicious eggs, veggies and potatoes with toast, walking down Mt. Shasta Boulevard and shopping, filling our jugs up with Headwater water, and just being in each other’s presence.

These are the moments that make life an e-ride and not the merry-go-round.

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