Hot Springs California

Hot Springs California

The hot springs of Paraiso, Esalen, and Tassajara are known as the 'Ah Spas.' Line them up for an afternoon ride, and you're in for some serious Central California soaking. Pick the right day and you may meet actor Branscombe Richmond and his wife Lei. As vice president of Indian Motorcycles, he'll often ride to Esalen Hot Springs from the Indian factory in Gilroy. Branscombe's continued pilgrimages to places like Esalen, Arizona's Copper Circle Tour of ancient adobes, or the Cherokee's Trail of Tears truly personify his company's goal to help Native Americans. Expatriated long ago, the Esselen Indians considered the hot springs holy ground.

Early Saturday morning found my wife and me asking everyone at Carmel Valley's Running Iron Restaurant how to get to Tassajara. But we came up empty until the waitress who overheard us leaned, all elbows and goodwill, across the countertop.

"Couldn't help but hear ya askin' bout Tassajara. Too bad no one's allowed in there from September first to May first, 'cept maybe them Zen monks  -  and they use an ATV."