Ingredients: 2 women, 1 car and over 300 wineries. Add a few days to enjoy a mud bath, a hot spring dip and plenty of wine tasting, and you have the ultimate Girlfriends’ Getaway.
My sister lived in San Francisco while I was living in Chicago. She knew I missed California, so she invited me out for a girlfriend’s getaway to Napa Valley. She chose the recently renovated Indian Springs, Calistoga as our home base, and selected a weekend itinerary of wine tasting, mud-bathing and hot springing. Needless to say, that weekend was the ultimate getaway for two sisters who needed to reconnect.
The Road to Reconnection
I’ve felt that sometimes my sister and I take each other for granted; typically, we see each other only over the holidays with family, or during quick work trips. However, that is not nearly enough time to reestablish and nurture our sisterhood connection. Research studies suggest that more women are traveling together on vacations. I discovered that a girlfriend’s getaway, when two friends take time out of their everyday lives and seek an escape, offers a great way to catch up on life, share personal stories, and refresh your relationship.
It was during the fall harvest, or “crush”, when my sister and I visited Napa. We filled up her car with cheese, salami, bread and waters and took off for the hour and a half drive north from San Francisco to wine country. I was separating from my husband at the time, and the memories of visiting Napa with him, and the ensuing questions about my future, flooded my mind. What was I going to do after the divorce? Where was I going to go? I knew I had a long road ahead of me, and it wasn’t going to be as pretty as Highway 29.
At first, my sister was concerned about me leaving my husband. She had believed that our relationship was rock solid. On the surface, my husband and I seemed like a great couple. Underneath, however, our relationship had begun to crack.
I guess my sister was just as worried as I was about my future. Fortunately, our girlfriend’s getaway gave me the time and space to tell her the back story of my situation, and why there was no alternative. Without this special time together, I don’t think she would have fully understood what I was going through.
Wine Heals All Wounds
Sparkling wine, that is. My sister and I have always liked to sip bubbles while filling each other in on the latest news of our lives. In Napa, we visited several wineries with beautiful terraces where we could tip our flutes and enjoy the warm California sunshine. I mentioned that I would never forget toasting champagne with her at my wedding, and how grateful I was that she and my family were there to support me. We laughed at having been caught in the middle of Chicago’s Puerto Rico Day parade on the way to the wedding and yelling at the cab driver to get us out of the mess! I told her then that regardless of what happened, that would always be one of the happiest moments in my life.
The Indian Springs resort promotes a relaxing time in its spa. When I saw the actual volcanic mud baths I immediately thought, “No Way!” The baths looked like rectangular cement troughs lined up in a row, full of black, goopy mud. The attentive attendant assured me not to worry, so I slowly eased my body into the trough. As the warm mud enveloped me like a marshmallow dipped in hot fudge, I felt my stress and my heavy emotions all melt away. This was the escape I needed.
The protocol for mud bathing is to finish the treatment with a soak in a hot spring. There are many health benefits of hot springs, including increased blood circulation, and relief of stress and pain. As we dipped our toes in the 90 degree mineral pool to test the water, we looked at each other with delight. With a glass of wine and some floaties, my sister and I proceeded to soak and float. Sharing this adventure with her reminded me how much had I missed her and our closeness. I vowed never to let life or geography get between us again.
For the final day of our girlfriend’s getaway, my sister chose a winery located close by, Clos Pegase, where we found a peaceful oasis, with interesting architecture and artwork surrounded by vineyards. We tasted their special wines, bought a glass, then sat outside in the sculpture garden overlooking the acres of freshly picked vines. We must have spent two hours talking, gossiping about family, and laughing at the personal jokes only sisters could share.
“I like on the table, when we’re speaking, the light of a bottle of intelligent wine.” – Pablo Neruda pic.twitter.com/8T94wQE3Ey
— Clos Pegase (@ClosPegase) September 21, 2016
Vacationing and relaxing with my sister in Napa, I realized that my sister’s invitation had given us the gift of reestablishing our close bonds, and I re-energized myself in the process. Although my marriage could no longer be fixed, this girlfriend’s getaway with my sister calmed my nerves, soothed the pain, and best of all, brought us even closer together.