When the torrential winter rains take a reprieve, don some wings and head south. This three-day itinerary for rest, relaxation and kosher cuisine creates sunny inspiration even on the cloudiest days.
Day 1: Ease in slowly with a day stop at Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa, an affordable spa alternative. A single admission fee includes access to all pools, sauna, steam room, Roman baths, towels, lockers and Club Mud, an outdoor mud "well" of red clay guests self-apply. We luxuriated it in all, even visiting the Grotto, a body moisturizing treatment in an underground cavern. First, an attendant smears a warm, thick body mask containing aloe vera and sea kelp over a guest's skin, then it is time to relax in the heated grotto. As it started to rain and the weather turned chilly, we headed indoors and sampled the menu of spa treatments, which includes wraps, body polishing and reflexology along with the usual massages, facials, manicures and pedicures.
We ate a light snack at Glen Ivy's cafe, which sells kosher packaged items, knowing we were headed to dinner at Sheila's Cafe and Bakery, a kosher restaurant in San Diego. The extensive offerings include salads, sandwiches, meats, poultry, fish, pasta and Mexican dishes. We were happy to find a delicious chicken soup ($3.95) on the menu. We also loved the giant tostada ($10.95), an edible tortilla shell filled with black beans, rice, salsa, tomatoes, onions, guacamole and strips of chicken breast. For dessert, we indulged in a delicious custard-filled eclair ($3.95) with rich chocolate topping.
Day 2: Destination La Costa. The recipient of a $140 million facelift, its new mission-style architecture perfectly suits the stunning California landscape. It also serves as a great foundation for its three main attractions: golf, tennis and spa.
La Costa has long been a golfer's mecca, with two courses boasting the likes of Nicklaus, Woods and Palmer. It is also haven for tennis players and fitness buffs. Our priority was rejuvenation, so we headed straight to the new spa. Guests pick and choose from various water elements, including Roman waterfalls that offer an intense shoulder massage. It's all part of the Agua de la Vida, a water circuit included with most treatments, combining whirlpools, shvitz, cedar sauna and a loofa scrub with a personal attendant.
After a luxuriant stone massage and facial, I rested outdoors in the patio, surrounded by beautiful purple and pink petunias, sipping tea and snacking on a perfect green apple. We capped off the day with a rigorous Pilates mat class --just one of the many La Costa fitness options. The extensive offerings include yoga, body sculpting, Pilates, indoor cycling, circuit training, meditation, stretching, kickboxing, balance ball and more. Our last stop: dinner, where the chefs were eager to accommodate kosher diners with a fish (double-wrapped in foil) dinner and fresh berries for dessert.
Day 3: After a visit to the on-site cafe, which offers a wide variety of packaged kosher drinks, snacks and Starbucks coffee, we met our guide for a spectacular lagoon-kayaking excursion in a protected reserve. The 75-degree weather was perfect. The sky was clear and our patient guide taught my friend, who had never kayaked before, how to comfortably maneuver the craft. We witnessed a variety of birds from the nearby migratory sanctuary and delighted in the tiny fish splashing up out of the water.
That afternoon, we returned to the Chopra Center, where Deepak Chopra spoke of lessons in tune with Judaism.
"The ultimate goal of spirituality is to be in love with creation at all time," he told us. At a place like La Costa, that wasn't much of a challenge.
"Every thought," he said, "is information and energy. Thoughts are also space-time events because they have a beginning, middle and end. Our senses trick us into believing the world is continuous. The world is an imagination."
His words were consistent with the Jewish idea that we live in olam hasheker, a world of lies, where appearance is emphasized but is merely a shell of the truth of our existence.
"If I could see you as a quantum physicist or God," Chopra continued, "then I would see you as photons turning on and off. The whole world is a huge, blinking electro-magnetic storm. In reality, it's just quantum energy soup."
His words reminded me of teachings I had previously explored with Henry Falkenberg, a gifted scholar in San Francisco and stalwart of Congregation Knesset Israel. Falkenberg is well-versed in the Zohar, which predicted countless scientific findings later revealed by modern science, including the identification of the photo and other forms of light and energy.
As he continued, Chopra suggested the brain is an on/off code of photons and the soul is the experience of the experience. The body serves as the object. The mind is the process and the soul is the space between your thoughts. If you can distinguish or feel a still presence between your thoughts, "That," he said, "is your soul.... I am not in the body. The body is in me. I am not in the mind. The mind is in me. I am not in the world. The world is in me."
His words again reminded me of what our sages taught in Pirke Avot: "One who saves an individual saves an entire world."
That world, past and future generations, are encapsulated in the soul. It's your job to protect it. And you can do that with conscious acts of spirituality, whatever form they take.
Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa is located at 25000 Glen Ivy Road, Glen Ivy. (888) 258-2683, www.glenivy.com.
La Costa is located at 2100 Costa Del Mar Road, Carlsbad. (760) 438-9111, (800) 854-5000, www.lacosta.com.
Sheila's, under the supervision of the Va'ad HaRabonim of San Diego, is located at 4577 Clairemont Drive, San Diego. (858) 270-0251, www.sheilascafe.com.
Lisa Alcalay Klug, a former staff writer for the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times, writes for The Jerusalem Post, The New York Times and other publications.