Traveling home in an old school bus from the last Grateful Dead concert, Mike Ginsburg, a hippie with a lot of soul, found himself in the small rural town of Monroe when his bus broke down on the side of the road. From there ― which is darn close to the middle of nowhere ― fate took over, as it usually does, and Mike was exactly where he was meant to be.
Within a week of being stranded in Monroe, Mike purchased a decrepit old hot spring resort and created something mystical ― hence the name, Mystic Hot Springs ― and brought the resort back to life in the late 90s.
“There is a certain kind of magic to be found here. It’s just one of those places that feels right,” said Ginsburg.
Originally homesteaded by the Cooper family in 1886, the land has undergone myriad changes over the last hundred years. When Ginsburg first bought the property, there was only one cabin, the Grow Cabin, but he wanted and needed more space to rent to visitors and guests. He began acquiring old homesteads and shacks throughout the valley as well as an eclectic collection of vintage buses.
Over time, he created a Pioneer village that now has fifteen cabins at different stages of restoration along with a small fleet of repurposed buses for accommodating overnight guests. Mike finds joy in the art of making old things new again.
As you soak in one of the five old cast iron clawfoot tubs that have become part of the permanent landscape, you remember that water is life. Hot water abundantly flows at 200 gallons per minute, initially surging forth at a scalding 168 degrees. It slowly encroaches on the tubs due to the ever-growing calcium carbonate travertine mounds it deposits.
Ginsburg incorporates the cascading water into the design at Mystic. It is used not only for soaking but for watering the vegetable garden planted in the old swimming pool. It also heats the buildings, eventually trickling its way toward the duck pond, where a few tropical fish swim, at which point the water continues onto the animal pens, more garden areas and eventually flows back into the natural landscape.
But, amazing as it is, Mystic isn’t for everyone. Reading through the travel reviews, some folks think it’s dirty and dingy, while others think the area is the best thing since apple pie. The dinge is naturally formed by the minerals in the water that are said to have great healing powers.
If you carry that five-star hotel, concierge-type vibe in your heart, you may not like it here, but if the Cooper family motto of “mirth and merriment” still rings true for you, and if you find that hippie blood flowing through your veins that seeks an off-the-beaten-path, somewhat rugged, outdoor soaking experience, then Mystic is the place for you.
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