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Tamara Warner Springs

Technological Disconnect
Leads to a Holistic Connection
at Warner Springs Ranch

By Tamara Lelie

natural hot springs and palms, Warner Springs Ranch
Courtesy Warner Springs Ranch

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. … I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise [sic] resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner.
From Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

o many of us don't know what we're looking for in life and are wandering around aimlessly in a world where survival is the only agenda. Yet, our hearts are crying out for so much more. The bombardment with all this technology and automation hasn't helped out one bit. Life is not only on AUTOMATIC pilot but it's become so complicated and messy. Recently just starting a relationship with an amazing man, I decide to invite him to join me as I step off the treadmill that is so called "life" and instead experience for ourselves what true "living" is about. In essence, I decided it's due time for a "technological sabbatical"!

Destination of choice for this rest?

Warner Springs Ranch, a world famous resort located in Northern San Diego County near Temecula. The main reason for my choice is that it's the easiest way to escape technology. #1 reason being that there is no TV or Internet available in the adobe casitas. AND reason #2? They also have no T-mobile service so it will actually be impossible for me to use my phone which is the only way I would NOT check my messages. Reason #3? Not only is Warner Springs Ranch world famous for its healing mineral waters for which people come from all over the world to experience but it also originated as the home of the peace loving Cupeño Indians who had inhabited the land for thousands of years and had a spiritual relationship with it. And reason #4 happened when I called the Ranch Marketing Director, Jeff, who graciously invited me and said, "At Warner Springs, you can't help but find what you're looking for". Sign me up!

Kit Carson residence at Warner Springs Ranch
Kit Carson residence built by Cupenos
Courtesy: Warner Springs Ranch

So I figure that the first step I need to take before I begin the adventure is to figure out what exactly I will be looking for. And after careful deliberation, I decide that it's a sense of connection…with myself, my man and nature. We arrive on a Friday and the weekend begins with Maya the massage technician at Warner Springs Ranch laying me down on a table and giving me an aromatherapy massage. Now, this is not just any massage but the massage of my life. When I ask her what exactly it is that she's doing to get me to actually escape the chaos in my head that was swirling around reminding me of deadlines I had looming up and birthdays I'd forgotten, she explains that it's a mixture of shiatsu, lymphatic kinesiology and intuition. Maya says that our bodies are like machines and are on automatic function, doing so many things per day and that stress and nutritional issues overwhelm the body. So when she touches certain pain points on my body, it sends lymphatic fluid and hormones got the nerves to release chemicals to help the process of repairing the body.

"We protect our egos with the creation of judgment and we keep building these blocks until we're buried in them and feel so disconnected from our body and our true desires since we get buried so deep. It is by being proactive and seeking out spiritual clearing that one is able to heal because inner emotional battles are the cause of disease and suffering." explains the lovely Maya.

hot spring pools at night
Hot springs pool at night.
Credit: Warner Springs Ranch

She then emphatically hugs me on my way out and whispers, "Everything good is here. We shouldn't have to suffer at all". Leaving the spa, I become so relaxed and on cloud 9 from the effects of the massage and aromatherapy, I fall into a state of bliss and walk outside. I can almost feel the Native American spirits who had inhabited this region for 6,000 years and I decide then and there that as best I could, I will spend the rest of the weekend pretending that I am a Cupeño Indian myself and stay open to whatever lessons it is that the land wants to teach me.

My first role as imaginary Cupeño Indian begins when I get a private tour and am shown a special spot where enormous stones are lying on the ground. Upon inspection, I see that these gigantic stones had holes where the acorn mashed oatmeal and the Cupeño Indians grinded out the tannins against the stone. I find old pieces of pottery shards that dated back hundreds and hundreds of year. My tour guide points out sage brush growing all over the property that the Native American Shamans used for sacraments in healing ceremonies. I then close my eyes and imagine what it would be like to rely on the mercy of nature to have access to nourishment. No microwaves, no gas stoves. Just stones and acorns.

According to information given to me by Shasta Gaughen, the Director of the Cupa Cultural Center, the Cupeño Indians knew not only how to survive from the land but they also had a deep understanding of the healing property of the Hot Springs and of nature itself. Their bodies were connected with nature and spirit. On a rock by the source Hot Springs, there's a plaque that says,

lodge dining at Warner Springs Ranch
Lodge dining
Photo Credit: Warner Springs Ranch

"These waters rise from unknown depths to bring you "magic" mineral waters as a gift from Mother Nature at her best. These waters have soothed weary travelers, prospectors, cavalry, Indians and Spaniards alike-a flowing history of the West. Reflected in these waters is the heritage of this land. Stranger, won't you stay and rest."

Of course, wary travelers can be found in many forms. There are those exhausted by tired feet walking the land or from traveling by stage coach for days. However, most become weary on the journey of life due to life traumas. One thing I learn from the weekend is that the staff who works at the resort were all weary travelers who had come to the Ranch looking for a sanctuary and an escape from heartbreak, grief, busy lifestyles, etc. But, upon arrival-they learned what it was that the Cupeño Indians knew; these grounds hold a sacred and nurturing energy. They then discovered that they belonged there.

After dinner on the first night, my guy and I decide to take a night swim at the Olympic sized Hot Springs Mineral pool that lays side by side an Olympic sized swimming pool. As we walk from our adobe casita to the pool and I relish the respite from having to barrage through L.A. traffic for a half hour in order to get anywhere, I inhale the fresh smog free air as we walk the 3 minute journey to the pool area. It's like walking into a surreal dream. The Hot Springs pool is filled with people at 10:30p at night. Coming from the outdoor speakers is the most peaceful soft music echoing softly (I later discovered that the resort regularly throws float parties where local musicians come out at night to play). I'd never seen anything like this before.

view of two pools at dusk
View of the two pools
Photo Credit: Warner Springs Ranch

We languidly step into the Hot springs pool and find abandoned tubes then position the tubes so that our heads are floating on one end and our legs on the other. My man lovingly points out the Milky Way to me as I am still letting the fact sink in that I have not touched my cell phone at all for the last 7 hours. I don't know what is more of a miracle, the fact that stars are 5,000 light years away from earth or that my cell phone bill would actually be cheaper due to this brilliantly conceived weekend technological sabbatical.

More importantly, the recipe of soothed muscles in hot water, looking up at the star-filled sky, listening to the music and being in my lover's arms - all lends to this blissful feeling of floating on air. It's the closest feeling to complete surrender, simplicity and serenity that I've felt in a long time. I feel complete joy and peace in this moment. And was this..? Could it be..? Connection?

Upon our departure on Sunday, as we exit the front gates of Warner Springs Ranch, I not only feel closer to myself and my needs but also realize the secret that the Cupeño Indians knew about this special land. They knew that people would come when they needed to remember just how to suck the marrow out of life again and get out of their head and back into their bodies. In essence, the main thing that I take with me as I drive away from the property is that for a weekend-I belonged somewhere. And this feeling of belonging to myself, to the land and to love...would never leave as long as I "remembered" the Cupeño secret.

Special Offerings of Warner Springs:

the spa
The spa
Photo Credit: Warner Springs Ranch
  • Smiling Waters Trading Post (health food store with organic and local made food) ran by Tashi, who has studied the benefits of Chinese Medicine and herbs for 20 years, an elixir bar
  • Horse back riding
  • Golf
  • Yoga
  • Tennis
  • Kiddie Corral
  • Dog run and dog friendly Casitas

For reservations at Warner Springs Ranch, click on
To find out how you can help existing Indian tribes surrounding the Warner Springs Ranch area, click on

FYI: Warner Springs placed this article on their website. Click here.

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Tamara, while it's great for you to describe the lovely and wonderful culture of Hawaii, my Native Hawaiian friends would like people to know that fire dancing is not "authentic Hawaiian"-- it's from the South Sea Islands such as Samoa. Hula is authentic Hawaiian; so is fire-pit roast pig, so Kona Village comes pretty close...

Eric Lucas, Seattle

* * * *

Traveling as a spiritual quest is, I think, a must for the development of the soul. I have heard that Sedona is quite a sacred place. Haven't had a chance to make it there, as yet. Thanks for writing about it!

Sandy Bleu, Seattle

* * * *

I appreciate your willingness to be personal in a travel piece and vulnerable with a subject that is tender to the heart. I've heard about Sedona over the years. Thanks for the reminder that it is a good place to visit.

Zorah of Portland

* * * *

Thank you for giving me such kind feedback AND for being a TravelingBoy reader!!! If you do end up visiting Sedona, make sure to follow up with me and share how you enjoyed your experience :) Love, live and laugh often! --- Tamara

This is the first time, after hearing of Sedona many times, that I had the desire to go. Thank You.

Adriana, Los Angeles, CA

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