So while we’ll be making Provence our home base for much of next year, we plan to take every opportunity we can to knock a few other travel destinations off our bucket list – naturist or otherwise. (Hoping we can negotiate one of those round-the-world plane tickets, but we’re still working on that!) We’ve already made reservations at a naturist resort in Chaing Mai, Thailand called Oriental Village. Looks like that will be a lovely place to stay. But while seeking out other places to get naked in Thailand, I found a link to this first naturist publication to promote naturism IN Thailand! WOW! Since a weblink is worth a thousand words, here’s a link to NAT MAGAZINE. It’s beautifully written, with loads of information for the freshly minted naturist, and incredibly helpful to people like us, who have wondered for years why so many of the world’s best beaches are wasted on people in swimsuits!
One big step for naked people EVERYwhere!
GOING BARE – John David Harding
So, I finally gave in and bought a Kindle, with a year of travel on the horizon, and some interesting offerings that are only available for Kindle type devices. Take Going Bare for instance, only available in electronic format, and for the whopping price of 99 cents! How can you go wrong for a buck!?
It’s a quick read, and I think the reviews on Amazon provide a pretty good pulse on this author’s disclosure of his inner-most thoughts; about nudity, about relationships, and a lot of other stuff that most of us think, but never say aloud, let alone, commit to writing in a public forum. Right from the start, he is quite self-deprecating as to his qualifications as an author (though apparently, he also writes other material under a pseudonym). And indeed, while I may not be fully accustomed to the British parlance, the writing is a little awkward at times, but in the end, he delivers a compelling story.
In brief, his book is about coercing his wife and family into visiting La Jenny, one of France’s most renowned naturist resorts. Having been there at least ten times over the past fifteen years, we know the place well, and I have to say that it was fun to experience the the whole thing through new eyes, as he describes the first naked visit to the market, the expansive pool complex and the people-watching there, and or course, the stunning La Jenny Plage… in the heart of the Cote d’Argent where the beaches are broad, with gentle shelves, and stretch as far as the eye can see. I felt myself reliving our first visit to La Jenny right along with him.
Where the story meanders a bit (says the meandering naturist!) is when he gets into the weeds with the complexities of his relationship with his wife, (who we only know as “E” – why not a pseudonym for her too? That all felt a bit strangely clinical), her fear of flying, and the sustained ranting about the perils and expense of travel. Seems those pages would have been a bit more fruitful had they been dedicated to more detailed descriptions of life at La Jenny, instead. I could immediately smell the pine trees and visualize the lifeguards, but had you never been there, it would be a stretch for anyone living outside of France to visualize the actual ambiance of the place.
But again, “applause, applause” for putting himself out there (including a somewhat daring photo at the end!) and telling the whole story, beginning to end. I would hope many will find inspiration in the candor and simplicity of the entire saga. And for 99 cents, simply reliving the memories of riding to the market for the morning baguette, or walking the forest path to the beach, was well worth the read. And in the end, he made yet one more case for the altruism of the naturist cause. It all seems pretty simple, because in the last place, it is!
So I’m really pleased that our new naturist blog is getting a lot of hits, hoping that means this is creating some positive spin for holistic naturism, and maybe even giving people a few ideas about where to seek out great places to get naked!
We leave for our naked sojourn across Europe in about six weeks, so when that happens, I’ll have a lot to write about. But we have been into naked travel for nearly 25 years now, beginning with our early explorative visits to Harbin Hot Springs and Bonny Doon in California, to more recent adventures to places like Club Orient in St. Martin, Therme Erding in Germany, Hidden Beach in Mexico, or Vritomartis Naturist Hotel in Greece.
So I’ve decided that as I go about developing this blog, I will use today as a point of departure, documenting each new naturist exploration as it occurs, but fastidiously working my way backwards though many of our other naturist journeys, which will be particularly handy when the weather turns in the fall, and naked gives way to warm clothing. (Time to head to Germany to visit the therme!)
Just to make it all line up chronologically, I’ll pre-date postings from previous travel excursions back to the dates they actually took place, so my blog will start expanding on the backside. We’ll see if I actually make it back to those first, timid visits to Harbin’s back in the early 90s. May take me a whole year to get that far back!
The famous scene in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, with Pee Wee and Simone, sitting in the dinosaur, talk about Simone’s “big butt.”
There are multiple layers of irony in this scene, not the least of which is Pee Wee’s subsequent demise when he was convicted for a rather unseemly episode of indecent exposure.
But I have to agree with Pee Wee, “everybody’s got a big but…” That thing they have yet to do that seems beyond the social norm, but leads to some level of fulfillment in the end. (Could spin any number of naturist posts out of that one.)
And again, “everybody’s got a big butt…” I’m struck by this fact every time I’m on a crowded staircase in a train station or airport, with somebody’s “big butt” right there in my face! Indeed, that’s the thing that every human has! What intrigues me is the rest of the anatomy, largely a matter of plumbing intended to prolong the inevitability of the human race. Male and female genitalia, breasts, and pubic hair have transcended the Victorian age to provide a very clear definition of right and wrong; ethical or not; decent or indecent. As one who studies Art and the human condition for a living, I am struck by how narrowly we define our ethical perspectives on the basis of the last one hundred years or so of ideology. Three hundred years ago, before most of the population could actually read the Biblical account of Adam and Eve, was it a sin to expose one’s breasts? Not sure how that worked in Western Europe at that time, with the influence of various aristocracies and such, but most “uncivilized regions of the planet” had seemingly little stigma about nakedness before we ‘brought them to their senses.’
But today, we have the internet, with breasts (and genitalia) abounding! We are less religious, but I suspect, more conservative than any time in the history of man; at least about simply nudity in the midst of educated men. When did we decide that clothing was necessary for competing in the Olympics? When did we decide that wrapping one’s self in nylon was the best way to experience the sea? When did we decide that a breast or a buttock was more attractive than an ankle, or an eyebrow, or an earlobe. Biology? Psychology?
What’s a naturist to do? In the end, everyone’s got a big butt!
Nothing says naked like the serendipity of a free afternoon in San Diego on a beautiful spring day! A little too chilly on the coast to seriously consider Black’s Beach (which remains on my bucket list, but alas…) So the next logical choice was a one-hour drive into the high desert for an excursion to the DeAnza Springs Clothing Optional Resort!
A brief disclaimer seems in order at this juncture, as I have to say, the people at DeAnza Springs are among the friendliest I’ve met at any American naturist site. The word on the street is that they are even willing to let hikers in who wish to experience the southerly most entrance to Anza Borrego State Park, offering them a safe place to park the car for the day. The park, stretching for hundreds of miles, literally backs up to the resort property line. Having read this, my wife and I visited last fall to scope the place out. But this time, I was traveling solo, so I emailed in advance to see if they had any of typically draconian policies limiting visits by single males. No such policy exists. “C’mon up. Well be happy to see you!”
All that said, should you read this and suddenly feel inspired to drive to Jacumba, California, doff your clothes, and sprint into the desert, – especially if you’re a rookie at the clothing optional thing – be prepared that DeAnza Springs will likely exemplify every cliché you can imagine when people make water cooler jokes about “that nudist colony place out by the highway.” The RVs surrounded by various landscape contraptions, goofy road signs like “skinny dip ahead” or “bare right,” and a variety of quasi-sculpture-caricatures of naked people with bicycles, walking sticks, and tennis rackets – each with somewhat exaggerated features and euphoric facial expressions that I think are intended to reinforce the subliminal message that nudists are familiar, friendly, and most of all, fun! Every time I visit a place like this, I can’t help but relive David Sedaris’ account of his visit to a similar “nudist colony” in Pennsylvania. (See: David Sedaris, NAKED). It’s the stuff upon which satirical writers and water-cooler comedians thrive.
Strangely enough, on this beautiful May day, the sign-post caricatures were about the most animated beings on the property! A few retirees were buzzing around in their golf carts, but by the time I got to the pool, only a handful of locals were to be found. In other words… a real high desert ghost town! I’ve always thought the desert to be a little eerie under the best of circumstances. Even more so with this odd assemblage of pre-fab houses and mega-extravagant motor homes, along side a few old trailers, one of which must have fallen victim to some horrible catastrophe that caused one entire side to blow out into a pile of twisted aluminum; a heap of unsightly wreckage that appears to have been lying there for quite some time. Given our visit last fall, and so many similar experiences at other US naturist vacation destinations, none of this seemed even remotely peculiar to me, though I always find myself playing the “I wonder what my friend “_________” would think of all this?” Maybe not the place to bring the ‘first-timer – curious about social nudity’ friend for his first naked outing.
If you are a desert person, (and already comfortable in your skin), the place sits in a remarkable location, near the town of Jacumba, literally a stone’s throw from the Mexican border (evidenced by the border control officers who patrol the dirt road that leads to the gates of the resort). The famous rail line – at least amidst train buffs (no pun intended!) – of the Carrizo Gorge runs along the perimeter of the DeAnza Springs property. Despite a plethora a faded signs and snarls of barbed wire that send the foreboding message to stay away from the tracks, the resort owner identifies the rail bed as the preferred local par course for the daily ritual of walking the dog. To be sure, walking naked across a creaky trestle, measuring each step as some of the ties have simply fallen away, while others give noticeably under your feet, defines a whole new level of vulnerability. But there are plenty of trails crisscrossing the scrubby, boulder-infested mountains, and there are many accounts floating around about those who have spent the day ‘free-hiking’ (a term that somehow got assigned to wilderness walks in the altogether) well into the Anza Borrego State Park with scarcely a nod from the seldom encountered rangers.
On this day, after nearly two hours of ‘free-hiking,’ I seized the opportunity to enjoy the more sophisticated amenities of this remote garden of Eden; a beer from the snack bar, a dip in the pool, and a soak in the hot tub, followed by a couple hours of reading by the late afternoon sunlight. As the evening zephyrs started to chill, it was time to jump back in the car and make my way down the hill to San Diego to catch the red-eye back to the dreary weather on the east coast.
Despite nearly twenty years of what one might call research on this topic, I still struggle in my efforts to reconcile the differences between American and European versions of the nudist/naturist experience. To be fair, were I to visit any of the French naturist centers this early in the season, it would likely be too cold to go au naturel, and they would also feel sparsely populated, I suspect, as it simply isn’t the season yet. But there are palpable differences that transcend those attributes, much of which seem to be centered around ‘nudist colony humor.’ There is something in the American ethos that can’t manage to handle a conversation about “naked” without making some self-deprecating joke, even if you are the one who is advocating for the right and the privilege to be naked. I don’t know that this is uniquely American, but with only a couple exceptions, it has been the common denominator in nearly every clothing-optional place we have visited in the United States. I can’t imagine finding a seaside bar at a French or Croatian naturist resort with a name like “Bottom’s Up,” or making sure that everything on the lunch menu has some anatomical double entendre. In this way American nudists have become the “butt” of their own jokes.
Which I think will likely segue nicely into my next intended post on this blog, lifted directly from that Hollywood classic, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and the famous line, “Everyone I know has a big butt!” French, German, Asian, or American – this much we know is true.