[It takes me a while
to actually get to the point on this one, but eventually, this post is going to
be about the absence of children at most naturist places in the US – or at
least my perception that this is the case – and what that may or may not mean
for the future of naturism in America.]
I’ve been ruminating on this post for quite a long time. In fact, since my oldest daughter just turned 31 a few days ago, maybe for about thirty years. The subject matter? The ever-controversial topic of children and social nudity, and simply what to make of it all.
The blogosphere is a strange place as people don’t typically
read a blog in any sequential sort of way. Maybe one finds a link on Facebook
or Twitter and clicks through. Or perhaps you’re even a follower of a
particular blog, and if the timing is right, you’ll read posts as they are
released in succession. But personally, I find the digital age to encourage
rather impulsive behavior. “Oh… look at that! I think I’ll read that, or maybe part of that post, or maybe I’ll
bookmark it for… I don’t know when.” All that said, if you’re a regular reader,
I apologize for the redundancy here.
My first efforts related to internet advocacy for naturism date back to 2004 when I bought some space on a remote server to launch a full-blown website called P and C Naturist Travel. I had little to no experience with web design and the result was pretty rough around the edges, but the mission was clear. We had taken our children to Domaine Naturiste La Jenny for the first time in 1999 after several attempts at finding a suitable place for family naturism in the United States, and I was hell bent on starting a campaign that would contribute to the efforts to normalize family naturism in America! By then, we had made several trips (with kids) to Europe and had discovered a plethora of places where children were not only welcome, but plentiful. When our kids went on nakation in Europe, they essentially thought it to be a holiday resort on par with any large family campground or resort. Similar demographic. Amenities you would expect in a large summer seaside village… but no clothes required at any time. Natural in every sense of the word. That first webpage was simply a series of trip reports about our naturist travel.
A subsequent effort led to the creation of a “community”
called the Naturist Family Network. It occurred to me that the United States of
America is a big place, and there must be others like my wife and myself who
were eager to cultivate the ideals of French naturism in this most diverse
nation on the planet. Surely… there would be others who were in a similar conundrum
as ours, fully enthralled with social nudity, and wanting to create a safe and
enjoyable space for their children when seeking a summer vacation destination.
I stayed with that project for a year or two, met a few interesting people,
(one who would eventually take over the project) but also encountered a lot of
trolls or lonely single guys (as are prevalent on Facebook and Twitter today)
feigning an interest in family oriented naturism for who knows why. That message board was handed off to several
entities, and as I do a quick Google search at this writing, it seems the last
remnants of that project have finally disappeared. It was a valiant effort.
I suspect I’ll receive a number of messages and comments in
response to this post, as I did
during the years that I maintained those two websites, that I have missed the
boat, and that family naturism is alive and thriving in the United States.
Which brings me back around to the title
of this post as I have found myself wondering time and again about the Case of the Disappearing Nudist Children.
I keep hearing about them. I’m told there are places where they are plentiful,
but when visiting those places, especially on a weekday even in the summer,
they are scarcely to be found!
We have visited perhaps two to three dozen naturist (nudist)
places in the US over the past thirty years, and indeed, a few times have found
children – mostly preadolescent – to be present. But then we have stories of a
visit to a place in Pennsylvania where the senior citizens (the predominant age
group at this place) were reminiscing about the party the night before, still
in something of a drunken haze the morning after. No kids around.
Or a couple places in Florida, both advertised as family
naturist destinations, the first of which was highly charged with sexual
energy, while another led to an unfortunate incident where our children – the only
children on the premises that day – were chewed out by a not-so-friendly owner
when their ball bounced out of the pool. And then there’s Desert Shadows (now
Desert Sun) Resort in Palm Springs that was going to be the ultimate family
naturist destination, but ultimately, a change in management resulted in the
banning of all children from the premises. Had you purchased a retirement
property there in the early days, you would later find out that your grandkids
would never be allowed to visit you!
There will be those who are quick to tell me that my aim is poor and my timing is bad. And, in fact, I’ve written about quite a few naturist places the world over – most recently in South Africa – where children are, indeed, part of the mix, but maybe only on the big Saturday BBQ and pudding toss festival day! (I’ve always thought the “pudding toss thing’ to be a funky idea at naturist places… just sayin’) This leads to yet another interesting phenomenon when it comes to naturist places outside of Europe, and that is, most of them lack Europeans!
Europeans know how to do vacation, and are allotted the time
to do a week in a mainline tourist destination, but with one, two, or three
weeks left over for a relaxing stay in a sprawling naturist resort (or
wherever) with all the amenities one would expect at a Disney resort. Such a
place can’t exist if the critical mass isn’t there to fill the place to capacity.
Especially when social nudity is the main attraction, and even in the warmest
corners of Europe, (let alone North America) that’s a season of five or six
months at best. So even if you find a place with a great family vibe going over
the weekend, which is tricky to do in the first place, what happens on Monday
morning when everybody has gone home and back to work?
This got me to thinking about my friend Addie who has contributed several posts to my blog over the past year, including one about dating and finding a naturist soul-mate. Turns out she is quite well traveled as well, having visited several naturist places in Europe, and even Paya Bay on Roatan. Would she have the fervor for the naturist cause had those not been her first defining experiences?
And what if she is successful in finding that naturist-friendly soulmate and they start a family? Won’t they find themselves in the same conundrum we did thirty years ago? Most young families are stretched for resources to begin with. Will they have the time and resources to take the kids to France or Croatia for the annual nakation? Or alternatively, even if they are fortunate enough to live within an hour or two of one of the few resorts in America that have a vibrant family naturist weekend scene, will two or three weekends a year sustain a lasting culture of family naturism? We have been several times to Gunnison Beach in New Jersey where there are typically a few kids amidst the crowd, but you can’t really compare that to the demographics of the large naturist beaches on the southwest coast of France where most everyone there is there with children.
My hunch is that Addie will figure it out, and in all likelihood, will have the wherewithal to do so, but if there truly is a generational divide related to the future of naturism in America, I think this is it! There most definitely appears to be a counter-culture resurgence amongst the millennials that is funding a social nudity renaissance of sorts in the pre-family demographic, and AANR is quick to fire off statistics that nudism is on the rise, due in large part to endeavors like the Big Nude Boat that is capturing the discretionary income of the empty-nesters. But what about that twenty-year stretch in the middle, when the kids are young, the parents are strapped, and the family traditions are being carved into stone? Most of the naturist families we’ve met in Europe are multi-generational… “Yup, I’ve been coming here since I was a child when my grandparents bought that little house over there.”
Who knows… maybe the millennials will pull a rabbit out of
the hat on this one. In the greater context of time, the huge naturist centers
of Europe are not really that old. France’s
naked city, Cap d’Agde (a questionable exemplar for family naturism, to be sure)
has only really existed since the 1970s, and the sprawling resorts in Croatia
opened not that long before that. But could the American culture of paranoia or
highly sexualized perceptions of nudity be ready for the open-minded
twenty-somethings who are ready and willing to bare all? And is there a capital
venture entrepreneur who is prepared to put down the money to build it so they
will come? (Seems that was the plan for both Caliente in Florida and Desert
Shadows in Palm Springs, but maybe it just wasn’t time yet.)
We’re counting on you, millennials! Drop your clothes, stand, and be counted. Now is your chance to create a body-positive environment for your own children, and all those in the generations to come!
Photos for this post were found on internet sources such as Twitter and Google. If you find an image that belongs to you and should be removed, please let me know and I will respond accordingly.
It’s been ten years since my first visit to a German sauna world, or Saunawelt as they would say auf deutsch. An internet blogger friend pointed me in the direction of the newly expanded Therme Erding conveniently situated between Munich and the nearby international airport. As a seasoned naturist, I will remember that initial sauna adventure for all of my days. That moment you walk into the co-ed changing rooms, trying to look unfazed by your inability to open your locker, inconveniently located in awkward proximity to a middle-aged couple removing their clothes. Meanwhile, preoccupied as to whether you’re about to offend more people by being naked or by wrapping yourself in a towel. Informative directives were posted everywhere, which would have been ever so helpful had I paid more attention during that one semester of college German.
It’s not especially helpful that there are approximately a bazillion sauna and “therme” (thermal pool) centers dotting the map of Germany, not to mention those to be found in Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands – each of which have a unique set of customs and rules that may or may not be posted – in German – on a wall, leaflet, or countertop. Doesn’t matter really though; there’s clearly something in the DNA of central Europeans that allows them to decode the unspoken rules of social nudity. It’s no secret the Germans are thought leaders in social-nudity, but still… how do they always seem to know what’s going on?
Before going into my detailed guide for naked spa rookies, I should encourage those who worry about the communal nudity thing to read any number of TripAdvisor reviews written by prudish Americans who uniformly confirm that non-sexual nakedness in a social environment only feels awkward for about five minutes, until you realize that clothing actually does very little to help us obscure the things that make us feel most awkward or inadequate about our bodies. This is not a post about the perils or merits of social nudity, but instead, a guide for the person who says, “I’m over it. A bazillion Germans seem to think it’s fun! I’m gonna shed my inhibitions and sweat it out with a bunch of strangers, and I’m gonna like it!“
With that said and done, I thought it might be useful to provide a few tips to help you find the right place for your first naked sauna experience, noting that the options are abundant and varied. Compared to everything that’s out there, (About 350 spas in Germany alone, I think!) I’ve been to relatively few. (Perhaps a dozen, but a few of those many times over.) But for the sake of this blog post, I think I can narrow thermal spa complexes down into four categories:
The Therme Erding Mega-spas: Therme-Erding is not only a relative newcomer in the spa business, but they seem to enjoy the reputation of doing everything bigger and bolder than all those who have gone before, in a – dare I say it – Disneyesque sort of way! While they advertise the installation in Erding (near Munich) as the world’s largest spa, their more recent endeavors are similarly expansive – with a consistent penchant for emulating the exotic islands of the South Seas, where the climate is controlled 365 days a year under glass domes that could house a dirigible! With locations in Erding, Bad Wörishofen, Sinsheim (near Heidelberg), Schwarzwald, and Euskirchen (near Cologne), the Erding location boasts the largest texteil-frei bereich (clothes-free zone), though the others try to compensate for this by offering “long sauna nights” about once a month when the entire property becomes naked-friendly for the evening. You’ll either need to learn a few important German words or get familiar with Google Translate to figure all that out, but it you’re hell-bent on maxing out the full-monty experience without planning around a specific day of the month, Erding is probably your best bet.
The Kristall Therme Chain: I should remind my readers that I’m no expert here, but as best I can tell, the Kristall Therme chain was pretty much on the cutting edge of chain-style sauna experiences until the Erding folks stepped up to the plate. But while the aforementioned thermes decided to focus on palm trees and palapas, the Kristall team went for a Neo-Viennese-quasi-elegant-but-not-so-impressive-chandelier affect! The result is something like the amusement park down the street from Disneyland that tried to exploit the WOW factor, but didn’t quite grab the brass ring. In my humble opinion, the chandeliers and candelabras are not aging well. We have only visited two of their locations; one near Schwangau which was a good bit underwhelming, and another in Ludwigsfelde near Berlin, which is very naked and family friendly; quite different that the other texteil-frei locations that are limited to patrons aged 16 years and older. The therme in Stein (near Nuremberg) had a serious fire several years ago, but it appears they have rebuilt and reopened. I’d love to know what they’ve done to bring things up to date as compared to the older branches of the chain. Ludwigsfelde is pretty much naked friendly, everywhere, all the time, which may be the reason I’ve gone back there at least three times.
The historic sauna bath-houses: So I have to confess… the only “old school” historic bath I’ve been to so far is the Müller’sches Volksbad not far from the Englischer Garten in Munich, yet another famously naked place in Germany. I went midday on a weekday in the dead of winter, and spent most of my time there asking myself, “Should I be naked here? Can I swim naked? And where are all the humans under 75 years of age? I have yet to visit the Friedrichsbad Roman-Irish Baths in Baden-Baden, nor the Kaiser-Friedrich-Therme in Wiesbaden, nor the Neptune Bad in Cologne, but my impression is that they all provide a similar sense of bathing in a ornate museum, often involving a wellness course sort of ritual where you make your way through the various sensations ranging from very warm pools to very cold pools (Nope! Not for me!), stopping for a rest wrapped in warm towels in between. It’s on my bucket list to try a couple more of these out, but I’m always a little anxious about wasting a precious spa day on something I’m not sure I’m going to love! Maybe Wiesbaden or Cologne soon – we’ll see.
A myriad of independent spas with a vast array of amenities: As soon as you realize that every town that begins was the word “Bad” (German for bath) is essentially a spa town, you’ll see that there are thermal spas all over Germany, as frequently as not, in cute little villages where the thermal springs are about the only thing happening there. Schwaben Quellen is something of an exception, located right in the heart of a Stuttgart commercial center. I’m also particularly fond of a beautiful complex called Mediterana located outside of Cologne, (though the pools are a bit tepid to my liking,) and I’ve been eager to get to one or both of the Vabali Spas, one in Düsseldorf, one in Berlin, each of which are killin’ it on Trip Advisor, especially with the under-forty crowd. Conversersly, I once visited a small spa in Rheinland-Pfalz that felt a bit more like a recreation center for seniors – all good for what it is, but not what I was hoping for that day. And I’ve ventured out to Taunus Therme near Frankfurt twice. Beautiful pool area downstairs, but I keep forgetting to bring a swimsuit, (which is required in that part of the complex) so I’ve never even dipped a toe in the main pool. The point is that you need to do your research before you go. Many thermes will actually have a map like this one from Bad Hönningen that gives you a sense of the layout of the place, along with the size and amenities of the sauna area (almost always nude) and the therme area (almost always texteil), which is why it pays to dig around the website to see if the place is according to your preferences. Of course, that’s equally important for those who are trying to avoid naked Germans! Know before you go.
Locals have told me the big commercial therme chains are just for tourists and they would never go there, which may be true, but I have to say all those tourists at the swim-up bar at Therme Erding speak crazy good German. But with so many spa establishments in Germany alone, it seems location and personal preference defines the ranking system. ‘Just depends on what you’re looking for.
With that, let’s get down to business. How do you make sure your day at the relaxation spa is… well… relaxing, and not just a sequential outing of awkward faux-pas?
ARRIVAL: While I have enough German to say, “Two adults for four hours, please,” there is typically somebody at the check in counter who has enough English to immediately make me feel inadequate about my German. And besides, they’ll want to know if you want to rent a robe (badmantel), a towel (badetuch), or slippers (I don’t know that word!), all of which most locals bring along with them, but if you’re traveling lightly, it’s easy enough to rent them on the spot, and I’ve never been to a place where that’s not possible. Often, they will actually charge you up front for the purchase price of the item (Say 50€ for the robe, but since the rental is only 4€, they’ll refund you the difference once you bring it back at check-out. No big deal if using a credit card, as you’ll probably spend more than that on food and drink while you’re in the spa anyway. Most clients will bring a normal bathrobe from home, though many just make a go of it for the day with a towel. You most definitely want slippers or flip-flops as there will undoubtedly be some outdoor walking, and the floors are frequently wet and slippery.
If the complex has several different areas, you’ll want to know which one you’re looking for before you get in line. Therme Erding, for instance, has one entrance point for Galaxy Water Park (a big water slide area where swimsuits are required, along well as a penchant for sudden drops), another desk for Thermen Paradise (a large family oriented area with elaborate warm pools and maybe a few saunas (swimwear required) and other attractions, and the most expensive entrance lane for Saunawelt, where you’ll go directly into the clothes-free zone as soon as you clear the desk and enter the locker room. While it may seem strange that the “take your clothes off area” is the most expensive option, that’s because that ticket provides you access to the entire complex – but only if you remember to pack a swimsuit so you can work your way back through the labyrinth of gateways to the other areas. Again, your coin bracelet is the key to the gates that separate one area from the next.
To address the perennial question of “Where does a naked guy keep his wallet?” that takes you back to the wristband with a coin chip in it as well. USUALLY, this is ALL you need for all the business you will do that day. You will use it to open your locker, pay for your meals, buy drinks at the swim-up bar, and even to pay for a massage or spa treatment should you choose to book one. I say usually as I remember my last visit to the Kristall Therme near Berlin where they had a bizarre procedure where you could use your bracelet at the food court, but I vaguely remember having to bring a ziplock baggie of money to the swim-up bar, which made absolutely no sense to me. (Maybe there was a better solution, but I wasn’t about to figure it out in German.) In any event, if you can, it’s worth clarifying exactly what your bracelet will or will not do while you’re still at the front desk.
THE LOCKER ROOM and THE GRAND ENTRANCE: I have feared locker rooms since the I first had to use one in seventh grade! Terrifing! Really! I’m mostly over that by now when I go to the YMCA, and I’ve grown accustomed to those at the therme as well, but my heart did stop for a moment the first time I had to ease my way toward my locker next to a naked women leisurely unpacking her spa bag. She could see I was fumbling with my bracelet unlocking-device and offered me help getting the magnetic lock to release.
In reality, she was a bit more immodest than most, as many will find one of the little changing cubicles (think department store fitting room), enter fully clothed, then exit wrapped in a bathrobe of a towel. That always seems like an extra step to me as the entrance to the spa area typically takes you through a shower room where they’d like you to immediately doff said covering garment and rinse down before entering the main attraction area.
But that leads to another interesting element of spa nudity – one that I have never understood, but it seems to be a sort of common law, often specified (in vague language) in the rules for the spa. You may or may not find it posted or printed in English that nudity is mandatory in the saunas and the pools, but you are required to cover yourself with a towel or a robe when moving about the facilities or visiting the restaurants therein. Most everyone complies with the restaurant part, but every time an aufguss session lets out (more about that later) there will be a rush of naked humans rushing to the nearest shower or nearby outdoor veranda to cool-off. But otherwise, the expectation is that you will wrap at least the lower part of your body when moving about the premises. Of course, there’s always a few people who either didn’t read the rules, or simply choose to walk about naked, or maybe with a towel draped loosely over the shoulder, scarcely obscuring any of the quintessential body parts. (Yes, that may well be me!) There are always spa employees everywhere, and not once have I seen them stop someone to ask them (me!) to cover up, and since the large spas have literally hundreds of loungers scattered around, you’ll see every form of undress, from bundled tightly in robes, to people discreetly covering their genitalia, to people napping – buck naked – spread eagle. You’ll have a sense of what goes at a particular spa within a few minutes of arrival.
Having just written this, I have learned my to young female friends who visited Vabali Düsseldorf today were reprimanded for walking around naked! I stand corrected.
NOODLES IN THE POOL: This seems to be another interesting variation from one spa to the next, as Friday and Saturday nights at the therme seem to be a very popular date night outings. At Erding, it’s not uncommon to see couples enjoying a deep embrace as they’re floating in the lazy river outside on a snowy evening with steam billowing off the water. Once again, spa attendants are plentiful and you know there are video cameras everywhere, including the rest areas. (My wife and I once inadvertently summoned a bouncer-like fellow when a hand drifted too close to a sensitive area. He simply stood by making his presence known, and that was that. But indeed, there are cameras everywhere!) The Ludwigsfelde Kristall Therme allows children of all ages, so that changes the vibe a bit, and when we visited the huge Bad Wörishofen on a texteil frei Friday night, it seemed like their were guards everywhere out on noodle patrol. I’ve never seen anything that would get the overt sexual activity prize, but it seems each spa has it’s own unspoken rules regarding acceptable behavior, and somehow, everyone seems to know what those are. When in Rome…
OK – WHAT ABOUT THE SAUNA THING. WILL I DIE?: Seriously. That was my primary concern the first time I went into a sauna. I mean, the whole idea is that you’re going to go in, sit down, and get really, really hot until there is sweat oozing from places you didn’t even think possible?
The large Erding affiliate spas have the most elaborate (and largest) themed saunas. In fact, I think Erding has at least twenty-five different saunas, each of which offer a wide variety of different aufguss (infusion) ceremonies over the course of a day. By large, I mean it’s not uncommon for 80-100 people to crowd in for a popular aufguss session, and yes, everyone is completely naked, with your towel often overlapping the towel next to you. A few people, mainly women, remain wrapped in their towels, but they are by far the minority. It’s simply a sea of naked humanity! That alone might feel a bit claustrophobic to some, but that’s just before the ceremony begins! Perhaps you think yourself clever having chosen a spot with a bit more personal space on the top shelf in the upper back corner, until you realize that twelves seconds before the ceremony begins, five more people are going to dash in, see you are occupying the only available real-estate, and come crowd in around you! Now… you’re on the top level (where the heat is the most intense), in the back corner (farthest from the exit door), and packed in like a giant sweaty sardine when you realize that if you needed to leave suddenly, you’d have to awkwardly drag your moist body and dripping towel over three rows of other naked people deeply entranced in the mediation chimes of ancient Indonesia!
The aufguss ritual itself has to do with the pouring of scented water on intensely hot rocks, after which, the spa-master will take a large towel, or a flag, or maybe even giant Russian banja leaves and thwack them in your direction to provide a blast of heat that literally takes your breath away! You suddenly have an entirely new sense of empathy for your Thanksgiving turkey, coming to realize that it was a kindness to make sure he was dead before putting him in the oven!
Thankfully, your spa-master has told you about the entire process before it actually began – typically a two or three minute explanation that I think goes like this…”Welcome to mud ritual of ancient Egypt! In a moment, I’m going to close the door, then poor this magic potion on those boiling rocks. Then my assistant and I are going to give you some magic goo that we found near the tomb of Moses so you can spread it all over your body – unless you want to ask your friend to help you with those hard to reach places. (Hahahahaha!) Then I’ll pour some more water on those rocks and take this towel and snap it within inches of your face so you can feel the magic mud being absorbed into your pores and your body begins triage inventory – “Brain – functioning. Heart – beating. Arm-pits – on overload!” Then I think he says something like, “Please remember, this is a high intensity ride. People with heart conditions, pregnant women, and humans prone to anxiety should take note of the nearest exit, even if you can’t possibly get to it when it matters. Please keep your arms and legs inside the carriage at all times.” Let me remind you, I only know a few German words, like exit, panic, and die, but I usually feel reassured by the laughter of my German counterparts.
This is why you may want to ease your way into the process, realizing that any particular sauna will only have an aufguss ceremony every two hours or so. When that happens, they put a sign on the door that says “session in progress,” do not enter!” But otherwise, you can go in and try out the various saunas and stay for as little or as long as you wish. Pretty soon, you’ll realize that each sauna has a sign on the door that tells you the temperature, and sometimes the humidity percentage as well. Of course, it’s all in Celsius, but you’ll figure out the difference between 65° and 85° pretty quickly! Way more than the Fahrenheit equivalent. And the higher the humidity, the more intense the heat.
It also took me a while to realize that if you want a premium seat for an aufguss ceremony, on the bottom step, not too far from the door, you have to plan ahead. Each aufguss event lasts about ten minutes, and while they won’t let additional people come in once “the show has begun,” you do have the prerogative to leave any time, and typically, one or two people do. For me, I found that putting myself in a position to escape if I felt I needed to was all the assurance I needed to alleviate the anxiety, but that requires forethought. In this case, forethought involves arriving ten or fifteen minutes before the aufguss begins, putting your towel down to mark your spot, sitting to acclimate for a few minutes to get a sense of the heat intensity, then stepping out of the sauna – leaving your towel behind – (you’re naked, remember!) to cool down; maybe even step outside if it’s convenient, to bring down your body temperature. Sometimes there will be a giant vat of crushed ice nearby that people scoop up by the handful. I, along with many others, will make a giant snowball and take it back in the sauna with me if I know the heat will be particularly intense, then rub it on my forehead and chest when I feel like it’s just a little too much. By the end of the event, your snowball has vanished into a puddle on your towel.
Most of the aufguss sessions I’ve gone to involve two ceremonious rounds of dousing the hot rocks with infused water followed by the accompanying whacking of towels, but the entire thing never lasts more than ten minutes. That seems a reasonable amount of time for nearly anyone to endure the intense heat, but that’s also assuming you set out your towel early, then stepped out to cool down for a few minute. (25 minutes without pause would be long stretch for even the heartiest of sauna warriors!) And there may well be some quirky ritual immediately before, during, or after the aufguss, like going into an adjacent cave to cover your body in salt, or the aforementioned mud ritual. Sometimes you even get a prize at the end, like fresh bread that comes out of the oven at the same time you do, or a Popsicle to help you internalize the fruity joys of a tropical island. In time, you’ll master the fine art of discretely watching the people around you before you accidentally rub salt in your eyes, which the spa guy probably told you to avoid, but you really weren’t sure what the nervous intermittent laughter was about while he was giving his spiel.
Other than some of the historic spas where the traffic essentially flows from one activity to the next, the typical scenario at the more recent establishments allows you to plan your day as you wish, usually providing a detailed schedule of all the day’s aufguss events. My wife is not too keen on the intense heat of the saunas, but loves the warm pools, the quiet resting areas, the various restaurants (at the nicer spas) and simply lounging by the pool with a good book between visits to the swim-up bar. Those quiet resting areas may have ceremonies as well to encourage meditation, relaxation, or mind-expansion. Or sometimes it’s just a nice place to take a nap or curl up with a book. (Many have reading lights above the bed) Most inhabitants will be wrapped in a towel or a robe, but a few will be naked as well. Just remember… no hanky-panky! 🙂
Whenever possible, we make the spa our first stop upon arrival in Europe since most flights from the US arrive in Munich or Germany around 7:00 am. That’s just enough time to drop our bags at the hotel – spa bag already packed – then make our way to the therme. (This works particularly well in Munich, as bus 512 goes directly from the airport to the village of Erding)
As mentioned above, my two young (female) friends have made their first stop at Verbali Spa near Düsseldorf where they report that the amenities and view of the lake from the warmth of the spa was unbelievable. But contrary to my earlier words of advice, they were actually cited for being too naked as they were walking from one place to another without bothering to wrap in a towel. That seems particularly peculiar for a place that doesn’t even have an area that allows for swimsuits.
Later today, they will visit one of the Erding-chain establishments near Cologne, and I’m urging them to write a guest blog post to capture the experience from their own perspective. They are both quite new to naturism, and even newer to the German sauna experience. Regardless, seems they are both enthusiastic converts to clothes-free recreation. Take note nay-sayers: There is hope for the future of naturism even yet!
You may want to visit a few other posts about saunas and thermal baths, such as my blog post about the Onsen experience in Japan, or one of my very first posts about spa nudity written about five years ago. And I haven’t even scratched the surface on some of the spa hotels in Austria that sport sauna centers as well, or some of the very hip places in Holland that have yet another spin on communal nakedness. All good. Still stuff left to blog about.
So, it’s September. Our summer travels are over and it’s back to the grind; a time that is always a period of reflection for me as I comb through photos of our travels while I start dreaming about the next adventure for the drawing board.
This time, I came across the photos from our trip to Brazil a couple years ago, realizing that I never actually blogged on our experiences there. Well, that is, at least not in the present or past tense. I did write a post about our perils of trying to to get there in the first place called “Getting Naked in Brazil = Complicated!” At the time, we were living in France, and we simply couldn’t find a way to maneuver the complicated task of getting an American tourist visa to Brazil while residing in France.
Praia do Pinho
What I had NOT expected in response to that post was an admonishing email from a reader who warned me about the covert operations of the naturist movement in Brazil, and offered disquieting news about a particular place in Brazil where he cited a sort of pyramid scheme gone awry that ended in huge monetary losses and even allegations of murder!
Murder!? What the hell??? We already knew you had to be careful about pick-pockets in Rio, but is one really in danger of getting murdered while naked in Brazil?
Cabins at Colina do Sol
Finally, at the end of 2015 (and into the beginning of 2016) we made it to Brazil, book-ending our trip with requisite visits to Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu Falls, with stops along the way at the naturist beach (resort?) Praia do Pinho, and finally, the infamous Colina do Sol – yes indeed, the very place the dude had warned me not to visit. “And for God’s sake, don’t try to buy a house there unless you wanna get dead!”
Spoiler alert. We stayed a week at the place. We didn’t buy a house. And nobody got murdered!
While we were there, we stayed in the “Hotel” Ocara – something of a foreshadowing of our entire experience at Colina do Sol, which might best be described as an amazing idea that never quite came to fruition. It seems that one naturist entrepreneur named Celso Rossi had acquired a large plot of land in the beautiful green hills above Porto Allegre, then proceeded to lay out the plans for an expansive naturist village with summer homes sheltered in a tropical forest, a man-made lake, a full service restaurant and even a hotel. We spent quite a lot of time with Celso during our visit, who we found to be warm and resoundingly enthusiastic about all things naturism, but spoke candidly about the evolution of this naked utopia in Brazil.
The lake at Colina do Sol
The story is long and tangly, but resonated deeply with me as I have a brother who got buried in the complexities of running his own business until he ended up in a negative cash flow situation, using tomorrow’s projected revenue to pay yesterday’s bills – always a landslide in the making. Add to that mix the Socratic (I use the word with trepidation) negotiations of the home owner’s association as various people bought into the dream of their own personal naturist vacation hamlets, and a particularly fervent group of Americans who were going to make Colina do Sol their go to place when it’s cold up here and the middle of summer down there. Even by Celso’s account, the sand started slipping from beneath his toes on his own beach, and the untimely death of one of the homeowners led to speculation and allegations about fiduciary scheming and criminal wrong-doing!
Celso, our host
At the time of our visit, (2016) we stayed in the three story hotel where the top two floors remained unfinished. The lakeside restaurant that had once been the center of social activity had recently closed, and hours on the beach near the lake were decidedly quiet for a summer weekend day, though there were obviously people living in the cabins on the sprawling roads that provided a terrific circuit for morning naturist walks. We were the only guests at the hotel during our stay, and perhaps the first Americans to visit since the whole property management debacle of some years before, so Celso spent many evenings with us, guitar in hand, retelling the dream of his naturist nirvana and his unrelenting passion to see the project move forward, despite the hurdles of the past. At this writing, I think he still lives on the property with his wife, but is no longer involved in the naturist center (restaurant and hotel) that is rumored to be under new management and poised for a renaissance.
The pool – heated by the warm air of Brazil
Would we go back? Despite the unpredictable weather, (It rains a LOT in that part of Brazil!) I liked the place quite a lot (more so than my wife) and could imagine a very pleasant stay in one of the little cabins when there’s nine inches of snow on the ground at home. Seeing video footage of the place when it was at its zenith – ten years ago, perhaps – I found myself longing for the vitality of the naturist centers in Europe, thinking this might be a viable winter alternative on this side of the Atlantic. That was not the case during our visit, but as is the case with most naturist places, timing is everything. It’s most definitely worth keeping an eye on the place, though indeed, I’m not likely to buy a home there!
On patrol at Praia do Pinho
Our other naturist stay in Brazil, with its unremarkably modest accommodations, was at Praia do Pinho, about a 90 minute flight south of Rio. Here again, weather had a significant influence on our impressions of the place where rainy periods significantly outnumbered the sunny ones, and our small room became claustrophobic when sun-worship on the beach simply wasn’t viable. The beach itself turns up on many “most beautiful nude beaches in the world” lists, and I think that designation is well deserved. It simply hadn’t occurred to me that summer in the south of Brazil does not come with the arid climate of summer in the South of France. Interestingly, there were a lot of nice places to stay near Praia do Pinho that would have greatly influenced our overall read on the place, though it’s always difficult to weigh the value of the luxury walking naked from your room to the beach. I suppose it just depends on what you think a nakation actually is.
A walk to the beach
As a footnote to our Brazilian experience, with all the fuss about that scantily clad girl from Ipanema, we saw exactly zero naked people or topless women on the mainstream beaches in Brazil. To be sure, the bikini bottoms looked (uncomfortably!) skimpy, though you see that just about anywhere these days. But suffice it to say, there was nothing on the beaches of Ipanema or Copacabana that would not meet the stringent Facebook rules for public decency – which the seasoned naturist knows to be ridiculously conservative. Like most South American countries, Brazil has its own fair share of prudery that belies the implicit notion that social nudity is really a thing there.
A beautiful county worth exploration? Absolutely.
A naturist destination for the sake of nakation? Sadly… not quite.
Perhaps I should change the name of my blog to the “Sporadically Blogging Meandering Naturist.” Simply too much on my plate as of late to keep up with posting as much as I’d like.
That said, 2017 was an extraordinary year for us on the naturist travel front. We started out the year in Australia spending several days at each of three naturist venues, Seclude in Queensland, BB at Byron Bay, and BoBrene, not far from Brisbane. In addition to returning to a couple of our favorite haunts this past year in Croatia (Valalta), Mallorca (Skinny Dippers), and on Ile du Levant (Heliotel), we made our first visit to a few new (to us!) interesting naked places, including Paya Bay Resort in Honduras, Lemontree Naturist Resort in Thailand, and an extensive trek through the Canary Islands where we finally visited Charco del Palo on Lanzarote, Gran Hotel Natura and Monte Marina on Fuerteventura, and a brief stay at Magnolias Natura Resort on Gran Canaria. One day, I will catch up on more detailed reportage of our naturist meanderings, but this is not that day.
Lemontree in Thailand
Naiharn Beach, Thailand
Lemontree in Thailand
Byron Bay, Australia
Gran Natura, Fuerteventura
Charco del Palo, Lanzarote
Es Trenc, Mallorca
Ile du Levant
Heliotel, Ile du Levant
Ile du Levant
Rab Island, Croatia
Boat Trip in Croatia
Paya Bay, Honduras
Paya Bay, Honduras
Byron Bay, Australia
Byron Bay, Australia
Byron Bay, Australia
In the meantime, I very much doubt 2018 will offer so many nakation opportunities as we enjoyed last year. Seldom do the planets align like that. But I post this gallery in hope that people will click through and support these naturist travel destinations so that these businesses will continue to thrive, grow and multiply, bringing naturist travel ever more into the mainstream tourism industry.
Best wishes to all my readers tor a happy and prosperous nude year!
[Images for this post were acquired from a Google Image Search. Please advise if I have used an image without appropriate permission.]
By the time I went home, I’d seen a hundred soft dicks…
Such is the opening line of a recent piece in RACKED, an online fashion magazine, for which the author was sent on special assignment to experience a week at a typical naturist gathering, intended to provide fodder for an article about how clothing defines who we are. Does it though?
Not surprisingly, Naked Truths: Who Are We Without Our Clothes by young freelance writer Jamie Lauren Keiles could easily be the sequel to David Sedaris’s final essay from his 1998 book, Naked. In each case, the writing style is someplace between unabashed and irreverent. And in each case, the author grapples with the awkward dichotomy of something (nakedness, that is) that should be natural and empowering, while drawing attention to the bizarre customs that have shifted the emphasis of the ideal from rejuvenating to weird!
After dinner, I walked to the lake, down an isolated trail in a thicket of trees. The sun was not scheduled to set for two more hours. The light came green and filtered through the leaves as I stopped midway to pull off my shirt, then continued down the trail, fully nude except my shoes. A breeze off the lake took stock of every fine mammalian hair on my body. Walking naked in the woods makes you feel like a real goddamn Homo sapiens. My posture looked stupid, like it had been formed in a time before women were dainty. My brain was a mass of electrical signals; I wanted to kill an animal, or maybe be killed by one.
Not the author pointed out in the photo. Don’t know who that is!
Ms. Keiles takes us through her week-long stay at the TNS Eastern Naturist Gathering one step at a time; at times with a sense of admiration for the genuine nature of the people she meets, at other times, sardonic and cutting in her realization of so much irony.
The following morning was cold and rainy. Most people at breakfast were wearing at least one article of clothing — a silk kimono or a terry-cloth bathrobe or a souvenir sweatshirt from a regional nude beach. One couple stepped out in matching tie-dye Snuggies. Only two well-insulated men remained nude, one very hairy and one very fat. The scene felt like the relief effort following a tragic YMCA locker room fire.
Or later, when she reflects on the ritual square dancing lessons…
Square dancing is an elaborate coupled dance with lots of touching and changing of partners. My partner was a shy man in black tube socks and a Casio watch. I did not feel eager to have him hold my naked body, but soon he proved a dependable dancer. Our first song was a wife-swapping routine called “Push Ol’ Pa, Push Ol’ Ma.” It opened with a jaunty fiddle and a move called “grand left and right” that involved shaking hands with different partners around a circle. As the ladies traveled clockwise and the men counterclockwise, I took extreme care to connect with each outstretched hand. I shook the hand of a 7-foot-tall man with black hair. I shook the hand of a gay man in pearls. When the song was over, everyone agreed that I was a really good square dancer. It is easy to learn quickly when the risk of failure is grabbing a stranger’s penis.
First of all, square dancing lessons? Can you think of anyplace else you might go for a week-long retreat wherein one of the main events might be square dancing lessons? (Author’s note: My parents were life-long square dancers, albeit, most definitely not naturists. Square dancing is an important part of the American tradition, and I suspect, still a wonderful pastime for many people in our midst. But really? This is a headliner event at a naturist gathering?)
Pudding toss at a naturist event. Awkward.
The reason Keiles’s article resonated with me so deeply – as well as that of David Sedaris before – is this thing that has clearly become an obsession of mine to somehow normalize perceptions related to social nudity amidst even a few “on-the-fencers” here in the United States of America. I am sometimes criticized regarding the content of my blog, as so much of my reportage suggests that you have to travel to Europe to experience naturism in any altruistic sort of way. The longer I’m at this though, and the more I read pieces by unsuspecting journalists like Jamie Lauren Keiles, the more I succumb to the fact that, this may indeed be true.
There is some irony, I suppose, that I’ve been a member of TNS (The Naturist Society) since about 1990. Keiles talks a bit about this organization in her essay, noting that it was born out of the nude beach groupies of Northern California (my homeland), in what I always perceived to be a push back against some of the politics and weirdness of the AANR. (American Association for Nude Recreation) It may be that I’m a bit bent out of shape that TNS has never been willing to accept an article submission under a pseudonym, despite repeated requests and explanations that since I am a published author in academia, it might not the best idea to entangle my naturist writings with those about education and pedagogy.
A genuine perception of naturists. Sigh.
I digress, but not really! The TNS policy on pseudonyms – and square-dancing for that matter – reflects a distorted reality as to just how the average American perceives the naturist idea.
Another excerpt, this time about the grand finale talent show at the end of the week,
Curtain down, curtain up: A woman played a beat on a gong and a drum as her pendulous breasts hit the twos and fours. A man with a 12-gauge ring through his dick read an original poem about his sisters.
Really? Like that of Sedaris, this essay in a fashion magazine will reach more people in a week’s time than all the positive PR about American naturism could possibly find in a year! But let me be clear. The author is merely reporting – with flair, to be sure – what she saw and how she experienced it as a 20-something female on assignment. To that end, I found her impressions from the stretching workshop (pseudo-yoga) to be really intriguing as well…
I looked around the group and watched the other people stretch. An eightysomething man and wife reached for their toes on towels in the corner. The room was a showcase of strange and gnarled postures. Spines curved over in improbable ways. Everyone else had at least a few liver spots. In your 20s, there’s a cognitive fail-safe that makes it impossible to imagine your body becoming an old person’s body. Our access to the symptoms of aging seems to be meted out according to market potential. (I know about wrinkles, only because I know I should buy a cream to prevent them.)
And there it is! Perhaps the thing we have most admired about naturist travel in Europe is the way Europeans perceive themselves, naked or otherwise. Not only do we see that in the European naturist resorts, but in every small village as well, where one finds an abundance of 90-something humans making their way through the streets to the village market, on foot (!), acknowledging that aging is part of the life cycle, and at least “I have all day to get to the market.”
Supposedly real naturists dining together, but alas, nobody is sitting on a towel.
In the meantime, the naturist scene in American seems to be as polarized as the country itself. (Little political jab there!) In fact, we have something of an imperfect trifecta!
The constituencies of TNS and AANR that continue to host events reminiscent of a 1950s “covered-dish dinner,” (Click through to the definition. It’s worth it!) despite the fact that as Keiles noted, the attendance of a contingency of under-60s hasn’t “proved true in any statistically significant way.”
The places where nudity does equal sex! Though Keiles’s piece was published three days ago, I found the two comments on the publication website informative in a sad sort of way. The first comment was from some guy who was advocating for his right to sport an erection when naked in public. The second post was committed to shutting the first guy down. Go to the wrong naturist place in Florida, and you’ve signed up for lingerie dances and hocus pocus in the pool. All very confusing, and most definitely not helping the social nudity cause.
And finally, the no-nudity, unless it sells skin products culture. I could write volumes on the puritanical implications of an age in when sexuality sells so many movies, beauty products, and even swimwear lines at the expense of simple immodesty that says, “I’m OK with who I am, with or without clothing.”
Remember, Keiles writes for a fashion magazine, which is why she set out to do this piece in the first place. She says right in the title of the essay that this was intended to explain, “what we accomplish when we choose to wear clothes.” Given all the rhetoric to we are all the same people when we’re naked, Keiles makes a fairly compelling case that that’s not really true at all. We are the people that we are – naked or not.
The last two years have been pretty intense, with a couple big projects that have required a lot of travel, and as a friend put it this morning, many instances where I could say “I worked two days yesterday!” That’s tricky for a blogger, given that the very nature of blogging is organized around a chronological sense of time and space. Challenging when neither is available.
I write this post from Skinny Dippers Naturist Retreat on Mallorca, which has the unusual feature of encouraging a sense of community as many (most?) of the guests gather around the dinner table each evening; where, of course, the lead-out topic of conversation is almost always, “Where have you been, and what did you think?” If that conversation takes hold, perhaps I will disclose that I am a naturist blogger, and the most enthusiastic among them will run off to grab his or her iPad to put – shall we say – a face to the name.
“So, you’ve written about this place in Hawaii? Or Greece? Or Brazil?”
“Well…” I say sheepishly, “I intended to get that done, but you know how those things go.”
But as of this writing, we are looking ahead to three more weeks of nakation, and there are few things sweeter in life than sitting naked on the veranda with a glass of wine and sharing your musings about past travel experiences. So whether you are a loyal fan of my blog, or you just stumbled in from the frustration of a web search where the term “nudist” pulled up all the images you weren’t looking for, here’s what lies ahead on the blogging agenda for the Meandering Naturist.
On the edge of the big island, Hawaii
I wrote a couple posts about our visit two summers ago to Hawaii, but never quite got around to writing about the sweet little resort called Hangin’ Loose where we lived for a week in a yurt during monsoon season – or at least, so it seemed.
The serenity of Playa Sonrisa, Mexico
And it seems that I’ve never shared much about our two visits to Playa Sonrisa, a quiet little resort so far down the Yucatan peninsula that you can (and we recommend that you do) take a daytrip by boat to Belize.
Celso. The guy from Brazil with a naturist dream
And for that matter, I was surprised to find out that I’ve left virtually no trace of our visit to naturist Brazil whatsoever, despite the drama of the story of Colina do Sol, where we met the guitar playin’ naturist Celso to learn of the perils of the naturism business in 21st-century South America. So many stories to tell about that!
Oriental Village, Thailand
Near Lemon Tree Resort, Thailand
When asked if I’ve blogged about our visits to two naturist resorts in Thailand, (Oriental Village and Lemon Tree Resort) I had to search my own archives to realize that, “Nope! Those trips are pretty much missing from our travelogue.” Which is a shame, as I’m particularly eager to promote naturism in this part of the world most suitable for naturism 365 days a year. Thailand is most definitely that place!
Walking to Tahiti Beach on Corsica
I knocked out a few posts about some of our travels last summer, but never really mused much about free-hiking on Corsica or our stay at the naturist resort Bagheera, let alone the subsequent visit to Vritomartis and a stunningly naked day on the tiny island of Gavdos – the most southerly point in Europe.
At the end of the world, on Gavdos, Greece
I did, however, do a pretty good job in keeping up with the blog during our time last winter (summer, there!) in Australia. At least, that is, until we got to the last two stops near Brisbane at BB at Byron Bay and a local legend known as BoBrene. But that often happens at the end of a long trip, when you start gearing up for reality at home, and the diary business goes out the window.
The view from the top! A naturist villa near Byron Bay, Australia
And finally, it seems I only gave a cursory glance to our long weekend at Paya Bay in Honduras, which I’ve taken to calling my new Caribbean Branch Office. Another case where we’re eager to simply get the word out about this little gem that has been flying below the radar of much of the international naturist community.
My branch office at Paya Bay, Honduras
So that’s quite a lot of catching up to do, and as I reflect, quite a lot of miles we’ve accrued in getting naked on six continents over the past two years. Seems that our pacing may slow down over the course of the next year or two as life reinvents itself, but as any blogger will tell you, the best part of the process is living the trip over through the mind’s eye. If a confirmed or would-be naturist finds the motivation in these pictures and words to book his or her own nakation, all the better for the cause, quietly hoping for the day when clothing-optional vacations are as normal as a trip to Disney World. For this meandering naturist, they are most certainly a lot more fun.
The idyllic little naturist beach on the Island of Rab, Croatia
Individual trip reports to follow in a quasi-chronological order. In the meantime, I always enjoy conversing with other naturists, so if you can’t find it in the search bar of my blog, don’t hesitate to ask Naturist Dan.
In my most recent post – Nakation for Dummies – I made a bit of a fuss about finding the right place to experience social nudity for the first time, including a few punchy remarks about geriatric communities and sagging skin. A long-time reader felt compelled to write me a long and thoughtful email suggesting that my comments may have been a bit harsh, particularly when you consider that we are largely indebted to these pioneers of nudism for having any place to go naked at all. Point well taken.
As it happens, while my insurance company has not yet granted me the benefits the label of geriatric would provide, I’m most certainly getting closer to that mark each and every day. And I would go on to say that I’m a bit envious of those who are ten or twenty years older than I, as it seems there was a synergy and passion in those early nudist efforts that is all but lacking today. I remember those first naturist endeavors on the world-wide-web (Who remembers CompuServe?) that first made it possible to not only seek out places for nude recreation, but led me to meet real people as well, each of whom had a tremendous influence on our subsequent naturist endeavors.
There has been a lot written about the aging face of naturism, not only as that pertains to venues and clubs in the United States, but also for those in the large European naturist centers of Spain, Croatia and France. It is easy to neglect a few awkward truths that are frequently lost amidst overly simplistic statements about preserving nudist culture and recruiting the next generation. Having pondered this at great length, I have wondered if others have gone down the same rabbit holes that I have…
In the digital age, traveling to a protected naturist environment costs money!My reader friend updated me on the status of several nude beaches that were popular back in the days we lived near San Francisco, some of which are no longer clothing optional, others of which have been compromised by the fact that the naked people are out-numbered by the clothed gawkers looking for a cheap thrill. And that’s to say nothing of the evolution of high-tech camera equipment (Drones, for god’s sake!) than can capture clear digital images from a mile away. The security and self-assurance that could be had for free at a local beach in 1970 now requires a reservation at a luxury resort or on a dedicated cruise. That requires discretionary income. Who has that kind of money? The aging naturist, of course.
Naturism is inter-generational, except when it isn’t.That is most definitely something we took from our summer vacations in the South of France – naturism actually can be an inter-generational affair. In fact, it was particularly heartening to see two or three generations of a family, from one year to the next, as the grandchildren turned into young adults. Seems that’s never been part of the American nudist experience, and we’ve never really noticed that in Croatia or Spain either. In fact, at the huge Croatian resorts of Valalta and Koversada, the camping area is all but segregated with older folks who have dibs on the beachfront camping spots, and younger families who pitch tents up the hill. I suppose it makes sense, really. The French people go to French resorts with their French families, and it becomes a family tradition. I envy them for that. With the naturist population in Croatia coming mostly from Germany, and those in Spain coming mostly from Great Britain, it all becomes a bit more complicated as far as family traditions are concerned.
There are perils involved in purchasing your own personal naturist hamlet! So you fall in love with a naturist place in France, or Spain, or Palm Springs, or Arizona, and you decide to buy into a condo or into an apartment complex. Maybe it will be an investment property, or even something you can leave to your family as a vacation home… except the local law of the land requires nudity! La Jenny in southwest France opened in 1984 with about 1000 chalets built over the following ten years. But what happens when the offspring don’t take a fancy to the naturist idea? This has become a significant issue at La Jenny when non-naturist family members want to come use the vacation hideaway, but aren’t too keen on the code of conduct which says, “Take your clothes off!”
It Takes a Village… to make a Village. Especially in the United States, I believe this has become a particularly critical point. Like anything else, it requires a critical mass to provide a wide array of choices for various life-style preferences. Our most vivid experiences to this end have taken place in Florida, in one instance where we visited a “family naturist place” with our children only to learn of the unadvertised strong sexual undercurrent, and another “family naturist place” only to aggravate a less than tactful older man who quite clearly did not want children playing near the pool in his retirement village. But the fact is that when there are a finite number of people who consider nude recreation to be an All-American pastime, then facilities are challenged with being all things to all people. With literally hundreds of naturist centers in a space smaller than Texas, France has a marked advantage here that goes well beyond their laissez-faire attitudes about nudity. French people simply have a lot of choices! Wish that were true everywhere.
As I go about sorting all that out in my own head, it occurs to me that the age thing is perhaps the most perplexing conundrum in the demographics of nakedness. If you’re over sixty, and reading this now, there’s a good chance you have been an advocate for the free beach movement, or have volunteered at your club to fix the roof and paint the snack bar. Or perhaps you were simply there as part of the village to say “Naturism is important. Let us live and let live!” For this, I am grateful.
Here at this lovely little resort in Mallorca, we met the most lovely man who spends a month each winter at Club Orient in St. Maarten, and a month each summer here in the Balearic Islands. Have suffered a bad fall, he’s a bit less ambulatory in his 84th year than he once was, but his mind is sharp and his humor is vibrant – if not a bit stinging at times. He left early this morning, and I think I can speak for others when I say a certain energy went with him to the airport. Turns out that when he was in earshot, he was the life of the party.
Perhaps the takeaway there is that we really can’t measure the naturist population in calendar years as accurately as we might in the appreciation of one’s love of life, despite the condition of the skin that contains it!
[A disturbing side-note: As I was searching for images for this post, I used terms like “senior nudists” or “vintage naturism.” What Google pulled up was some of the most raunchy pornographic images fathomable, most of which were neither seniors nor vintage. While I’ve been around the web enough to find neither the images or the search results particularly surprising or shocking, it’s no wonder people are so confused about naturist/nudism, especially when searching for reliable information on the internet. Bummer!]