by Ross Hecox
“So you photograph nature and people,” she said excitedly. The lady working behind the counter, named Melonie, continued chatting with me as she made arrangements for my overnight stay in a vintage Airstream travel trailer. “This is going to be an interesting place to sleep tonight,” I thought.
Paisley is a small, remote town in southern Oregon. Logging and ranching have been its main industries throughout its existence, but sadly the community is shrinking. That means no hotels, except for a tiny three-room lodge that was surprisingly booked full when I arrived. That’s what led me to the Airstream.
The Summer Lake Hot Springs is an RV park five miles north of town. It has plenty of RV hookups, hiking trails, cabins, public restrooms and, of course, an old sheet-metal barn that houses natural, warm, healing artesian springs. I pulled into the gravel drive, weary from a long trip. After driving past a few totem poles, I read a sign outside the office that said, “Respect this sacred land.” Inside, I was greeted by a painting of an Asian woman meditating in the lotus pose, a three-legged cat, and Melonie.
Melonie told me the cabins were already booked, but I could stay in one of the refurbished travel trailers. She added that a group of bikers thoroughly enjoyed hanging out in the Airstream whenever they rolled through the region. Despite the rave reviews, I had to inspect the mobile living quarters myself.
Now, I’ve stayed in a lot of different places in my travels besides the cushy confines of a Holiday Inn. I’ve slept in guest houses, living room couches, bedrolls, tepees, horse trailers, a bunk-bed (top level), and even the front seat of my pickup. But a chrome-colored trailer on the Oregon range was a first for me.
“You must have good karma to have dropped into such a healing place,” Melonie said.
I had a photo shoot scheduled in town that evening and didn’t get back till after dark. Another photo shoot had me stepping out of the Airstream at 4:30 a.m. I never had the time to soak in the hot springs. But I must say, my brief stint at Summer Lake Hot Springs was the best night’s sleep I got the whole trip. It was groovy.