Druid Heights, Muir Woods

I thought @Roxie might be interested in this:

I stayed a few days in the late '90s in Druid Heights, in Muir Woods at the foot of Mt. Tamalpais. My friend T. Dorsey Williamson was renting a little 200(?) sq. ft. house from Roger Somers, who had built most of the buildings there. It was really cheap - $350/mo. or so, but all in the characteristic California style. This was a few years after Dorsey’s now ex-wife (Agnès Voudoun Williamson, IIRC) took the boys back to Geneva, but that’s another story.

Parties, poetry readings, and jam sessions included some of the Bay Area’s most celebrated intellectuals, musicians, and artists. Beat inspiration Kenneth Rexroth held court at this sunken table, engaged in animated late-night discussions. Poet Gary Snyder lived on the grounds for a year. And rumors have it that Allan Ginsburg, Tom Robbins, and Lily Tomlin all hung out. …

“They used to host the most amazing parties after these bohemian poetry readings in North Beach,” he says. “Everybody would converge on the mountain and the stories of legendary: they were riding horses naked in the moonlight and playing music all night long. And the jazz clubs would let out and Dizzie Gallespie and all kinds of fantastic musicians would continue the party up at Roger’s.”

Jam sessions would last late into the night, with Somers on his saxophone or congas.

“He had a huge, curvilinear closet filled with costumes and outrageous outfits,” Farish says. “Nothing quite gets a party going like a wild white-bearded maniac playing drums and flirting with women, all the women, with so much energy.”

Alan Watts recorded an album, called “This is It,” in 1962, featuring Somers and other friends. The recording contrasts with Watts’ more serious radio broadcasts about Zen Buddhism.

Ed Stiles, who is one of few remaining residents at Druid Heights, says Watts could be found on the property carrying a large wizard-like staff in the woods, or spouting dirty limericks at parties.

“Roger was far and away the most playful adult I’ve ever known,” Stiles says. “And Alan had that streak in him, too. Perhaps that’s how they were friends.”

Stiles is a woodworker, like Somers, and the two met back in 1961, when Stiles was 22. He moved in four years later.

“I was having more fun than I think I’d ever had in my life, probably. It was unpredictable. It was sporadic. You just never knew what you’d find,” he says.

The Eagles, the Steve Miller Band and the Doobie Brothers all played at Druid Heights. Somers also built a touring bus for Neil Young. In true Somer’s style, it was an elaborate piece of art.
Silber, Judy (September 19, 2012). “Inside Druid Heights, a Marin County counter-culture landmark”. Crosscurrents. KALW.

Roger Had this 7ft deep hot tub on his deck, which he always kept hot, with nothing other than stray eucalyptus leaves against microbes. I enjoyed a dip there with Dorsey Roger, and a couple of attractive young German ladies, who I never saw before or since. The hot tub was one of the first in California, at least of the modern type with filter and heater. Zen writer Alan Watts was found dead right there on the deck, he used the hot tub pretty much daily for years. Busloads of Buddhists still make the pilgrimage to his old library there.

Alan Watts’ library:


From: A WALK THROUGH DRUID HEIGHTS. Author: Michael Toivonen, Co-founder… | by Michael Toivonen | Medium

I’ve heard too many stories to recount here, many of which wouldn’t be discreet to tell, even if the statutes of limitations have run out long ago. Unfortunately, the place is gradually returning to the soil.

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