The Beginnings

John Calhoun remembers Nicholaas as a “taskmaster with a good sense of humor.  He didn’t believe in idle hands – breaks were limited to 45 minutes.   He had been on Werner Erhard’s staff as an in-house counselor.  It was arequirement to take the EST training if you were going to be on the Wildwood staff.”

San Francisco-based Erhard Seminars Training (EST) was popular in the 1970s.  A large group awareness training, it was an outgrowth of the human potential movement of the 1960s.

“Nicholaas’ whole intention,” says John,  “was to change the image of Wildwood – away from being a bathhouse in the woods.”

While Nicholaas, Tim and John enjoyed the otherworldly charm of the property’s 210 acres, it came at a steep price.   “Every winter we asked, ‘Do we stay open, or do we close the door?’” says Tim.   “The rainfall in a redwood forest can top 100 inches a year.”

Floods were common.  No power for a solid month was common.  The winding dirt road to town could be closed for weeks.   And roving bands of boars trampled gardens.  Even in summer months, nature could be unforgiving for a property that is yet reliant on springs 200 vertical feet down the mountain.