Even though I grew up on a beach in L.A. County, I rarely went to Hollywood. Now I enjoy going to the area, as it has so much activity, energy, architecture, history, people-watching (and there are a LOT of quirky people there, believe me, especially those in costume near the (Grauman) Chinese Theatre), restaurants, nightlife and creativity.
I am going to figure out a way to hold my parade balloon (an elf or candy cane) with one hand while taking pictures and sharing real-time videos on my Periscope account while we march in the parade this Sunday, November 29 at 5pm. Then we’ll stay overnight at the Hollywood Hotel, which is over 100 years old.
Celebrities will be in the parade – Penn and Teller are the Grand Marshals – and celebrities have stayed at the hotel, so my fingers are crossed that Kristen Wiig and I will meet and become BFFs while clutching an inflatable elf (not Will Ferrell, though that would be good too). I wouldn’t say no to Aidan Quinn either.
I’d love to say I’m special, but actually anyone who wants can get in on this adventure. Book a room at the Hollywood Hotel for a stay that includes the night of the parade, and you can walk the parade route with us (and the hotel team) for rates as low as $139 for two people. This includes hot buffet breakfast, Wifi, Hollywood Hotel t-shirt and holiday hat to wear in the parade and, of course, walking in the parade. You have to use the promo code XMAS to get the deal. Most hotel chains charge that much just for the Wifi and breakfast.
We’ll be walking the world’s longest red carpet – 3.5 miles along Hollywood Blvd, Sunset Blvd, and Vine – all street names that visitors from around the world know and want to visit. So yeah, I’m pretty excited about letting my son know what he’s getting for his birthday. He won’t quite be 21, so we’ll skip the outdoor bar and lounge, but we’ll pack our swimsuits for the pool.
I love history, so maybe you will enjoy this tidbit that caught my eye – the original Hollywood Hotel was owned by H.J. Whitley, the man credited with establishing Hollywood. You know, BEFORE silent pictures were all the rage.
I’m really looking forward to our adventure as parade participants. We’re taking up one of the hotel’s 130 rooms, so if you want one of the other 129, you’d better hustle up. Hollywood glamour. Celebrities. A vintage, yet cosmopolitan vibe. Culture. And that other thing. Oh yeah, the parade!!!!
I’ll make it easy on you: For more information or reservations contact 1-800-800-9733; 323-315-1800 , or visit hollywoodhotel.net or on Facebook. The hotel is located at 1160 Vermont Ave., Hollywood, CA 90029.
photo credits: Hollywood Hotel and Hollywood Christmas Parade
I wasn’t paid to write this post. I was invited to stay at the Hollywood Hotel and participate in the parade, which I am REALLY looking forward to. Since you made it all the way to the bottom of this post, you might as well subscribe right over there ——–>
Alexandra Williams, MA
We just spent a few nights there, and managed to relax and be active simultaneously. The Oaks at Ojai is a small, family-owned spa right in the middle of downtown Ojai. Does that mean it’s busy or noisy? Just the opposite, as Ojai is a mellow town of only 8,000 people. Our totally unscientific guess is that 5,000 of them are artists, and the other 3,000 are hikers and bicyclists.
Skin Authority Fit & Firm Treatments (Fit & Firm for Fun & Fit – perfect)
Bike Riding on a path that leads all the way to the ocean at Ventura
A sunset meditation on Mount Meditation
Fitness classes (ever tried Glow in the Dark Qi Gong?)
Had 3 meals a day prepared to our specific diet
Played Bingo (though we didn’t win the muffins, dang it)
Made new friends
Visited Bart’s Bookstore (which leaves books outdoors at night – you pay on the honor system)
Lost a little weight
Hiked the Valley View Preserve (with absolutely stunning panoramic views)
We even met a woman who was leaving after a 3-week stay. She said she wanted a place to recuperate and make new friends after going through knee surgery and rehab. Once she got there, she didn’t want to leave. So she didn’t.
We didn’t want to leave either, but it was time to go to L.A. to celebrate our mom’s 86th birthday. The drive to L.A. is just over an hour. From where we live in Santa Barbara it’s only a 45 minute drive, so we’ll be back. Heck, I need to put my brand new bike lock to use, though I never actually locked my bike while we were there. I just parked it in the private patio garden at our bungalow.
Alexandra Williams, MA
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We were not paid to write this post. We were invited guests of the Oaks at Ojai for 2 nights, and boy did we appreciate their hospitality. So much so that I even taught the guests the “Thriller” dance (insert wolf howl right here).
I’m known for saying that I don’t like camping because dirt is involved. I’ve always loved being in the outdoors, especially if hiking is involved, but I’ve never enjoyed sleeping in the outdoors. I also frequently say that I’d happily go camping if it involved air conditioning, private hot showers and was a hotel room. Joke’s on me as it turns out that kind of camping actually exists.
This past weekend I was invited to the Entertainment New Media Network Conference. Day One – the KOA (Kampgrounds of America) Ventura Ranch in Santa Paula. Yup, do you see the word “campground” kind of hidden in there?
We got a tour, and I saw the inside of a very appealing teepee. Okay, it had beds and was cute, and even had privacy. But it was about 100 degrees that day and the teepee was hot. In short – camping. I was inside long enough to take a few pictures and admire it from a “that’s great for people who like camping” detached perspective. Really, I was just being polite and marking time till we got to do ziplining. That’s some Active Aging right there, eh? My videos show that I thought the ziplining was a highlight. You know, ‘cause I was up real high. Oh, the videos are sideways due to a change in the app I used to record. But you get a better feeling of the adventure with it sideways anyway.
After the small teepee, we saw a bigger, cuter teepee. Still camping. Just with more people. Bye bye. But then I heard the magic words: “Come on up to the deluxe cabins, which have air conditioning.” Yes, besides “please,” there are other magic words, especially when we’re on Day 9,017 of a heat wave. Who would have thought that “deluxe” and “camping” would ever join together in peace and harmony (code for hot showers and A/C).
When I was a kid, my parents would load up our family of 7 into the VW camper van and we’d go places, pitching a tent each night. Well, my dad pitched the tent. We probably ate S’mores and listened to him cursing the tent stakes. When my boys were small, I would join in the family camping adventures because I wanted to be a good mom. Jury’s still out whether I achieved that status, but the boys are now grown up and have happy camping memories. They also now go camping with their dad, leaving me at home. They know I’d give them “the look” if they invited me along.
But now I have a solution that’s perfect. The boys and I can all now go together. We’ll sit in the car and take turns driving. We can even hitch up the tiny (emphasis on TINY) Eriba camper trailer. And we’ll only stay at KOA Kampgrounds that have Deluxe Cabins… with linens. That’s their official designation – Deluxe Cabins with LInens. I’ll fall asleep caressing those linens after a hot shower and some time spent watching rescued dog videos on Facebook, compliments of the free wifi. I’ll wake up and cook breakfast in an actual kitchen. Then I’ll go for a short walk over to the site where the boys have parked the Eriba, wake them up and invite them over to my cabin for breakfast. But only if they wipe the dirt off their feet.
I might even let them use my shower. But only if they promise to go ziplining with me after we swim in the pool. And jump on the giant pillow. And if they’re not too tired from rubbing two sterno cans together to make a fire, I might even let them beat me to the top of the climbing wall. Right after we go for a hike.
Yup, I like the math. Time with my boys + deluxe cabin – dirt and heat + hot shower – paying high hotel prices + fun activities and hiking – sharing a bathroom with strangers = Perfect Camping. And it was all less than an hour from my home, in gorgeous Ventura Country. Sign me up.
by Alexandra Williams, MA
While I’m signing up for the KOA Deluxe Cabins, we invite you to sign up for our twice-weekly posts by entering your email right over there ——-> All topics for Boomers about Active Aging. While you’re at it, please follow me on Instagram and Periscope.
1. Get up early and hike – We hiked Andreas Canyon Trail in Indian Canyons – an oasis of fan palms, a running stream, and stunning rock formations, and Lykken South Trail – switchbacks up a steepish trail with sweeping views of Palm Springs and the surrounding desert. If you go first thing in the morning, you’ll have the trails and views to yourself. Bring water and a camera.
2. Work out in the fitness room, then take a midday nap at the pool – We had the fitness room all to ourselves, so we got rebellious and turned off the TV during our workout. Then we found a shady spot by the pool and took a siesta. You can order drinks and ice cream poolside. We ordered the adult Buzz ice cream bars – Cookies ‘n Cream and Bourbon, and Vanilla and Cognac. Next time we’ll try the Coffee and Irish Cream bar.
3. Eat breakfast in the Share Restaurant & Lounge – the food was organic, local, free range and healthy and the portions were huge. Like Trump’s ego – yuuuuuge. The buffet on Saturday morning had about 10 different kinds of fruit. Me, I had a spinach frittata one day, and a crab omelet the other.
4. Eat dinner in the outdoor HooDoo Cocktail Garden – Both the food and drink menus are amazing, as is the free Thursday night entertainment. The Hyatt is right in the heart of downtown, so we were in the center of the action. We also ate dinner in the Share Lounge, and want to “share” this hot tip – ask the bartender Brianna to make you a mint mojito or her special “Breeze.” They are the two best drinks I’ve ever had (and I’ve been over 21 for a long time).
8. Happy Hour Package – Two nights in a balcony suite, up to four cocktails, and appetizers of choice.
9. Buy 2 nights, Get the 3rd Free – Arrive Sunday – Tuesday and you’ll get your 3rd consecutive night free, starting at $129.
On the drive home, we stopped at the outlet mall that’s just west of Palm Springs, and spent all the money we saved at the Hyatt. I’m a sucker for buying clothes for my sartorially-oriented, very handsome son.
There is one more thing that I thought the Hyatt really excelled at – customer service. Every single person we came in contact with seemed to take pride in going beyond the basics – Trouble with our internet? Two engineers showed up in minutes. An underinflated stability ball in the fitness room? They sent someone to inflate it. The valet/ bellhops asked us each time we got our car if we needed directions or sightseeing advice. The breakfast waiter remembered that I like grapefruit juice. They treated everyone like this, and most of them had no idea I was a VIP media guest, so it wasn’t “for show.” And the crème de la crème? They treated my son with courtesy and respect, which you don’t always see extended toward a 21-year-old.
If you like short videos of the places I travel, please follow me on Periscope at @AlexandraFunFit
By Alexandra Williams, MA
Disclaimer: I was not paid for this post, though my stay at the Hyatt Palm Springs was covered, for which I am grateful.
Have you ever had a terribly long, stressful week where you are busy every day, all day, yet feel like you got nothing done? That’s been my week.
Normally I have relatives in town who help me with various caretaking, chauffeuring, and supervising chores. But not this week. So I spend all day driving people to appointments and practices, always aware that I am not getting my own work done. And some of it has deadlines. That have passed. Sigh….
We live on top of a mountain, so it’s not feasible to drop someone off, go home, then go back for them. So while I wait, I like to walk around, rather than sit in the car or lobby. If you saw my post earlier this week about relaxing, you know I like to take pictures. Taking pictures keeps me from feeling sorry for myself. Besides, I never actually got an official invitation to a pity party, and I don’t know what to wear to one. Sharing my pictures makes me happy.
I’ve also downloaded an app called Periscope that allows me to take and share videos in real time, then replay them. So I’ve gotten into doing video “scopes” of my walks around town. I also share some great ab moves here and there too. If you have a Twitter account (or are already on Periscope), you can join and share your videos in real time too. I’m AlexandraFunFit in case you want to follow me. I will follow you right back. In a non-stalkerish way. You will love this scope of our amazing Santa Barbara sunset (Periscope only has portrait view).
While I’m sharing, you might want to get in on this Honest Tea Giveaway we’re hosting. If you have a U.S. mailing address (not a P.O. box), you can enter for a chance to win a case of Honest Tea Cinnamon Sunrise Herbal Teas. One winner will be picked at random and notified. If no response is received within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.
What do you do to reduce chronic stress?
by Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra Williams, MA
Pssst – if you don’t live in California, read this anyway, as you can probably buy one of the 1.5 millions cases of Sustainability in Practice (SIP) wines near you, which might cheer you up about missing the event.
What is SIP?
When a winery achieves this certification, it means they are committed to practices that support workers and the environment, as well as contributing to cleaner processes. As we’re in a major drought in California, these vintners, ranchers and farmers are leading the way in trying to work with, not against, the land and weather, as no crops will be sustainable if we don’t do something now.
Every time you buy a SIP-certified bottle of wine, you are putting your money toward growers who share your (and my) preferences for sustainable practices. You are casting a vote to keep these vintners in business. By drinking wine! Can you say “win win?” If you’re into social media, you can even use the hashtag #ispySIP. And if you have no idea what a hashtag is, and wonder why I’m co-opting the pound sign, no worries – just ask your local shop if they carry SIP certified wines.
Besides me, who now wants to say, “I spy with my little eye…. wine?”
Earth Day Food & Wine Weekend
Let’s say you are somewhat close to Paso Robles in Central California and want to come to the event April 18th. Held at Castoro Cellars, it’s a food and wine experience that’s high class and low key. Heck, you can wear your flip flops and “I Love California” t-shirt while dancing to the Cali Funk tunes of Proxima Parada if you want. Guess where much of your admission money goes? To educational scholarships for relatives of farmworkers and Spanish education programs. Drink Well and Do Good should be their motto. But it’s not, because I just made it up.
For the record, this is not a sponsored post. They are giving me free admission, but I’m writing about this because one of the organizers is my friend and I know what a fun event it will be. For example, on their Facebook page, I just saw reference to locally grown onion, Gruyere, bacon quiches that will be at the event. Besides, they know the difference between “borne” and “born.” The editor in me is savoring this grammatical knowledge. You know, like a good glass of wine.
Photo credits: Earth Day Food and Wine
No matter where you live, walking outside is beneficial, even if you have to strap on snowshoes on the first day of Fall! And the nice thing about where you live is that your town has a few hiking paths that only locals seems to know about. Santa Barbara is no exception. Even though we’ll never get a chance to strap on snowshoes (well, we can strap them on, but we can’t walk around on snow on them unless we drive far away), we at least have the benefit of some fantastic walking spots. I’m going to share three that will put you “in the know” for the day you come to town: one on the beach, one at a lake, and one in the mountains.
From late October to late February you can see the monarch butterflies in this preserve that has 137 acres of open space. Parking and admission are free, and docents give educational talks on the weekends during butterfly season.
High above Santa Barbara, you get here by driving to the top of Hwy 154 (the Pass), and turning left onto West Camino Cielo. One of the few easily accessible boulder fields (we’ve taken a 4 year old and 84 year old), you follow a trail in for ¼ mile, then climb on, in, over, and even inside the rock outcroppings. Or just have a picnic and watch the sunset.
If you need comfy, cute shoes for your outdoor adventures, we love Ahnu. Not an affiliate link; we just love them. Check them out and decide for yourself. Then lace up and get outside!
Son #2 and I went to Tucson to see my cousins. One cousin is foolish enough to live there (don’t get upset Tucson friends, you have to admit it’s way too hot in summer), and the other flew in from D.C. We decided to drive because we have air conditioning. And because I didn’t realize it was a 12, not 8 hour drive. I should have trusted you Google Maps.
No matter your means of conveyance (that’s gotta be old western talk, right?), you’ll want to visit the following three places:
The largest privately owned air museum in the U.S., it has over 300 military, civilian and commercial aircraft. In the main hangar you’ll see a variety of planes, ranging from a Lear Jet that was owned and flown by the first woman to get type-rated in a Lear, to a homemade Bumble Bee plane that took the record for world’s smallest plane in 1984. Two WWII hangars (Pacific and European) are dedicated to the history and aircraft from the war. The SR-71 Blackbird spy plane and B-29 Bomber are spectacular, and made doubly so if you can get a docent to tell you their stories.
My favorite was the 390th Memorial Museum hangar, as I’m a history buff way more than an aviation fan. The POW exhibit and memorial plaques were especially moving.
More than half of the planes are outdoors, so we did a quick walk around due to the heat. You can take a tram tour of the 80+ outdoor acres, but we didn’t want to spend an hour sitting on the tram. We did find a number of Air Force One (so fancy) planes, plus a bunch of commercial planes from defunct airlines (remember TWA and PanAm?).
In the early 90s, scientists were sealed up inside the biosphere for two years to measure survivability in a contained environment. Now owned by the University of Arizona as a research facility (mostly for climate change studies), it’s still a contained environment with a rainforest, desert, ocean, and their support systems – air flow “lungs”, energy center, water & life experiments.
We learned that preventing ultraviolet light (for human benefit) was detrimental to the bees and coral, both of which died out. We also heard that the trees were flopping over until the researchers realized they needed wind, which then had to be created. We also found out that the immense amount of concrete supporting the biosphere absorbed so much of the oxygen while curing that oxygen had to be pumped in via the “lungs” so the scientists could survive. And according to my cousin, the second scientific “two-year sleepover” only lasted 6 months partly because the scientists didn’t get along. He also told me that one of the scientists was caught ordering take-away pizza. I don’t know if it was thin or thick crust. And in case you’re wondering, Biosphere1 is that big blue thing – earth.
Wake up early and get to this (mainly) outdoor museum when it opens at 7:30. Not only will the animals be awake, but it’s cool enough for you to remain outside for several hours. Not cool, just cool enough, by which I mean tolerable upper 80s, lower 90s. I think we were the very first visitors of the day, which meant that the docents were happy to talk to us for as long as we wanted. Some of the museum is like a zoo in that the animals are in outdoor enclosures that separate them from us. As you can see from my photo collage, we saw all kinds of critters. The mountain lion paced back and forth in front of us for quite a while, rubbing against the viewing glass. I am pretty sure he was purring.
Along the pathway, we saw some commotion with a squirrel and several museum workers. They told us that a squirrel was protecting its nest from a poaching rattlesnake. We made the mistake of asking where the snake was. So, yeah, about 2 feet in front of us, in the grass. Not separated from humans. After we backed way up, Karl the Docent with the Animal Grabbers drove up in his golf cart and plucked the snake up and put it into a box, on its way to a part of the desert where humans did not necessarily wander.
The Desert Museum also has an aquarium, botanical gardens, walking trails, aviaries, a cave/ geology center, art center, and demonstrations. Eighty-five percent of the museum is outdoors, so we had hats, sunblock and lots of water. And by 10:30 a.m. we were back in the car and on the road home to California.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra: Yes, you can take the stairs NEXT to the escalator, or climb the escalator steps instead of standing in place, just as easily as you can walk on the airport moving walkway instead of standing still. But what about going the wrong way? If few people are about, why not walk up the down escalator, or jog the opposite way on the moving walkway? Kids do it all the time, so why can’t we adults?
Kymberly: Overcome travel fatigue by taking advantage of fitness opportunities in your hotel. Check into your room, then check out the options.
First stop: the fitness room. No matter how modest or spacious, this is usually one of the quietest places at the hotel, which means you may have it to yourself. Wear whatever works, sing along to your iPod, put the tv channel on your favorite re-run as you get in a brisk walk on the treadmill.
Next up: Stairs instead of elevators! That first trip with luggage deserves the elevator. After that, step it up! So obvious, yet how many people do you see using hotel stairs? If you’re staying on a high floor, take the elevator halfway, get out and walk the rest of the way. If your room is on a lower level, take the elevator a few flights past your floor and walk down. Do a mini-step class on the bottom step or landing.
What next?: the pool! Hate swimming? Want to keep your hair dry? Can do! Jog in place at waist to chest depth or do a few powerwalking laps. Stand in a lunge position and jump-switch legs back and forth. Be creative moving your arms and legs about underwater creating resistance for a nifty and refreshing muscular endurance workout.
Alexandra: On a very long flight to Thailand a year ago, Kymberly and I were in physical discomfort from being seated for too long. Ever since 9/11, it seems we are discouraged from moving about during flights. Fortunately we found out that our plane had two levels with a stairwell at the back. So we climbed up and down for a while, then did stretches and leg work in place on the stairs. No-one gave us unfriendly looks, and we even spotted a few copycats after we were done.
Some cities offer sightseeing trolleys that allow you to hop off, visit an interesting place, then hop back on, including our home base Santa Barbara. I was just in Savannah, Georgia, and the free on/off buses were a perfect way to sightsee without having to walk the entire historic district or stay on a bus the whole time.
Even if you are stuck in the crappy middle seat of a domestic flight, and cannot “get up and move about the cabin,” you can still do squats. Unbuckle, start to stand, then sit back down. Do this ten times at repeated intervals and you will feel so much better when the flight’s over. You might even avoid having your legs fall asleep, which is what happens to me on flights if I stay still. Who cares if people stare? They are envious of your talents and ingenuity.
Kymberly: They are probably also jealous of your hot fun in the summertime! Road song! Click to sing along.
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The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Chevy.
I grew up in Hermosa Beach, in Los Angeles County. Over the past 30 years, I’ve probably gone back 5 times, mostly because I had moved far away. Thanks to Chevy, I was offered a Volt to drive around for the weekend anywhere I wanted to go in L.A. Immediately I knew I’d head to Hermosa for day one. For day two, I picked downtown L.A., as I fell in love with the downtown area when I took a tour with the Los Angeles Conservancy a few months ago.
When I was growing up, Hermosa was a family beach town. Parking was not really an issue. It is now! First off, I didn’t care how far I had to park from the beach, as I like walking. Secondly, it was a moot point, because I was so excited by the OnStar feature that I called to get locations of charging stations, and was directed to a spot about 2 blocks from the beach, right in front of the local surf shop. Not only was the charging station free, I got to park for as long as I wanted, as opposed to the 2 hour max for everyone else. Score!
After walking around H.B. all day, I called my new BFF at OnStar, and headed off to a party that a high school friend was giving. In the 70s, my mom directed plays, and she encouraged this friend in his love of working with sound. He grew up to own one of the most respected sound companies around, doing many of the concerts you’ve probably been to. You just never know how a seemingly small act of encouragement can grow. He credits my mom for his path. I credit him for throwing a party that had fire-dancers, aerial silk artists, and excellent music, sound and a light show. I wore hot pink shorts for the hot tub and completely ruined my niece’s life. I forgot the Auntie Dress Code for a moment! hahahahah. She’s now scarred for life.
After sleeping in till 8:30 (it was a non-alcoholic party, FYI; I was just tired), I drove the Volt downtown. Did you know you can park in Pershing Square on the weekend for just $7 all day?
We (family tagged along) wandered around looking at whatever caught our fancy, and swore that we’d do a Conservancy Theatre tour soon.
When we were kids our mom took us to lots of museums, including the La Brea Tar Pits, where we all threatened to push each other in (my parents had 5 kids, hoping to eventually strike gold, I guess), but I don’t have memories of going downtown. I love history (my undergrad degree was in medieval history, which my dad said qualified me for government work), so I am that nerd who reads every plaque on every building. Downtown L.A. has a lot of historic buildings, so it will take me years.
You got that, Chevy Volt people? I need the car again FOR YEARS, as I finish these trips through history and my memory. I promise to stop yelling, “Charge me up, baby” at all the charging stations!
This trip started and ended with the Chevy Volt, so it’s fitting it should start and end with pictures of it. In my own inimitable style, of course. If you are on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you can see my other photos using the hashtag #ChevyFitTrip. Four other bloggers will be sharing their trips around Los Angeles and New York using this same hashtag, so follow along all summer.
And of course, for more about fitness, fun and active aging, follow Kymberly and me:
2) Pick up the phone or email us to book us to speak at your next meeting or conference. Call (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.