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4

Tangerine Dream: It’s Pixie Month at The Oaks at Ojai Spa

It’s Pixie Tangerine season in Ojai, and we celebrated our love of the seedless fruit, the Oaks at Ojai spa treatments, and romance this past weekend.

chaise longuesJust to be clear, in this case, “we” was NOT my sister and I (see the part just there that mentions romance). Last year my sis and I went to the spa for Bike Week, so you can go for the active adventures, or wind down with spa treatments. Or both. This time I went for relaxation and spa treatments (you don’t have to be a guest to take advantage of the spa services, FYI).

For Pixie Month, my particular friend and I showed up in time for dinner, which included a Pixie mousse for dessert. Yes, you CAN get dessert at a fitness spa. Our goal was to relax after a busy week, so we took a short stroll after dinner, then sat in the hot tub contemplating our good luck at having it all to ourselves.

Ojai Meadows Preserve

The Ojai Meadows Preserve is a 5-minute drive from the Oaks at Ojai.

frog

Five of these little froggies would fit in the palm of your hand

April is Pixie tangerine month at the Oaks at Ojai. Ready for your visit? Click To TweetAfter breakfast, which included as many Pixies as we could fit in our pockets, we drove to the Ojai Meadows Preserve for a hand-in-hand stroll, where we saw several hundred teeny tiny frogs. We were tempted by both the morning hike and the aqua class at the spa (I have done both in the past, and loved them), but we were focused on our “together” time, so chose solo activities instead.

serenity garden

Hidden behind the pool is a serenity rock garden. You can add your own!

By the time we got back to The Oaks at Ojai, it was time for our spa treatments. In my case, that meant a pixie pedicure. Yup, it included a foot and leg scrub infused with tangerines, plus a fresh tangerine squeezed into the foot soak water. I almost chose tangerine as my nail polish color, then decided to go with a merlot color. I’m sure both sound delicious. My friend had a massage, which I was surprised to learn was the first he’d ever had in his life. How is it possible that he made it into his fifties without ever having a massage? In any case, he loved it, including the hot stones, and now he knows what he’s been missing.

Lake Casitas

If you come from Santa Barbara, stop for the views of Lake Casitas

ABC Channel 7 did a piece about Pixie month and the Oaks at Ojai, which we recommend you watch. The spa is only 45 minutes away from Santa Barbara, and includes a scenic drive past Lake Casitas. If you’re coming from L.A., it’s only an hour’s drive.

Rachel at Oaks at Ojai

Don’t let that smile fool you; Rachel is just waiting to make you laugh

My little extra piece of advice? You can go for a girls’ getaway (some friends did that a week before our visit), or with a male partner. Some people think the Oaks at Ojai is just for women, but that’s not the case at all. There were a number of men there (though mine was the handsomest). And if you want to laugh, ask for Rachel at the front desk. She’s a hoot.

Alexandra Williams, MA

This is not a sponsored post, though I was a special guest at the spa for the night.

 

7

California’s Central Coast (with Elephant Seal Pups)

I was THIS close to seeing an elephant seal get born.

Elephant Seals CambriaDuring our recent trip to the Highway 1 Discovery Route along the Central California Coast, we stopped at the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery that’s about 6 miles up the coast from Hearst Castle. As it turns out, January is peak birthing season, so we saw lots of pups. The docent (the volunteers are there every day) pointed out one female who was acting as if she were ready to give birth. How exciting.Pregnant elephant seal

I was so determined to get a photo that would make National Geographic beg for my private number, that I stood in the rain for about an hour, squinting through my lens at the seal as she flopped about trying to get comfortable. Watching her trying to find a comfy pose gave me flashbacks to my own birthing experiences, and I sadly saw the resemblance between me and a large “come on already, let’s get this over with” elephant seal.

Eventually she fell asleep. I checked back in with the docent, who said it could take anywhere from an hour to 24 for her to give birth. I guess she wasn’t imminent enough to comply with my schedule. Dang it anyway.Cambria-Rocks-1

I didn’t have any childhood memories of seeing the elephant seals during family travels, but I discovered that the seals didn’t start coming to the rookery until 1990, which explains why (I was a full-grown A-Dult by the 90s). Now you can see them year-round.

Hearst Castle

patio at Hearst Castle

Hearst indoor pool

pool detail from Hearst CastleAnd this was my first trip to Hearst too, odd as that seems for someone who’s lived most of her life in California. Coming in January was perfect, as there were no lines at all. I especially liked the exhibit at the visitor’s center. Lots of pictures and history. I love history, and actually have my BA in Medieval European History. My dad said it qualified me for government work (that was the early 80s).

We were THIS close to seeing an elephant seal pup being born. Click To Tweet


Sunset near Cayucos

duck at Moonstone Beach

Besides our visit to Covell’s Clydesdales (click to read about it and see the pictures), we also went on quite a few walks – Moonstone Beach and Boardwalk, Fiscalini Preserve, downtown Cambria, and Harmony Headlands. Our hotel was El Colibri, which sits in a quiet spot right at the start of Moonstone Beach. For pics of my sister planking on a Fiscalini bench in the pouring rain, read her post about our multi-generational travel experience.Moonstone Beach rocks

Beach near CambriaWhen you go to Cambria, try any of the restaurants we ate at – Linn’s, Indigo Moon, Robin’s, Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill, and Black Cat Bistro. All of them were fantastic, and had lots of choices for vegetarians. Really, really friendly staff too. Really. I also suspect that sweet potato fries are the official food of the Central Coast. This is a good thing.Evening sky in Cambria

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Alexandra Williams, MA

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2

Multigenerational Travel: Pack Nana’s Walking Sticks

Highway 1 in Central California – the Discovery Route to Getting Smarter, Healthier, and Wetter

Where do you go and what can you do when you have three generations, four days to travel, and a goal to achieve at least 10,000 steps per day? Let me rephrase that: what place meets the needs of middle-aged twins who want “active travel” options, a 19 year old who is game for whatever as long as heavy exertion is not required, and a mom/ grandma who needs to make decisions based on safety?

Click on all images to see the captions.

When Alexandra and I, both baby boomers, were offered the opportunity to head up the Highway 1 Discovery Route, we were all over it like elephant seals on sand! Wait, did I just compare ourselves to large, rotund animals? Moving on. (But first, we would like to thank, acknowledge, and disclose that our trip was sponsored by CA Highway 1 DiscoveryRoute (highway1discoveryroute.com). Local businesses and organizations teamed up to promote the many options the area offers and we were the lucky bloggers chosen to get spoiled.)

Turns out the Cambria/ Harmony/ San Simeon area (best known for Hearst Castle) is the ideal vacation destination for multigenerational travel. Even better, winter is an ideal time to visit this accessible section of central California. Crowds are down; prices are low; and the number of things to do and see is sky high. Seriously, I had thought of the area as “sleepy” but we could have spent a week and still not have exhausted the options. I might have started fighting with Alexandra after a week together. Willing to find out though!

Why fight when you can find Harmony? Home of 18 residents and the Harmony Glassworks Studio, this tiny “city” is worth checking out. Don’t blink or you’ll miss the exit. Whether you want to try glassblowing, shop for handmade gifts, or wait in the car while the crazy middle-aged sisters brave the rain to get some pictures, you’ll be glad you ventured here. Skin is waterproof, so bring on the wet!

A quick tour and interview of the Harmony Glassworks

Where do you go when you have 3 generations, 4 days to travel, & a goal to achieve 10k steps… Click To Tweet

New experiences and nature spark the brain. Great for our mom, who wants to retain her memory and cognitive skills. She loves to travel, though can no longer do so alone. Catching the elephant seals in winter is perfect as that’s when the pups are just born, so the rookery is chock full of new seal families. Super accessible and interesting for all ages. And we almost saw a seal give birth.

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I think my mom is pinching her grandson’s hiney. What else explains her expression? Photo credit: Alexandra Williams

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Walking and healthy foods enhance health. Say, that sounds good to all of us, including my 19 year old nephew. He was keen on the high quality restaurants and varied food choices. He fully embraced the antiquing, beachcombing, and massage at the El Colibri Spa and Inn, where we stayed.

Rain and mist (finally!) create gorgeous vistas and ideal hike conditions. For me this meant heading to the Harmony Headlands Trail, a 4-mile walk through meadows and rolling hills to get to rugged coastline.

Tree on Harmony Headlands trail

Opening to the coastline from my Harmony Headlands hike

Harmony Headlands Hike

My kind of hiking conditions. Cool, misty, and open. Harmony Headlands Trail

 

Mom on bench at Moonstone

Our mom warms the bench while we navigate the sands and tides. Photo credit: Alexandra Williams

My sister, mom, and nephew headed to Hearst Castle meantime. Hot tip to you baby boomers who bring a parent along — walking sticks will really help with steps, castle climbing, slippery streets, and strolls along the Moonstone Beach boardwalk.

Originally, I was scheduled to kayak with Cubby of Kayak Outfitters. But when the words “tricky” and “high surf advisory” came into the discussion, I decided to return in fall for this adventure. Apparently fall is the best time to paddle out.  So that’s when you can count me in. Yes, I plan to return as I enjoyed the area so much and have other hiking trails to check out.

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Visiting Covell’s Clydesdale Horse Ranch is another insider tip for those of you who want to step back in time when the land was pristine and undeveloped. You can read more about this unique, historic, and privately held ranch dedicated to conservation in this post my sister wrote. Great photos too!: Hidden Gem in Central California. Again, the set up appealed to all four of us, and the owner was very sweet and accommodating of our varied needs and interests. I am not normally a horse person (they scare me, ok?!). But seeing the Clydesdales up close was a once-in-a-lifetime, inspiring experience. What may appeal to some of you even more is getting access to this private and vast property. Being able to perambulate and drive through more than a thousand acres of “original” California coastal land is the tour to take advantage of while you can.

Another travel tip Alexandra and I figured out is that we can work in some hikes and walks while the generation above and below take a nap, fondle their smart phones in the hotel room, and get spa treatments. With the Fiscalini Preserve just a mile from our hotel, we braved the elements and had the coastline to ourselves.

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Got older kids and nana along? Wake early to catch scenery while they sleep in.

What’s left to say? If you want to start your day with beauty (see above) and end it with more beauty (see and sea below), then get yourself and family to Highway 1 in Central California. For sure in winter. Then again, who wants to meet me there in fall? We can double kayak and take a hike!

Sunset in Cambria

Every age can appreciate these kinds of sunsets and tidepools and sunsets, right? Photo by Kymberly who shows a modicum of promise here.

ACTION: Have you been to Cambria and the surrounding area? If so, what is one of your fondest memories? Comment below. Or lay some emoticons on us.

Photo credits: Photos of me taken by not me, aka Alexandra. Photos that look professional also taken by Alexandra. Photos that look pretty darn good for an amateur with little clue about lighting taken by me!  If you really want to know who took what, click on the images and all captions reveal themselves.

Kymberly Williams-Evans

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7

10 Reasons to Chillax at the Hyatt Palm Springs

The Hyatt Palm Springs invited me and a guest to come stay with them for a few nights to experience their “Chill” packages. I’m a pretty smart person, so I said yes and invited my older son.

It can will get over 100 degrees in August in Palm Springs, but don’t let that deter you. We had a blast, but not a heat blast.Rocks in the road, Indian Canyons, Palm Springs

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.Indian Canyons Palm Springs

Lykken Trail, Palm Springs2. 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.Buzz Bar at Hyatt Palm Springs

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).HooDoo menu Hyatt Palm Springs

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Share Restaurant & Lounge, Hyatt Palm Springs5. Shop the incredible summer deals – I am not a fan of crowds. If you aren’t either, then this is the time to shop in Palm Springs. The prices are low, and the A/C is high.

6. Drive south on the 74 to Vista Point – The view over the Coachella Valley is unbelievable at sunset. 11899865_10153495617732660_2636170394409420667_n

Vista Point, Palm Springs

7. Wander through the outdoor market on Thursday nights – it runs 6:30 to 10 pm – art, food, crafts, clothing, leather goods, dancing, and a rabbi who answers questions.Outdoor art in Palm Springs

The 3 “Chill” packages are good until the end of September, and they are RGD (Really Good Deals):

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.

10. Bed & Breakfast for Two – I was with my son, so this was the perfect choice for us. The room was huge, and included a separate living room.Pool at the Hyatt Palm Springs

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.Wind Farm, Palm Springs

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.Fountain in Palm Springs

All in all, a perfect summer adventure. Enjoy my pictures, and if you decide to book your own Hyatt trip to Palm Springs, I promise to enjoy your pictures.cactus on a rock in Indian Canyons, Palm Springs

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. 

10

Flavor Your Summer with Stuff that Starts with “A”: Road Trip!

Gotta be in it to win it!

Give outrigger paddling a go when in Santa Barbara, CA

Adventure, Activity, Almonds, Animals

Ready to bring your “A” game on a road trip up the California coast? What do these grade A words have in common? They are all part of my midlife summer excitement and active aging life. I wrapped up my first year as an outrigger paddler with sprint races. Next adventure? Hit the road from Santa Barbara to Eureka, CA with my husband and dog for vacation. In between were the IDEA Health and Fitness Convention, an airport good-bye to my daughter for a year, and lots of group fitness classes. What fun A level actions are you putting into play this season? How have your summer vacation expectations changed since you were younger?

All Aboard Mateys

harbor with boats

End of the paddle season and where my vacation started

On my recent sprint race, I realized that all my canoe mates were between 24 and 35. The 40, 50, and 60 year olds were absent from our crew that weekend. So I represented for my age group with pride and power! Being able to contribute to my team while two to three decades’ older was a great feeling. Not only did I hold my own, but our boat did its best of the season. Have you ever been the lone baby boomer or older adult in a crowd of youngsters? If so, what did you experience?.

Dog Days of Summer

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Kila took this picture in Northern California. I did say she was the smartest dog ever.

The day after our paddling sprint season ended, we (the hubster and I) packed up and headed on our coastal Road Trip! For the first time, we brought our dogger wogger, the princess pooch, Ace Queen of the canine world. This decision meant organizing our driving days around lots of stops and dog walks. What a great idea this turned out to be.

Rather than hit the main tourist attractions–or anything involving a long, hot, wait in the car for our girl, Kila–we ferreted out hikes, trails, and scenic walks off the beaten path. We were also “required” to stop and get out of the car often to accommodate “she who wags her tail and needs bathroom breaks.” Yes, it’s all about our four legged girl! Animal Numero Uno.

Hot fitness tip:  If you ever want to be sure to work exercise and physical Activity into your car vacations, simply take a young dog with you!

Road Snacks

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NOOOoooo, Not your best road trip snack choices

Blue Diamond at the garage sale

YEEssss, these are packable, portable road snacks (that my dog does not try to beg from me)

Also take healthy road snacks. Don’t buy road trip foodstuffs where you fill up with gas or where the food gets handed to you through a window. Hit your grocery store and farmer’s market beforehand (some really good ones in Sebastopol FYI). In our case, we packed fruit, popcorn, sweet bell peppers, and Almonds (thanks Blue Diamond, who is sponsoring this post and helped us stay healthy and satiated as we motored up Highway 1!).  Believe me, if you have just polished off a handful of almonds or a baggie of cherries, you are not going to be tempted by the doughnut shops that line all roads, highways, and byways. Ok, I might be tempted, but since I was not hungry, I didn’t give in to that temptation. How about you?

Anyway, enough nattering on about my summer season that was seasoned with flavorful A words. It’s time to share a few pictures of my summer Adventure. Then to get to sleep so I am ready for more Action tomorrow. But no doughnuts.

Kila on beach

Frolicking at Pismo Beach, CA where you’ll find loads of sand dollars

 

Bow WOW, this sign from Point Arena, CA is Barkalicious!

Elephant Seals Molting in the Melting Sun

Elephant Seals Molting in the Melting Sun in Cambria

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Day 3 Ends Well in Northern Calif

Day 3 Ends Well in Northern Calif

 

Blue Diamond, Ahnu, IDEA notebook

Ready to Inspire, Connect, Transform with my Ahnus, Almonds, and IDEA notebook

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