Southern California in Pictures

Southern California in Pictures

Our time in California has flown by.  I love that Paul enjoyed the stomping grounds of my youth so much and that we were able to spend time with friends (old and new) and family.  Next up is Orlando, Florida.  We will road trip it there in the next few weeks and plan on stopping in Palm Springs, Tombstone, Austin, New Orleans, and possibly one more place along the way.  I will share details here and on Facebook as soon as I have some.

We had planned on spending a bit more time here but that was not meant to be, and we are both ready for whatever is next.  I am keeping an eye out for job opportunities and potential sits/rentals, and would love to hear from any Orlando readers.  Below are my favorite California photos.  I will probably be adding to them in the next few days.  Please send me any that you would like me to share, California friends!  Thanks for the memories . . .

The Three Amigas

The Three Amigas (Thirty Years of Friendship and Counting)

 

The Ladies Take Venice Beach

New Friends! The Ojai Ladies at Gjelina in Venice Beach

 

Bukowski Quote on Main Street, Ventura

Bukowski Quote on Main Street, Ventura

 

Paul's Favorite Spot at Azu

Paul’s Favorite Spot at Azu

 

One of My Favorite Ojai Cars

Lots of Classy Old Cars in Ojai

 

Anniversary #9 Selfie

Anniversary #9 Selfie

 

Ojai Farmers' Market

Ojai Farmers’ Market

 

Paul and Giselle on Old Creek Rd

Paul and Giselle at the ranch on Old Creek Rd

 

Old Creek Ranch Winery

Old Creek Ranch Winery

 

Old Creek Ranch Winery

Old Creek Ranch Winery

 

The Farmer and The Cook in Meiner's Oaks

The Farmer and The Cook in Meiner’s Oaks

 

Our Next Door Neighbor

Our Next Door Neighbor

 

Johnny's on The Avenue

Johnny’s on The Avenue

 

A Dog and His Truck

A Dog and His Truck

 

Someone's a Little Spoiled

Someone’s a Little Spoiled

 

Soule Park Blossoms

Soule Park Blossoms

 

Smallest Post Office

USA’s Smallest Post Office

 

Working 9-5

Working 9-5

 

Puppy Love

Puppy Love

 

Almost Famous

Almost Famous

 

Paul's Birthday Spread

Paul’s Birthday Spread

 

Libbey Park

Libbey Park for the Storytelling Festival

 

Airstream Bar in Whole Foods (Oxnard)

Airstream Bar in Whole Foods (Oxnard)

 

Ojai Roasting Co on a Sunday

Ojai Roasting Co on a Sunday

 

Deer Lodge Peace Sign

Deer Lodge Peace Sign

 

The Pier

The Pier

 

An Upper Ojai Meadow

An Upper Ojai Meadow

 

Helen's First Birthday

Helen’s First Birthday

 

Corrale's For a Burrito

Corrale’s For a Burrito

 

Weekly Hikes

Weekly Hikes (See Prior Posts for Hiking Pics)

 

Life is Beautiful at Surfer's Point

Life is Beautiful at Surfer’s Point

 

Christmas on Old Creek Rd

Christmas on Old Creek Rd

 

Kurt Vonnegut at Bart's Books

Kurt Vonnegut at Bart’s Books

 

Madrigali at the Ojai Storytelling Festival

Madrigali at the Ojai Storytelling Festival

 

The Ojai Playhouse

The Ojai Playhouse

 

Yellow Truck on Main Street

Yellow Truck on Main Street

 

OVAC Hiking Group at Horn Trail

OVAC Hiking Group at Horn Trail

 

Yoga and Wine at Majestic Oak Vineyard

Yoga and Wine at Majestic Oak Vineyard

 

Linda and Giselle at the River Bottom

Linda and Giselle at the River Bottom

 

Force of Nature at The Ojai Wine Festival

Force of Nature at The Ojai Wine Festival

 

Lunchtime View at Soule Park Golf Course

Lunchtime View at Soule Park Golf Course

 

CC (Club Cat) at The Ojai Valley Athletic Club

CC (Club Cat) at The Ojai Valley Athletic Club

 

Smitty and Julija at The Lavender Festival

Smitty and Julija at The Lavender Festival

 

Lavender Festival Umbrella

Lavender Festival Umbrella

 

Ojai Raptor Center

Ojai Raptor Center

 

Lavender Lemonade Martini at Osteria Monte Grappa

Lavender Lemonade Martini at Osteria Monte Grappa

 

Before I Die . . at Porch Gallery

Before I Die . . at Porch Gallery

 

Gay Pride at Libbey Park

Gay Pride at Libbey Park

 

The Oaks

The Oaks at Ojai

 

Ojai Museum

Ojai Museum

 

Ojai Music Festival Flag

Ojai Music Festival Flag

 

The Arcade

The Arcade

 

Emily's Cal Poly Graduation

Emily’s Cal Poly Graduation

 

Hanging Out at Porch Gallery

Hanging Out at Porch Gallery

 

Meditation Mount

Meditation Mount

 

Meditation Mount

Meditation Mount

 

Meditation Mount

Meditation Mount

 

July Fourth Parade

July Fourth Parade

 

July Fourth Parade

July Fourth Parade

 

Bonnie Lu's on July Fourth

Bonnie Lu’s on July Fourth

 

Deborah on Her Phone at The Vine

Deborah on Her Phone at The Vine

 

Watching The Game at Osteria Monte Grappa

Watching The Game at Osteria Monte Grappa

 

Surfer's Point

Surfer’s Point

 

Surfer's Point

Surfer’s Point

 

Surfer's Point

Surfer’s Point

 

Sadie and Erik at Los Cap

Sadie and Erik at Los Cap

 

Dawn and Fancy Mike at Los Cap

Dawn and Fancy Mike at Los Cap

 

Ojai Concert Series

Ojai Concert Series

 

The Star Lounge

The Star Lounge

 

Surfer's Point

Surfer’s Point

 

Helen Shops

Live Your Dreams

 

The Breakfast Club at Seafresh

The Breakfast Club at Sea Fresh

 

Lynn and Helen at The Vine

Lynn and Helen at The Vine

 

John E Sings the Blues

Private John E Concert

 

Cheers From Yours Truly

Cheers From Yours Truly

 

Classic Car Show in Ventura

Classic Car Show in Ventura

 

Classic Car Show in Ventura

Classic Car Show in Ventura

 

Classic Car Show in Ventura

Classic Car Show in Ventura

 

Classic Car Show in Ventura

Classic Car Show in Ventura

 

Rocker Mom

Rocker Mom

 

Beach Festival

Beach Festival

 

Food Truck Love

Food Truck Love

 

California Carnies

California Carnies

 

Gallery 525

Gallery 525

 

Ojai Yarn Bomb

Ojai Yarn Bomb

 

Optimist Club at Ojai Day

Optimist Club at Ojai Day

 

Singing Gypsies at Ojai Day

Singing Gypsies at Ojai Day

 

Ojai Day Music

Ojai Day Music

 

Jared, Tending Bar at The Vine

Jared, Tending Bar at The Vine

 

Jacob and David at The Vine

Jacob and David at The Vine

 

Puppy Love

Puppy Love With Lori

 

Nigel and Kara at Taste of Ojai

Nigel and Kara at Taste of Ojai

 

Backyard Bliss

Backyard Bliss

 

Helen on Halloween

Helen on Halloween

 

Mom and Helen on Halloween

Mom and Helen on Halloween

 

Yours Truly on Halloween

Yours Truly on Halloween

 

David on Halloween

David on Halloween

 

Greg and Paul at The Vine

Greg and Paul at The Vine

 

Singing at Smitty's Place

Singing at Smitty’s Place

 

Imagine at Monte Grappa

Imagine at Monte Grappa

 

Ojai Christmas Tree

Ojai Christmas Tree

 

Tim and Bernie at The Vine

Tim and Bernie at The Vine

 

A Visit From Portland Jonny

A Visit From Jonny

 

Sunset Over the Channel Islands

Sunset Over the Channel Islands

 

Helen and Mom at CoCo's

Helen and Mom at CoCo’s

 

Pool Shark Sami at The Hub

Pool Shark Sami at The Hub

 

Ojai Retreat

Ojai Retreat

 

Old Truck in Meiner's Oaks

Old Truck in Meiner’s Oaks

 

Book Ends in Meiner's Oaks

Book Ends in Meiner’s Oaks

 

Century 10 in Ventura

Century 10 in Ventura

 

Pratt Trail in Ojai

Pratt Trail in Ojai

 

The Ojai Library

The Ojai Library

 

Paul on Ojai Ave

Paul on Ojai Ave

 

The Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room

The Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room

 

The Patio at Osteria Monte Grappa

The Patio at Osteria Monte Grappa

 

Paul at Surfer's Point

Paul at Surfer’s Point

 

Helen in Her Woody Hat

Helen in Her Woody Hat

 

Emily and Helen

Emily and Helen

 

Joey and Jasmine

Joey and Jasmine

 

Mom

Mom

 

Joey and Helen

Joey and Helen

 

Helen

Helen

 

Chalkboard Sign at Love Heals

Chalkboard Sign at Love Heals

 

Hiking, Yoga, & More with Robert Evans

Hiking, Yoga, & More with Robert Evans

Ojai, California is home to some of the best trails I have ever hiked, and most of them are just minutes away from us. Paul and I have hiked here and there on the weekends, but most of my trail time happens on Monday mornings with a group led by Robert Evans via the Ojai Valley Athletic Club.

I’m getting to know this side of the Los Padres National Forest thanks to Robert. We first met in January when I joined OVAC and started going on his weekly hikes.  Since then, I have enjoyed his Yoga, QiGong and Spin classes, as well. Please meet (or get to know better) one of my favorite Ojai Valley locals via this short, sweet Q&A.

 

Robert in Los Padres National Forest

Robert in Los Padres National Forest

 

Robert, how long have you lived in the Ojai Valley?

I was raised in the valley from age 6-16 and retuned to Ojai in 1997. 

 

OVAC Hiking Group

OVAC Hiking Group at Horn Canyon

 

Lynn Hiking Horn

My Sassy Friend Lynn Hiking Horn Canyon

 

What brought you here?

My car (haha, you funny).  I really was craving a quieter place to live and wanted to be closer to my mom.

 

Robert and Susan in Los Padres National Forest

Robert and His Wife Susan and Friends in Los Padres National Forest

 

Paul in Los Padres National Forest

Paul in Los Padres National Forest

 

When and why did you become a health and wellness professional?

I started in 1999.  Wanted to be able to be of service to others.

 

Terry and Patrick on Pine Mountain

Terry and Patrick on Pine Mountain

 

Coulter Pine Cone in Los Padres National Forest

Coulter Pine Cone in Los Padres National Forest

 

What were you doing before then?

I owned a jewelry manufacturing and repair company.

 

Susan and ?

Four Legged Friends Hike, As Well

 

Where do you like to go to get away?

Our local mountains and the beaches of Telum, Mexico.

 

Los Padres National Forest

Los Padres National Forest, Looking Out at the Pacific Ocean

 

What are some of your favorite things about this area?

The wonderful mountains, running on the trails, and the people.

 

Yoga at OVAC

Yoga at OVAC

 

Is there an activity that you enjoy leading the most?

It is pretty much whatever I’m doing in the moment but my very favorite are my yoga and pool classes.

 

Downward Dog at OVAC

Downward Dog at OVAC

 

FYI: Robert also teaches Yoga classes outside of OVAC.  Most of the classes I have taken from him have been at OVAC, but I did catch a few of his “Yoga and Wine” events at Majestic Oak Vineyard before they ended for the season.  It’s a lovely combination, by the way!

 

Yoga and Wine at Majestic Oak Vineyard

Yoga and Wine at Majestic Oak Vineyard

 

Pre-Wine Under the Oak

Pre-Wine Under the Oak

 

What would you do if you weren’t doing this?

Running a yoga and surf retreat in Ecuador.

 

Yoga & Wine at Majestic Oak Vineyard

Yoga Under the Stars at Majestic Oak Vineyard

 

Wine Time

Wine Time at Majestic Oak Vineyard

 

Any advice for those looking to shift to a healthier lifestyle?

Just get started and find what you like best and do it more!

 

Swim Class at OVAC

Pool Class at OVAC

 

Mary & Betty at OVAC

Mary & Betty at OVAC

 

Peace

Eddie Says “Peace Out” From the Pool

 

Where can people go to find out about all of the services you offer?

Find me at GoOjai for hiking and OmOjai for yoga.

Thank you, Robert Evans!  And thank you, friends near and far, for keeping up with us on our Caretaking Couple adventures.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them here.

Thanksgiving Love,

Valynne & Paul

Six Months in Southern California

Six Months in Southern California

Most of you know that I (Valynne) spent a good twenty years of my life in Southern California. I was born in Connecticut, but did most of my growing up in Ventura, CA. Paul and I had visited CA together a handful of times (mostly Northern as the company he works for is headquartered there) and we both liked the idea of living somewhere along or near the coast, if only for a few months. It took us a while to get here, but we are happy to say that we are officially California residents (tempted to post my driver’s license pic as it is that bad…Nope. Can’t do it).

 

Sharing my old stomping grounds (Main Street, Ventura) with Paul

Sharing my old stomping grounds (Main Street, Ventura) with Paul

 

Surfer's Point in Ventura, CA

Surfer’s Point in Ventura, CA

 

Paul and I came here on a long term sit for a friend that I used to petsit for back in my early twenties. We’ve just spent four months in her sweet little ranch on the outskirts of Ventura with no less than eleven animals (two horses, two goats, four chickens, two barn cats, and one loving and lovable little whippet named Giselle).

 

Momma and Daughter Goats Happy and Mocha

Momma and Daughter Goats, Happy and Mocha

 

Giselle the Whippet

Giselle, taking a quick break on her favorite chair after running around outside (hence the grass on her bum)…

 

During that time, we did some local research and decided to find a rental in the neighboring town of Ojai as soon as our homeowner friend returned from her travels. Ojai has a small village vibe and was love at first wander for Paul. We recently found a great place and are now in the process of making it homey.  Can’t wait to get our books and art out of storage in New Mexico!  For now, the rooms all echo.  We’ve been having fun finding household items here and there via local shops and yard sales.

 

Our New California Digs

Our New California Digs

 

We will be here for at least a year, and most likely longer. The cost of living is more expensive in California than most states we have lived in, but there are ways to balance it out. I have found a job as a Client Services Manager here in town, and Paul continues to work from home, so we don’t have to worry about the time and money associated with commuting. We can walk or take the trolley just about anywhere and our plan is to leave the 4Runner in the carport as often as possible.

 

Ojai Farmers' Market

Ojai Farmers’ Market

 

There are so many community events here, and we love that we can walk to just about all of them. My Ventura family and friends are fifteen or so miles away (see photo below of my adorable niece with her momma at Arroyo Verde Park on her first birthday for reference) and my mom and I get to catch up in person almost every week now. This is a pretty big deal for me, as we’ve gone years without seeing each other in the past.

 

I'd say her Dora the Explorer Birthday cake was a hit...

I’d say that her Dora the Explorer Birthday cake was a hit…

 

As for house and pet sitting, we are taking a little break. It’s been a good (almost five year) run and we are enjoying having our own place to call home again and coming and going as we please. For the first time in what seems like forever, we have no travel plans, other than a quick trip to New Mexico to pick up our stuff in storage. We will be planning another England trip soon (he’s not going again without me!), but there are other things to consider first, like the budget and vacation time with my new job.

There is so much more to say, but I am going to keep this post a simple update and get more specific in future posts. I have taken lots of pictures, and will add a photo gallery again here soon, as well. We love keeping in touch with everyone and would be thrilled to get an update from you as well, either here in the comments box or via your communication method of preference. Feel free to post any questions/comments/requests here, as well.  Happy Spring, wherever you may be!  Lots of Love,

V&P

A Week at Maca Bana in Grenada (in Pictures)

After two weeks on the road, Paul and I were looking forward to spending our third week of vacation in Grenada, a Caribbean Island also referred to as the Isle of Spice (another brilliant idea of Paul’s!). We did a whole lot of relaxing at Maca Bana, a boutique hotel overlooking Magazine Beach in Grenada, and  spent the rest of our time exploring nearby beaches, wandering around St. George’s, meeting lots of locals, and eating lots of fresh seafood.  I decided to create a gallery this time around, as I took so many photos of this very special place.  *Click on the picture to enlarge it.  From there, you can simply click on the arrow to the right of the picture to see the next one.*

If you have any questions or comments about our time in Grenada, please let us know here and one of us will respond quickly.  I left a review of Maca Bana on Trip Advisor, as well.  This was another life-changing experience for us and I am so grateful for these opportunities.  We are now house and pet-sitting in Ventura, California.  Stay tuned for an update!

Palm Springs and Idyllwild, CA

Palm Springs and Idyllwild, CA

Paul and I continued on our road trip via Route 66 from Arizona to California.  Although I was raised in Southern CA, I’d never been to Palm Springs or Idyllwild.  Paul was in charge of the itinerary, and both towns sounded interesting to me, so he found us two entirely different places to stay.  The man really should consider a second career in the travel industry.

Giant Statue of Marilyn in Palm Springs

26 Foot Statue of Marilyn in Palm Springs, CA.

Our first stop was Palm Springs.  I have very few pictures to share with you, owing to the fact that we stayed at a clothing optional resort.  It was a great place; we met friendly people and really enjoyed ourselves.  We’d gone to places with clothing optional pools/hot tubs before, but never  an actual resort.  I don’t think we have even stayed anywhere with the word “resort” in the title before.  Since we spent most of our time there in or around the water, it felt natural.  It was a small, independently owned place with a forties and up crowd.  Clothing optional isn’t my thing (I have a hard enough time being seen in a bathing suit and I have some seriously weird germ issues) but I was fine with it after the first few minutes.  Sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone.  In other news…

The giant painted bronze Marilyn Monroe Statue pictured above was an impressive sight.  It wasn’t easy getting a photo without someone standing under her, looking up her dress.  I guess it’s no worse than what I did to the Albert Einstein statue in D.C.  Anyway, she is slowly making her way across the country and will be in New Jersey next.

Entrance to Melvyn's

Entrance to Melvyn’s

Lunch at Lulu

Lunch at Lulu

Palm Springs was nice, but I didn’t feel like we really got to know the place.  I’m guessing that, even if we did, it wouldn’t really be our scene.  We had a couple of good meals (always a priority for us) but spent very little time in town.  Feel free to share in the comments section if we missed out on something great.  We enjoyed dining at both Melvin’s and Lulu.  Melvin’s has been around since the Rat Pack days and there were some fascinating characters at the bar.  I wasn’t impressed with the service – I think we needed to be locals or (better yet) famous in order to get any real attention.  People-watching was the highlight for me – lots of old-school and over the top glam combined with a little bit of grit.  Lulu is new and hip, with fresh food, a younger clientele and friendly, attentive waitstaff.  Two completely different experiences. We also enjoyed a nice, no-frills breakfast at Rick’s Restaurant and dinner at Ruben & Ozzy’s with new friends.

Federal Government Shutdown Blues

Federal Government Shutdown Blues

The first time we tried to visit Joshua Tree National Park, it was closed to all entry owing to the government shutdown.  Luckily, we tried again a couple of days later and were granted access.  This park is located in Twentynine Palms, which is less than an hour north of Palm Springs.

Our trusty 4Runner at Joshua Tree National Park

Our trusty, dusty 4Runner at Joshua Tree National Park

This is the Joshua Tree.

This is what a Joshua Tree looks like

 

Paul, enjoying the autumn sun.

Paul, enjoying the autumn sun.

We were prepared to miss out on any national park visits owing to the government shutdown,  so experiencing both the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National Park during this trip left us feeling extra grateful.  I am more of a forest/seaside person, but I will never forget seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, and Joshua Tree National Park is awesome in its own desolate (to me) way.

After a few days in Palm Springs, we headed up to Idyllwild, a sweet little town in the San Jacinto Mountains.  We’d tossed around Idyllwild, Big Bear, or Catalina Island.  Idyllwild won out, mainly because it was the only place neither of us had been.

Welcome to Idyllwild

Welcome to Idyllwild

Idyllwild is an interesting mix of artists and musicians, hippies and bikers, rock-climbers and born again Christians.  Our cozy little cabin rental kept us hunkered in each night and we wandered around town by day.  We befriended a Palm Springs couple over drinks and live music at Jo’An’s one afternoon who were kind enough to drive us back up to the cabin.  We had walked down but it would have been quite the hike back and it hadn’t occurred to us that taxis are hard to come by there.

Our (temporary) cozy mountain home

Our (temporary) cozy mountain home

A backyard of boulders and trees

A backyard of boulders and trees

 

Enjoying the outdoor dining at Cafe Aroma

Enjoying the outdoor dining at Cafe Aroma

Bike Parking at Jo'An's

Bikers and Live Music at Jo’An’s

Perfect Pumpkin Pie Chai at the Coffee House

Perfect Pumpkin Pie Chai at the Coffee House

Of the two places, Idyllwild was definitely more our style.  I really enjoyed wandering around town by day and taking a hot bath, eating in, and keeping warm by the fire each night. From Idyllwild, we drove to LA to catch a flight to the Caribbean Island of Granada…yet another first for us!

 

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