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



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

Hiking, Yoga, & More with Robert Evans

Two Days at Ten Thousand Waves

Kimonos, Slippers, and Buddha Chocolates.  Ahhh.

Kimonos, Slippers, and Buddha Chocolates. Ahhh.

Paul and I wanted to do something different for our Birthdays this year, so we treated ourselves to two days and nights at ten thousand waves, a mountain spa in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A Warm (Toilet Seat!) Welcome.

A Warm (Toilet Seat!) Welcome

Perhaps I am easily impressed, but I was pretty much in heaven before we even left our room.  The toilet included a heated seat and a bidet.  Another first for me.

The Star Lounge

The Star Lounge

I loved this little section of our room.  The ceiling was full of starlight that flickered through the night.  I am going to see about having this installed in my Airstream one day (I don’t yet own one).

Happy Head

Happy Head

This guy kind of freaked me out at first, but he grew on me.  We had our own little courtyard.  We spent all of our waking hours out here or at the spa.



Seeing this pleased me greatly.  My Dad used one of these as his main cooking source ~ probably still does.  My favorite hibachi (shichirin in Japanese) meal was veggie shish kabobs with teriyaki sauce.  We brought groceries with us (the restaurant doesn’t open until this fall) but having access to an outdoor oven didn’t even cross my mind.  Next time.

Paul in a Kimono

Paul in a Kimono

I thought Paul wore this quite well.  We left our western clothes in the suitcase as the kimonos were so comfortable.  Paul surprised me with Natalie Goldberg‘s latest book, The True Secret of Writing, and I read almost all of it while we lounged.  Ms. Goldberg lives in Santa Fe and will be at Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse tonight.  I plan on going and will most likely be blogging about my experience.

Another Cool Statue

Another Cool Statue

This dragon statue lived next door.  I am really feeling dragons lately.  Not sure why.

Resting Along the Way to the Spa

Resting Along the Way to the Spa

We had a steep climb to the spa and thought this little outdoor couch was a great idea.  The small hike wasn’t an issue for us, but there is a shuttle for those who could use it.

Koi, or Nishikigoi

Koi, or Nishikigoi

I love the sound of running water and the koi ponds definitely added to the feeling of serenity throughout the spa.




Public Bath in the Morning

Public Bath

We spent an entire day at this public bath and I was able to get a picture of it between waves of naked people.  I told Paul I was going to title this blog post “Me and a Bunch of Naked Guys” but thought better of it.  It was interesting to observe the difference between sexes when it comes to nudity.  Guess who let it all hang out and who didn’t?

Private Bath in the Afternoon

Private Bath

We treated ourselves to a private bath, as well.  I love this picture of Paul, even if he is sunburnt (why he refuses to wear a hat I don’t know).  Along with the private bath, we each had a theraputic massage and salt scrub.  Thank you, Daniel and Dana!

This experience was so different for us.  I wasn’t sure how Paul would handle sitting in one place and relaxing for two days straight.  Come to find out, he really enjoyed himself and we are already making plans for our next little spa retreat.

My friend Sadie and I visited Ojo Caliente when she came out for a visit from Colorado, and I am looking forward to taking Paul there on our next spa adventure.  Are you a spa person?  If so, please share with us your favorite destinations.

Hiking, Yoga, & More with Robert Evans

Raised Garden Bed Love in NE Portland, Oregon

Raised Garden Beds ~ Before

Paul and I started looking for rentals here in Portland, Oregon last fall and found a sweet little Craftsman in the Alberta Arts District. The house had almost been sold but the deal fell through and we were given the opportunity to rent it month to month. One of the things we loved best about it was the fact that it had a backyard with raised garden beds. We couldn’t wait to start playing in them come springtime!

Weeding, Fertilizing & Planting a Bed at a Time

The house was unoccupied for a while, so there was some catching up to do. We tackled the beds one at a time, netting each one upon completion in order to keep the cats out (strays had taken to using the back yard as their hang out and the garden beds as jumbo litter boxes). We pretty much had to start from scratch with these beds (weeding, then digging out old soil, then adding new soil/fertilizer, then planting and covering with net). By the way, the strays are still welcome, but not in the garden beds.

Sweet Pea Prep

We used a combination (about 50/50) of seeds and starters to fill the beds with, depending on what needed to go in when and what we were able to find locally and were able to find just about everything we wanted at Portland Nursery, Marbott’s, and Garden Fever.

Pea Progress

Paul planted the peas about a month ago, and here they are a few weeks later. The combination of sun and rain has done our little garden beds lots of good. We are both super excited about enjoying and sharing the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers of our labor, including raspberries (already growing wild), strawberries, leeks, cauliflower, carrots, brussels sprouts, string beans, peas, eggplant, collard greens, bib lettuce, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, chamomile, lavender, rosemary, basil, oregano, dill, and dozens of different wildflowers (making sure to choose ones that attract bees and hummingbirds).

Raised Garden Beds ~ (Almost) After

This can’t really be called an ‘after’ shot as there is still much growing and maintenance to do, but I really couldn’t wait any longer to share with you what we have been up to these past few weekends. I will add another picture or two in the coming weeks if I see that there is interest here on the blog (feel free to ask questions, give gardening advice, etc. via the comments button).

I Love Garden Gnomes

It has been sunshiny these past few days and today we are getting just the right amount of rain, it seems. The Pacific Northwest is in it’s glory this time of year and Paul and I continue to love it here. Now, to pick out the perfect gnome (or two) from Garden Fever. Paul is not convinced that we need one ~ what do you think?

PS Thought I would add another garden shot, a month or so after this post was written.  We have enjoyed this back yard SO much!

Raised Garden Beds ~ A Month (or so) Later

Hiking, Yoga, & More with Robert Evans

What News?

The numbers are down on our blog as of late.  That is what happens when a blogger gets all sporadic with her posts.  I love blogging, but there have been so many things going on and I have inadvertently lowered it on the priorities list.

So, what have we been doing with ourselves, then?  Here goes:

Tabor at Alberta Park

1. Paul and I have been figuring out a way to keep Caretaking Couple going now that we are stationary, and it has evolved into us offering a more exclusive kind of pet sitting service.  95% of our clients here in Portland prefer that their pet(s) not go to a kennel for a variety of reasons (elderly dogs that don’t want/need as much play time, dogs with high anxiety levels, etc.). They are looking for individualized care, and that is where our focus lies. Word of mouth is providing enough business for us at present, although I do plan on stepping it up a notch, which leads me to…

Thank you, Oregon SBDC (Small Business Development Center)!

2. I applied for and was offered a scholarship via the SBDC last month and am now taking business classes for the next ten months.  Yes, this is very exciting for me in so many ways…I am learning new things every day and am meeting more and more local small business owners, which is fantastic. This class would have cost me $1,600.00 had I not received the scholarship, and I am grateful.

Wellness Section at Alberta Cooperative Grocery

3. A couple of months ago, I decided to become a “working owner” at Alberta Co-op. I work one shift a week in the Wellness Section in exchange for a discount on all purchases along with other perks.  I love that I get to be around essential oils, bath and body products, beeswax candles, etc. again (reminds me of my Mountain Girl Organics days).  They have so many healthy & yummy foods, too!  And speaking of healthy…

Beachbody Coach Summit 2012

4. I continue to grow my Beachbody business and am doing my best to help “end the trend” of obesity here in the States. Most of you know how much I love my food and drink, and how easy it can be for me to park my butt on the couch versus get it moving (especially in the rainy Pacific Northwest) so this is such a great company for me to be involved with. Beachbody is growing by leaps and bounds and I am proud to be a part of it. My goal is to get to the Coach Summit in Las Vegas this June so I can meet more like-minded people and continue to be inspired.

5. Exhale (my favorite local yoga studio) posted a request on their facebook page a couple months back. They needed a couple of people to clean the studio in exchange for unlimited classes and workshops (!). Soo happy I decided to do this. I am learning a lot more about Yoga and a little more about Ayurveda as well, which is something I have been interested in for some time. Yoga keeps me sane.

Collage in NE Portland

6. Just down the street from us is Collage, a mixed media arts supplies shop that offers all kinds of cool classes. So far, I have taken embroidery, bookmaking, and collage. Tomorrow, I am taking an image transfer techniques class ~ can’t wait! A seamstress friend has just rented a space and is looking for artisans to fill it with their creations and I am having fun deciding what it is I want to contribute. I may do a post on my creative endeavors here soon.

7. I meet with a group of blogger friends on Thursdays at Tabor Space (Portland has the coolest coffee shops, by the way) and know I will be getting back into blogging regularly as I plan on attending Seattle WordCamp (if I can hustle a ticket since I forgot to buy one and they sold out quick!). I loved the WordCamp here in Portland…fingers crossed I pull it off.

Spring in Portland ~ Can't Wait to Plant!

8. We are working on creating a backyard oasis here.  Not much to show yet, as it has been constant rain. This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous, so hopefully I will have a “Before and After” post for you next week.

9. My Mom shared her Ancestry account with me in hopes that we could do some genealogy detective work together.  I haven’t gotten very far with it, but I do have some leads. I want to make this more of a priority. Mom lives in California and we don’t catch up in person much, so this is a great way for us to keep in touch and share exciting discoveries.

10. I met Helen while volunteering at a Community Cycling Center event a few months ago. We have accountability meetings at local coffee shops every Tuesday morning for 90 minutes, in which we go over our accomplishments of the past week and post goals for the next week. If you don’t have an accountability friend (or group of friends), I recommend you go out and get yourself one…it has been invaluable for me.

Paul at the New Bollywood Theatre on Alberta Street

What is Paul up to?  Working, spoiling our four legged clients sweetly, hanging out at his favorite local(s), waiting patiently to get started on the backyard raised garden beds, cooking delicious meals (they get healthier all of the time), and keeping me entertained on a daily basis.  We typically go somewhere fun for our birthdays (next month) but we are having so much fun here, we may just hang out.  Not sure yet…

What are you up to?  I would love an update from all of you, near and far, wherever you are…








Hiking, Yoga, & More with Robert Evans

39 Things to do Before 40 (Inspired by LifeOhm.com)

Your Story Matters.

I met a Monica at a Portland Bloggers meeting back in September.  We are close in age (I’ve got a little more than a year before hitting the Big 4-0) and she caught my attention with a post titled “39 Things to do Before 40” on her Life Ohm blog.  I responded to her post with the comment you see below:

Thank you for the inspiration, Monica! Sounds like we are about the same age : ) I went with your 39 things to do before 40 theme…

  1. Finish writing our book
  2. Rent an Airstream for at least a week
  3. Get back to England to see Paul’s family & friends
  4. Take an Ayurveda class
  5. Join Toastmasters
  6. Pay off school loans (or at least a good chunk)
  7. Really learn to embroider
  8. Go back to a vegetarian diet
  9. Continue to grow my Beachbody business
  10. Spend more time with my little brother and sister
  11. Take a digital photography class
  12. Build up our Caretaking Couple business
  13. Sell the 4Runner (don’t need it here)
  14. Continue my search for vintage buttons & ephemera
  15. Join ancestry.com with my Mom
  16. Make my own toiletries and candles again (just for fun, not as a biz)
  17. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity
  18. Get back to my yoga classes (at Exhale)
  19. Start a poker night with new friends
  20. Calligraphy
  21. Polish up on my geography
  22. write a letter a week to a friend, family member, or stranger
  23. Blog on a regular basis (at least 3x a week)
  24. Garden (4 raised organic beds at our new digs – yay!)
  25. Get a monthly massage
  26. Finish my scrapbooking projects
  27. Run
  28. Find a tennis partner
  29. Learn how to play my guitar
  30. Go ziplining
  31. Continue vision boarding
  32. Visit my friend Laura in Valencia, Spain
  33. Treat myself to a spa day (for the first time)
  34. Practice more acts of random kindness
  35. Finally visit Pike Place Market!
  36. Figure out all (or at least most) of the functions on my Mac & use them
  37. Continue to transform our rental house into a “home”
  38. Get into the habit of staying in the moment
  39. Focus on people and projects that bring me joy

I would love to keep in touch with you regarding our lists ~ maybe revisit them periodically. Seems we have a lot in common!


This (like the vision boarding) has been a fun and enlightening process for me, and I encourage you to make your own list.  You don’t have to be turning 40 in order to play ~ just come up with a list of things that you would like to accomplish by a certain date.  And if you feel like sharing said list, please do.

PS I have crossed a few things off since September ~ feels good!

Hiking, Yoga, & More with Robert Evans

V’s Vision For 2012

Vision Boarding has become a tradition for me.  I create one every year between Christmas and New Year’s Day. I think I became hooked right around the time that the The Secret was on everyone’s radar (2006).   This is not something Paul is interested in doing for himself, but sharing mine with him is always fun and sure to stimulate some interesting conversation.

Anyone can create a vision board.  All you need is images and/or words (think old magazines,flyers,postcards,maps, etc.), a poster board, and some glue or double-sided tape. I feel that a lot of us aren’t quite sure what it is we want, exactly, and that the process of exploring images and contemplating why certain ones appeal to us more than others can help us to clarify.

This year, my vision board evolved (is evolving, I should say) in a way unlike prior years.  The most noticeable difference was that my chosen images did not revolve around travel as much as they have in the past.  Paul and I are very comfortable and happy here in Portland.  We are curious as ever when it comes to travel, but the conversations revolve more around weekends in Seattle versus month-long road trips across the US.

Fret not, fellow nomads ~ I still dream of buying an Airstream and living/working from the road one of these days. For now, we are loving our little rental home here in NE Portland. We are reacquainting ourselves with old books, having guests over, and planning our backyard garden.  We are wandering Alberta Street, supporting local and befriending our neighbors.

To be honest, my vision board isn’t 100% complete yet.  It has been more of a process for me this year.  I like to have it hanging on the wall by January 1. This time around is different.  My vision for 2012 is still a bit blurred, but each day brings a bit more clarity.  Don’t you just love those Aha! Moments?

I remain enthusiastic around all things Caretaking Couple and Coach Valynne and will be focusing more on my writing, my health (and yours, too if you’d like), and maintaining a steady income.  I will post what that looks like in the comments section below once I have more clarity around it.

And now, because you knew I would ask…what is your vision for 2012 (or your goals, priorities, dreams, resolutions…whatever word you prefer)?  If you feel like sharing, please do.  Meantime, a very HAPPY and HEALTHY 2012 to all of you with love from Valynne & Paul.

PS The handwritten affirmations are from the book You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay.  I have referred to this book off and on since I was a teenager.

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