Thursday, December 24, 2015

Holiday Traditions

There are many things to like and dislike about the holidays.   For some those are one in the same, some people love shopping, some people hate it, some love travel, some hate travel and so on.  For me, one of my favorite things about the holidays in getting to connect with dear friends.   I love the traditions I have with them.   It's those friends that have been in your life through the good times, the celebrations, the bad times, the heart breaks, the ones you did some crazy things you probably shouldn't have done.   They are the friends that you don't see or talk to everyday.  In fact  you may go weeks or even months without catching up.  But when you do finally get together, you pick up like it was yesterday.  They take you back to a different time, a different place.

It all started on Tuesday 12/22.  I met a group of friends for dinner.   We ate, we drank, we ate some more, we reminisced and as always, they made me laugh til my stomach hurt!   After three hours of fun, I so hated to say goodbye, especially knowing all of us would probably not be together again as a group until this time next year.  Gathering for a meal with this crazy group is one of my favorite holiday traditions.

 The only that made leaving this crazy group easier was knowing I was hopping in the car for a road trip the next morning to see another great group to keep up yet another holiday tradition.   As I type this, I'm sitting in a "cabin" nestled in the Russian River Valley waiting for the rest of my friends to awake.  

Our holiday tradition is to "get away" and celebrate the holidays together.   Our get away shave been anywhere from South America, to Finland or even just a few days in some of the most beautiful locations California has to offer.  I look forward to eating, drinking and catching up with this group as well.

We all have holiday traditions, but spending time with dear friends is truly one of Traveling Hillbilly's favorites!   What's your favorite tradition?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Yet Another Road Trip

It was time to make that drive again, from LA to New Mexico.   We didn't hit any storms this time, just sunny blue skies.   There's nothing like 14 hours in the car, to make you think or rethink the decisions in your life.   Of course I had my trusted travel companions, my crazy pups.   Didn't matter that I put the back seats down so they had a large space to roam in, they still chose to squeeze into the passenger seat together.   But we made it.   After the miserably hot summer/fall we've had in LA, it' nice to be in cool weather!   New Mexico is just so beautiful.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Most Beautiful Drive

The drive from Los Angeles truly is beautiful.   This time of the year, it's beyond HOT (temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) for most of the drive.   However, the scenery is just astonishing.   As we drove across the southwest, we saw several pockets of rain around us, a lightning storm ahead of us, two rainbows and one double rainbow!  Not to mention, the mountains, the white sands and the overall beautiful landscape.   We lucked out that despite all the crazy weather we could see around us, we didn't hit any storms ourselves.  That is until almost 8 hours into our trip.  Just passed Wilcox, Arizona, the skies went black and it started pouring the rain.  We could barely see what was in front of us, then suddenly the skies lit up with lightning!   I thought for sure the car was going to get hit.  The dogs both got very quiet and tried to settle in.

Everyone knows I LOVE a good storm, but this was quite scary to drive in.   As anyone who has made this journey knows, there aren't many options to call it a night once you're east of Tucson.   I was starting to wish I had stopped in Wilcox for the night.   But at this point, I really had no option other than to tread on and make it to Lordsburg.    I was quite happy to finally rest my head on a pillow at the Hampton Inn.   Even after all those hours in the car, the dogs were ready to relax too.

A Road Trip with my best buds!

I was long overdue for a road trip to New Mexico.  I had needed to go for several weeks to take care of some things, but just couldn't seem to make it work.   Well finally the stars aligned and I was able to take enough time off to hit the road.   First question, should I take both of my crazy hounds?   As some of my loyal followers know, my hound Lucy Grace, is a great travel companion.  She's totally chill in the car and very well behaved when staying at even the fanciest of hotels.  Now Bella, aka, The Terrorist, is another story.  I'd only done one TEST road trip with her.  She was actually much more well behaved than I expected, but still that was a 90 minute car ride and 2 night stay.  How would she fair on a  14 hour ride and a week+ in a hotel?   After much consternation, I just couldn't bring myself to put her in a kennel, so off we went.  I loaded up the 4Runner and we began our journey!   Would it be a great adventure or something else?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Finally time to reflect...

These few days away meant a lot to me.  I got to spend time with my best pal, Lucy Grace.   I got to relax poolside and even got in time for some writing.  It was nice not having an agenda or having to run from one place to another, but the time off just wasn't enough.

Ojai is a special place for me.    We took my Mom here for a few days the first time she ever came to visit me in LA.   She loved the place and we had such a great time.  It was great to come back to a place where I have such fond memories of my Mom and I thought of her often.   I know she was here with me, enjoying the peace and calm that is Ojai.  From the early morning walks around the grounds to the time spent at the spa, I could feel her presence.   It really made it hard to leave.   I can't wait to go back again.  Maybe a long weekend in the fall Mom? 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Finding some peace, still seeking the calm...

I have several friends who say it always takes them 3 or 4 days to unwind when they go on vacation.  I’ve never been one of those people.   I’m usually in vacation mode, as soon as I’m at the gate at the airport.  However, for some reason on this trip, I have not been able to get in vacation mode and let go.  As much as I was counting down the days, I still haven’t been able to completely relax.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying my time here but I arrived in Ojai on Sunday and it’s already Wednesday.   I can’t believe how fast time has gone by.  I need a few more days. 

While I’ve had no real agenda and have not been running at a hectic pace, my days still feel a little too structured.   I enjoy being able to take a workout class in the middle of the day, or even at 10am but somehow it makes me feel scheduled.   My mind is not truly at rest, I still don't feel the sense of calm I was so desperately seeking.

Maybe I should spend the day in bed tomorrow or maybe I should have planned for 2 weeks!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

When Does the Relaxation Actually Begin?

The Traveling Hillbilly needed a little quiet time to relax and recharge.  The plan was to head to Ojai for several days with no agenda, no to do list!   I couldn't wait to get on the road first thing Saturday get to Ojai and spend the next several days doing nothing, but hiking, lounging by the pool, taking the dog for some long walks.   My planned relaxation would be a little longer coming.  First, the hotel was sold out on Saturday.  Not to be deterred, I booked a room at the Four Seasons Westlake Village.  I made plans to meet some friends for dinner in the area and thought this will be a great start to my time off.   Unfortunately this Four Seasons isn't truly pet friendly.  I'd say it's more like pet tolerant.  While small pets are allowed in the hotel, you must remain in the room with them at all times.  So my dinner plans for that Saturday night had to be adjusted.   After brunch on Sunday morning, it was time to get on the road.   I wanted to get to Ojai in time to take advantage of one the great benefits of booking with Am Ex, NOON check in.

I was disappointed to hear the room they had ready for us was not exactly a "pet friendly" room.  It was on the 2nd floor and not near any grassy areas to walk the dog. I asked if there was another room available that might be more appropriate for a dog.  While there was another option, it wasn't ready yet.  I decided to wait for the room and headed to the store to pick up some supplies and walked my hound around the little downtown area for bit. After almost two hours, I decided to head back to the hotel assuming the room had to be ready by now.  It wasn't and now I had food in the car and a dog ready to pass out from the heat.  Lucy Grace, just plopped down on the lobby floor and refused to take another step.  I asked if the front desk if they could just put me in any room at this point, downgrade my room, whatever it took to get me in a room, so I could get my dog some water and let  both of us just relax.  After all that was the point of this whole trip and I had been waiting counting down the hours to my trip since late Friday.

Finally almost 36 hours after my journey of rest and relaxation was to begin, it started!  I had the chance to settle in and relax.   While things didn't exactly start out as planned, I did get to have dinner with some dear friends and brunch with another one before evening arriving in Ojai. 

Now that I'm finally settled, I hope the days ahead bring me the calm and peace I'm a seeking.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Dogs Really Are Man's Best Friend

My friend and I decided to do a last minted road trip.  My only requirement, was that I had to be able to take the hound.  I've been traveling so much lately my four legged best buddy has spent more time in a kennel than at home with me.   For a quick getaway we wanted something close, no more than a 2-3 hour drive.  We settled on Santa Ynez area and found a great pet friendly Marriott in the area.   It's amazing how relaxing just getting a couple hours outside of town can be.  This was no major adventure, but a great trip none the less.  

It was nice to walk around Solvang, with the hound in tow. So many places were dog friendly, Lucy Grace felt very welcome and loved all the attention she got!  After a couple of hours walking around the quaint little town of Solvang, it was time to head to Dierberg for a little anniversary party.   My friend is a wine club member there, so we got to taste for free and spent the afternoon, sitting on the lawn, listening to music and chowing down on some wood-fired pizza.  The pizza was made and it was delicious!   What a great way to spend a Saturday. 

We followed this chill Saturday afternoon with dinner at Sides Hardware and Shoes.  Lucy Grace was thrilled to see she wasn't the only hound out on the patio.   She got to meet some new four legged friends and so did we.    All in all a nice relaxing weekend, made all the better by sharing not only with one of my good friends, but with my best buddy, the amazing Lucy Grace!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

There's beauty in the just have to open your eyes

It's amazing how much beauty you find in the world when you just open your eyes and pay attention...

The weekend goes by too fast...

So the Traveling Hillbilly arrived at that beautiful house on Friday and now here it is Sunday night already.  Where did the long weekend go?  I'm just not ready to leave and get back into the hustle and bustle of my normal day to day.   We had an amazing experience at the J Bubble Room yesterday.   A five course tasting of delicious food, paired with wonderful wines was an amazing way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon. 

And what better way to spend a Sunday than by having a great brunch at the BarnDiva, followed by a lazy afternoon and then a great home cooked dinner? 

Great time, catching up with great friends and to top it all off, Die Hard just happens to be on tonight!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

My new least for the next few days

I hope to enjoy some good wine, spend time with good friends, relax and get centered over the next few days.   And where better to do it than at this beautiful place?

A Tough Year

Sorry there haven't been post in the past year, but last year was a tough year for the Traveling Hillbilly.   Given some serious family health issues, the Traveling Hillbilly was not able to travel for most of last year.  However, the goal for this year is to change that and make 2015, a year full of adventure.  

What better way to start that than a road trip to northern California to catch up with dear friends?   The drive from LA to Healdsburg was absolutely beautiful.   It was surprisingly quite green.  When I travel to foreign places, I'm often in awe of the beauty that exists in this world.  But the drive yesterday, reminded me just how beautiful California truly is.  The rolling greens hills, against the back drop of a stunningly blue sky made the long drive quite enjoyable.