March and April were slow travel months. In March, I didn't leave the state and opted to stay local to the bay area and southern California. In April, I left the state once to attend the Women in Travel Summit 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I wanted to keep it slow these past couple months to give myself enough energy to handle the travel heavy months of May and June; I will be flying out to Croatia in a couple days and will be in Eastern Europe for most of the month. In June, I will be spending half the month visiting with family in Michigan. It's going to be a hectic few weeks.
This last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Women in Travel Summit 2017 put on by the travel organization Wanderful. This industry event caters to women in the travel industry: tour guides, travel bloggers and influencers, and tourist industry representatives. Hilton City Center Milwaukee hosted the event. While I've attended education and teaching conferences, I've never attended a travel industry conference. Here's what I learned.
My time in Ventura is coming to an end. I will be gone for almost the entirety of May visiting friends in Croatia and we move up to the Redding land in June. With my move-out day growing closer, I wanted to write a smidge about my time spent eating in Ventura. While the list is not exhaustive of every place I've eaten here, it's pretty close. If you're not up for an extensive review of seventeen different Ventura restaurants then I would skip this post. Or if you're hungry and the only thing left in your cupboard is an expired can of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup.
Hiking is my favorite form of exercise. I can't think of anything better than enjoying beautiful nature, breathing fresh air, and the exhausted feeling of accomplishment when I finish. I don't hike nearly enough anymore. The rain this season put a hamper on a number of weekend days that I could have been hiking. Then there's my general laziness since I got a desk job. The only way to remedy that is to get out and do it more.
Fifteen miles south of Oxnard on the coast is Point Mugu State Park. Located in the Santa Monica mountains, the park features rocky bluffs and sandy beaches, rugged hills, and two river canyons. There are more than seventy miles of hiking trails here as well as surfing, kite surfing, and windsurfing activities. Parking at the Big Sycamore Canyon Trailhead is three dollars per hour or twelve dollars a day. There's also camping available here.
I stayed close to home in March, mostly traveling back and forth between southern California and the San Francisco Bay area. Now that I've announced the big news to my family and friends, I'm ready to tell the world my big news: I purchased nearly eight acres of land outside Redding, California and will be building a house there over the next couple years. Making the first steps towards realizing a decade-long dream of owning land I can develop and farm is overwhelming, to say the least. In my best California vocabulary: I'm stoked.
There's another post dedicated to my love of Fall Creek Unit in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. I can wax poetic about the verdancy of the ferns, the towering heights of the second-growth coastal redwoods, and the rushing creeks forever. I love taking people to Fall Creek and manage to get out there at least several times a year, even though I don't live in Santa Cruz anymore.
I recently reduced my work schedule from five days a week to four days a week due to mental burnout and feeling like I never get away from my computer screen (yes, I am typing this on my computer). This affords me the time to get up out of my uncomfortable secondhand store chair and out into great outdoors. I'm slowly building my hiking abilities back up again. There's nothing like a desk job to decrease physical stamina and increase lethargy.
A 250,000 acre enclosed grassland plain, Carrizo is the largest single native grassland remaining in California. Gazing over the wide expanses of grasses and wildflowers, it is a look back at the Central Valley three hundred years ago, before grazing cattle and industrial agriculture pushed out native plant species and invasive monocultures took over.
Almost ten years ago to the day, I graduated from UC Santa Cruz. More known for its radical politics and drug culture than academics*, Santa Cruz is not the most traditional of college campuses. This applies not only to its politics and choice of mascots (go banana slugs!), but to the physical layout of the campus itself; it's not what you see in college movies. Buildings sometimes resembling Soviet space bunkers hide amongst towering redwoods. In the morning, fog creeps down the bridge covered gullies and canyons, making it a magical walk to those 8 a.m. classes. It is the complete opposite of Stanford University.
Sitting in the shadow of the Santa Ynez Mountains tucked between the Santa Barbara Mission and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, the 100-year-old museum houses collections of mammals, birds, insects, and marine animals; a planetarium, several gardens; an auditorium; a research library; and a rotating exhibit (an exhibit of the history of botanical drawings were there when I visited).
With over five and a half miles of trails and over 1,000 taxa of plants, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll. Walk through several featured environmental zones: arroyo, canyon, desert, manzanita, and redwood. The garden includes a tea house, nursery, and garden shop.
Going to Vietnam changed my life. Before our taxi blasted its way through the traffic-clogged streets of Ho Chi Minh City, my sensory perception of the universe was on a muted wavelength. Much like doing psilocybin mushrooms (I can only imagine), Vietnam heightened my senses: colors were brighter, noises louder, smells and tastes more pungent. It sounds cliche, but the country was on a wavelength completely different to the chilled-out vibes of the California coast I've lived on for the last twelve years.
I wrote a long explanation about the different kinds of cultures that went into the making of Puerto Rican food and then my blog ate it. A good reminder to write blog posts in Google docs before copying and pasting them into squarespace. What a waste of time and energy.
I knew next to nothing about Puerto Rican cuisine before I stepped off the plane in San Juan and I still know little. An amalgamation of Taino, African, Spanish, and Indian influences, Puerto Rican food heavily features pork, plantains, rice, beans, and fresh fruit. Maybe you've heard of mofongo, fried mashed plantains served with just about anything under the sun, or lechon, the roast pork available from roadside eateries; there's an entire highway dedicated to the stuff.
Puerto Rico is a wonderful destination for getting away from the winter blues or want to experience the Caribbean without a passport. You can get as immersed in the culture as you like or you can eat from the incredibly nostalgic Sizzler salad bar. Don't forget, this is not entirely the U.S. and some things are different. You might see graffiti painted "Yankees go home!" and union and pension protests. Puerto Rico is not quite the United States and it's not quite its own country. It will be interesting to see what becomes of it in the upcoming years, especially under the Populist Trump regime.
I do not hate children or think they should be kept out of public spaces. I want to breed some day. I can understand that it is hard to manage your children on a plane, especially long haul flights. Babies will scream, toddlers will tantrum, elementary age children will run up and down the aisles, and teens will listen to their music too loudly. That's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about parents who bring their children on long flights and refuse to control them.
When a man of a certain age, and it's never men in my own generation, tells me to smile, I feel they are telling me how to feel, to suppress how I am currently feeling, invalidate those feelings, and that I am supposed to be cheerful and grateful they have deigned to speak to me. I do not feel like fucking smiling after I've gotten one hour of sleep and have been traveling for the last twelve hours. I want to sip my watery mojito, eat my shitty tourist food, and read my fucking book.
After two months with back-to-back international destinations and the (fun!) exhaustion of the holidays with, I wanted to stay fairly local on the west coast. This doesn't mean I didn't have a great month of traveling, and I visited with friends I'd been missing and explored a city I'd never been to before and have wanted to go to.
Walk ten minutes from my house and you will find yourself at San Buenaventura State Beach. From my bedroom window I can see the ocean; when there's not a roaring Amtrak flashing by. Everywhere you go in Ventura, there's a sign pointing toward the beach. There's way too many breakfast joints, liquor stores, and surf shops for this to be anything other than a beach town.