Girls’ Weekend – Camping in Ojai and Santa Barbara Day Trip

Hi Everyone! I hope you had an awesome weekend and the first day of the work week is treating you ok. I had an amazing weekend, because it was my 2nd annual Grad School Girls Camping Trip! Remember last year we went to Big Bear? Well, this year, we headed up the coast to Ojai, a sleepy little town known for its citrus and hilly retreats. We camped at Wheeler Gorge, a beautiful campground with a chapparal type feeling, covered with big river rocks and low grassy scrub.

Here’s our campsite before we set up our tent.

Wheeler_gorge_CampgroundWe arrived at the camp site on Friday around 5 pm, so we had some work to do before we could settle down with some hard ciders and s’mores. With only minimal frustration (aka one hour of “wtf?!” type exclamations), we set up our tent and got the “mess hall” (aka the picnic table) all prepared. Once that was done, it was time to cook dinner, and I’m proud that I was the official “chef”, serving up very gourmet all-beef hot dogs. Don’t mind my stylish camping apparel.

Alyssa gets grillin'

Alyssa gets grillin’

After dinner it was time for S’MORES! I love me some marshmallows, in fact, they’re probably one of my favorite sweet things. I had previously seen Jumbo Marshmallows and was enamored by the size, so we had to get them. Unfortunately, I can say they’re almost too much for a s’more — and at a whopping 90 calories each, I’ll stick with the normal s’mores size. However, they were super yum despite their monstrous size.

Expert Marshmallow Roasters

Expert Marshmallow Roasters

See how huge they are?!?! Massive Mushmellows! After a couple drinks, we hit the hay… only to be awake all night thanks to our rude campsite neighbors, who decided playing their guitar loudly to crappy Bieber music was the best thing to do from midnight through 5 AM. I can definitely tell I’m getting older, because as a teenager, sleeping on the hard ground was never an issue. Now, I feel all creaky and like a 90-year-old as I lament the dirt beneath me instead of my posh pillowtop. The next day, we got up early and headed to the beautiful Santa Barbara Mission.

Santa Barbara Mission

Santa Barbara Mission

If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend you pay a visit to the town of Santa Barbara. It’s a gorgeous coastal town nestled up into beautiful mountains. The Santa Barbara mission is only $6 to get in and you can take a self guided tour through lush rose gardens, see the Friar’s old living quarters, read about the history of the people who lived (and died) there  in a beautiful cemetery, and check out the chapel.

Missiongirls

This mission is also the site of the famous I Madonnari Italian Street Painting festival, so you could see the remnants of highly detailed chalk paintings around the missions grounds. I also caught a glimpse of this Monarch butterfly in the gardens, isn’t he pretty?

monarch_butterfly_

One very important thing I realized about this weekend is how nice it is to be out and about and STAY HYDRATED! I took my hubby’s CamelBak and was able to suck down water anywhere we went. With long days in the hot sun, it felt really good to not feel parched and chapped.

Stayin' Hydrated!

Stayin’ Hydrated!

 

In terms of camping while on the Double Chin Diet, this weekend was way better than last year’s trip in that I really didn’t go overboard on anything. I ate until I was full, enjoyed s’mores, salt water taffy and pasta when we went out to dinner, but I ate without remorse and just tried to remember the trip wasn’t going to be “good or bad” based on the food I ate, but what memories I made. It’s nice to have a healthy attitude towards food!

Santa Barbara Beach

Santa Barbara Beach

 

We ended our trip with a beautiful evening at the beach. I basked in the sun and read magazines, and then later, we all walked down the Santa Barbara pier and had a sunset dinner at a seafood restaurant. This weekend made me so grateful for the amazing state I live in (Thanks for dragging us here 19 years ago, Dad!), my awesome friends, and also, the ability to disconnect for awhile. I had decided the day before I left that my phone would be OFF all weekend, and other than a quick phone call to the husband, I didn’t check Facebook, Twitter or instagram once. Especially because my career depends on constant connectivity and monitoring of social sites, brand pages, accounts, e-mails, etc, I wanted a break. As a freelancer, you’re essentially on call 24/7 — meaning if something breaks online, you’re the person to handle fixing it. It was really nice to enjoy the sights and sounds of Ojai without hearing the “ding ding” of an incoming text. It may sound scary, but if you’re going away for a quick weekend and can get away with being unplugged, do it! You just might find out how nice it actually is.

So that was my weekend, in a nutshell! What did you do this weekend????

 

 

 

Sorry for the crickets!

Do you hear them? That gentle yet shrill “Chirp, chirp” of the crickets playing violin with their hind legs?

That’s the sound of silence… silence I’m sorry for! I’ve been very busy coming home from Mexico, and then I graduated and then I worked and went to  a play and celebrated a friend’s birthday… and now I’m finally home and ready to get back to blogging and getting rid of this weight! (I’m not going to say LOSE the weight because that implies I’ll find it again one day, and I’d like it to stay gone, thank you very much.)

While we’re on the topic of crickets, remember how when I went to Thailand I polled you all on which bug I should eat? And then remember how I couldn’t find any bugs? Well, my dear friend Julie and the creator of the awesome tee-to-tank tutorial showed up at my house with an unusual side dish…Crick-ettes Seasoned Crickets
. Bacon flavored, crispy crickets, fit for human consumption.

I did it in honor of you, dear reader. All I can say is watch the video!

Legs in my mouth. Yup. I’ll be back tomorrow… have a safe and gracious Memorial Day!