Fitcation Recap 3: Earth Footwear, Halter Ranch, Hearst Castle and Morro Bay

Disclosure: The costs of the events and activities for Fitcation were defrayed by sponsors, and the attendees were contractually obligated to write a summary of the experience and also received free swag items. However, the thoughts and opinions I’m sharing in this post are honest and my own.

I’ve written about Fitcation 13′ here and here, and even though I wish I could have stayed on this vacation forevvvvver, I have to wrap it up! Last I left off, we were on our way to the beautiful Halter Ranch, another gorgeous location in the lovely Travel Paso region. When you arrive at Halter Ranch, you first see this beautiful Victorian home and lovely wooden bridge. However, once you walk past the wooden bridge is where the true splendor awaits; hundreds of rolling acres of winding grape vines, dusty dirt paths and expanse of beautiful blue sky.

HalterRanch_DoubleCHinDiary_Fitcaion

Beautiful vineyards at Halter Ranch in Paso Robles, Calif.

We took a hike up to a very special oak tree, called the Ancestor Tree, one of the oldest oak trees in California. The branches of this tree were large enough to shade over 35 people! Here I am looking tickled to be in such an amazing place.

The Ancestor Tree, Halter Ranch

The Ancestor Tree, Halter Ranch

After hiking up to the tree, we headed back to the winery, where we treated with a tour of the wine-making rooms. I loooooove the smell of wine being made. It’s not only deliciously boozy, it’s a rich, sweet smell… grown up grape juice, y’all. We learned more about the SIP Certification and how important ethical, green business practices are in today’s green-washed consumer culture (green washing = everyone and their mom saying things are green because they’re “natural” – marketing buzz words that have no truth or verification behind them!).

Where the magic happens - Inside Halter Ranch

Where the magic happens – Inside Halter Ranch

After our education, it was off to a beautifully decorated barn for dinner and EARTH SHOES! Now, if you know me in person, you know I have a bit of a problem with shoes. As in, there’s a whole storage trunk full of shoes in my house. Only one problem… they’re all MY shoes. Yup. Maybe it’s the big-girl syndrome, but often, shoes are the only things I can buy without worrying about size, and even saying that is a stretch — as a size 11, I’m lovably larger in all ways! I was excited to learn more about Earth footwear because one of my favorite stories about my mom and dad’s relationship is that when they first started dating in the 1980s, my mom thought my dad was a hippie because he wore Earth shoes. Back then they were way less fashionable, but made of premium materials, as they still are today. We got to try on shoes and I was generously gifted with these adorable Bellflower shoes in Pewter. These shoes have not left my feet for the past week! They’ve really molded to my feet and are sooo comfortable. They’re padded with three layers of material and the leather has definitely conformed to the shape of my foot. If you “like” Earth on Facebook, you’ll be the first to know about sales and deals. Believe me — these shoes are worth the price, and for those of you who want shoes in non-animal material, they have plenty of adorable vegan options as well.

Loving my new Earth Brand Bellflower Flat!

Loving my new Earth Brand Bellflower Flat!

After our shoe presentation (did I mention we each got a five minute reflexology foot massage? Mmmhmmm. It was awesome), we enjoyed an amazingly yummy dinner of spaghetti squash with turkey bolognese, roasted zucchini and squash, kale salad and some delicious artisan bread. And wine! LOTS OF WINE! I have some very funny pictures from this evening that I’ll not post on this blog, as I’d like to keep some of my new friends 😉 Let’s just say 35 women who are all pretty chatty (aka BLOGGERS) plus booze plus vacation = some pretty wild conversation.

Locally sourced dinner at Halter Ranch

Locally sourced dinner at Halter Ranch

After dinner, it was back to the hotel for a night of sleep before DAY THREE: MY FAVORITE! We woke up early in the morning and headed to the amazing Hearst Castle! I had been to Hearst Castle before with Matt, but it’d been a few years. I enjoyed a private car pool with three of my new buddies, Deb, June and Ana-Lydz. One thing that sounds corny but I think is important for women to remember is that we really need to value friendship with women of ALL ages. In that car, we had many different ages, but each of us had something special to contribute to the conversation. Our chatter never stopped, and I felt so lucky to get to gab to them! We arrived at the amazing Hearst Castle, boarded the shuttle up the hill, and were off to William Hearst’s castle in the hills. I have to say, I’m a big sap, because seeing those amazing mountains and the ocean in the distance was just breath-taking and brought a tear to my eye. I’m so glad my Dad moved us here 15 years ago 🙂

Hearst Castle in the San Simeon Hills

Hearst Castle in the San Simeon Hills

Check out some of the gorgeous sculptures and flora around his home. I wouldn’t mind living here for awhile. I’ll say this much, none of the houses we’ve been hunting for look like this…

The grounds at Hearst Castle

The grounds at Hearst Castle

One of my favorite spots is the Neptune Pool. I wanted to rip off my jacket, throw on a swimsuit, grab a trashy magazine and set up shop RIGHT HERE. Sounds good, right?! Here I am with Leah, the founder of Fitcation and Mamavation!

Alyssa and Leah at the Neptune Pool

Alyssa and Leah at the Neptune Pool

And because one pool wouldn’t be enough, Hearst also had a second pool, the Roman Pool. I think I might almost like this one better. Breathtaking.

The Roman Pool, Hearst Castle

The Roman Pool, Hearst Castle

After Hearst castle we got back into our cars and headed to Cambria! We enjoyed a yummy lunch from Robin’s Restaurant, and then we did some yoga on the beach, led by Kia. It felt soooo good to stretch out my body with the sun on my face, the sea breeze gently lapping my hair, and the sound of the waves crashing against the sand. I need to get into yoga again, because it’s a great workout and has a magical calming effect on my monkey mind.  How amazingly gorgeous is this picture of Kia from Bodhi Bear doing Yoga on the cliffs?

Kia and the waves.

Kia and the waves.

Here I am with Meagan doing the Warrior Pose. Meagan and I have a great story to tell you sometime this week about our amazing kayaking trip, but it’s such an awesome story that it needs its own post 🙂

Warrior Girls aren't afraid of a little sand in their clothes!

Warrior Girls aren’t afraid of a little sand in their clothes!

We wrapped up the activities of the day at Morro Bay, a lovely seaside town with a huge rock jutting out of the bay. I definitely need to return here for a fun weekend trip with the husband. Half of the gals went kayaking, while the other half enjoyed some libations at the Morro Bay Yacht Club. I have lots more to say about the awesomeness that ensued while kayaking, but like I said, I’m saving that for another post 🙂

The amazingly beautiful Morro Bay

The amazingly beautiful Morro Bay

The final Fitcation gathering was enjoying a feast of yummy pizzas at Eatz  in San Louis Obispo, and then I said my goodbyes. I feel so very, very lucky to have met all of the women I did, and hopefully, we’ll all stay in touch. Also, a huge thank you to the wonderful sponsors of Fitcation for the meals, activities, swag and education. It’s amazing to think this little blog has brought about so many wonderful experiences. Last week, I noticed that in October of 2012, I was celebrating 150 Facebook likes. Today, I’m just over 1,400. WOW! While I know my journey has barely even started in terms of getting the weight OFF, I’ve learned so much about myself, fitness, food and health in general that it’s safe to say this blog has become a very special part of my heart. Thank you for that! *cheese fest over*

Now — because I can’t be the only one who gets to enjoy the awesomeness of this trip, if you leave a comment on this post, you’ll be entered to win a MYSTERY GRAB BAG of some of my swag items! Just leave me a comment and let me know if you’d like to travel to Paso Robles, Cambria, Morro Bay and San Louis Obispo, too. I’m pretty sure you would 😉 Have an amazing day!

 

Love,

The Double Chin Diary Siggy

 

 

Fitcation Highlights Part 1, Thursday: Paso Robles, SIP The Good Life

Happy Monday, friends! I’m returning to work today feeling refreshed and relaxed after a wonderful weekend meeting many inspirational women at Fitcation! I drove up to Paso Robles on Thursday with my new friend June from Savannah. We quickly broke the ice and were gabbing like old friends within minutes of meeting. I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with my new travel buddy and seeing her next year in Savannah for FitBloggin’! Here we are being silly bloggers on a lunch stop at Pea Soup Andersen’s, a kitschy place you definitely need to stop at!

Bloggers take pictures of EVERYTHING. Photo from Simply Junebug's Instagram.

Bloggers take pictures of EVERYTHING. Photo from Simply Junebug’s Instagram.

We arrived in Paso Robles in the nick of time to check in, get our awesome swag bags, and then head out in a van to downtown Paso Robles. The TravelPaso team had set up some amazing things for us to see and do, including sampling local wine and homemade soda at Pithy Little Wine Company, chowing down on delicious Brown Butter Cookies at the Brown Butter Cookie Company (Salty AND sweet), and then browsing unique knicknacks and goods at the Paso Robles General Store. One of the things I loved about Paso Robles was the friendly, small-town feel. Everybody was so friendly and gracious to have us, which is impressive considering 30 female bloggers can be quite chatty and a little overwhelming with our constant tweeting and picture taking 🙂 . I especially enjoyed meeting two of the owners of the Paso General Store, as they own the shop along with another female friend. Girl power! As someone who’s new to owning her own business, I love chatting with ladies who have been there, done that, and are kickin’ ass and takin’ names. They had some really unique artisanal goods in their shop, and I left with a tin of gourmet ghost pepper salt for a Christmas gift, a hand-poured honey beeswax candle and a metal reusable straw. I could have easily spent a whole paycheck in that store!

Alyssa with two awesome women business owners of the Paso Robles General Store.

Alyssa with two awesome women business owners of the Paso Robles General Store.

After doing some shopping and exploring, we headed to Studios on the Park, an awesome community art space. Once we got there, we kicked off our festivity with a certain drink that would be making a recurring theme during the whole Fitcation…. SIP Certified WINE! Because nothing says “fun” like gal pals and vino, the lovely people at SIP, which stands for sustainability in Practice, helped coordinate many different wineries supplying their grown-up grape juice for our pleasure. What is sustainability in practice? SIP says, “SIP is a sustainability certification for California winegrape growers. The program looks at the farm in its entirety addressing water conservation, energy efficiency, air quality, habitat conservation, business stability and social responsibility. Each applicant is audited by a third party inspector to confirm that they meet the strict eligibility requirements.”

Community Art Space Studios On The Park, Paso Robles

Community Art Space Studios On The Park, Paso Robles

The whole SIP concept is cool on so many levels – not only are you putting the most premium ingredients in your body, but when you buy wine that has the SIP Seal on it, you’re helping to support viticulturists who truly care about the environment. When you look at the beauty that abounds in any wine country, it makes sense that we’d do everything we can to help protect it. Now that I’m educated in SIP, I’m going to make sure all of my wine purchases moving forward are SIP approved. It’s the least I can do to help save our environment while catching a nice little buzz at the same time. CHEERS to that, right?!

Paso Robles Wineries Help Loosen Up Travel-Tired Bloggers with Delicious SIP Certified Wines!

Paso Robles Wineries Help Loosen Up Travel-Tired Bloggers with Delicious SIP Certified Wines!

In addition to grapey goodness, we had a super yummy and healthy locally sourced meal from FIG Good Foods of Atascadero. One of my favorite dishes they served was a wonderful Indian spiced roasted vegetable medley. It may have been Morroccan, but you ate it with a fig and olive chutney on top and it was GOOOOOD. It also was something I wouldn’t regularly make for myself, so this signaled the start of a vacation beginning. As y’all know, I’m all about the yum-yums, so here’s a snap of me looking tickled pink with such a fancy and tasty meal!

Yummy Fig Good Foods catering from Atascadero/Paso Robles

Yummy Fig Good Foods catering from Atascadero/Paso Robles

After imbibing in yummy food and wines, it was either back to the hotel or out to a bar. I chose to go back to the hotel, knowing that our early start time the next day would have me yawning if I didn’t get some shut-eye. It was the perfect way to start a fabulous, fun-filled Fitcation. Come back tomorrow to find out what we did on Friday, and what wine tasting has to do with this friendly little beaver!

So now, tell me. Have you ever been to a wine country, and if so, which one?!

A Dam Fine Wheelbarrow. What do beavers have to do with wine? Find out tomorrow!

A Dam Fine Wheelbarrow. What do beavers have to do with wine? Find out tomorrow!