Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2016-05-20

Queer Fat Femme LA Adventures: Drive an Hour and Spend a Weekend in Ojai and Ventura!

Update about my blog and my web move! First of all, big shout out to Rachelle who is backstage at QueerFatFemme.com moving things around from one host to another and trying to make the site faster and less buggy! I am so grateful for her help and grateful I had the cash to get this process going!

Also, my most recent Reiki infused tea sale is technically over but the pre sale was less successful this time and scale really helps keep my costs down, so as long as the paypal buttons are still up at the Bevin’s Tea page I can take new orders and give you an update about when I can expect to ship it out. (I have to replace some inventory.) I’m in the process of starting with a graphic designer to make the logo and packaging as cute as it deserves to be and I am so excited to share with you my vision when it becomes a reality! Now back to this post I wrote while I was patiently waiting for my website to be moved!

[For some reason I can’t upload photos to this post and waiting on the magical Rachelle to help me figure it out. Check back later for a post full of photos.]

So once upon a time Dara and I did this road trip through California, celebrating post-cancer treatment life and exploring my home state and where Dara wanted to move but I wasn’t sold yet.

Since Ojai and Ventura are on my short list of best cities in California, we stayed overnight out there. One night at my Aunt Shari’s house in Camarillo and one night in Ojai at a great hotel.

My friend recently said to me, “Hey Bevin, I have a lover meeting me in LA for a laycation. Where should we stay?”

I immediately thought of our trip to Ojai and wrote this up for her. Enjoy.

Book a room at the Capri Hotel. OMG the design of the hotel is Mid-Century Modern Barbie Dreamhouse with more masculine style and Ikea stuff. The rock wall on the side of the lobby is a mid-century modern classic detail.

The Capri rules both because it is cute and it’s such a great party room. We got a free upgrade to an upstairs unit with a balcony (worth it, it’s cuter up there). It also has hella cute LED lighting outside on each balcony and on the walls so your whole room can glow pink for ambiance. Perfect for a laycation or just fun selfies. Or both!

There’s a Yelp deal you might want to consider, but they also offer other random discounts.

Our room had a record player with a selection of records I wasn’t excited about. But more importantly the record player had a radio on it and I immediately put on Old School 95.9, which had just launched in Ventura County. It is old school R&B and hip hop. They play Prince every hour, and they are amazing. Dara and I put on PJs and danced in our socks to 95.9 while we stayed at Capri Hotel. It was awesome.

So on your road trip into Ojai for your laycation, turn on 95.9 as soon as you hit the mountain before Camarillo. It will set the mood for an amazing weekend.

Stop in Ventura (the last coastal town before Ojai) and take a 10 minute beach drive detour. Exit Seaward on the 101, drive down Harbor past the In N Out, taking you along the beach to the pier.

You’ll come back the next day to really soak it in, but the Ventura coast line deserves as much attention as you can pay it. Literally every time I see it I think “I didn’t remember this being as beautiful as it is.” It looks pretty but there’s also something incredible about the energy there. I think it’s the wind. Anyway, it’s amazing. So classic CA gorgeous with a lot of beautiful rocks and scraggly sections. And the birds! Ugh, anyway, trust me it’s awesome.

I also want to shout out my friend James Leander for almost all the information on this post, including the above drive. They live in Ventura and JLV is basically the best local tour guide.

Hop on the 33 and enjoy the wiggly roads through the canyon into Ojai. You arrive on the main street of Ojai and the Capri comes up on the left side of the road.

Check in, “settle in” however that happens for you, and then take a break to go have an evening activity!

Do you like to ride horses? I feel like a sunset horse ride would be amazing there.

Do you just like to hang out and get coffee? Grab some and settle in for a cute conversation at Coffee Connection. It is only open until 5PM so get there early. Their coffee is great, I’ve always enjoyed it.

Do you like to do hippie stuff and watch a beautiful sunset? Go get the sunset action at Meditation Mount. It’s privately held land open to the public. It has a Buddhist center and a meditation garden. You park and then give an optional donation as you enter the gardens and and head towards the sunset.

When Dara and I went we had the misfortune to be there at the same time as a party bus full of late middle aged people from Santa Barbara spilled out. Everyone was carrying a glass of white wine and talking the whole time. So not the zen vibe the other people who were at the sunset were trying to cultivate. Still a beautiful experience and I could tell one of those ladies with the white wine felt uncomfortable because she knew she wasn’t fully present to the experience and she said as much to Dara, who makes friends everywhere she goes.

Bring your late, casual dinner back to the hotel and enjoy it on the balcony. The green pork tamales at La Fuenta were amazing. Just get those. I think whatever else we got was forgettable but not the tamales.

The next morning, wake up and go swimming at the Capri Hotel pool. Then get your beach bag together and head to Ventura for the day. Have brunch at Cafe Nouveau if you like maple bacon beignets and free coffee while you wait for a table.

Or have brunch instead at Le Petit Bakery at the Ventura Harbor, which has extremely beautiful scenery and is worth it.

Or if you are boozy and like a bloody mary bar (my favorite way to drink bloody marys when I still drank booze) head to Social Tap, which is next to my very favorite sitting beach in Ventura.

If you are a babe who loves to thrift shop, Main Street on the Northern end has so many great thrift stops. Many of the vintage pieces I love the most came from Ventura. Point your Maps at The Arc Foundation thrift store (their prices are going way up, so they aren’t as good as they once were) and then head South from there.

If you want to just hang hard on the beach, the San Buenaventura Beach is my favorite for being close to a bathroom and having breathtaking views. If you want to take a cute walk and see some interesting shore and watch surfers, go to Surfer’s Point at Seaside Park. The people watching is really interesting, and so is the eavesdropping if you don’t mind lapses of silence with your boo to then gossip afterwards about what you heard.

Ventura is also great for renting a surrey or a bicycle and going for a cute paved path cycle along the waterfront. Dara and I got a surrey with a fringe on top and it was really challenging to drive that thing and also really fun. We rented it for an hour for $15 from Ventura Bike Depot.

After your day in Ventura, watch the sunset at any beach and then leave before it’s dark. Go past Ventura North on the 101 and then go back to Ojai the back way on the 150 and enjoy dusk along the seashore. But keep an eye out for deer on those back roads at dusk and dawn.

Grab dinner and dessert at Boccali’s, their strawberry shortcake is not to be missed.

(If you’re gluten free skip this and just eat a whole pint of strawberries from a roadside stand instead. The fertile farmland around Ventura County produces the best strawberries of all time.)

The next morning, after you check out of the hotel, go for an amazing hike!

James Leander recommends:

Easy hikes: Ventura botanical gardens, Rose Valley Falls

Medium hikes: Arroyo Verde Park (you have to pay on weekends), 2 Trees (iconic, but illegal. also, i would say this one is hard but it is also less than 2 miles to the top), Punch Bowls

Hard hikes: Gridley trail and Pratt trail are both awesome and in Ojai.

It’s clear I love Ventura and Ojai–you will love them, too! I’m so excited to continue exploring the backroads of Southern California!

2015-12-29

See You Laters instead of Goodbyes: My Last Moments as a New Yorker and First Stop on the Road

On December 18th the moving truck came and took all of the belongings we decided were important enough to ship to California. For me, this involved my beloved high heeled shoe chairs and four wardrobe boxes of hanging clothes. For Dara, her karaoke machine, keyboard and guitar. Thank the Goddess for the incredible help of Victoria in that process.

victoriamovingsavior

Pro-tip: if you know someone going through an intense cross-country move, text them “How can I help?” Pro-tip: if you are going through a cross-country move and someone asks how they can help, take them up on it. I have had to work through some intense “I’m an independent babe, I need to appear perfect” in order to be in a place to receive help. I’m so glad I have done that work because we really needed that help. If I had said, “No, we’re okay!” I would have lost out on hanging out with Victoria AND likely devolved into sobbing and fighting with Dara. I did neither of those things in our last few days in NYC. (The closest to a fight we got into was snipping for a few minutes and I thought that was a giant victory.)

I feel like Dara and I said “We’re almost done!” way too prematurely but there was no way to actually know what we had left to do in the packing process, it was all whack a mole dealing with the next right thing. So with the help of Victoria disassembling my desk, unscrewing things in the wall, taping up boxes, showing up on moving day with coffee and breakfast sandwiches, we managed to get through the final firestorm of stress and get ready for our road trip.

highheelshoemovingI worked hard to have the moving process be as low stress as I could manage but just seeing the photo of the high heel shoe chair wrapped for the moving truck only a week and couple of days later I can feel my stress hormones ramping back up again! Probably a good occasion to employ tapping.

So here’s the thing, typically you plan a road trip across the country and it is your primary activity for a period of time before you hit the road (I did this in 2011). Or at least if you are a Capricorn like me, you do it that way. This time, packing for the road trip was the first thing I did after the moving truck left.

Somehow, (I have no idea how this happened…) when planning my wardrobe for this trip I kind of overdid it. As I packed up the clothes in my dresser and vanity (two pieces of furniture I could hold onto until I left that weren’t going with the movers) I just kind of shoved what I thought was going to fit into my two suitcases. Clothing that would have to work for multiple climates (from below freezing to 90 degrees, potentially), professional meetings, possible dressing up, casual hangouts and comfy clothes that can handle being in the car for 12 hours. This is the type of sartorial challenge I excel at, yet still required more edits than I allotted before the movers took the last box. So, we had to pack a bonus box to ship ahead of us. Victoria was great at editing this with me while Dara ran our last minute leaving town errands like returning the Optimum online modem and router–why the return place has to be in the far reaches of Brooklyn is beyond me–picking up prescriptions, etc…

hollyaliceMe and Holly and her pup Alice B Tokeface. Holly just moved to NYC from the Bay a few months ago and was full of great advice for me. So sad we won’t be living in the same city anymore!

The last night in town my friend Topher hosted a really cute mixer right near my apartment. If you’re in NYC and want to meet people, Select All is the party to go to. I walked in and there were tons of people I knew and literally all of them were quality awesome people you would want to meet. It was a great last chance to hug people I love. DJ Average Jo was spinning and played me a 20 minute block of Hall and Oates for old times sake. (During the Yes Ma’am parties we always had a couple of Hall and Oates songs for dance floor nostalgia.)

joandbevinMe and Jo!

My good friend Miss Mary Wanna came up from Philly for the last night to hang out and help with the transition to the new Femme roommate in the Haus of Femmespiration–MMW is a Virgo cusp Femme professional organizer, office manager and apropos to this, mega house cleaner. Paying halfsies for a deep clean was an act of self love my roommate and I did to ease the transition. No question about whose mess was whose or me having to clean after I got everything out of the apartment. Also bonus–keep money in the queer economy. Double bonus–she’s a friend who won’t judge our lifestyle, who we can trust to leave the house while she’s working.

After we got back from Select All, Miss Mary Wanna and I sat up in my living room hanging hard. We don’t get to see each other often and our slumber parties are some of my favorite memories. We met in 2009 when I threw a Zombie Queer Cabaret and she came up from North Carolina to perform. I booked her a bunch after she moved to Philly and we became friends. We were up reminiscing about my favorite memories in the apartment and I was loving talking to MMW and kind of procrastinating going to bed on my last night as a New Yorker. Though I was ready to leave I was also kind of sad.

bevinmissmarywannaLove this babe so hard.

I had all the feels. Excited. Sad. Nervous. Overwhelmed. Relieved that the packing and moving part was pretty much over. Nostalgic. Ready. Exhausted.

Victoria and I had packed our car for the road trip and it seemed liked Dara and I had plenty of room for all the stuff we had left in the house (our “go” bags, overnight stuff, Macy’s cooler with her frozen homemade food in it and my reiki tea making supplies). We parked it overnight in a garage and when we took stuff downstairs on Saturday morning for our departure it was a cluster fuck trying to get everything in there. There were some last minute items ditched and we did the best we could to make it work.

reikiteaArt works well with a deadline, so having decided I was going to give samples of many of my reiki infused tea blends to friends as hostess gifts while we travel cross country gave me a deadline… So naturally I was blending tea the last night in Brooklyn. I’m pretty stoked about how they all came out, though, and can’t wait to get feedback from my friends as they sample the tea. The Feelings blend supports going through Feelings and has a tart flavor as an acknowledgement that even things that are a bit uncomfortable can ultimately be delicious.

Jacqueline made a joke about wanting to be at my last-minute waving goodbye party and it ended up manifesting even though she didn’t come. Like, I couldn’t leave town without saying a real goodbye to my BFF Brian even though we had just had dinner during the live broadcast of Dolly Parton’s TV movie Coat of Many Colors on NBC. (My girl got the highest ratings of any TV movie since 2011!) But every time we saw each other we said we’d see each other one more time, so it was super sweet that Brian and his huzz Arnolfo came by to wave.

wavingparty

None of this is really goodbye, I will see everyone again, just in different permutations and more intentionally as we become out of town visitors or as I convince people to move to LA, too. (So far mostly just Miss Mary Wanna, Sequinette and Victoria.) I am trying really hard to just say, “See you later.”

All of the see you laters has been kind of overwhelming in a good way. Moving really gets people saying how much you mean to them in a way that I didn’t expect. I am still really moved (pun intended) by some of the incredible things people said about how knowing me has touched their lives. Impacting so many people I respect, admire and love is incredibly humbling.

We drove for what seemed like forever that first day. We hit a bunch of traffic in DC and Richmond, VA, on our way to my friends’ Farmlet in North Carolina. Fae and E have this amazing homestead I’d heard so much about over the past couple of years. Fae’s blog Species Confusion is awesome, I’ve read the whole thing.

The blog is great recipes and stories of homesteading. The amount of knowledge that goes into farming for one’s family is the equivalent of a graduate degree. Both in research and what is learned in trial and error. I love to learn new things and we spent the whole morning on their Farmlet feeding the critters and learning about the mechanics of the Farmlet.

In fact, Fae posted that pigs love pumpkin and I never carved my pumpkin from Halloween so instead of getting rid of it in the last swirls of moving I decided to save it to bring to their pigs, Tofu and Tempeh.

farmletI saw my three year old niece Joey the night I wore these pants and she said, “Aunt Bevin you’re wearing pants.” I’m not much for pants but was trying something for this tee shirt.

They have rabbits and chickens, too, as well as Hamster whose farm product is love. He’s a tiny yorkie Fae rescued years ago who I had only seen in photos on Facebook and was happy to introduce to Macy. They got along well, Macy even tried to play with Hamster, and I seriously regret not getting photos.

Dara and I are working on an adventure video blog and I’m very stoked to have some of Fae and E’s Farmlet tour on the first video! Our 40 day trip West will hopefully have some stops that will allow Dara time to edit the videos.

Right now we’re paused in Normal, IL, waiting out an ice storm at Dara’s brother’s house. More soon!

hopestatueOn our last week in town we stopped at the HOPE statue in Midtown. I thought it was an appropriate bon voyage NYC photo!

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