the ocean, she tempts me. the ocean, i heed.


Seven Days in SoCal

Day 1: Pacific Palisades

I had the chance to meet an IG friend in IRL this month! I connected with Erika 4 years ago in a sober curious FB group and have kept in touch with her through social platforms ever since. I was a guest on her “The Happiest Hour” sobriety podcast back in 2021 and then she was a guest on my “Teetotler Tuesday” series this past winter. A few weeks ago, she picked me up from LAX and we spent the day hiking, talking, laughing and getting in trouble (at least three times) at Lake Shrine (we are louder than we realize). Erika, even though I claim to be the writer, your words in your post welled me up with emotion – the main one being gratitude – for the hat lol but more obv for the friendship. Also, I stand by what I said – you should do the “lift & lift up” coaching/driving service we discussed – you can add “hat purchase” as an additional fee and then probably be able to actually afford that peanut butter!

An excerpt from Erica:

Joy. Hope. Love.

I could not wait for the day to meet this spunky, inspiring, creative, gypsy soul, and yesterday it happened! (Surreal when I think about how much & how long I have admired her through the internet.)

While we laughed as we shared our relationship to God, Jesus, Religion, Dating Goals, etc, with each other, there’s one thing we both know, two sober yogis running together through LA, an over-flowing (and very wet) Temescal Canyon, & feeding each other $30 spoon junky nut butter with figs, are definite signs of divine manifestation, miracles, abundance, & a higher power at play.

To live, laugh, breathe deeply, & adventure beyond the norm is an honor that so many fail to recognize is available in every moment. It’s something Kristina excels at. (Follow her for workshops & retreats.)

I’m so grateful for my home that continues to provide daily experiences for myself & those who say YES to stepping out of their every day & into a new reality & version of themselves.

We get to decide in each moment who we are, what we think & stand for, how we will live.

And yes, God is Good, All the Time.


Day 2: Santa Barbara Take 1

After leaving Erika I arrived at Juliet’s place and the ever thoughtful hostess that she is there was already a book waiting for me on the bed, Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love! It would be one of 9 books that made the trip back home with me. Next up was Santa Barbara and a day of things not going quite as planned, but ending up fantastic all the same. We had accidentally purchased tickets to the ‘wrong’ show at the Lobero theater that evening due to a date mixup, and so instead of attending a women’s empowerment event, we took our seats instead to hear Tom Russell. I had no idea who Tom Russell was (maybe I should have given he has opened for icons like Johnny Cash), but judging by the crowd he was many years our senior and of the country genre. Oh boy, I thought. What have we gotten ourselves into. Before he even finished the first song I was a newly converted fan and by the time Guadalupe had ended I had full on tears running down my face. Rolling Stone described Russell as “the greatest living folk-country songwriter” and Russell describes his latest recordings as “Jack Kerouac meets Johnny Cash in Bakersfield”

Day 3: Venice Beach & Santa Monica Pier

Today I got to explore the legendary Venice Beach (I had no idea when I used to see my Aunt Sandy and my cool ass cousins walking around in their Gold’s Gym attire in the late 80s that Gold’s Gym is an actual iconic place in California) and Santa Monica Pier. I was expecting something way grungier lol. Venice Beach was clean and polite (see the cardboard box pic below) and dare I say even quaint. The homes by the canals felt right out of a storybook. I had no idea that this Venice was named after that Venice (you know the one in Italy). According to a sign I stumbled upon, Abbot Kinnney created this Venice in 1905 as a “mashup of Venice, Italy and Coney Island.”

One of my favorite parts of the afternoon was finding a ‘boho garage sale’ where Juliet found for me my newest favorite sweatshirt – the gray one with roller skates you see in the youtube below! I wanted to buy actual skates on the pier but knew they’d cost me a fortunate to fly home weight wise. But, if someone is looking for a gift for me I have a pair all picked out and waiting in my amazon cart 🙂

On the pier, I was more than just a little excited to see Zoltar who like most people my age will always be associated with the movie Big. And while I quite enjoyed his verbal I message for me (“Hard work pays off in a futrre time but laziness pays off right now so relax and enjoy the day. You deserve it” I was not so much a fan of the card message the machine spit out (“Restless feet walk into a snake pit. Although, down time certainly is important to have, too much of it can be venomous). While writing this post, I got curious about the actual Zoltar machine from the 80s flick and started doing some research – it turns out that the one from the movie was only ever used as a prop, never an actual entertainment. Today Zoltar has become it’s own little enterprise produced by the company Characters Unlimited.

According to Olaf Stanton, the owner of Characters Unlimited, every Zoltar machine is custom-made. During the production process, they first start with the cabinet, which is made from wood. Then, they begin to cast the head of the Zoltar character out of latex material. After that, the eyeballs are installed and the face is painted. From there, the machine goes to the wig department, where it receives its legendary goatee. 

The next step is a pretty strange one. Zoltar receives his teeth, which are made from a cast of real human teeth. But they aren’t just anyone’s teeth, they’re Olaf Stanton’s teeth. That’s right; every Zoltar machine has the same teeth as the owner of Characters Unlimited. Weird. Finally, once the creepy teeth are put in, they add the components that make Zoltar talk and dispense the cards and he’s all ready to go.

After my fortune telling and several more hours of walking , we decided (too late) to get food. We wanted to try a place called Rose but the signage wasn’t great and we ended up walking right by it at least 3 times. One of those times, we passed a restaurant called The Anchor. It seemed bumping, had a robust menu, and patio seating was available. We decided that if we didn’t find Rose on this last attempt we would come back and eat at The Anchor. Well – we did find Rose, but there was a slight problem – they weren’t serving food for another hour. At this point I was hungry and tired and knew if I wanted to keep my friendship I’d better not wait 60 more minutes to fill my belly. Back to The Anchor we went only to discover that now we had missed their lunch too! They were also taking a break before the dinner crowd. Mind you – we just literally saw a bunch of patrons eating delicious food there not 20 minutes prior. The dirty plates still littered tables for Christ’s sake. Our waiter, Danny patiently explained to an exasperated me that the chef couldn’t be expected to cook 14 hours a day. Out of pity, one of the other staff members said they could bring me french fries to tide (that is not a typo – the correct use of idiom is tide over) me over until we could get dinner. We asked for the outdoor heater to be turned on – “that one doesn’t work” was the response. “May I get a Shirley Temple” I asked – “We don’t have those” was the response. After engaging in this call and response type dialogue several times (always with the same response) Danny basically shrugged and was like “We basically don’t have anything.” His dead pan humor and my hunger induced delirium had me cracking up. I was like, “you have a good attitude – that’s something” and he was like “yeah I guess it helps me get through life.” We started chatting about the weather. He was from Seatlle and said he moved to California for the rain. Juliet responsed “wait – isn’t Seattle known for rain.” Danny responded, “I was a joke. Not a good one.” I can go on and on about how much I laughed during this dinner engagement but it probably doesn’t seem as funny to someone who just wasn’t there. At one point, Danny brought us oysters over to make up for them not having anything else we had asked for. I appreciated the gesture and so I panicked and graciously excepted the oysters without actually knowing if I liked oysters. The below footage offers the big reveal 😉 Danny- thank you turning what could have been a very annoying experience into one of my favorite memories of the trip.

Day 4 – Laguna

Today we met back up with Erika and my two friends become friends (always so much fun to watch when this happens). We went to the mermaid tower (it’s actually known as the pirate tower by locals, but we kept calling it the mermaid tower and visited the labyrinth at the Niguel Botanical Preserve.

…the labyrinth…consists of a singly, mysteriously winding path that leads to a center point and back out again.Unlike its cousin the maze, which is designed to mislead and confuse, the labyrinth is a meditative tool heralded for its ability to help clear and focus the mind, and as an aid for psychological and spiritual growth. Labyrinths were used by ancient peoples as ceremonial places for honoring the sacred directions and the changing of the seasons. In medieval European cathedrals, the labyrinth represented the internal journey of life

Sign at entrance of labyrinth

Day 5: Santa Barbara Take 2

Back to Santa Barbara we went – this time to visit Old Mission Santa Barbara where I got to learn about the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island (I actually was inspired at how the mission told her story using multiple lenses (that of the historian, the novelist, the archeologist, etc.) and thought about how I might utilize this presentation design in my role as an learning experience designer at the University where I work). We also took a drive up to Chumash Painted Cave where you can see what likely were markings made by shamans or priests who came to the cave seeking supernatural intervention in the human realm.

After the cave we took a horseback ride on a barren Santa Barbara beach. Though horseback riding isn’t new to me (I used to take lessons as a kid and rode at a dude ranch a few years ago), riding horseback on the beach was a first for me and I loved every second of it.

Day 6: LA

Today we did Mural Mile, the Hollywood sign viewing, and hit some bookstores. I could have spent days in The Last Bookstore and almost came home with a piece of art from there (I’m still thinking about ordering so we shall see). It was so fun exploring the shelves and seeing the various art installations on each floor. I didn’t however, find Blake the Tyger(the resident bookstore cat) hiding in any of the shelves.

Day 7: Malibu

the getty malibu and liv plane text and out airplane window

Till July Cali 🙂

We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.

Anais Nin
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