Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 3

Our last full day of fun! I’m not too sad because my regular life is a lot like life at The Ranch, and I’m sure my mom’s is, too. I was nervous to fly back to LA the next day in the midst of all the wildfire crises, but I am lucky enough not to live in the evacuation or danger zone. It feels extremely sad and scary to have a natural disaster hit so close to home. I feel guilty for not being in LA to endure the chaos, but thankful to be somewhere safe and flame-free.

 Paella

6:15am We wake up early again. Today is a little easier because mom agreed to turn on the heat in the room last night, so it’s not quite so chilly as we crawl out of bed and out the door.

7:00am Another morning walk. We decide to join the 50 minute power group this time. It ends up being much like the normal paced 40 minute walk because a couple tagged along who didn’t know what they were getting into. I just like walking and being outside, and I don’t wear a watch, so I don’t mind either way.

9:00am Zumba!!! I love taking Zumba and I love that the instructors here give us belly dancing wraps with fancy silver coins hanging from them. We dance and dance and dance.

10:00am I take a yoga class on surfboards. The surfboards are indoors on platforms, so it feels a little silly, but I’m pretending to branch out and try new and different things while still doing what I do every day.

11:00am My mom and I take a TRX fusion class with straps that hang down from the ceiling and heavy kettlebells. I’m a little worried since we’ve already been working out for like 3 hours at this point and it’s marked on the schedule as a Very Difficult class, but we have a good time anyway. The instructor is entertaining, and I appreciate his enthusiasm although we stop giving full effort about halfway through the class.

12:00pm We return to lunch in the main restaurant. This time, there’s a pasta bar plus the usual lunchtime offerings. I again eat everything and end up feeling much too full after. I’m glad there is enough exercise around here to balance out all of the deliciousness.

2:00pm I meet with Leslie the psychic for a Tarot card reading. They really do have everything here! She tells me that I attract narcissistic partners (I’m a blindfolded woman surrounded by swords!) and that my near future will contain a wonderfully sunny period followed by the image of two people leaping from the windows of a burning tower. Things are looking good…

3:00pm I’m back in the room trying to write a book for National Novel Writing Month. I’ve been sticking to the daily word requirements, and I won’t let vacation knock me off track. I will end up getting knocked off track after vacation, but that’s another detail for another time.

4:00pm We make our daily visit to the spa for a quick dip. I bounce back and forth between the cold and hot tubs, and I think I could get used to this. The cold pool is very icy, but I can definitely feel a difference in my muscles the following day.

5:00pm It’s Spanish paella night! We’re excited so we get there too early and end up having some time to kill. We look around to find the “Live Ranch Music” and find that it’s an elderly man playing piano in the lobby. We run back to the room to grab our books to read on the couch by the fireplace. Someone requests that the pianist play “Thanksgiving Songs”, but isn’t sure if there are any or which ones he would like to hear.

6:00pm BINGO time! They’ve moved the game far away into one of the conference rooms, and we walk along the winding paths to get there. The adobe buildings all look similar so it’s easy to get lost here, at least for us, but there are usually signs and friendly employees to point you the right way. We have a nice time playing Bingo for prizes, but neither of us comes close to winning unlike the group of women behind us who each win 2 times in a row!

8:00pm We have to exit Bingo early to get our second round of massages. It’s not a huge loss because our cards are all duds, and getting an immediate massage is a much better prize anyway.

Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 1

In case you missed it, my mom took me to the most wonderful wellness retreat in Tuscon, Arizona a couple weeks ago, and I promised I would tell you more about it. The purpose of the trip was to celebrate my belated 30th birthday. I moved to LA about a month before my b-day, so I wasn’t ready to make any travel plans to close to the move date. Luckily, my mom is retired and her golf and tennis schedule allows for frequent vacations. And, if you didn’t already know, my yoga teaching schedule does too!

I learned about Canyon Ranch when I was younger, because my mom used to go with her girlfriends for a week every year. She would come back carrying logo-bearing tote bags and fancy water bottles and tell us about pampering spa treatments, so my sister and I have always been curious. Unfortunately, Elayne the vet was busy slaving away at her internship and couldn’t join us this time. Hopefully there will be a next time when the three of us can go together.

Before leaving, I knew that we were going to a nice, outdoorsy type of spa place, but I didn’t know what to expect. My mom had revealed that there would be yoga classes and healthy cooking demos, but that’s the extent of what I knew. I imagined a bunch of older, already pretty healthy women treating themselves to spa day. But during our 4-day relaxcation, I found that Canyon Ranch actually offers a lot more than spa services. I was pleased to find a more holistic approach to health— the classes range from cardio bootcamps to lectures on technology addiction or running on an underwater treadmill. There were people of all sizes and adult ages. People suffering from loss, mental illness, and addiction. Families celebrating together. Men and women on their own learning about self-care. There seemed to be something for anyone interested in improving their physical, emotional, and mental health or simply looking to recharge and reset the system.

 Canyon Ranch yoga

Here’s a daily schedule of some things that we experienced:

Wednesday

11:00am I arrive after a quick up and down flight from LAX. Driver Dan picks me up at the airport with a sign that has my name on it. I feel very elite.

12:00pm I check into the resort and find my mom at the outdoor cafe. We split a tasty portion-controlled salmon burger and some desert bars. I learn that everything on the menu is all-inclusive, but it’s not a buffet, so you can really order one of everything on the menu if that’s your game.

1:00pm We’re early, so our rooms aren’t ready yet, which doesn’t bother us. We stop at a shoe shop in the hallway to talk to the foot specialist about my lingering foot problem (I have a bone spur on one of my heels). Before I even stand up out of the chair, she comments on my right foot collapsing inward. She watches me walk from 4 angles on a treadmill and has me step across a sensory pad. My mom and I both end up getting new running/walking shoes. Mine are meant to correct the way I’ve been compensating for the heel spur. This ends up being the most valuable life takeaway of the trip for me. I can run pain-free again!

3:00pm We take our first class— Yogilates. I realize that I miss the strength and slow control of Pilates; it was my gateway into yoga and my first teaching stint. I feel inspired to incorporate it more into my yoga classes.

4:00pm We stay for Yoga Vinyasa flow, even though I said I was going to branch out and try other forms of movement on this trip. Oh well. You can take the yogi off the mat, but you can’t put the yogi back into a room full of mats and expect them not to practice.

5:00pm We decide to skip meditation class, having just done two hours of controlled movement and breathing. We head to the room to check in and unpack.

5:30pm We visit the spa area and change into our bathing suits and plush robes. There’s a eucalyptus aromatherapy room, a regular steam room, a sauna, two hot tubs, a cold dipping pool, showers, a nude sunbathing area (maybe good for sunning the skin, but I’m with my mom, so come on…), and a room where you can apply masks and body scrubs. And if you lose your towel or robe there are about 600 other towels and robes available to you.

6:30pm Dinner time. I order almost everything, and it is all delicious.

8:30pm My mom made us facial appointments. What a treat! I would pay a lot of money just to lie down on the facial bed again because the way it is sloped and padded makes me the most comfortable I’ve ever been. Usually I would change someone’s name if I’m going to talk about them, but Euvgenia, my Eastern European facialist, has the most amazing presence and facial skills. Seek her out! Afterwards I visit the restroom where all the walls and ceilings are mirrors and there is a hanging chandelier. I can’t tell if I’m just extremely relaxed or I’ve been transported into a Las Vegas drug-induced experience. 10 out of 10 either way.

10:00pm Easy bed time.

Family Fun

Do you know how it feels to decide exactly what you want from a very young age, and then work hard every day throughout your life in pursuit of that goal? Me neither!

But ya know who does? My sister! Last weekend our family traveled to Boston to celebrate her success in achieving her lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian.

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We enjoyed brunches and blueberry beer, and I almost fell asleep post-red eye at the Red Sox game. It was a celebration of dedication, persistence, and family in the wonder of New England spring.

Happy Mother's Day

Moms! They're mostly the best, simply for growing you inside of them for almost a whole year and then usually taking it even further to always be there to answer your frantic string of phone calls when you need something, in spite of the times when you might have ignored all their text messages, phone calls, and voicemails when you didn't need anything. They are putting up with a lot every day!

Mine is the type who will spontaneously come to Delaware, Texas, or California whenever you ask her to, with about two weeks notice or less. She's often the "Why not?" when everyone else around me has said "No" and the "Get both!" when two items at the store are asking me to choose just one. She's a woman who made it so that I never wondered what, as a female, I would be able to do. Jobs, sports, solo travels, equal paychecks, using my voice to speak my mind-- there has never been a doubt that the whole world of possibility is open to me. 

We may not always see eye to eye on things like having health insurance or not needing a cosigner for a housing lease at age 30, but I love her and can't imagine a life without such a fierce lady to guide the way.

 Barney's Beanery Bus

Guess what? It's gonna be...

Just kidding, y'all. It's already May. But I did go to see Justin Timberlake on April 30th and, if you are asking me, he missed the chance to turn himself on stage into a living meme.

Of course, the show was still rhythmic and smooth, and I got to dance to "Cry Me a River" next to my mom which was everything I'd hoped it would be and more.

My aunt and cousin flew down from Portland with a group of their family friends, and we spent a little gals' weekend exploring Pasadena. Pasadena is a good place to go if you like nice things and if you like pretending you live in a quaint small city where you can walk places instead of in one of the most sprawling urban metropolises in the world.

We went to Universal Studios on Saturday, which was how you would expect Universal Studios to be on a Saturday, but we really enjoyed ourselves. It turns out that long lines are a great time for catching up with friends and fam. One of the gift shop employees gave us speed passes for the Harry Potter castle ride which really sent our day at the park above and beyond. Thank you gift shop man! It was so nice to have a whole weekend to relax and reconnect with family and new friends.

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Mammoth Lakes

Last weekend was about as good as it gets up in Mammoth Lakes, CA. On Thursday, my dad picked me up and we drove to Mammoth for a ski weekend and my early 30th birthday celebration. What a dad! He left home in NY at 5am, drove down to NYC, flew across the country, then scooped me up in a rental SUV with 4WD to take us 5 hours to Northern California. We weren’t sure if we’d need the 4WD, but were glad to have it as we drove into Mammoth in a snowstorm. I probably should’ve driven the California leg of the trip, but my dad is very strict about rules and my name wasn’t registered with the rental company. Who knows what could have happened. So I just stared out the window as we went from rain to sun and back again. I saw a bunch of rainbows, Joshua trees, and interesting rock formations. 

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We skied an amazing day at Mammoth Mountain on Friday, and another at the well kept secret June Mountain on Saturday. Sunday had us back at Mammoth in a morning blizzard, but it all cleared up by lunchtime to return us to these beautiful views. 

 Mammoth Mountain
 June Lake

My head has been pretty clear, and I realize how lucky I am to be on this life vacation where I don’t really have anything to worry about back at “home”. It feels strange calling it home since I’ve only lived there for two weeks, but I'm definitely enjoying the transition. I can't think of a better way to explore my new state and celebrate the onset of a new decade of life!

 Woolly the Mammoth