Ojai or Why I Don’t Go To L.A.

travel, California, OjaiLas Vegas and Los Angeles are so close, just one affordable 70-minute flight away. But I have not been back once since I moved back to the United States more than a year ago. The huge elephant in the room is that L.A. was not good to me, and I really don’t have any affinity for the place at all, although I have two very dear friends there. But while I do like to get all riled up about the place, saying “why would I ever go back?” blah blah, the truth is simpler. My life in Las Vegas is ridiculously, over-the-top, out-of-control busy. I moved here from a town of 3,000 people, people. When I want a weekend off from Sin City, I am not headed to L.A., where I get lost and sit in traffic and can’t find parking. When I can get away for a few days, I want peace, a charming little getaway where I can see lush landscapes and get outside.

Enter Ojai.

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Napa: You Can Travel “Just Because”

Napa, travel, photographySadly, I rarely take a vacation with my “IRL” (that’s “in real life” for you non-social media junkies) friends, aside from a steady stream of weddings. Thankfully, I have an enormous web of online travel pals to hit the road with “just because.” In the case of a recent girls weekend in Napa, I had met both girls off-line first before re-connecting with them on the web. Kristin (LEFT) and I worked together more than five years ago but barely knew each other. Then she found me on Twitter, and we met briefly during my first trip to Napa last year. Diana (MIDDLE) and I knew each other the first time I lived in Vegas, when I was a magazine editor and she a publicist. I was living as an expat in Costa Rica when I got a surprise email from her asking advice about taking time off to travel. Neither of us ever thought we’d move back to Vegas (what a transition!) — but here both of us are! Don’t let the champagne fool you — this was one of the most budget-friendly trips I’ve ever taken. Head to Virgin America for cheap flights, and all tastings are easy on the wallet. Girls trips for everyone!

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Meet Liz, of Travelogged

When I moved back to the U.S. from Costa Rica, I was so worried that I wouldn’t have a place in the online travel community anymore. I’d found a job (or, it’d actually found me!), and I couldn’t take time off for six long months, the downside to returning to corporate life. One of the online travel pioneers who was a true inspiration to me was an old friend of mine, Liz, of @travelogged. Little known fact: Liz and I met no less than 12 years ago, when we were completing our masters in journalism at Columbia University. The recession eventually led to the loss of both of our jobs but, no surprise to me, Liz retaliated much more swiftly than I did, as you’ll learn from her interview below. After I returned from a month-long trip to Borneo, she asked me to write about it on her blog. Unemployed, slightly depressed, and stuck in the “old journalism” mentality, I had no idea what she was talking about. Fast forward two years, and look at me now!

As I just learned at the TBU travel bloggers conference, Liz and I are both “joggers,” journos who blog. Love us!

I hope you find her as inspiring as I do.

 

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Weekend in Napa

Weekend Getaways with Leora Hasas and Abby TegneliaSometimes the best part about living in frenetic Las Vegas is how easy it is to get out of town for weekend getaways. Yet, in all of my years here (five, off and on), I’d never been to Napa. On a recent weekend, I changed that, heading to northern California with my friend Leora.

After the easiest Southwest flight, I landed in San Francisco for a night on the town. We met up with one of my favorite travel bloggers/photographers/writers, Kristin Luna, of Camels and Chocolate. For some reason, the only pictures we took were on my BlackBerry, which later died. Spending more time with this talented, amazing girl is the top reason I want to go back to SF soon!

The next morning, Leora and I took off for Napa, giddy as two schoolgirls. We jumped out of our car at the Golden Gate bridge, running around with our cameras and making other tourists take a million pictures of us until we got that perfect one (see above!).

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