The Sublime Ocean Swim

Some of you may have read my post on the benefits of Rough Water Swim Training, but I think there is also another benefit. While I discuss the progression of psychological development by swimming in rough conditions, I think swimming in a very calm ocean can have just as much benefit in terms of serenity and relaxation.

This morning's swim at Leadbetter Beach is a great example of this. With the heat wave settled over the central coast, one great way to find relief is to dive into the ocean and I did just that this morning.  The water was remarkably warm & calm.  Swimming out to the first buoy I noticed how clear the water was, almost pool-like, but there was enough of a swell to make things a little interesting.   After stopping for a moment to tread water, I realized just how lucky I was to be alone off-shore.  The clear skies, sea gulls, sun, moutain views, and cool water was so refreshing.  I just paused there for an extending time to soak it all in.  It reminded me of one of the reasons why I started training for triathlons, to experience nature and the outdoors.  The diving bombing sea gulls really made the moment even better.  But then, it was time to continue on in.  I said a small thank you to the ocean and continued on, relaxed more than ever.

While you may not want to stop in the middle of a triathlon to take in the moment, taking a moment during training to reflect on your surroundings and why you are there is as important as the workout itself.  We must not forget why we are here and take in the benefits of being in the moment.


Hot, Hot RUN

Went out for a run just a bit ago.  I can't believe I went out for a run in the 95 degree heatwave we are having. It is ridiculous how hot we are, but I must not complain too loudly since we have it so good the other 360 days of the year.   The thing that I struggle with most when running in the heat is the burning feeling of the sun on your skin.  Even with sunblock, you can feel the sun like a laser, trying to burn your flesh off as you move.  Shade is such a nice thing!   Needless to say, I won't be participating in the Tempe International Triathlon anytime soon! 

Java Station – Plush Seating, Great Music, Great!

Hi All,

I am here at the Java Station in Santa Barbara (review: I have to say that I am impressed with the amount of plush seating surfaces, including to giant couches, about a dozen arm chairs, including a reclining la-z-boy. They even have an enormous fireplace, plenty of tables, outdoor seating, and free wifi. At the moment, the music is quite nice; a baroque classical selection that sounds like it may be local radio. Nice touch!

I ordered a large iced coffee and an orange, cranberry muffin. The iced coffee is a little weak, but tolerable. However, the perfectly moist and not too sweet muffin rocks. WHile I was ordering they had some pretty mean looking brisket they were prepping for catering. One gentleman ordered a beautiful avocado, cheese, and tomato on toast that looked as if it was out of Sunset Magazine.

Overall, Java Station is a far cry from the stuffy old mattress salesroom that occupied this same space almost ten years ago. Perhaps I am happy the mattress sales business went belly up as Java Station is a great place to kick back and relax. I will hold off on an official rating until I visit a few more times, but I am looking forward to coming back… especially if the awesome classical is still playing.


Out and About in Santa Barbara

Where Are the Couches and Coffee in Santa Barbara?

Ever since I started my so called "vacation" this week, I find myself visiting a variety of coffee shops throughout the Santa Barbara area.  However, visits to certain coffee shops have been limited in duration because of seating material.  Hard wood chairs are notorious for their lack of comfort after a period of time. In fact, things can get quite tortuous in the area of the bum without proper padding.  But it seems that most coffee shops have turned toward hard surfaces, such as wood, and digressed from the more comfortable, plush couches and arm chairs.

Here is a little history of me and coffee houses.   I grew up in the age of the up and coming mom & pop coffee shops that offered giant couches in which to enjoy the coffee drink and pastry of your choice.  In fact, I frequented a variety of these establishments with my mom, a talented blues musician who hosted many open mic nights.  All of these establishments featured large, overstuffed couches that were fabulous for kicking back and even catching a snooze.  As I got older, the couches seemed to get smaller, but the experience of kicking back on a nice comfy couch never wavered.  Entering into college back east, the couch became an appointment part of my studies, spending many cold, winter nights with books and notebooks on the couch at the corner coffee shop with the roaring fireplace. Yes, couches, coffee, and I go way back.

Jumping forward to last week, I started to think about the lack of plush seating in many area coffee shops.  While I am sure there are numerous business reasons for ridding coffee shops of plush seating, there is simply something missing.  It is almost as if coffee shops have become less intimate, sterile, fast food institutions that offer a perception of character, but leave you hanging when you actually try and find it.  

So, I have to ask, where in Santa Barbara can I go to enjoy a coffee on a couch?   I think this is the true purpose of my vacation.  To wake Santa Barbarans up to the fact that their town is lacking one important ingredient… a mom and pop coffee shop complete with fireplace, couch, homemade pastries and baristas that know your name (Look out Norm, Aric is hitting the town!).

The first step in proving the missing ingredient really is missing is simple: inventory all of the existing coffee shops, their amenities, atmospheres, etc to see which existing shop comes close.  If one does not come close enough, then I must challenge someone with enough capital to create such a place. 

Well, there it is, the beginning of a project to discover the coffee shops of Santa Barbara!

Vacation? Really?

Last night before I went to bed, I decided that driving up to Oregon to see a patch of grass and some old airplanes just wasn't worth it.  For me, the important part of this vacation is to give myself freedom and time to work through many thoughts that have been in my head for the past few months.  The power of meditation and solitude is what I seek and will achieve before I go back to work. 

Today, after my 5k run, I fired up X-Plane for the first time in a while.  With the demise of Microsoft Flight Simulator, I wanted to think more about X-Plane as an alternative for the masses.  While it has some great features, the learning curve with setting it up is quite steep, unlike the Microsoft version.  In fact, I updated from 9.21 to 9.31 and had to reconfigure my joystick settings after the update.  It was painful enough to get it setup in the beginning, having to do it again, without warning, is a little extreme. 

The Null Zone

Vacation started on Monday, which was the first day of recovery from the Santa Barbara Triathlon.  The plan was to leave tomorrow for a driving trip up to Oregon to visit Fort Yamhill and the greater Salem area.  Unfortunately, I feel like I am stuck in the middle.  One thing keeping me in town is that I started a purge of my studio apartment (it is amazing how much stuff we gather over time) and I can't leave it in mid chaos. Besides, if I left tomorrow, that would put me in Oregon over the weekend and I would suffer the consequences of the crowd.   I also don't feel like driving, nor flying.  The problem is, if I don't go on vacation, I will waste it away and I will need another vacation to make up for the wasted vacation.   You see, I am stuck in the null zone.  I have faith that I will be ready for it when I am ready.  My current thought is to leave on Saturday, stay in Redding and arrive in Oregon on Sunday, post crowd chaos!   The null zone is an interesting place to be.