Channel Islands National Park

The first place I went on Tuesday morning was the Visitor Center for the Channel Islands National Park.  The Park itself is a set of five islands off the coast of southern California.  The Visitor Center is on the mainland, in Ventura, only a few miles from where I was staying on Oxnard.

The only way to get to the islands is by boat (or seaplane, although I haven’t seen any of those around yet).  There are some charter boats which will ferry you out there or you can take your own boat.  Once you are on the islands the only way to get around is on foot or by kayak.  The only vehicles allowed on the islands are official Park Service vehicles.

I didn’t plan to go out there this trip but some day I would like to.  This time of year advance reservations are needed to take a charter boat out and, given that I don’t have the stamina to walk much, I wasn’t sure how much of the islands I’d actually get to see.  I have seen a show on public television about the islands and they appear to be amazing, including plants which aren’t found anywhere else.

The Visitor Center is on a peninsula which includes several shops and restaurants, a large marina, the Ventura Yacht Club, public beaches, and of course the Visitor Center.


Looking at nearby things in the water was no problem, but the visibility looking back at the coast wasn’t so good:


The Visitor Center has a 3rd floor observation deck from which I took these photos:



And when I got off the elevator on the 3rd floor I saw this poster, showing formations just off the coast of one of the islands.


After gathering my information and asking questions at the Visitor Center I walked out to the beach to watch the surfers.  The guys (and so far I have only seen male surfers) when I was there around 10am local time appeared to be young (teenagers) and weren’t having very good luck.  I waited quite a while but didn’t get any good shots.  Surfing can apparently be quite time consuming.  There appears to be a lot of “bob and wait, bob and wait” until you see the right wave coming at you.  And if you don’t time it just right, the wave passes you by but pushes you inland and then you must swim back out to your spot, while getting pushed back by even more waves, and wait some more.  The kids I saw in the morning would no sooner get up on their boards then they would wipe out (fall off).  By the way, the surfboards are attached to their ankles by long cords so they don’t have to track them down after getting separated from them.

After a while I gave up and did some other things in town but returned later when I found some slightly older guys there.  The waves were even higher and these guys seemed to be pretty good.  It can be hard to track them when you are zoomed in with the camera but I managed to get some decent shots.





And then – bob and wait, bob and wait….


I should get more practice later in the trip.  When I click off a shot there is a slight delay before I can take another one and I often lose my target (same with trying to get photos of birds or helicopters in flight).  I tried putting my camera in “machine gun mode” which clicks off continuous shots but still didn’t have much luck (and it only takes about 7 shots).  I may need to suck it up and get a more expensive camera.

Mission San Buenaventura

I was told that the Mission in Ventura was a good one to stop and see so I made it a point to go there.  Built in 1782, this was the 9th Mission to have been established by the Spanish in California.  It sits right on Main Street in present day Ventura.



Right across the street from the Mission was a beautiful fountain adorned in blue and white tile.


Unlike other fountains I have seen, this one also had a little aquaduct while carried the water down to an identical fountain at the other end of a pedestrian walkway.



And the walkway was lined with several large flower planters, covered in the same blue and white tile.  Very impressive.




























Olivas Adobe

This is a large “upscale” adobe near Ventura, California.  It sits out in the middle of a group of large farms (many of which were being prepped for planting).





Next to the adobe was a huge rose garden:


And there was also what looked like a foundation for a fountain but was filled with various succulents:





Ventura, California

I spent most of the day Tuesday in and around Ventura (only a few miles north of where I was staying in Oxnard).  Most of the day’s activities are covered in other posts, but mid-day I went out on the Ventura Pier and had a yummy Ahi taco at one of the restaurants there which was on my short list of places to eat.


This is looking north from the shore:


And this is looking north from out on the end of the pier itself:


Camarillo Ranch House

Tuesday afternoon I visited this house in Camarillo, CA, which was built in 1892.  The gentleman who originally lived here operated a ranch for 78 years, eventually transitioning from cattle to crops.  I got here too late in the day to tour the inside of the house (too nice of a day to be indoors anyway) but I mainly came to see the outside.





Curiously, the exterior of the third floor room was embedded with colored stones and glass:



And in the yard stands a HUGE pine tree (almost half-again as tall as the house), unlike any I have ever seen before:


It’s called a Bunya-Bunya pine tree, and was to the right of the house as I took the first photo of the house seen in this post, and there is another one immediately behind the house.  If you look very closely you’ll see a sign on the base of the tree which says “Warning – Beware of Falling Objects”!  Not very comforting…

And I hope of the tree ever comes down in it’s entirety that it doesn’t fall on the house!


Monday – Joshua Tree to CA Coast

Monday was a travel day, as I went from Yucca Valley, near Joshua Tree, west past Los Angeles to the coast.  Before leaving Yucca Valley I had 2 more quick stops to make at Joshua Tree.  There are two areas accessible from the main road north of the Park, not from the roads within the Park itself.

I drove east towards the town of Twentynine Palms to the access road for the 49 Palms (not a misprint) Oasis.  A short ride in on the paved road took me to a parking lot from which I would have to hike up a very rocky hillside (can you say “rattlesnakes”?) and out to the Oasis itself.  It sounded real nice, but it’s not gonna happen.



Next I drove to Indian Cove.  The paved road took me in as far as the campground, which was all I needed to see.



Then I hit the road for LA.  It was a short drive west to get to “The 10” and it only took about 15 miles from there to get to the town of Banning, there a taco joint was waiting for me (those of you who know me know that I LOVE tacos).


Well, the taco joint may have been waiting for me but then I had to wait for them, as they didn’t open until 11am and it was only 1030 when I got there.  No problem – as this would make the timing of my day work out perfectly.  Los Angeles was another 90 minutes up the road and I didn’t want to get through there until after lunch hour anyway so after eating I embarked for the big city.

Although “The 10” would have taken me very close to the city and directly out to the coast I opted to take somewhat of a bypass (well, an alternate route) around the main part of downtown.  I went north on “The 5,” west on 134 “The Ventura Freeway” through Hollywood and past the West Coast headquarters for ABC, NBC and CBS, then south on “The 405” to get back to “The 10,” which took me out to Santa Monica and the Pacific.  Although traffic slowed in spots it never stopped for long and I made it to the coast 13 minutes ahead of schedule, at 147pm.

In Santa Monica I picked up Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway – or PCH, and started heading north.  There were signed indicating that there had been an accident on the PCH earlier in the day and that traffic there was jammed.  I decided to suck it up and get through it before afternoon rush hour got any closer.  I guess the locals heeded the advice to avoid the area as getting past the trouble spot didn’t take long at all (crews were replacing downed power lines and they had one lane open each direction).

Then I started taking pictures.

Real estate in California is expensive, especially near the ocean.  Parking is at a premium and you even have to pay to park at State beaches.  But as you drive along the PCH there are brown signs every so often which say “Beach Access” and you may park along the highway there all day for free!  Those areas are lined with cars, but every so often I’d spot an opening, park, and walk a short distance to the sand.


To get to the spot where I took the photo above I had to walk through the valet parking lot of a fancy restaurant to get to the path to the beach.  There was a Ferrari, a Bentley and a Corvette all parked next to each other so I knew I was in Malibu…

I didn’t see any “celebrity” houses in Malibu but they are usually built in places where you can’t see them anyway, and more importantly so they can’t see you.






I drove further north, some pictures of which I posted earlier, and ended up in the town of Oxnard where I would spend Monday and Tuesday nights.