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I am blessed to have friends everywhere. Literally. Every. Where.

I’m often asked to be the guest of these friends for a day or two, a week or three, a month or even longer. I’ve stayed with friends in New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, California, Washington – and I have invitations to many more places, if I would only get myself there. I am indeed honored to have friends in so many wonderful places.

Not too long ago, I spent a few days with my friends, Bruce and Teresa, in a Central California Coastal town, just a few miles from the ocean. Close enough to get an on-shore breeze, far enough to be away from the tourist crowds. Perfect weather, great walking and hiking areas, native plants in bloom, brilliant blue skies, tasty food, good conversations… what more could one ask for?

While Bruce was at work, Teresa and I hiked a local nature trail at the Ventura Botanical Gardens. Not only does this trail overlook the Pacific Ocean with views like the one in the photo below,  I think we got the better deal, don’t you?

The trail is located in Grant Park, in the foothills above Ventura, CA. It’s almost a mile long and the wide trail allowed us to walk side by side while we chatted. There’s plenty of space to allow someone to pass without feeling like you are too crowded and at risk of falling over the side. This was especially important to me, seeing as how falling is a concern of mine.

There are several planted gardens along the way, including the Chilean Garden, the South African Garden, and the California native plants area. Once the plantings are complete, hopefully the plants will be labeled; in the meantime, we enjoyed the flowers anyway. By the way, the Chilean Gardens will be the largest in the world, outside of Chile. Impressive!

Near the entrance to the trail is a plaque with a quote that resonated with me – indeed, the people we travel with are the most important, am I right?

Food is always on my list of things to do, no matter where I go, and cooking food is so much fun, I like doing it wherever I am. Bruce and Teresa agreed to let me use their kitchen to make a vegetable curry… and it was super tasty, if I do say so myself!

Teresa and I had another day without Bruce, (since he was at work, again!) so we drove to Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve for a walk along the coast. A number of artists were set up along the bluff, painting the ocean view. It was such a gorgeous California day – clear, sunny, warm, blue skies forever, puffy little wisps of clouds, brilliant ocean waves, straw-colored beach grasses, dark green coastal bushes. Oh my goodness. Could the day have been any better? Well, yes, it could but only if there had been any seals at the seal sanctuary 😀

Walking along the trail, breathing in the sunny day, we checked out the campground at Carpinteria Beach, (used the facilities, of course!) and then headed back to the car. We walked a total of 3.21 miles that day! Impressive by any measure but especially for me, since I haven’t been walking much these past bunch of months. It was a very encouraging measure of how far I’ve come in my physical healing, I can tell ya!

I love this Central California coastal area.  Since the early 60s, I spent a lot of time in the Ventura, Oxnard, and Ojai areas. When I was a kid in the 60s, we used to visit family who lived in the area and when I was a teenager, we frequently went deep-sea fishing out of Oxnard. When my son was small, we camped at nearby Lake Casitas. Later on, when my Aunt Esther lived in a retirement home in Ojai, I would come up to take her on daytime drives around the area and out for a quiet lunch before heading back to her little casita. It’s a beautiful part of our country and if you haven’t had a chance to visit it yet, add it to your list of places to see. You won’t be disappointed!

Clouds streaming out of my head! And check out the little light pod in my hair…

One evening before I left, Bruce and Teresa took me out for dinner in the delightful area known as Downtown Ventura, or more accurately the Historic Downtown Cultural District. It’s an old town, settled during the time when Father Junipero Serra was building the California missions, where brick store fronts mix equally well with new shops and restaurants. After we ate, we walked to a great little book store called Bank of Books. If you’re ever in Ventura, and you love books, go there! It’s an eclectic collection of used books, and you might even find a book-signing or an acoustic guitar concert going on when you arrive. It’s a fun place to stop in Ventura.

Also in the downtown area is the Victorian Rose, a B&B in downtown (it was for sale at the time we were there) and an historical landmark. Before it was a B&B, it was the Southern Methodist Episcopal Church and was built in 1890; it is the last of the original seven churches built at that time.

The Nature Conservatory has purchased an area of the Santa Clara River near Santa Paula off River Rock Road and the area is normally closed to the public; but while I was staying with Bruce and Teresa, the Sierra Club presented a workshop to discuss the restoration being done in the riverbed area. There is a non-native plant species that is threatening to take over the riverbed (and indeed has already done so in some areas) and the Nature Conservatory is working to restore the native habitat, hopefully to encourage native animal life and plant species to regenerate. Their goal is to eventually own as much of the river area as possible so they can rehabilitate the habitat and return it to its native state. The walk to the river, through the invasive plant species, was enlightening but I was literally shocked (and I wasn’t the only one) to find out that the Conservatory uses an herbicide that is also used in the product known as Roundup to clear the invasive plants from the riverbed. This product has been shown to be hazardous to the bee population and although the NC representatives were questioned about this practice, their answers regarding its use were less than satisfactory. Basically, to them, it comes down to invasive plants vs. bees – and the bees lost.

In any case, the day was warm and sunny, and we were able to take a walk in an area normally off-limits to people. I did enjoy that aspect of the riverbed restoration project 😀

Bruce and I had pancakes for breakfast the morning that Teresa volunteered at the riverbed seminar (prior to the river walk) and my coffee mug had this most awesome statement on it. I wholeheartedly agree!

Another stay with Bruce and Teresa wrapped up on a gorgeously bright So. Cal. day… thank you both for a wonderful time – good food, good conversation, good outdoor activities, good weather, good friends. What more can a person ask for?

Friends are indeed the glue that holds our lives together, even when we only see them once in awhile. As I said at the beginning of this blog post, I am blessed to have friends everywhere and I’m humbly honored to be your friend.

Note: all photos are taken by me with my iPhone7 and most are unfiltered, other than adding a border or edge to the photo.

When the Ocean Calls, Go!
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8 thoughts on “When the Ocean Calls, Go!

  • March 1, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Ok, so I literally had to make my comment, (and then go back and read this) because…just a few mins ago, I was eating my dinner and I thought about you when your visiting me, and then I saw you heading out the door before we were even up so you could walk down to the beach for an early morning nature ocean meet up. Hahah ……yep….
    Now I’m going back to read your awesome as always words.

    • March 1, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      Hahaha! We are such on the same wavelength, Debbie!

  • March 1, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Great article Lois! I like the Ventura area, I have fond memories of that area as well. But ohmygoodness! Roundup is so bad to use. What a shame! I hope the bees come me back, but that is unlikely.
    Sure cool pictures!!

    • March 1, 2017 at 5:43 pm

      The interesting thing about the Ventura area is that it hasn’t changed as much as some other parts of the California coast. It’s still the quaint town I remember, including the beach areas. It’s still possible to get parking, and lots of it, down by the Channel Islands visitor center, and it’s still possible to get a taco at the shopping area without too much trouble. So many areas are jam-packed full of people and it makes me nostalgic for days gone by. But Ventura still has it! So very cool 😀

      That Roundup thing just shocked me. Even when questioned, they insisted it was the only option. Plants vs. bees. They’ll be sorry they made that choice when the bees are gone and all the food has to be mechanically pollinated. Oh maybe they won’t. In any case, it’s too bad.

  • March 2, 2017 at 7:34 am

    GREAT article, as always, Lois. I related to much of what you spoke about. I was in Venture and at the Channel Islands visitors center last July. I camped a few nights in a box canyon about 7 miles outside Ojai and I passed through Oxnard. You are right about the blessings of friends everywhere. I definitely relate to that. Since I arrived in TX I met up with and stayed with several friends in different parts of TX (also in Loooozeeeana, FL, NC and SC). I also enjoy nature and interesting places such as you described. In the last week I’ve been in awesome Big Bend NP a MUST SEE for adventurers and nature lovers – such diversity. I camped in one of the camp grounds for a couple nights, but you can spend a week or more in the park and never see but a fraction of what it offers (the park is larger than the state of Rhode Island). I could have waded across the border into Mexico from where I stood on the bank of the Rio Grande. I made a quick stop at Guadalupe Mountains NP at the highest point in TX and experienced winds of up to 75 mph. Yesterday I was 829 feet below the surface of a 4,500′ mountain in Carlsbad Caverns and saw an amazing and beautiful world most people can’t imagine and I only saw less than 1% of what’s down there. Later in the day I was 8,600′ above sea level on my drive to Alamogordo, NM where I’m writing this comment from as I eat my breakfast before heading to the White Sands Monument. Tonight I head for Yuma and Algodones, MX and then after some more visits in AZ I’ll be heading to CA. Perhaps, if you’re still in CA when I’m there, we can meet up again, somewhere. As you said, you (and I) are blessed with gifts of friends and nomadic travel. Love your article – you make it so alive with your descriptions and photos.

    Live free and be happy,

    • March 10, 2017 at 8:32 am

      Wow, Ed! You’re having quite the adventure! And so much diversity in such a small amount of time and space! Wow! I do want to visit Big Bend – the only part of Texas I’ve been to is the big city and the northern part of the state. You’ve made me only want to visit more!

      I’m currently out in Anza Borrego State Park, expecting to leave here in the next few days to return to LA for a few days and then I’m off to Vegas to see an aunt and then I don’t know exactly. I’m thinking it’s time for a trek up the Eastern Sierra, a place I used to visit frequently but haven’t been to in a bunch of years. However, the ocean always calls me and it’s hard to get away from the coast on my journey back north.

      I’d love to connect with you when we’re crossing paths again! Can’t wait!

      Thanks for the compliments and the comment – I enjoy reading what people have to say about what I have to say 😀

      Rock on!

  • March 5, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Beautiful pictures! It is wonderful that you have friends that invite you to enjoy time with them for however long. I find that is a wonderful way to explore places while having a good “home base” set up to socialize at.

    • March 10, 2017 at 8:26 am

      Thanks you! I agree – friends make everything so much more fun, easier, delightful, and wonderful to experience the view through another’s eyes. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

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