How about a visit to Oxnard?

When I said I was going to Oxnard for the weekend, everyone went, “Oxnard”? Where is Oxnard? What is Oxnard? No one knew much about it or heard of it. So here it is, my weekend in Oxnard , Port Heuneme, and Ventura. No one heard of Port Hueneme either. Hopefully after you read this you may consider taking a weekend trip, it is worth it.

Oxnard is a coastal city in central California located approximately 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The population of Oxnard is 203,585 as of 2012. A nice note, Oxnard was ranked as one of the safest cities in America with violent crime rates well below the national average

OxnardAreaMap071908

From Oxnards history I got this tidbit of the naming of the city:
Oxnard’s founder, Henry T. Oxnard, intended to name the city after a Greek word for “sugar”. Finally, frustrated with trying to communicate his desires to the state bureaucrats, he gave up and named the city after his family.

Oxnard is home to the beautiful Channel Islands Harbor and where there is a harbor there will be all sorts of water activities including whale watching, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, surfing, charters, fishing, etc.

Oxnard BoatsOxnard harbor across from restuarantsOxnard harbor old boat
Continue reading “How about a visit to Oxnard?”

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Lake Tahoe

How to get there
I was approaching one of the highest sections of the road coming into Lake Tahoe and as if on cue the snow began to gently drop on my windshield.   I had traveled this route a few times before while on my way to visit my Sister who resided in South Lake Tahoe.  However, I wasn’t thrilled with my upcoming lack of visibility especially in this most intimidating part of the road.

In addition, the sun had already set and the sky was turning darker by the minute.   I am a beach girl and have seen snow fall maybe three times in my life, so I am not an experienced driver in these conditions.

Luckily my friend, who is from the Mid West, noticed my white knuckles firmly gripping the steering wheel and informed me that she had driven in snowstorms way worst than this.   I saw a pull-off just ahead and I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough!  I happily let her take over the driving duties.

The route we took was one of a few to get into Lake Tahoe and each one has its pluses and minuses. In the way we came, which was coming down from Echo Summit, it was very scenic and only had one area where you drove on what some people would call scary, because of its height.  But that part doesn’t last long, most of the time it is easy driving.

Besides this route, I have driven in two other ways through the years.   The longest approach from the southern part of the state is coming around the Truckee side.  If my memory serves me, it wasn’t one of those winding, switchback roads but rather a gradual incline until you arrive into the northern part of the lake.  In contrast, from the Reno/Nevada side, you are traversing through plenty of switch backs and ‘S’ turns.


The road to Tahoe

Regardless of which way you decide to take, all of them will amaze you with the picturesque scenery.

Sadly, it has been many years since I had been to Tahoe, so when a friend and her family were spending a week at an Incline Village cabin, I asked her to take some photos while I brushed away the cobwebs from my memory to write this story.

A big thank you to Stephanie Moore for the photos.

About the Lake
Lake Tahoe is a huge fresh water lake with a surface area of 191 square miles and at an elevation of 6,225 feet.

The lake is 2/3 in California and 1/3 in the state of Nevada and is the largest alpine lake in North America as well as one of the deepest in the United States.

So what is there to do in Tahoe?

The question should be what isn’t there to do in Tahoe?

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Redondo Beach

Redondo Graphitt sign
Redondo looking towards old side
Redondo Beach Pier

Redondo Beach is not exactly one of your sleepy coastal California towns. Located minutes from LAX airport in Los Angeles County, it is one of a few beach towns that comprise of what is called the South Bay. Along with Hermosa and Manhattan Beach, Redondo is where L.A. goes to the beach. As you can imagine it can be incredibly crowded in the summer.

On one extremely warm day in early March, you could have sworn it was smack in the middle of summer. People flocked to the beach that day as if it was a boiling hot July weekend. With parking often a problem in these Los Angeles beach towns, it was nice to find a space in the first parking lot we drove through. Because of the crowds, the pier offers multi level parking and additional lots are scattered around the nearby area.

The Pier
The Redondo Pier is a hub of activity with all the shops, restaurants, arcades, boat rentals, and more. Seafood was abundant as local vendors were selling it out in an open market, or you could dine at one of the many sit down restaurants. I am not a fan of seafood so my face scrunched up a few times as a plate full of sea urchin or crabs passed by on its way to a table of anxiously waiting dining guests. I was in the minority though as the restaurants were packed full and the lines to buy the fresh seafood were especially long.

Redondo-Int
Small shops selling various items were lined on one side of the small marina while on the other side sat the gaming arcade which was alive with all the usual sights and sounds of video games old and new. At the entrance of the new cement section, you can rent kayaks, SUP’s, paddle boats, book a boat tour, or take a ride on a glass bottom boat.

Redondo-Looking towards little shops
REdondo-Glass boat
Redondo-Towards piers and resturants
Redondo-Towards pier
Redondo-Sign INT Market
Redondo-Lighthouse Building

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Catalina Island, Why did it Take so Long to go There?

Just about 26 miles from the Southern California coast and it took most of my life until I visited this wonderful place. Some people have never been even though they have lived in So Cal all of their life.

I hope this story will inspire you to go visit!

Catalina Island
The adventure to Catalina Island begins with the boat trip that ranges in length of time depending where you depart.

Boat trips are available from most of the harbors in Southern California so we decided to leave from Dana Point Harbor for the hour and a half trip across the Pacific.

The newer and larger boats get you there a lot faster these days and most of the time it is smooth sailing which helps to keep the sea sickness at a minimum.  However, just to be sure we loaded up on the Dramamine.

About 30 minutes out of port, we were treated to a visit from a pod of dolphins about 100 strong. A few were jumping the wakes of the boat so the Captain slowed us down to watch them frolic for a few minutes.

Catalina Dolphin jumping Catalina Dolphins following

On a typical cloudy morning in California we couldn’t see Catalina from the shore so it was a thrill when we first spotted land as the sun starting peek out of the haze.  On a clear day you can see Catalina from most coastal cities  in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties.

Catalina-Water view of casinoCatalina-Coming to Harbor 4Catalina coming into harbor 5

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Crowded yes, but a Pretty Cool Place to go This Summer

Chairs against sunset 1 1200
Doheny State Beach

While sitting on the beach at Doheny State Park recently, my friend said to me that it felt like we were somewhere else, not California. As I looked around, I felt the same. The ocean had two different hues of blue with the lighter shade near the shore and the darker shade farther out. There was a distinct line between the two colors so it looked as if there was a reef. The air was hot and humid and we felt like we could almost be sitting on a beach in Hawaii or the Caribbean.   Taking a swim, the water temperature was warm too, well, warm for California standards at 72 degrees. I know, I know, a far cry from the 80 degree temperature in the Caribbean but refreshing enough for us!   So, as an avid daydreamer, I spent the rest of the day imagining I was somewhere else.

Two tone water with boat
A line separated the light hue of the ocean to a darker one on the outside.

Doheny State Park
In reality, Doheny State Park is just south of the Dana Point Harbor.   Besides having a camping area, it also provides day use parking, grass picnic areas, and volleyball courts.

At the south jetty sits a popular surfing beach where the waves gently roll in making it a perfect spot for long surfboards as well as the shorter sticks.   In recent years, the stand-up-paddle(SUP) boarders have shared the lineup which has made it more crowded than ever. However, it looked like there were plenty of waves for everyone to enjoy their day. In keeping with my fantasy of being somewhere else, the surfing beach looked a lot like Waikiki in Hawaii with its crowds and slow rolling waves.   All you needed were the outrigger canoes sharing the waves and I would swear I was there!   Oh, and a Mai Tai wouldn’t hurt either.

Doheny surfing in the distance

Farther down the beach, campsites are available for motor homes as well as tents. There are no hook-ups but bathrooms and showers are provided.

The campsites
Orange Sun and Moon

Continue reading “Crowded yes, but a Pretty Cool Place to go This Summer”