May 19, 2012

Ventura, CA

Departing Malibu, we were sad to leave LA, but excited about exploring new areas of California. We had traveled highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles on a previous trip, and decided to drive up 101 this time. Route 1 can be described with two words, epic and perilous (at least to those pulling a travel trailer…). The two lane road basically hugs sea side cliffs, with amazing views of the ocean and beaches. This two lane road also has lots of sharp turns, is pretty hilly and is best enjoyed in a little car, preferably a convertible. Highway 101 is a highway that runs parallel to highway 1, but several miles inland. In some places the two roads are apart as much as 50 miles and in some as little as zero (they meld together in spots).

On our first day we drove through field after field of strawberries. I could smell their sweet smell from miles away. There were stands on the side of the highway selling freshly picked strawberries, and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity. We picked up two pints for $3! And these strawberries turned out to be some of the sweetest strawberries that Sky and I had ever had, just yummy. After buying our pints, Sky asked the seller how much he gets his strawberries for, and he confided that he buys a full pallet (16 pints) for $3. Wow, that’s a deal!

Strawberry fields
Happy strawberries come from California!
Our first stop was the city of Ventura, about 45 miles up the coast from Malibu. Some call this city the “Poor man’s Santa Barbara”. We found Ventura to be nice, but lacking in a certain “California” appeal. This is a city that could easily be transplanted anywhere else in blue collar America (minus the beach), and I’m not sure you could notice much difference. There was a noticeably higher number of homeless people around the city, and the public facilities (parks, boardwalk, beach, etc) seemed a bit tired and used up.

We were able to get a good parking spot in the center of the city, not too far from the beach at the Ventura Baptist Church. We spent the day tooling around town on our bicycles while the Ford was getting her oil and transmission fluid changed. We rode downtown to Main St., through the main shopping and café district, then on to the Buenaventura Mission. From there we headed to the boardwalk, and rode for several miles along the beach.

Main St. in Ventura
Buenaventura Mission
We finished out the night by stopping to get some groceries at the local store, and finding a great deal on fresh shrimp. We bought a whole pound for $5.99, and these were sizable shrimp, mostly cleaned. We took them home and made a very appetizing olive oil, garlic and shrimp spaghetti, and helped it down with a bottle of Cali Chardonnay. Num!

For more pictures of Ventura, click here.

Happy strawberry fields forever!


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