Lake Casitas to Malibu, CA Feb. 16 - 22, 2013

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February 26th 2013
Published: February 26th 2013
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We did venture into Ojai and wander around the charming town. We also drove down to Ventura and enjoyed Ventura Beach. We walked around the Lake Casitas campground a bunch, and even had a campfire there one evening.

Then on to Malibu, which has a 27-mile beach. Our campground was wonderful, terraced on a hillside with gorgeous ocean views. We drove to Santa Monica, then through a bunch of Los Angeles (Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, Hollywood). A highlight of our Malibu time was dinner with Linda's cousin Howard and his wife Gloria; they drove from their Northridge home to join us.


Ojai is a small town full of sophisticated looking folk and fancy shops. We walked the streets and spent some time at a unique bookstore: it's like a courtyard full of bookcases, and it goes on and on with tens of thousands of books. It was quite hot that day, and we abandoned our hopes to hike up in a sunny canyon. In the early evening, we did take a longish walk around the lake and happened upon a very special sight - two eagles perched in a tree.

On Sunday, we drove down to Ventura past many oil rigs pumping away, as well as an abandoned oil refinery which is now under orders to clean up. We walked around town for awhile, and then utilized a recommendation for a Mexican restaurant at Ventura Beach. There were zillions of boats in the harbor, and hordes of people enjoying the bright sunshine. We ate on a deck overlooking the lively scene. Later, we sat on a beach for awhile; we were all bundled up while little kids were running around in their bathing suits. Go figure.

The campground at Lake Casitas took us back to our days of tenting. There were so many families and kids running all over the place, as well as groups of young folk with several tents pitched closely. Our initial site was reserved after our two nights, so we had to move, but we were much happier with all those kids running around. We enjoyed a campfire and got our clothes all full of the odor of woodsmoke. (And we happened to have a cable hookup so we could watch the last season 3 Downton Abbey episode.)

Then, off to Malibu. We stopped en route for a coffee in Oxnard. The coffee shop was unique, an old Woolworth's with that familiar red sign with gold lettering. A scrapbook about the business included a photo of one customer, Julia Roberts, with a child. We were approaching movie star turf...

When we arrived at the western limits of Malibu (it is another mostly south-facing area) the terrain was fairly barren. The PCH (Pacific Coast Highway, route 1) lies between the beach and the Santa Ynez mountains which rise jagged, high, and fairly nearby. There are canyons between the peaks, so you don't have to drive straight up to cross them. The mountains are steep, and it is amazing to see whole hillsides that have tumbled down as a result of fires or heavy rain. Then as we got farther east in Malibu, we started seeing immense mansions perched on cliff edges. Many, many mansions. We could have studied more to see which movie stars occupied some of those mansions, but we didn't get around to it. We did come to appreciate why someone would love to live there, though. It was so spectacularly beautiful to gaze out over the ocean. Our RV park was in a lovely locale; we spent a bunch of time just staring out.

Our first morning dawned overcast, though, so we decided to do a bit of exploring. We drove to Santa Monica and walked around its extensive shopping center - blocks and blocks without traffic. Then, since it wasn't a long way off, we tackled Los Angeles. We hit good hours for driving; having heard for years about LA driving nightmares, our trip was relatively smooth. Except that having to shift at a light at most corners can get old pretty fast. We drove through parts of Beverly Hills, and it was similar to other lovely areas we have seen in the last month. We drove on Rodeo Drive. John wanted to stop and walk through it, but I was less than enthusiastic. Actually, I think he was hoping to take his dowdy wife into a shop and see if they would wait on her, somewhat a la those Pretty Woman scenes of snobby saleswomen. We drove on through Hollywood. We did happen to be there at the start of Oscar week, so the newscasts were full of street closings and preparations, but we muddled through. Weirdly, we did not happen to look for the famous Hollywood sign on the hillside. But after becoming fascinated with the steep hillsides, we would have been more interested in where it was located than what it looked like, anyway.

Next day, we had a lovely coffee and zucchini bread at a shop near the heart of Malibu. And later we went for a pleasant walk into Solstice Canyon, near our campground. Interesting that someone had constructed a small stone hunting lodge, which was fine until someone else added a wooden porch which attracted fire and left the whole place a shell. Fire is so terrifying out here.

The next day, too, we did not do a whole lot; we relish lazy days, and more and more so as the weather gets warmer and warmer and that sun feels so good. In the late afternoon, Linda's cousin Howard and his wife Gloria arrived and we all went out for a long dinner at Duke's (named for the Hawaiian surfer who established the restaurant) in Malibu. Linda had not seen Howard for decades; he has lived in California all along, and she had not met Gloria. It was wonderful to spend time with them and we gabbed and gabbed, exchanging information about all our kids and grandkids, and then about our own activities.

So, we did dare to go to Los Angeles after all, for a drive through, anyway. Nice place to visit, but we wouldn't want to live there... We are amazed at how much we have done in about a month, and think we should slow down and spend more time sunning and walking rather than touring for awhile. Maybe we will have time to sort out all the San's and Santa's we have dashed through...


26th February 2013

so glad you are having aa great trip
Sounds like you are having sonderful experiences, and relaxing too. It appears you managed to drive right by my old town of Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park...the places you visited are far more interesting...although I think you should have done a spa thing in Ojai just for fun..yeah yeah...probably only set you back a few hundred...I wouldn't have done it glad the Pacific views have been memorable. Great views to take home in your help balance those snowstorms that are hitting Durham and more. We are SO glad we are in Florida and enjoying 80 temps most days. The good life! Carol

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