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Sunday
Apr202014

U.S. National Park Service Free Entrance Days

As of March 2014, there are 401 national parks covering over 84 million acres throughout the United States and its territories.  The majority of these parks do not charge entrance fees (though parking fees often apply). As for 133 national parks that do have entrance fees, there are a number of designated "fee free" days each year.

Here are the National Park Service Free Entrance Days in 2014:

  • January 20 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)
  • February 15-17 (President's Day Weekend)
  • April 19-20 (National Park Week opening weekend)
  • August 25 (National Park Service Birthday)
  • September 27 (National Public Lands Day)
  • November 11 (Veterans Day)

The parks that normally charge a fee that are free on the above dates are listed at www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparksbystate.htm. California parks in this category include:

Plenty of other amazing national treasures are on this list, like Grand Canyon National Park.

And of course there are two national parks in Ventura County that are always worth exploring:

For more information about the National Park Service, visit www.nps.gov.

Friday
Apr182014

Compilation of Great Trails and Hikes In and Around Ventura County

Thursday
Apr172014

Identify Local Sex Offenders Using California Megan's Law Website

California was the first state in the nation to initiate a Sex Offender Tracking Program in 1947, but until 1996, when California Megan's Law (CML) was initiated, information about sex offenders was not publicly available. 

Megan's Law is named after seven year old New Jersey girl Megan Kanka, who was raped and killed by a known molester who lived across the street from her family. All states now have a form of Megan's Law. On September 24, 2004, AB 488 was signed into law in California, providing the public Internet access to sex offender information at www.meganslaw.ca.gov.

As of April 2014, there are nearly 82,000 sexual offenders in the CML database, compared to over 63,000 offenders in the CML database, including nearly 42,000 with home addresses listed due to the nature of their crimes and 12,000 listed by zip code only.

This is a website that deserves a look, particularly by anyone who is a parent. While the website is not meant to "punish" sex offenders, it is a useful awareness tool. The powerful search engine on the site allows you to search by name, address, city, zip and county, as well as within a two mile radius of parks and schools. You can also review the results of your search in both map and listing format, making it quite convenient.

Within seconds you can identify the 760 (as of April 2014) registered sex offenders in Ventura County, including photos,  names, vital stats like date of birth, height and weight, their offenses and, where applicable, their addresses. The five cities with the largest sex offender counts as of mid-April 2014 are Oxnard (189), Ventura (152), Simi Valley (75), Camarillo (52) and Port Hueneme (41). Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park combined has 44 sex offenders.

The information in the CML database is not always up to date for each individual. The severity of the offenses for each individual vary from the more violent (rape, battery) to statutory rape, indecent exposure, etc. I see quite a bit of "LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS ACTS WITH A CHILD UNDER 14 YEARS OF AGE" in the database.

To protect yourself and your family from sexual assault, visit www.meganslaw.ca.gov/protect.aspx from time to time to be aware.

Tuesday
Apr152014

Easter Egg Hunts and Other Fun Easter Activities Around Ventura County

Here at Conejo Valley Guide we have a special place in our heart for Easter fun! The bunnies of the Conejo Valley and surrounding Ventura County areas are planning ahead to make this Easter memorable.

We have the Germans to thank for the Easter Bunny concept, which came about in the 1500s. Hares and bunnies are signs of fertility and eggs signify rebirth. The Germans brought Easter traditions to America and it wasn't until after the Civil War that Easter became widely celebrated. Now we celebrate by gorging ourselves on candy!

Easter Sunday 2014 is April 20th! Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern hemisphere's vernal equinox. As a result, Easter Sunday ranges from March 22nd to April 25th. So complicated!  Easter next year is April 5, 2015 for you advance planners.


Upcoming Easter season events and activities in and around Ventura County:

April 12-20: Easter on the Farm at Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark

April 18-20: Big Bunny's Spring Fling at the Los Angeles Zoo

 


Sunday, April 20: 47th Annual Easter Sunrise Service at Pierce Brothers Westlake Village

Sunday, April 20: Easter Breakfast for Seniors in Simi Valley

Sunday, April 20: Free Easter Morning Musical Drama at Oceanview Pavilion in Port Hueneme

Sunday, April 20: Easter Bunny Makes an Appearance at Ventura Harbor Village

3/29 to 4/20: Easter Bunny Photos at The Oaks Mall

3/29 to 4/20: Easter Bunny Photos at Pacific View Mall in Ventura

4/5 to TBA: Easter Bunny arrives at Simi Valley Town Center 11:30am April 5th

Click to read more ...

Monday
Apr142014

Over 140 Summer Camps and Programs In and Around Ventura County

Looking for a summer camp within range of Ventura County? Here's a list of over 140 summer day camps and residential camps and programs in the area. Actually, there are hundreds and hundreds of individual camps available. We've attempted to categorize the camps into 3 main groups; Traditional/Learning, Sports and Music/Arts, though many camps cover many fun activities all in one.

Know of more? Submit them here!

No doubt there will be some typos/errors on this list, so let us know if you find one.


Traditional Day/Overnight/Learning/Misc Camps

SKECHERS Kids is your one-stop shop for the coolest shoes for boys and girls! Shop now!

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Friday
Apr112014

Ventura County Fire Department Offers Free Car Seat Safety Inspections

For those of you with kids looking for some help in ensuring your child safety seats are properly in place, consider the Ventura County Fire Department Child Passenger Safety Program.

Members of the Department are trained and certified through the National Highway Transportation Safety Association as a Car Seat Safety Technician. The Program educates parents on proper use and installation of child safety seats. The department provides free car seat inspections, installation guidance, product recall checks and informative literature.

Program locations near the Camarillo Airport, CHP Ventura, Crowley House in Thousand Oaks, CHP Moorpark and Moorpark Family Resource Center. More information at this link.

Volunteers from the VCFD Child Passenger Safety Program are knowledgeable and friendly!More on California child passenger seat belt laws and safety information

Thursday
Apr102014

Farmers' Markets and Farm Fresh Produce Around Ventura County

Looking for fresh produce in Ventura County? "Lettuce" help you! There are nearly 20 farmers' markets in and around Ventura County throughout each week, not to mention another dozen or so stores and Community Supported Agriculture programs that sell organic produce.

Times, dates and places subject to change. Let us know of any updates!

FARMERS' MARKETS (In "day of the week" order)

VENTURA: Wednesdays 9 am to 1 pm at Pacific View Mall in front of Red Robin. Call 805.529.6266. vccfarmersmarkets.com/ventura

CAMARILLO: NEW MARKET PREMIERING 5/21/14: Wednesdays 3pm to dusk at the Camarillo Community Center parking lot, 1605 E. Burnley Street. Click THIS LINK for more info.

VENTURA: Wednesdays 3pm to 7pm at corner of Kellogg and Ventura Avenue. Visit theharvestgathering.vpweb.com (Closed winter months. Check www.facebook.com/EastandWestVenturaFarmersMarket for updates)

OXNARD: Thursdays 9 am to 1 pm at Plaza Park (5th and C Streets). Call 805.643.6458. www.coastalpacific.info/oxnard.php

THOUSAND OAKS: Thursdays 1:30 pm to 6 pm at the Oaks Shopping Center east parking lot. Produce, flowers, food and more! vccfarmersmarkets.com/thousand-oaks

VENTURA: Thursdays 3pm to 7pm at Ventura Community Park, 901 South Kimball Road Visit theharvestgathering.vpweb.com or www.facebook.com/EastandWestVenturaFarmersMarket for more information. Open rain or shine.

MOORPARK: Fridays 2 pm to 7 pm at Miller Parkway and Los Angeles Avenue (Village at Moorpark Shopping Center - Petco and Staples parking lot) (805) 290-5670

SIMI VALLEY: Fridays 11 am to 3 pm at Simi Valley Civic Center Plaza, 2757 Tapo Canyon Rd., next to TGI Friday's. www.coastalpacific.info/simi_valley.php or 805.643.6458 (reconfirmed 3/15/14)

SIMI VALLEY: Fridays 4 pm to 8:30 pm at

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Thursday
Apr102014

Beam Yourself Up to Some Great Upcoming Events Around Ventura County!

"Beam Me Up" by local artist Chuck TrunksDoesn't matter what time of year...there's ALWAYS something to do in and around Ventura County. Here are links to some of our favorite types of events and activities.

FREE EVENTS

FAMILY EVENTS

KID EVENTS

FESTIVALS

FUNDRAISERS

5K/10K RUNS

FAIRS/EXPOS

And there's movies, museums, theaters, community classes, pilates, pole dancing, kids eat free, skateboarding, shopping, volunteering, bowling and so much more!  Have fun!

Wednesday
Apr092014

Ventura County Public Health Launches "Health Matters in Ventura County" Website

Ventura County Public Health (VCPH) recently launched Health Matters in Ventura County (www.healthmattersinvc.org), a website for accurate and timely health-related data for Ventura County. The website’s database, developed in partnership with Healthy Communities Institute (HCI), tracks more than 75 health and quality-of-life indicators in Ventura County using local, state and federal data.

In the same way that a car’s dashboard displays if a car is running well or not, www.healthmattersinvc.org’s dashboard displays health information in the form of a gauge – with green indicators showing better-than-average performance and red indicators highlighting areas needing improvement.

The unveiling of the new website corresponds with National Public Health Week (NPHW), an annual celebration sponsored by the American Public Health Association to recognize the contributions Public Health departments make in the communities they serve. This year’s NPHW theme is Public Health: Start Here.

Much like how VCPH programs help educate residents about making the right choices to achieve and maintain good health, www.healthmattersinvc.org is designed to provide decision-makers with a starting point to use when looking for the information they need to identify key health problems and develop initiatives to combat those problems. VCPH hopes that the site serves as a valuable resource to government agencies, nonprofits, educational institutions, students and community members.

The site serves as a data depository for health indicators such as HIV/AIDs, diabetes, obesity, cancer, STDs, as well as other infectious diseases. In addition, there is data for quality-of-life indicators including rates of smoking, DUIs, fast food restaurant density, water quality, violent crime and more. 

In addition to health indicators, the site also houses VCPH’s newly released health status report entitled “Transforming Ventura Communities: Understanding the Health Status and Needs of Ventura County.”  This report, funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Community Transformation Grant, looks closely at the socio-economic factors influencing five strategic directions: (1) Health Eating and Active Living, (2) Tobacco-Free Living, (3) High Impact Clinical Preventive Services, (4) Social and Emotional Wellbeing and (5) Healthy and Safe Physical Environments.

Wednesday
Apr092014

When I Pass Away Will My Social Media Presence Be Here to Stay?

Social media is still in its infancy. Facebook became available to everyone 13 and older on September 26, 2006. Twitter was launched for public use on July 15, 2006. LinkedIn was launched on May 5, 2003. But as the years pass, we will all eventually be faced with the question of what to do with our social media presence after our time is up.

Afterlife and Facebook

Do you want to stay on Facebook after you die? No? Well, perhaps the easiest solution is to give someone you trust your login information and have them permanently delete your account when you die. This can be done by clicking the account menu at the top of your Facebook page, pick Account Settings, click Security in the left-hand column, then click "Deactivate your account." Or perhaps more officially, make this request in your will.

The current Security Settings screen in Facebook as of December 2013

If you haven't planned for your afterlife Facebook page, your immediate family members or executor can still submit a special request to remove your account. Facebook will require a death certificate or other proof to do so.

Or you can also simply do nothing and continue having your presence be shown in Facebook. A good friend of mine passed in 2013 and his page is still up and running. In fact, many of his friends posted happy birthday messages on his page later in the year.

Lastly, your family, friends, even co-workers may make a Memorialization Request by submitting the deceased's email address and proof of death. The requestor reports the information under penalty of perjury. Facebook will not provide login information for the deceased's account.

When an account is memorialized, Facebook keeps the account information static. Friends can still post to the deceased's page (subject to the account's privacy settings). When a Facebook Timeline is memorialized, it does not show up in others'

Click to read more ...

Monday
Apr072014

Ten Popular Local Things To Do Based on Traffic Here on Conejo Valley Guide

With over 40,000 monthly visitors to Conejo Valley Guide, we have the opportunity to see some of the most popular things to do around Ventura County. Here are 10 of the most perennially popular things to do around town based on traffic activity.

MB2 Raceway Indoor Go-Kart Facility in Newbury Park has been popular ever since opening in September 2008. We've been to birthday parties here and the kids love it. In January 2014, Steve's un-Original Pizza opened at MB2 and feedback so far has been great.

Farmers' Markets throughout Ventura County are popular year-round thanks to our great weather. In addition to over 15 local farmers' markets, there numerous organic produce stores and local delivery programs available.

Sky High Sports - The Trampoline Place in Camarillo opened in October 2010 and is consistently one of the most popular things to do around town based on site traffic. Popular with kids and adults alike for birthday parties, dodgeball and just jumping around. Huge facility with trampolines all over the place!

Another obvious benefit to living in Ventura County is our direct access to nearby beaches. This compiliation of beaches stretching north from Carpinteria, across Ventura County, down through Malibu, is a popular destination on CVG.

The Kids' World (formerly Bright Child) indoor play facility in Oak Park is a regular popular destination for kids ages 2 to 12.

The Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard opened in early 2010 and has one of the finest collections of French art deco cars in the world. These cars are so pristine I would eat my dinner off of them.

For years, my kids begged me to go to Chuck E Cheese's in Thousand Oaks (also Ventura). Now I'm more interested in going there as I know they will be entertained while I hang out, enjoy a sandwich and a beer, shoot a few hoops and catch up on my newspapers.

Patriot Airsoft in Newbury Park opened its 12,000 sq ft facility in 2011. Airsoft continues to grow in popularity and this is the only airsoft facility to my knowledge in Ventura County. But if airsoft isn't your thing, Patriot also hosts Nerf Nights that are also

Click to read more ...

Monday
Apr072014

Final Stage of 2014 Amgen Tour of California to Start and Finish in Thousand Oaks

Challenging Route to Take the World's Top Cyclists Across More Than 700 Miles of Striking California Terrain During America's Premier Professional Cycling Race May 11–18, 2014

FINAL STAGE OF RACE TO RETURN TO THOUSAND OAKS ON MAY 18TH!

The Amgen Tour of California returns to Sacramento for the start of the ninth edition of America's largest cycling race. The eight day stage race will return to a route traveling north-to-south from May 11-18, 2014 along more than 700 miles of scenic roads through some of California's most picturesque backdrops. Considered America's largest and most prestigious cycling event, the overall start of the Amgen Tour of California will begin in front of the state's Capital Building and travel through 11 host cities during the eight day event including Folsom, San Jose, Mt. Diablo, Monterey, Cambria, Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara, Santa Clarita, Mountain High, Pasadena and Thousand Oaks.

The first day starts and finishers in Sacarament. The following day, the Individual Time Trial (Stage 2) will see racers competing against the clock in the former gold rush city of Folsom. For Stage 3, the peloton will return to San Jose (the only city to have participated in all nine editions of the race), for a stage start before traveling more than 50 miles north, gaining altitude as the route winds up Mt. Diablo for a mountaintop finish.

 

Stage 4 start in Monterey, where the race will traverse approximately 100 miles south to finish the day in Cambria. Stage 5 kicks off in Pismo Beach as the route continues south to Santa Barbara for the Stage 5 finish.  Santa Clarita will host the Stage 6 start, before riders head to Mountain High for another mountaintop finish. The peloton will return to Santa Clarita for the Stage 7 start and will finish that day in Pasadena.

The eighth and final stage of the 2014 Amgen Tour of California will start and finish in Thousand Oaks, which previously played host to the race finish in 2010 and 2011 on the same 4 loop course.

Each 20-mile circuit will pass through Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, past the Rock Store at the foot of the climb, and then a very technical descent of Westlake Boulevard.

Amgen returns as the race's title sponsor for th

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Monday
Apr072014

Hiking and Exploring in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in Newbury Park

Located on the western edge of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa is accessible in Newbury Park at the intersection of Lynn Road and Via Goleta. This area spans from Potrero Road on the north and connects to Point Mugu State Park on the south.

Ranching in the area dates back to the early 1800s, when Spanish soldiers were granted 48,672 acres of land, "Rancho El Conejo," which through the years was subdivided and sold to other landowners. One of these ranchers was Carl Beal, who in 1937 named the area Rancho Sierra Vista. The last private landowner in the area was Richard Danielson, whose family farmed and ranched the area for 32 years. It was subsequently sold to the National Park Service in 1980.

Sign at Danielson Monument accessible via Danielson Road/Old Boney Trail

The Satwiwa Native American Indian Natural Area is a bike/horse free area within Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa of roughly 60 acres. Located on the northwest corner of this area, just a short walk from visitor parking, is the Satwiwa Native American Culture Center. The Center is staffed from 9am to 5pm most weekends with a park ranger and sometimes Native American guest hosts. It is a small facility with a variety of educational items covering the Chumash and local ecosystem. There are frequent workshops and programs hosted by the National Park Service at the Center that are highlighted here on CVG and on the NPS Satwiwa website at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/rsvsatwiwa.htm.

The area is a popular destination for hikers with its variety of well maintained trails. The Satwiwa Loop Trail is an easy, 2 mile trail that starts at the Culture Center through grasslands, past the old windmill and back around, with several extensions for those looking to do a little more.

There's the Lower Loop Trail (sign pictured below) and the Upper Loop Trail that is a bit of a zig-zaggy trail with wooden footings placed by volunteers to help hikers navigate portions of the trail. The Upper Loop Trail runs past the "Old Windmill" pictured below.

Satwiwa Lower Loop sign at intersection of Danielson Road trail.

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Friday
Apr042014

Five Very Interesting Museums in Oxnard and Camarillo

There are over 50 museums highlighted here on Conejo Valley Guide and each and every one of them has interesting features. Here are some additional highlights from a handful of these museums located in the Oxnard / Camarillo area.


The Mullin Auto Museum opened its doors in Spring 2010. Located near Downtown Oxnard in an industrial park, Mullin is a 47,000 square foot unbelievably pristine facility housing over 50 French art deco cars from the 1930s and 1940s. Mullin is open to the public only a few times a month and you have to check it out. You will be awestruck by some of the most beautiful cars you've ever seen!

The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, aka the Camarillo Bird Museum, is a 22,000 square foot facility in a Camarillo industrial park that contains one of the largest collections of bird, bird egg and bird nest specimens in the entire world. It is open to the public only 9 times a year.  You will truly be amazed at what you see.

There is a vintage 1950 Woolworth building in Downtown Oxnard that

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Wednesday
Apr022014

Colorful Butterflies Alive! Exhibit at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

The Butterflies Alive! exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History opens to the public on Saturday, May 17, 2014, after a one year hiatus. We visited Butterflies Alive! in years past and thoroughly enjoyed this unique living ecosystem of over 1,000 butterflies of 30 different varieties. Certain to amaze everyone from young to old! The exhibit is included in the cost of admission to the museum (or better yet, buy a family membership and you and your family will have unlimited visits to both SBMNH and the Ty Warner Sea Center at Stearns Wharf for a year.