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CReATE STUDIO in Westlake Village

CReATE STUDIO in Westlake Village (31840 Village Center Road) is a welcoming, walk in, help yourself art studio geared toward creative exploration using a varied array of recycled, artistic and crafty materials. All ages can create treasured masterpieces using many interesting and everyday household materials to build, tape, glue, paint and invent! No two creations are alike. Stop in and enjoy the fun! To learn more about CReATE visit www.createstudiofun.com or call 818.522.5213.


The studio is currently open Tuesday through Friday 11am-6pm and Saturdays noon to 5pm. Fees as of July 2014 are: Toddler-5yrs $7, 6-12yrs $9, 13 -19 yrs $11, 20yrs – adult $13. Studio fee includes up to 2 hours of studio time as well as all treasures made and materials used.

CReATE STUDIO birthday parties practically take care of themselves! Party guests enjoy 2 hours of creative  fun using the many artistic materials available and take all their creations home!  Add a “CReATE Kit” personalized party favor by TANYA'S TREASURES to keep creative fun lasting long after the party done! Outside food and drink welcome. Contact createstudiofun@gmail.com with inquiries.

Ventura River Trail

The Ventura River Trail is a 6.3 mile asphalt pedestrian and bike path that follows the old Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way from Main Street in Ventura to Foster Park inland towards Ojai. The path, originally opened in 1999, connects the Ojai Valley Trail to the Omer Rains Trail along the beachfront for 17 miles of great bicycling. The trail is open dawn to dusk.

Much of the Ventura River Trail parallels Ojai Freeway 33 and as such is also referred to as the Ojai Valley Trail Extension. Here are the various access points from south to north:

More information at www.cityofventura.net/pw/parks.


Mullin Automotive Museum

Opened in Spring 2010 and located at 1421 Emerson Avenue in Oxnard, the Mullin Automotive Museum is a 47,000 square foot facility with a collection of over 50 French Art Deco cars from the 1930s and 1940s, including Bugattis, Delages, Delahayes, Hispano Suizas, Talbot-Lagos and Voisins. Peter W. Mullin is the founder/owner of the Museum and the collection.

The Museum is open to the public generally only 1-2 days per month. Click here for more RSVP information. Visit www.mullinautomotivemuseum.com or call 805.385.5400 to learn more and to purchase tickets. As of July 2014, admission is $15 for adults, $10 for 65+, $8 for ages 3 through 11 and free for 2 and under. Active Military FREE with ID. Private visits also available for $40 per person.

Upcoming 2014 dates (as of 7/19/14) are as follow (you must buy tickets in advance to reserve a spot):

Saturday, July 26, 2014
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Saturday, December 13, 2014

This museum and its contents are STUNNING to say the least!! More photos at THIS LINK.



Museum of Military History Posters and Memorabilia at the Simi Valley Town Center

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10049 and Simi Valley Town Center host an impressive display at the Museum of Military History Posters and Memorabilia. The Museum is located in a large storefront that was previously occupied by American Eagle Outfitters, directly in front of a kids' play area and adjacent to Andrew Steinfeld's Results Fitness.

There are hundreds of military posters and historical artificacts on display that have been graciously provided by local veterans and collectors. We stopped by and enjoyed seeing items like old weapons, munitions, posters, newspapers, uniforms and much more. Several Vietnam Veterans were on hand, imparting stories and background to us as we strolled around.

A huge thank you to the owners of the Simi Valley Town Center as we know this display would not be possible without their generosity. And of course thanks to the veterans who made this and our freedoms possible! I believe their hours are 11am to 5pm on weekends and noon to 3pm on Wednesdays. There is no admission cost, though donations are encouraged to support local veterans.

More info at www.vfwpost10049.com/museum.html.

Military Mule with armament (not live of course lol) on display. Pretty cool!


Leonis Adobe Museum - Calabasas

The Leonis Adobe Museum in Calabasas was named as the first Los Angeles historic monument on August 6, 1962.  The Leonis Adobe was the home of Miguel Leonis, known as the King of Calabasas, who owned over 10,000 acres of land. The museum features his authentically furnished two-story Monterey-style adobe with original buildings, period livestock, gardens and a vineyard. The house was originally built in 1844, six years before Los Angeles was incorporated and California became a state.

Also on the property is the Plummer House, the oldest house in Hollywood and in 1935 was named California Historical Landmark No. 160.  The house fell into disrepair and became dilapidated before the salvagable front portion of the house was moved to the Leonis Adobe site in 1983 and subsequently  repaired, restored and refurbished.  It now serves as the onsite Visitor Center and gift shop.

Plummer House Visitor Center

The Leonis Adobe, located at 23537 Calabasas Road in Calabasas (near the Sagebrush Cantina) is open Wednesday through Sunday from 1pm to 4pm (opens at 10am on Saturdays). Visit www.leonisadobemuseum.org or call 818.222.6511 for more information. Suggest donations are $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and $1 for children under age 12.

On a personal note, I've been to the Leonis Adobe and it is an amazingly large piece of property in the heart of old town Calabasas, paralleling, yet nearly invisible to, the 101 freeway.  In addition to the historic buildings the site has a particularly impressive assortment of vintage wagons and farm equipment. There's also a beautiful, well manicured garden area and lots of farms animals to see and feed, including some longhorn bulls, sheep, goats, chickens and a horse. Bring quarters to buy food. Plus they have many activities for the kids year-round.


White Horse Canyon Trail in Westlake Village

The White Horse Canyon Trail trailhead is located off of Potrero Road, just east of the little bridge next to Vista Oaks Way. From Thousand Oaks/101 take Westlake Boulevard to Potero Road, turn right, and the bridge is less than half a mile away. Park either in allowed spots on the opposite side of Potrero Road or in an adjacent neighborhood.

You walk into this gulley to get to the nondescript trailhead. In fact, I don't see signage that actually says White Horse Canyon Trail. But there is the following that does make it clear:

The trail is really more like a fire road, wide, somewhat rocky, but not particularly difficult. But the climb gets you up to some peaks that give you views of all the surrounding areas.

Wide trail. Be aware that private residences are adjacent to the first portion of the trail.You can take the White Horse Canyon Trail to the Los Robles Trail and do a 6 mile loop back the start, or you can reach the first peak at about 1,300 ft, take in the views, and turn back, for about a 2 mile hike.

There's a nice little map showing a counter-clockwise loop from White Horse to Los Robles going east, looping back to White Horse. Visit www.cosf.org/website/html/white-horse-los-robles.html.

Folks often ask me if trails are stroller friendly or not. This one in my estimation is not particularly stroller friendly because the surface is often uneven, with many loose rocks and soft dirt at times. It is do-able but not one of the better trails for that purpose...again, just my opinion.


The Collection at RiverPark in Oxnard

The Collection at RiverPark is an outdoor shopping center located on the northeast side of the 101 freeway in Oxnard, between the Oxnard and Vineyard exits.

The 650,000 sq ft center includes a combination of entertainment, retail, restaurants, various services, open space with fountains, parks and playgrounds and quality art. Parking is available on the streets as well as several parking lots.

As of July 2014, the following businesses operate at The Collection:

Larger Stores: Century Theaters, REI, Target, Whole Foods Market, H&M and ULTA. Soon a new 24-Hour Fitness will open.

Restaurants: Famous Dave's, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Gandolfo's NY Deli, Gen Korean BBQ House, Kabuki Japanese Restaurant, Menchie's Frozen Yogurt, Panera Bread, Starbucks, Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana, Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, Toby Keith's Bar & Grill and Yard House. Additional eateries to open in 2014 include Larsen's Grill, Maria's Pronto and Ben & Jerry's.

Additional Shops/Other: Bank of America, California Welcome Center, Charming Charlie, Color Me Mine, Massage Envy Spa, Sleep Number, Soma Intimates, Republic of Couture, Windsor, Painted Cabernet, White House Black Market, Polish NailBar, Jos. A. Bank, European Wax and Chico's.

There is unique public art placed throughout the center, including metal sculptures, ceramic tile murals, fountains and more. Shea Properties has spent around $1 million on art, bringing in seven artists for 18 individual art installations. Artists include Frank Bauer with his ceramic tile murals and benches and tile sidewalk medallions, and Michael Amescua with his cut metal sculptures.

For a map of The Collection, click here. Visit www.thecollectionrp.com or visit their Facebook page to learn more. To get there from the 101 North, exit on Oxnard Boulevard and turn right. Turn right again on Town Center Drive.

Playground at The Collection


Seaside Wilderness Park in Ventura

Sign on W. Main Street near bike path and Highway 101 access point

The City of Ventura's Seaside Wilderness Park is located across the Ventura River Main Street Bridge, adjacent to Emma Wood State Beach Park. One fun way to access it is by taking the Omer Rains Trail (bike path) to it from the Ventura Promenade area. But get off your bike when you reach your destination as this is a pedestrians-only park that contains the Ventura River mouth, the former "Hobo Jungle," the 1.3 mile Ocean's Edge Trail (tide pools) and .7 mile River's Edge Trail for birdwatching. Last time we were there we enjoyed some geocaching in there.


Ventura Beach Bike Path

There's a bike path that takes you the entire length of San Buenaventura State Beach. Officially it is called Omer Rains Trail, named after California State Senator Omer Rains, who served the Ventura County area from 1974 to 1983.

While I don't have the specific start-end points of the Omer Rains Trail, I do know that it's a lot of fun taking the bikes to Marina Park at the south end of San Buenaventura State Beach and taking the bike lane on Pierpont Blvd about a mile to where the beachfront bike path starts at the corner of Pierpont and San Pedro St.

Great bike path along the beach in Ventura! Nice and flat with cool ocean breezes, with several restrooms available.

Speaking of restrooms, I've always been a bit puzzled by these odd shaped ones at San Buenaventura State Beach.

From there, the two-lane bike meanders along the beach to the Ventura Pier and up the Ventura Promenade to Surfers' Point. On weekends it can get a little crowded around here with pedestrians, other cyclists and beachgoers, so do be careful.

The bike path goes under the Ventura Pier.From Surfers' Point, you can continue taking the bike path north/northwest to Emma Wood State Beach, cycling around the Ventura Beach RV Resort, past the City of Ventura's Seaside Wilderness Park, then on up the coast. Or if you want, veer right on Main Street and make your way over to the Ventura River Trail that takes you up to Ojai.

Norrthwest portion of Omer Rains Trail (Map courtesy of City of San Buenaventura)Or just turn back and enjoy the views, perhaps stopping and having lunch on a bench overlooking the ocean. Or make your way up to Downtown Ventura and have a bite. My young boys and I love exploring around Ventura on our bikes! Have fun!

Ventura bike path headed south from Emma Wood State Beach towards Ventura Beach


Rincon Point in Carpinteria

Rincon Point is home to one of the most popular surfing spots in the world. Accessible near the Ventura/Santa Barbara County line just a few miles east of Downtown Carpinteria. Take the Bates Avenue offramp off the 101 Freeway towards the ocean. On the right is access to the City of Carpinteria's Rincon Beach Park and on the left is access to the Rincon Point parking area. Open 6am to 9pm daily, with a not-particulary-nice porta-john available in the parking area.

There is a trail that takes you to the beach area from the parking lot. The area is also surrounded by beach homes.

A view toward the north from Rincon Point (in the direction of Rincon Beach Park)The Beach Boys included a reference to Rincon in Surfin' Safari:

At Huntington and Malibu
They're shooting the pier
At Rincon they're walking the nose
We're going on safari to the islands this year
So if you're coming get ready to go


Rincon Beach Park at the Ventura/Santa Barbara County Line

Rincon Beach Park is near the Ventura/Santa Barbara County line just a few miles east of Carpinteria. Just take the Bates Avenue offramp (I always think of the movie Psycho when I pass that offramp. Every time.) off the 101 Freeway. Take Bates to the ocean and on the right you'll find plenty of free parking and easy beach access, with picnic tables and restrooms.

If you make a left turn off of Bates, there's a separate parking lot for Rincon Point, part of Carpinteria State Beach, one of the most popular surf destinations in the world. There are a couple of restrooms on this side also, albeit not particularly pleasant ones to use.

To learn more about Rincon Beach Park or to reserve the picnic table, visit www.countyofsb.org/parks/parks02.aspx?id=8078 or call 805.568.2465.

Views from the picnic area at Rincon Beach ParkThis sign always makes for great conversation starters at Rincon Beach Park



Potrero Ridge Trail in Newbury Park

The Potrero Ridge Trail in Newbury Park can be accessed in a number of locations highlighted in the Ventura County Trails website at www.venturacountytrails.org/TrailMaps/NewburyPark/AreaTrails.htm.

One access point is at Reino Road, just north of Paseo de Leon and Lynn Road, and takes you a little over a mile to Via Las Brisas in the Dos Vientos tract, just north of Paseo Santa Rosa. What I like about this trail is that it is short an easily accessible and it provides panoramic views of the southern portion of Newbury Park, Mount Boney and Dos Vientos.

It starts out with some switchbacks on a narrow trail off of Reino but eventually opens up and you get some wonderful views. Put on your hiking boots or running shoes and check it out!

Here's a view of the trail from the Wendy Water Tank section of the trail across Reino Road.

This trail is maintained by the Conejo Open Space Foundation.

Trailhead off of Reino Road, north of Lynn Road

Views into the Dos Vientos section of Newbury Park

The trail features this bench that provides a nice look towards Boney Peak

Views from the same bench on a cloudy late October day in 2013

Another fun section of the Potrero Ridge Trail off of Wendy Drive between Felton and Peppermint, where you'll find a convenient dirt parking lot. Only about a half mile to the top of the trail, where you're treated to awesome, panoramic views towards Mount Boney, Dos Vientos and the rest of Thousand Oaks.

Potrero Ridge Trail trailhead off of Wendy DriveViews towards the water tank at top of Potrero Ridge Trail


Ventura Flea Market - Ventura County Fairgrounds

The Ventura Flea Market is held near the ocean in Ventura and is a great place to shop. The event features antiques, used and new merchandise sold by over 500 vendors, more than 5,000 buyers visit the Market each time it is held.  The Ventura Flea Market is held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. A special Early Bird admission is available from 6am to 9am at $10.00 per person. Regular admission starts at 9 a.m. at $5.00 per person, all children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.  (Prices current as of April 2014) No pets are allowed.

Upcoming Dates as of 6/29/14

  • September 28, 2014
  • November 23, 2014

Visit www.rgcshows.com/Ventura.aspx or call 323.560.SHOW (7469) for more information.


Boney Mountain Trail to Hidden Valley Overlook, Danielson Monument and Waterfall

At Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in Newbury Park is a nice assortment of trails that reward hikers with beautiful views and peaceful surroundings.  Find your way to the Satwiwa Native American Culture Center and from there walk up Big Sycamore Canyon Road where you'll reach a fork in the road. If you go straight you'll be taking Big Sycamore Canyon road about 6-7 miles down to Sycamore Canyon Campground and Sycamore Cove Beach. The road is paved for about 3 miles until it intersects the Backbone Trail, at which point it is dirt trails to PCH.

Benches at the top of Big Sycamore Canyon Road.Views from the benches looking down Big Sycamore Canyon. Photo taken a few months before the Springs Fire of 2013.

View of Big Sycamore Canyon after the Springs Fire of 2013. Looking forward to the day that this area is green again!

Getting back to the benches at the top of Sycamore Canyon, looking off to the east you'll find the Boney Mountain Trail sign that takes you towards the Hidden Valley Overlook, Waterfall and Danielson Monument, a .4 mile, 1 mile and 2.2 mile one way hike, respectively.

Boney Mountain Trail sign in Rancho Sierra Vista post-Springs fire 5/5/13.

So take the trail to the fork in the road. A sharp left takes you directly back to the Satwiwa Center, a "normal" left takes you on a trail towards Wendy Drive and/or back to the Satwiwa Center in a loop, and a right hand takes you up the hill towards the destinations mentioned above.

A short walk up gets you to yet another bench that overlooks Sycamore Canyon from another angle. This is called the Sycamore Canyon Overlook.

I've seen people enjoying the canyon views from this bench in the morning. This photo was taken before the Springs Fire of 2013.

Bench at Sycamore Canyon Overlook on 5/14/13.

The rocky trail from there takes you to a fork, where you can either veer left to the Hidden Valley Overlook trail or right to the Danielson Monument and Waterfall, as well as the Old Boney Trail.

The Hidden Valley Overlook trail is rocky and a bit challenging and gets you some nice views of Dos Vientos off towards Camarillo. It ends with a nice "overlook" of Hidden Valley.

Endpoint of the Hidden Valley Overlook trail gets you, but of course, a peak into Hidden Valley. This photo was taken in April 2014, when it was actually nice a green back there!

Off to the right, a jaunt down the hill gets you to a sign that tells you you're getting close the waterfall.

There's a stream crossing that most of the year is easy to get across as there's not a lot of water in there, although in particularly rainy winters it can get more challenging in the winter/spring.

Mostly mud in the stream crossing that gets you to the Danielson Monument in mid-February 2013, but some years there's more water in there.So after you cross the stream, you're off on a mostly narrow, single-track trail. Watch out for poison oak on the sides. It is there in the moist areas. I run up there with shorts and do my best not to touch the growth. You're much safer wearing long pants. Just be aware. The next juncture, in the trail, you go straight to the waterfall, or veer left up to the Danielson Monument.

We've been to the waterfall when it had a lot of water flowing in it. This year (2013) there's barely a trickle :(So if you take sharp right hand turn, you're on your way to the Danielson Monument (a tribute to Richard K. Danielson, who lived on land in this area for 32 years with his family, until it was sold to the National Park Service in 1980). Awesome views from several vantage points as you head up the trail. A bit of a climb. Be prepared! Check out other photos of the monument HERE and larger pics HERE.

Danielson Monument

About 2/3rds of the way from the bottom of the canyon to the Danielson Monument, you can veer off to the Old Boney Trail, an interesting, mostly single track trail that has great views of Boney and intersects with the Fossil Trail.

Here's the sign at the juncture of the Danielson Road trail and the Old Boney Trail turnoff, about .3 mile away from the Danielson Monument.


Bark Park Trail in Calabasas

The Calabasas "Bark Park" is located at 4232 Las Virgenes Road. To get there from the 101, take Las Virgenes Road south just under a mile. The entrance is on the left (east). If you're going fast, it is easy to miss it. It's a nice, local dog park open 5am to 9pm with a plenty of space for the doggies as well as a separate gated kids' play area and plenty of parking.

Trailhead to the Bark Park Trail is on the north side of the park.On the north side of the park is the trailhead to the Bark Park Trail, a 1.2 mile climb that links you up with the New Millenium Loop Trail. Round trip you're talking about a 2 1/2 mile hike.

It is a nicely maintained trail with a steady, uphill climb, which means that the way back is a lot quicker than the way up. I would call it a moderate climb for the most part. A good walk to take the kids on. But it can get a bit hot up here, so bring water and sunscreen on summer days.

Trail sign at the junction of Bark Park Trail and New Millennium Loop Trail

As you can see from the sign, there's a lot more exploring you can do on these nicely maintained trails in Calabasas.

A view of the Bark Park from the trail above.More on the Bark Park at www.cityofcalabasas.com/recreation/barkpark.html.