"Wild Things" Winning Photos of Animals on Display at Santa Barbara Zoo through August 7th

 Robert Houchen’s image of a tree frog emerging from behind a leaf.

Robert Houchen’s image of a tree frog emerging from behind a leaf.

Earlier this year, animal-loving shutterbugs were invited to snap and submit photos of animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo as part of the first-ever “Wild Things” contest, and now the winning works are on view. Sponsored by the Zoo and the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature, the “Wild Things” exhibit features more than 40 winning images by adults and “juniors” (aged 17 and younger). The exhibit is hung in the Zoo’s Volentine Gallery through August 7, 2018, and is free to view with Zoo admission.

Of 265 entries in the adult category, 20 winners were chosen. Of 75 junior entries, 21 were chosen. The juried exhibit gave prizes for first, second, and third place in both age groups. The photographs are for sale, with prices from $40 to $500. Proceeds from sales benefit the artists, Zoo, and Wildling.

 Kirsten Henke’s 2nd prize “Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed”

Kirsten Henke’s 2nd prize “Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed”

Top Winners Announced

Robert Houchen’s image of a tree frog emerging from behind a leaf was the “Wild Things” First Prize winner. Kirsten Henke’s “Bright-eyed and Bushy Tailed” won Second Prize and captures the long tongue of an infant giant anteater as it rides on its mom’s back. Third Prize went to Hunter Anglemoyer for “The Rainbow Plumage,” which shows a scarlet macaw’s plumage from an unusual angle.

Top winners in the Youth category include “Tastes Like Chicken” by Madisyn Iversen, aged 16, which captures Masai giraffe Michael with his long tongue in one nostril. Second place went to 

11-year-old Emma Lossing’s image of a fennec fox. “Am I Blue,” a portrait of a blue and yellow macaw, won third prize for 11-year-old Aislinn Wilson.

Prizes include memberships and passes to both the Zoo and the Wildling, gift cards and gifts for each’s gift stores, artwork created by Zoo animals, and more.

“Wildling at the Zoo”

This is the second collaboration between the two organizations. Last year, the Wildling staff curated an exhibit of student art at the Zoo which tied into the “Animals from A to Z” exhibit in their Solvang location. This partnership, formalized as The Wildling at the Zoo, continues with this contest and exhibit, and with future coordinated projects at the two locations.

The Santa Barbara Zoo is located on 30 acres of botanic gardens and is home to nearly 500 individual animals in open, naturalistic habitats. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), representing the highest level of animal care. A private 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, the Zoo depends on community support, not tax dollars, for operations and improvements.

The Wildling Museum, where art and nature meet, offers visitors a unique perspective on the importance of preserving our natural heritage. Through the eyes of artists, education and field experiences, guests can renew their relationship with the wilderness and understand its fragile nature – hopefully leaving more committed toward ensuring those spaces remain for future generations.

Bench Yourself in the Conejo Valley

There are over 150 miles of public multi-use trails surrounding the Conejo Valley managed by the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency and hundreds of miles more in the neighboring Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Learn more about these great trails here on Conejo Valley Guide.

All of this hiking, biking and running can make one tired. Not to worry...there are benches in strategic spots all throughout the area, all with great views! Here we highlight some of them. Click the images for more information about the trails that lead to these benches.

 Views from Angel Vista Peak bench in Newbury Park.

Views from Angel Vista Peak bench in Newbury Park.

 Bench at top of peak just east of Angel Vista Peak.

Bench at top of peak just east of Angel Vista Peak.

 Bench at the top of "Space Mountain" on the Los Robles Trail West.

Bench at the top of "Space Mountain" on the Los Robles Trail West.

 Bench with perfect sunset view off of the Autumn Ridge Trail in the Lang Ranch Open Space.

Bench with perfect sunset view off of the Autumn Ridge Trail in the Lang Ranch Open Space.

 A bench on a hilltop overlooking the Conejo Valley on Los Robles Trail East Scenic Loop.

A bench on a hilltop overlooking the Conejo Valley on Los Robles Trail East Scenic Loop.

 Bench on Los Robles Loop East Scenic Loop looking towards the south.

Bench on Los Robles Loop East Scenic Loop looking towards the south.

 Benches at the top of Big Sycamore Canyon Road in Point Mugu State Park (adjacent to Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in Newbury Park).

Benches at the top of Big Sycamore Canyon Road in Point Mugu State Park (adjacent to Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in Newbury Park).

 Another bench that overlooks Sycamore Canyon from the Boney Mountain Trail.

Another bench that overlooks Sycamore Canyon from the Boney Mountain Trail.

 Image of the Upper Sycamore Canyon bench after the Rancho Sierra Vista area in Newbury Park was ravaged by the   Springs Fire of 2013  .

Image of the Upper Sycamore Canyon bench after the Rancho Sierra Vista area in Newbury Park was ravaged by the Springs Fire of 2013.

 Upper Sycamore Canyon bench was subsequently replaced. Here it is in April 2014.

Upper Sycamore Canyon bench was subsequently replaced. Here it is in April 2014.

 Bench on the west side of Tarantula Hill in Thousand Oaks.

Bench on the west side of Tarantula Hill in Thousand Oaks.

 This bench is located at the juncture of the Sunrise and Meadow Vista Trails in the Lang Ranch Open Space and the Long Canyon Trail in Simi Valley. Nice view towards Simi Valley.

This bench is located at the juncture of the Sunrise and Meadow Vista Trails in the Lang Ranch Open Space and the Long Canyon Trail in Simi Valley. Nice view towards Simi Valley.

 Bench on Indian Creek Trail in Wildwood Park.

Bench on Indian Creek Trail in Wildwood Park.

 Bench overlooking Bard Reservoir on the Sunset Hills Loop.

Bench overlooking Bard Reservoir on the Sunset Hills Loop.

 One of two benches in the hills above CLU overlooking Thousand Oaks.

One of two benches in the hills above CLU overlooking Thousand Oaks.

 Oakbrook Vista Trail bench off of Lang Ranch Parkway in Thousand Oaks

Oakbrook Vista Trail bench off of Lang Ranch Parkway in Thousand Oaks

 This bench on a hill connected to the Rancho Potrero trail in Newbury Park faces the west and gets you some nice views of several of the Channel Islands on clear days.

This bench on a hill connected to the Rancho Potrero trail in Newbury Park faces the west and gets you some nice views of several of the Channel Islands on clear days.

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 Bench off the Lizard Rock Loop trail on the west side of Wildwood Park.

Bench off the Lizard Rock Loop trail on the west side of Wildwood Park.

 Bench with a view of Boney Peak from the Potrero Ridge Trail in Newbury Park.

Bench with a view of Boney Peak from the Potrero Ridge Trail in Newbury Park.

 There are dozens of benches facing all directions in the beautiful hilltop Conejo Valley Botanic Garden in the heart of Thousand Oaks

There are dozens of benches facing all directions in the beautiful hilltop Conejo Valley Botanic Garden in the heart of Thousand Oaks

 Another bench on the west side of top of the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden.

Another bench on the west side of top of the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden.

 Bench overlooking the Potrero Grade from the Vista Del Mar Trail in Newbury Park.

Bench overlooking the Potrero Grade from the Vista Del Mar Trail in Newbury Park.

 Bench on the El Encanto Trail in the Dos Vientos section of Newbury Park. Panaromic view towards Boney Mountain while catching the sunset.

Bench on the El Encanto Trail in the Dos Vientos section of Newbury Park. Panaromic view towards Boney Mountain while catching the sunset.

 Bench with panoramic views at the top of the Triunfo Canyon Trail (part of the Los Robles trail system) in Westlake Village.

Bench with panoramic views at the top of the Triunfo Canyon Trail (part of the Los Robles trail system) in Westlake Village.

 Enjoy views towards Newbury Park, Wildwood Park and so on from this bench on the Lynnmere Trail in Thousand Oaks.

Enjoy views towards Newbury Park, Wildwood Park and so on from this bench on the Lynnmere Trail in Thousand Oaks.

 Bench at Box Canyon Overlook in Wildwood Park.

Bench at Box Canyon Overlook in Wildwood Park.

Identify Local Sex Offenders Using California Megan's Law Website

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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.

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 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.

Within seconds you can identify the 860 (as of April 2018) 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 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.

26.2 Miles or Bust: Marathons Within a One Hour Range of Ventura County

The marathon has an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards). Most of us marathoners refer to it as a 26.2 mile race. Let's put some perspective on that. We're talking roughly the distance from the Muvico Theater in Thousand Oaks to Downtown Ventura (Main St at California St).

Running USA estimates that in 2016, there were 507,600 marathon finishers in the United States, a slight drop from 509,000 in 2015 and an 8% drop over the all-time high of 550,600 in 2014. That is over 13.3 million miles, not including the training miles to get there. That's a lot of running! There are over 1,100 marathons now throughout the country.

Until fairly recently, there were no marathons run on Ventura County soil. When I began running in the mid 1990s, the closest marathons to us were in Los Angeles, Santa Clarita and Culver City. Now there are marathons in Ventura, Ojai and Camarillo.

While it's fun to travel to faraway lands to run a marathon, there's something to be said for sleeping in your own bed, waking up early, and driving out to run a local marathon. So how about a rundown of local marathons within a one hour range of Ventura County!

Los Angeles Marathon (www.lamarathon.com)

  • Time of Year: A Sunday usually in March
  • Course Description: The course route has changed a number of times over the years, but most recently the point to point "Stadium to the Sea" route from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier has proved extraordinarily popular. The course takes you through sections of Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, West Los Angeles and Santa Monica. There are race day shuttles that take runners from Santa Monica to the start.
  • Other Events: 5K
  • Pricing: Registration started at $195 for the 2017 event.
  • Other: On a personal note, I set my personal best time on this course back in 1997. This is THE race to do if you enjoy lots of crowd support along the course.

Mountains to Beach Marathon (www.mountains2beachmarathon.com)

  • Time of Year: Late May; generally last Sunday of May.
  • Course Description: Point to point course that starts with a 10K loop in Ojai, then 10 miles of bike path to the Ventura oceanfront, down the Ventura Keys to Marina Park and back to the Ventura Pier. Net downhill of 700 feet makes this a fast course. 
  • Other Events: Half Marathon, 5K
  • Pricing: 2018 event starts at $113 (includes processing fee)

Camarillo Marathon (www.camarillomarathon.com)

  • Time of Year: The Camarillo Marathon was previously in the January time frame but the January 8, 2017 was cancelled. However, it is coming back on August 12, 2018.
  • Course: Starts at Pleasant Valley Fields, goes along the Camarillo Bike Path and nearby roads. New course.
  • Other Events: Half Marathon, 5K, 10K
  • Pricing: Started at $95 for the 2018 event.

Lexus Ventura Marathon (www.venturamarathon.com)

  • Time of Year: The inaugural event was Sunday, September 8, 2013. The 6th annual event is October 21, 2018.
  • Course Description: The course starts in Ojai down the bike path to finish at the Ventura Pier. There were 763 finishers in the 2017 event
  • Other Events: Half marathon, 5K, kids fun run, bike rides.
  • Pricing: Pricing for 2017 event was $130.
 Finish line of the Inaugural Ventura Marathon on September 8, 2013.

Finish line of the Inaugural Ventura Marathon on September 8, 2013.

Santa Clarita Marathon (www.scmarathon.org)

  • Time of Year: Generally runs on the 1st Sunday in November
  • Course Description: The course starts and finishes at the Valencia Town Center and has a number of out and back turns, mostly along bike paths. One of the more low key marathons in the area, with around 350 to 400 finishers.
  • Other Events: Half marathon, 5K, Kid K
  • Pricing: $80 to $100 depending on timing for the 2017 event.

Seaside Marathon (www.seasidehalf.com)

  • Time of Year: Mid-February
  • Course Description: Two out and back runs along the boardwalk and bike path and shoulder of Highway 1 in Ventura. (Same course as Surfer's Point Marathon.)
  • Other Events: Half marathon, 5K
  • Pricing: Pricing for the 2019 event ranges up to $130 depending on timing.

Surfer's Point Marathon (www.surferspointmarathon.com)

  • Time of Year: Set to take place November 11, 2018
  • Course Description: Course is along the ocean/Highway 101, starting at Promenade Park in Ventura, on bike paths and shoulder of roads. It goes out and back (the half marathon course) twice.
  • Other Events: Half marathon, 5K, 10K
  • Pricing: Ranges from $95 to $130 for the 2018 event.

Just a little farther but still possible to commute to if you are an early riser:

jetBlue Long Beach Marathon (www.motivrunning.com/run-longbeach)

  • Time of Year: Early to mid-October range on a Sunday
  • Course Description: I've run the Long Beach Marathon several times and it is probably the most twisty, turny course I've ever run, yet it is still a reasonably flat and fast course. It starts and finishers in the heart of downtown Long Beach near Shoreline Village. There are sections along the beach, then it turns inland, up and around Cal State Long Beach, and back to the finish. Over 2,200 finishers in 2016.
  • Other Events: Half marathon is hugely popular
  • Pricing: $120 for the 2018 race

Surf City Marathon (formerly Pacific Shoreline Marathon) (www.runsurfcity.com)

  • Time of Year: Generally run on the 1st Sunday of February
  • Course Description: Much of course runs on PCH, streets and bike paths in and around the Huntington Beach Pier with views of the Pacific Ocean.  This race generally sells out each year with between 2,000 and 2,500 participants.
  • Other Events: Half marathon
  • Pricing: $100 for 2019 race

OC Marathon (www.ocmarathon.com)

  • Time of Year: Generally takes place the first Sunday of May
  • Course Description: The marathon starts in Newport Beach, runs past Balboa Island in kind of a figure eight-ish pattern in Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and adjacent cities. The race generally has around 2,000 participants. The race finishes at the OC Fair and Event Center.
  • Other Events: Half marathon and 5K
  • Pricing: 2018 event starts at just $80!

Marathons No More

There was a Pasadena Marathon in recent years but organizers announced it has been cancelled.

Malibu Marathon was cancelled in 2014, though the half marathon and 5K continue on (www.malibuintmarathon.com).

The Santa Barbara International Marathon also ran its final event in 2014, though a Veterans Day Half Marathon continues. www.sbmarathon.com

Looking for marathons around the world? My favorite place to find them is www.MarathonGuide.com. They do a great job of compiling a massive amount of information strictly about marathons.

CLICK HERE for other local races...5K, 10K, half marathon, etc.

I've run over 30 marathons or so through the years and periodically babble on about my training, experiences and other random running and training related items THIS LINK.

And last but not least, here are 26.2 training tips for running your first marathon.

Over 140 Summer Camps and Programs In and Around Ventura County

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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 three main groups; Traditional/Learning, Sports and Music/Arts, though many camps cover numerous 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 Camps, Overnight Camps, Educational Camps and Other Camps

Sports Camps

Music/Arts/Science Camps

Over 40 Things to Do in Malibu

 This "27 Miles of Scenic Beauty" sign was swapped out for "21 Miles of Scenic Beauty" sign in April 2017 in order to correct the actual length of City of Malibu coastline.

This "27 Miles of Scenic Beauty" sign was swapped out for "21 Miles of Scenic Beauty" sign in April 2017 in order to correct the actual length of City of Malibu coastline.

Malibu was incorporated as a separate city in Los Angeles County on March 28, 1991, with 84% of Malibu voters supporting incorporation in a 1990 election.

The Conejo Valley lies just 8 to 10 miles away from the Malibu beachfront, making Malibu a natural choice to beat the heat and enjoy its south-facing beaches. Here's a compilation of over 40 things to do in and around Malibu.

Beaches (East to West)

 Surfrider Beach from the Malibu Pier

Surfrider Beach from the Malibu Pier

 Adamson House

Adamson House

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster

 California Poppy Reserve in mid-April 2017 (Photo Credit: Joe Longo)

California Poppy Reserve in mid-April 2017 (Photo Credit: Joe Longo)

April 20, 2018 Bloom Status Update: As of April 20th, we don't have a lot of flowers blooming due to the late winter rains and the flowers we do have are fading after last week’s heat. There are only a few small poppies blooming along the trails, but most of them are going to seed. The goldfields and lacy phacelia are in bloom but have started fading. A few belly flowers such as forget me nots and rattlesnake weed can be found along many of the trails.

Just 75 miles from the Conejo Valley is the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve in Lancaster.

The Reserve comes alive each spring with seasonal wildflowers, lasting from as early as mid-February through May.

There are eight miles of trails, including a paved section for wheelchair access.

The public is asked not to walk in the wildflowers as this causes lasting damage. No dogs, bikes on trails, drones, or picking flowers.

The Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center is open March 1st through Mother's Day, with wildflower and wildlife exhibits, an orientation video, a gallery of Jane's botanical watercolor paintings, and a gift shop benefiting the non-profit association. The Interpretive Center is only open during the spring wildflower bloom and for special events.

The reserve is located 15 miles west of Highway 14 near the city of Lancaster. The visitor center is located 1/2 mile north of the intersection of 150th St W & Lancaster Road.

Visitors may park on Lancaster Road and walk in for free, but must stay along the entrance road and enter at the kiosk; visitors entering the park through the fenceline or by walking across the open fields from the road will be fined.

Parking is $10 ($9 for 62+). Learn more at www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=627.

 Photo Credit: Joe Longo

Photo Credit: Joe Longo

 Photo Credit - Joe Longo

Photo Credit - Joe Longo

For a more local display of poppies and wildflowers, try the Ray Miller Trail / La Jolla Canyon in Point Mugu State Park. (NOTE: This areas is also a bit dry in 2018; no wildflowers of significance as of April 2018).