FUNBOX Pop-Up Maze at The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks

Looking for something unique to do in Thousand Oaks this fall? Stop by FUNBOX pop-up maze located in the former 9,000 sq ft Charming Charlie store at The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks. It is located on the east side of the 2nd floor, a few doors down from The Apple Store and across from Anthropologie.

This temporary pop-up is a maze of over 20 large art installations, using over 60,000 pieces that will amaze and entertain all ages.

FUNBOX is the brainchild of Antonio Nieves and Laurance Hallier, inspired by the children in their lives.

I stopped by FUNBOX on Thursday, August 30th, as staff worked steadily in constructing this interactive exhibit. Each room has something unique and both visually and tactically appealing. Each room is a work of art inspired by toys and childhood dreams. The room motifs include:

  • Teddy bears

  • The alphabet

  • Gigantic crayons

  • Large emojis

  • Giant Monopoly board

  • Fortnight room

  • Giant, interactive cereal bowl full of Fruit Loop-like cereal

  • Giant crayons

  • The mirror room

  • The pool noodle room

  • The monkey and banana room

  • The upside down room

  • And many more!

FUNBOX will be open on a limited basis over the Labor Day holiday weekend through October. Admission is $17 for adults and $12 for children. Free of charge to 5 and under. Learn more and purchase tickets at www.funbox.com.

Building Pacific Coast Highway Around Point Mugu in 1923-1924

 Point Mugu before and after creation of a narrow road around it in 1924.

Point Mugu before and after creation of a narrow road around it in 1924.

According to the California Highway Commission in the October 1924 issue of “California Highways,” perhaps the most dangerous and difficult piece of construction work on the California state highway system at that time was the 3800 feet of grading AROUND Point Mugu.

For those driving Pacific Coast Highway in Ventura County past Mugu Rock, there are clear signs of this old route that took automobiles on a precarious route around Point Mugu.

 Peaking through the fence towards the old road around Mugu Rock.

Peaking through the fence towards the old road around Mugu Rock.

The new and still existing route was created by blasting a massive hole through Point Mugu to create Mugu Rock in 1937 to 1940.

The work to complete this section of the Oxnard to San Juan Capistrano PCH route was authorized by a bond issue in 1919.

The project averaged 60 workers who moved 108,000 cubic yards or rock at a total cost of $108,500 (heck, that would be the cost of a pool addition and new kitchen remodel today). The cut around Point Mugu ranged from 40 feet on the ocean side to 115 feet on the high side in creating the narrow, short-lived roadway.

The California Highway Commission ended its article by stating “…along this piece of rugged coast line the Old Pacific is recognized as an arch enemy to whom we must trust as little as possible of our costly highway.” Sheesh, that was not a particularly optimistic statement!

Rattlesnake Do's and Don'ts in the Trails of the Conejo Valley and Neighboring Areas

I've seen more snakes in the trails of the Conejo Valley in recent years than I can ever recall, some, but not all of which are rattlesnakes.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, rattlesnakes are generally not aggressive but can strike when they feel threatened or provoked. If you come across one on the trail, just back off and give them room to retreat. They don't want to mess with you!

 Rattler crossing the Rosewood Trail on a sunset hike.

Rattler crossing the Rosewood Trail on a sunset hike.

It is rare that rattlesnakes cause serious injury to humans. According to the California Poison Control Center, rattlesnakes account for 800 bites each year, with only one or two deaths. Most bites occur during the months of April through October, when both humans and snakes are active outdoors. About 25% of bites are dry (i.e. no venom), but still require medical treatment.

Do's and Don'ts

  • Wear shoes when out hiking in the trails.

  • Stay ON the trails...don't venture out into the underbrush, where snakes may be hiding.

  • Watch what you touch with your hands too...especially if it's dark and hard to see.

  • Leave them alone. They are fun to watch, but do so from a distance. Don't try to pick them up.

Is it a Rattler or a Gopher Snake?

On the trails of the Conejo Valley I've come across rattlesnakes, gopher snakes, king snakes, garter snakes and perhaps a few others I wasn't able to identify. The rattlesnakes are the ones to be particularly wary of because of their venom, so be aware of the following distinctions:

Rattlesnakes are wider/heavier than most of the other local snakes and have a triangular-shaped head, broader at the back than at the front, with a distinct "neck." They have openings between the nostrils and the eyes. There are a series of dark and light bands near the tail which look different from the markings on the rest of the body.  DO NOTE that rattles may not always be present as they may have fallen off are are not always developed on a young rattler.

For some great information on identifying California snakes, visit www.californiaherps.com/identification/snakesid/common.html.

 Notice the stocky size of this rattlesnake, the clear rattle, and the different series of dark and lights bands leading down towards the rattle.

Notice the stocky size of this rattlesnake, the clear rattle, and the different series of dark and lights bands leading down towards the rattle.

 Beautiful King Snake (known for lunching on rattlesnakes)

Beautiful King Snake (known for lunching on rattlesnakes)

 Gopher snake crossing the trail in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa.

Gopher snake crossing the trail in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa.

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 "Mountain View Ranch." The last private landowner in the area was Richard Danielson, whose family farmed and ranched the area for 32 years. Danielson donated 5,585 acres of the ranch to the State of California, which became part of Point Mugu State Park, and sold 850 acres, including the horse ranch, to the National Park Service in 1980.

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

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 9 am to 5 pm most weekends with a park ranger and sometimes Native American guest hosts. It is a small facility with a variety of educational Chumash items. 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.

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The area is a popular destination for hikers with a variety of well maintained trails. Note, however, that bicycles and horses are not allowed in the "Satwiwa Natural Area" section (see map below).

 Map excerpt courtesy of National Park Service.

Map excerpt courtesy of National Park Service.

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.

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

 Satwiwa Lower Loop sign at intersection of Danielson Road trail.

Satwiwa Lower Loop sign at intersection of Danielson Road trail.

 The old windmill at the northeast corner of the Satwiwa Loop Trail (Upper Loop). (Windmill was   knocked down by high winds in December 2016   and is still down as of September 2018).

The old windmill at the northeast corner of the Satwiwa Loop Trail (Upper Loop). (Windmill was knocked down by high winds in December 2016 and is still down as of September 2018).

You can also park at the Wendy and Potrero trailhead and walk to the Culture Center via the Wendy Trail, about a mile each way.

 Wendy Trail trailhead at the intersection of Wendy and Potrero in Newbury Park

Wendy Trail trailhead at the intersection of Wendy and Potrero in Newbury Park

 It is pretty dry in here most of the year but after the winter/spring rains, the green stages a comeback.

It is pretty dry in here most of the year but after the winter/spring rains, the green stages a comeback.

Another trail to explore is the 1 mile Ranch Overlook Trail that takes you from just west of the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center, up a hill (where you can indeed look down toward the old ranch area, parking area and restrooms) to the main entrance and to the Palomino Trail in the Rancho Potrero Open Space.

 Ranch Overlook Trail

Ranch Overlook Trail

One of my favorite trails in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa is the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail. This challenging, fairly steep trail branches off from the Satwiwa Loop Trail on the southeast, past the bench at the Upper Sycamore Canyon Overlook, via the Boney Mountain Trail/Danielson Road.

 The popular bench at Upper Sycamore Canyon Overlook. Photo taken April 4, 2014, approximately 11 months after the devasting Springs Fire of 2013.

The popular bench at Upper Sycamore Canyon Overlook. Photo taken April 4, 2014, approximately 11 months after the devasting Springs Fire of 2013.

Roughly 700 feet past the Upper Sycamore Canyon bench is a juncture where you can either veer right into Point Mugu State Park and the Boney Mountain Wilderness, where you can walk down, over a stream (or a dry stream bed as the case may be), towards the popular "waterfall" (which in recent years has been not much more than a trickle) and the Danielson Monument. CLICK HERE for details.

If you veer left at the juncture, you'll see the Hidden Valley Overlook trail sign.

HiddenValleyOverlook_sign.jpg

The trail is steep and rocky and reaches an end point in about half a mile. If you are up to the challenge, you will be rewarded with sweeping views of Newbury Park, the Channel Islands, Sycamore Canyon and Boney Mountain.

 Views from halfway up the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail towards the Satwiwa Native American Indian Natural Area

Views from halfway up the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail towards the Satwiwa Native American Indian Natural Area

At the end of the trail is the Hidden Valley overlook, where you will be able to peek into the not-so-hidden-anymore Hidden Valley and its peaceful ranches. As a final reward for your effort, it's all downhill the way back. Be sure to wear solid hiking shoes as the trails are a bit technical.

 Peek at Hidden Valley at the end of the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail.

Peek at Hidden Valley at the end of the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail.

 View of   Santa Cruz Island  , one of the Channel Islands, from Hidden Valley Overlook trail

View of Santa Cruz Island, one of the Channel Islands, from Hidden Valley Overlook trail

To learn more, visit the Anthony C. Beilenson Visitor Center at 26876 Mulholland Highway, Calabasas or visit www.nps.gov/samo or call 805.370.2301.

Dogs are allowed in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa as long as they are on a leash no longer than 6 feet. But please, do pick up after your pet. Dogs are not allowed in the Point Mugu State Park / Boney Mountain Wilderness back country trails, though they are allowed on paved roads, such as the Big Sycamore Canyon Trail road.

A Compilation of Automotive Relics in the Open Space of the Conejo Valley

As a resident of the Conejo Valley for over 20 years, a long distance runner and a father with active kids, I've run, walked, hiked and rolled over thousands of miles of trails within and surrounding the Conejo Valley.

Over the years I've noticed interesting, old items on the sides of the trails. These relics from the past always make me wonder how they got there and why they remain. I've attempted here to document these automotive blasts to the past on the trails of the Conejo Valley.

Read More

Two Ventura County Cities Were Born on September 29, 1964!

You wouldn't immediately know it looking at the headline of this September 30, 1964 issue of The Daily News, but the day before, residents in BOTH Camarillo and Thousand Oaks voted to incorporate their respective cities.

The article indicates that voters in Camarillo voted in favor of incorporation by a 5 to 1 margin, with 64% of the 3,745 registered voters turning in ballots. In the far right column, you'll see that with 10 of 18 precincts counted, 61% of 2,428 votes cast in Thousand Oaks were for incorporation. In Thousand Oaks they also voted on the name of the city...over 87% of votes cast said "yes" to the name Thousand Oaks.

Thanks to the Pleasant Valley Historical Society Museum in Camarillo for maintaining this and other local Ventura County history!

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Throwback to 1987 When May Co., The Broadway and Robinson's Anchored The Oaks Mall

OaksMall1987.jpg

Throwback to 1987 and this Thousand Oaks postcard, when May Co., The Broadway and Robinson's anchored The Oaks mall.

May Co. was founded by David May in 1877. JW Robinson's was founded in 1883 by Joseph Winchester Robinson. May Co. merged with Robinson's in 1993 to form Robinsons-May. In 2005, Robinsons-May was acquired by Federated Department Stores and became Macy's, which still has two anchor stores at The Oaks.

The Broadway was founded in 1896 by Arthur Lettis, Sr. In 1996, 100 years later, The Broadway was acquired by Federated.

The Oaks mall turned 40 in April 2018. Happy birthday! Anchor stores when it opened in 1978 were The Broadway, May Co., J.W. Robinsons and J.C. Penney. Bullocks opened in 1980.

Anchor stores today are Macy's/Women, Macy's/Men's/Home/Children's, J.C. Penney and Nordstrom.

Speaking of malls, HERE'S A COMPILATION of kids' activities at shopping malls throughout Ventura County.