Hillside Letters in the Conejo Valley and Greater Ventura County

There are over 500 hillside letters, or “mountain monograms,” in the United States, including 81 in California. What are hillside letters, you ask. They are simply large single letters, abbreviations and sometimes even messages erected on a hillside, usually by a school or town.

The Big “C” overlooking UC Berkeley (From Wikipedia; public domain)

The Big “C” overlooking UC Berkeley (From Wikipedia; public domain)

One well known hillside letter is a giant concrete block letter “C” built in the hills overlooking UC Berkeley that was constructed on March 23, 1905.

We have our share of hillside letters here in the Conejo Valley and Greater Ventura County, some of which you may be aware of…others, perhaps not.

The mountain monograms visible in our neck of the wood include:

The letters CLU on Mt. Clef Ridge above Cal Lutheran University are maintained by students.

Hilltop A overlooking Agoura High School up a steep hill. Made out of wood, I believe.

Here is a view of the letter VC north of Ventura College in late April 2019.

Here is a view of the letter VC north of Ventura College in late April 2019.

If you drive north up Catalina Street, west of Ventura High School, you will be able to see this letter V on the hillside.

The letter F is located in the hills west of Fillmore and is quite easy to see.

This letters SP letters in the hills south of Santa Paula is cleared brush. They originated originated in 1922. More information on THIS PAGE.

Happy Face Hill in Simi Valley is not a mountain monogram but is perhaps the visible hillside attraction throughout Ventura County.

Point Mugu, Mugu Rock, Sycamore Cove Beach Featured in 2018 Russell Dickerson "Blue Tacoma" Video

It was pointed out on the CVG Facebook Page that Mugu Rock was prominently featured in the 2018 music video by country music singer Russell Dickerson “Blue Tacoma.” That indeed is the case. The song is the second single from his 2017 debut album Yours.

But there’s more than just the majestic Mugu Rock in this 3 1/2 minute video. I see the beach adjacent to Mugu Rock, Sycamore Cove Beach in the nighttime campfire scene and even Hueneme Beach Park in the eating-Chinese-food-out-of-the-cartons-on-the-beach-with-red-wine-in-plastic-blue-cups scene at 48 second into the video.

One last observation. The lyrics start with “Wheels rolling on an old Toyota. Twist top on a Sunkist soda.” For the record, the Toyota Tacoma in the video looked like a pretty late model to me. Not old at all. In the car’s cupholder appeared to be an iced coffee. No signs of a Sunkist soda.

Sycamore Cove Beach

Sycamore Cove Beach

Adjacent (southeast) to Mugu Rock.

Adjacent (southeast) to Mugu Rock.

This image was taken a number of years ago at a sand sculpture contest at the Hueneme Beach Festival, when they still held the festival.  Notice the palm trees in the background compared to the Chinese food eating on the beach scene at 48 seconds into the video.

This image was taken a number of years ago at a sand sculpture contest at the Hueneme Beach Festival, when they still held the festival. Notice the palm trees in the background compared to the Chinese food eating on the beach scene at 48 seconds into the video.

California Law Has Required Gas Stations to Provide Free Water, Air and Air Pressure Gauge For Customers Since January 2000

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There’s a law that was passed in 1999, that made it a requirement for service stations in California to provide free water, compressed air and an air pressure gauge to customers who purchase fuel.

A service station is defined as an establishment that offers gasoline or other motor vehicle to the public.

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I was not aware of this law until just recently, when a few folks shamed me on paying $1.00 to fill the air in my tires. (That said, I was not a paid customer at the time. So technically I was not legally entitled to free compressed air.)

Section 13651 of the California Business and Professions Code further indicates “Every service station in this state shall display, at a conspicuous place on, at, or near the dispensing apparatus, at least one clearly visible sign which shall read as follows: CALIFORNIA LAW REQUIRES THIS STATION TO PROVIDE FREE AIR AND WATER FOR AUTOMOTIVE PURPOSES TO ITS CUSTOMERS WHO PURCHASE MOTOR VEHICLE FUEL. IF YOU HAVE A COMPLAINT NOTIFY THE STATION ATTENDANT AND/OR CALL THIS TOLL-FREE TELEPHONE NUMBER: 1 (800) ___ ____. “

So perhaps this post will save someone from unnecessarily paying 75 cents to $1.50 to fill up their tires.

There is no requirement to provide the air for free to non-paying customers.

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Exploring the Coca-Cola All You Can Eat Right Field Pavilion at Dodger Stadium

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I've been a Dodger fan my entire life, having been born and raised in the Los Angeles area and moving to the Conejo Valley in the mid 1990s.

When I was a kid, my dad would take us to the game a couple times each season. We sat in the cheapest seats and on our way there would stop by McDonald's or In-N-Out Burger and bring food into the stadium.

Today, while still fans of the Dodgers, we rarely go to games. Just too many other things going on in our life. But I decided it would be fun to take the kids on a Saturday night.

BUYING TICKETS ONLINE

Plenty of tickets are available, but I had moderate sticker shock at the prices. The cheapest seats on the Dodgers ticketing website were $28 + $6.50 "Convenience" fee (whatever that means) and a $5.10 "Processing" fee. It certainly would be nice if all online ticket sellers just have one "all in" price that clearly shows the total price.

I was amazed at how terrible the Dodgers' ticketing website is, compared to other sites like StubHub and SeatGeek. They make you run Flash and don't provide a view from the seats like the other sites do.

In any case, I reviewed multiple alternatives to the Dodgers' ticketing website and went with StubHub. StubHub adds a service fee and a fulfillment fee to ticket prices. These fees vary based on event and ticket type. For the Dodgers game, the service fees were in the 23-25% range and fulfillment fees were $2. Factoring these fees in, StubHub still had the best overall prices for comparable seats out of the options I looked at.

PICKING THE SEATS

I was taking three kids to the game and my cheapest alternative were seats way, way up high in the Top Deck or Reserve areas. I didn't really want to be that high up, so I looked at the alternative of the bleacher seats. 

I'm not a fan of bleacher seats as they are just that - long benches with numbered seatbacks - no individual seats. I'm that guy who is annoyed the entire flight on a plane where the guy next to me's arm intrudes on my space. So bleacher seats probably are not the best idea for me.

But on second thought, we're only talking two to three hours and the kids would enjoy it. How bad could it be, right? So I decided to look at seats in the Coca-Cola All You Can Eat Right Field Pavilion. They were about $20 to $25 more than the seats in the Left Field Pavilion, but ALL YOU CAN EAT sounded like a fun option with the kids.

The bleacher seats make you feel closer to the action IMO than the seats in nosebleed land.

The bleacher seats make you feel closer to the action IMO than the seats in nosebleed land.

THE ALL YOU CAN EAT PAVILION

If it were me and a buddy, I would not sit in the Coca-Cola All You Can Eat Pavilion because, well, I'm not big into gorging myself. But hey, I was with the kids, and thought it would be fun to just let em at it and not worry about cash. And indeed it was fun.

A few things to note. We are not talking about a gourmet selection in this deal. We're talking Dodger Dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn and non-alcoholic beverages (soft drinks, iced tea and water). No ice cream, churros, cotton candy or beer (though those were available for sale). And no pizza, hamburgers or other food items. One pizza vendor walked by around the 7th inning; I suppose he was desperate to unload them at that point.

Is the All You Can Eat Pavilion worth it? Well it comes down to numbers. If you were to consume one Dodger Dog (cost is $6.50), one bag of peanuts ($5 estimate) and one drink ($6 insanely expensive), you are consuming $17.50 of Dodger Stadium cuisine. Throw in one other item, like another hot dog or nachos, and you've pretty much broken even on the deal. 

Two of the three kids with me "broke even." So I had to personally make up for the third kid's under-consumption. Indeed I was hungry on the drive from Thousand Oaks to Dodger Stadium, so I was prepared for the challenge. In fact, I went for a run that morning to ensure my metabolism was raring to go.

My take: 3 Dodger Dogs (really closer to 2 1/2 as I couldn't finish the 3rd one), 1 iced tea (refilled once), 2 bags of peanuts (I brought one home) and 2 bags of popcorn. Ignoring the refill, I think I devoured about $46 retail value in food.

Of course consuming all that salty food might make one thirsty. I woke up the next morning with a very dry mouth. And I certainly got my money's worth the night before so it was worth it. Kind of.

I had fond memories of Dodger Dogs going back to my childhood. They were great back then. But these Dodger Dogs were lukewarm at best and had kind of a metallic taste to them. I find the hot dogs at Costco, for $1.50, INCLUDING drink, to be more fulfilling.

The popcorn I thought was actually pretty good for pre-bagged popcorn. The peanuts were quite salty. The nachos were meh, not particularly good, according to the kids. 

THE BLEACHER SEATS

They weren't that bad. It was fun. The crowds were pretty mellow and there were a lot of families/kids out there.

There is zero room between your legs and knees and the row in front of you, but thankfully we didn't experience too much back and forth of people passing by as we were seated towards the middle of the row.

Great view of the field. We had to twist our necks a bit to see the big video screen, but it wasn't too bad.

There's nowhere to place your food and drinks, so you have to kind of balance the food in a tray on your lap. There's no cup holder for the drink. I placed my iced tea under the bench, where it was soon joined by trash. In fact, the amount of trash left by attendees was jaw dropping.

Quite a mess under the seats of the bleacher benches.

Quite a mess under the seats of the bleacher benches.

My back was a little tweaked by the end of the game, but I survived. Though the Dodgers lost, the game was entertaining, as was the between-inning on-screen shenanigans. It was a fun night out.

GETTING THERE AND PARKING

I decided to use the Waze app to tell me the best way, factoring in traffic conditions, to get to Dodger Stadium. Without the app, the natural way I would go would be the 101 east to the 134 east to the 5 south.

Waze informed me that I would get there 12 minutes faster from Newbury Park via the 23 north to the 118 east to the 5 south to the 134 east to the 2 south to the 5 south. Yep, a bit out of the way, but it worked like a charm. A very stress-free drive, with minimal traffic.

Going home was much more direct - 5 north to 134 west, then 101 west. If you find yourself in the right-hand lane on Stadium Way coming out of Dodger Stadium, you will be forced to go on the 5 south. Whoops, wrong way! But if you do find yourself in this situation, not to worry. Continue on the 5 about half a mile and take the Riverside offramp, turn right, then you'll soon see a 5 north onramp.

Parking at the stadium is $25. DO buy a parking pass on the Dodgers ticketing website in advance for $15 to save yourself $10. www.mlb.com/dodgers/ballpark/transportation/parking

Was fun catching a Justin Turner home run in the 4th inning.

Was fun catching a Justin Turner home run in the 4th inning.

IN SUMMARY

  • Dodger Stadium is just 40 to 60 minutes from the Conejo Valley and is a fun entertainment option for the entire family.

  • Plenty of seating options are available. The Coca-Cola All You Can Eat Right Field Pavilion is a great option if your family enjoys Dodger Dogs, popcorn, peanuts, nachos and soft drinks.

Hillside Letters "SP" on South Mountain in Santa Paula

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When driving southbound in Santa Paula, look up towards the mountain south of the city (aptly named South Mountain) and you’ll see the letters SP boldly emblazoned high up on the hill that overlooks the Santa Paula Airport.

According to the Santa Paula Times, the letters are 125 feet long and 25 feet wide and originated in the 1922 time frame when a group of high schoolers made the trek up the mountain to carve the letters.

The brush was cleared annually over the years until the 1970s; for decades thereafter, the brush overgrew the letters and made them difficult to see.

Then, as part of the city’s centennial celebration in 2002, the Times noted that Limoneira Co. and other volunteers and donors worked to clean up the letters for all to see.

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Santa Paula is not alone in its mountain monogram. Other local area cities with monograms include Agoura Hills (there’s a letter A in the hill north of Agoura High School), the letters CLU emblazoned on the hill overlooking Cal Lutheran University, the letter F in the hills east of Fillmore, the letter V in the hills above Ventura High School and the letters VC in the hills above Ventura College.

Of course, the most prominent icon landscaped into a hill in Ventura County is Happy Face Hill seen by westbound drivers on the 118 near Kuehner Drive.

Happy Face Hill in Simi Valley - sure to bring a smile to your face.

Happy Face Hill in Simi Valley - sure to bring a smile to your face.

When There's Rain, There's Usually a Rainbow in the Conejo Valley

It’s been raining almost nonstop throughout Ventura County since last Thursday through today, Super Bowl Sunday and anticipated for another day or two. When there’s rain, there’s a rainbow awaiting. Here are some beauties.

Notable Records Set or Tied at Super Bowl 53

Rams practice facility at Cal Lutheran, seen from the hills above CLU.

Rams practice facility at Cal Lutheran, seen from the hills above CLU.

Having been a Los Angeles Ram fan as a kid, until they left for St. Louis in 1995, then again when they returned in 2016, I was excited for today’s Super Bowl game. Making it even more exciting is that the Rams are headquartered right here in the Conejo Valley in Agoura Hills and have practiced at Cal Lutheran since 2017.

The Los Angeles Rams had played in only one other Super Bowl. They lost 31 to 19 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl 14 on January 20, 1920. The St. Louis Rams played in two Super Bowls with a 1-1 record. But otherwise, Super Bowl 53 was only the second time in history that the Los Angeles based Rams made it to this game.

And it was an utter disappointment. The Rams lost in Atlanta to the Patriots by a score of 13 to 3.

Some of the records set or tied at Super Bowl 53 included:

  • Fewest points scored by both teams: 16 (previously 21 at Super Bowl VII in 1973)

  • Fewest points by winning team: 13 (previously 14 by Miami at Super Bowl VII)

  • Tied for fewest points by losing team: 3 (tying Miami’s score at Super Bowl VI in 1972)

  • Longest punt - 65 yards by Johnny Hekker (probably the highlight of the game for Rams fans)

Next year’s Super Bowl 54 will take place at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida on February 2, 2020. Crossing my fingers for the Rams to come back with a vengeance next year like Miami did in 1973.

Congratulations to the New England Patriots!