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 schooler made the trek up the mountain.. The letter

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!

Roadrunners in the Conejo Valley

The roadrunner is a chaparral bird that is a member of the cuckoo (Cuculidae) family of birds. They are found in the southwest U.S. and Mexico. These non-migratory birds live in mountainous shrubland, which is why you may seen them from time to time here in the Conejo Valley. These are great birds to have around, dining on insects (including tarantulas), snails, lizards and even rattlesnakes (because of their quickness, roadrunners are one of the few animals that dine on rattlesnakes).

Seen above is some brief footage of a roadrunner seen yesterday on Tarantula Hill and some other footage from Rancho Sierra Vista from last year.

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Throwback Moment: Price-Costco Store Opened in Westlake Village in August 1996

Let’s face it…the Westlake Village Costco is one of the most popular places to go in the Conejo Valley. Always teeming with shoppers and sample hunters, it seems the local community would be lost without this store.

Let’s go back in time to when it opened…

The store opened its doors as PriceCostco on Thursday, August 8, 1996 at 5700 Lindero Canyon Road. Price-Costco was formed in 1993 with the merger of Price Club (which opened its first location on July 12, 1976 in San Diego) and Costco (which opened is first warehouse in Seattle on September 15, 1983).

One of my life’s guilty pleasures…the $1.50 Costco Hot Dog  and Soda deal.

One of my life’s guilty pleasures…the $1.50 Costco Hot Dog and Soda deal.

Who remembers PriceCostco? The merger between the two companies took place in 1993. Price Club was being pursued by Walmart to merge with the Sam’s Club warehouse store chain. Price opted to merge with Costco instead. And wallah…PriceCostco was created. At the time, there were 206 locations. Today there are 766 worldwide.

The prior management team from Price Club, the Price brothers (who knew!), left the company in 1994 and in 1997, “Price” was dropped from the name and it became Costco.

According to a 1/4/96 VC Star article, PriceCostco purchased the 30 acre site at Lindero Canyon Road and Westlake Boulevard in Westlake Village for $9.3 million, with plans for a 136,000 sq ft Price Club .

Local residents were against the addition of the warehouse club to the community. City Council approved the project as it was allowed as part of a long-term commercial development agreement in place with owners of the property. However, the city stipulated approval was required for specifics like exterior color scheme, roofing materials in earth tone colors, etc.

Flashback to 2009: There were high hopes for a 2nd Conejo Valley Costco location in Newbury Park at the corner of Grande Vista Drive and Academy Drive. But according to a T.O. Acorn article on 1/29/09, Costco could not make the project economically feasible as it was “unable to finalize a lease for the site.”

It is clear that Costco prefers to own its own properties, not lease them. In Costco’s annual Form 10-K filing for the fiscal year ended 9/2/18, fully 80% of its 762 warehouses in the U.S. and globally were owned; the remaining 20% were leased.

Lowe’s and LA Fitness were able to work a deal with owners of the property in Newbury Park and the City of Thousand Oaks Planning Commission approved the project to build locations there at a meeting on 12/13/10. We will be seeing the premiere of these business in the first half of 2019.

Final Descent of Alaskan Airlines Flight from Portland to the Hollywood Burbank Airport

Why am I posting this? Why not! I rarely have such a clear view on such a beautiful day through a window over the wing of the aircraft that is actually pretty clean. So I filmed it. Blue skies on a clear, crisp, Sunday morning in the San Fernando Valley.

Living in the Conejo Valley, all else equal, it is much easier to fly into and out of the Hollywood Burbank Airport (technically Bob Hope Airport - but I call it Burbank Airport) over the Los Angeles Airport anytime. But if usually is more expensive than LAX, with some exceptions.

In this instance, I needed a last minute flight to Portland to watch the Newbury Park High School Cross Country team compete in the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland. I preferred a direct flight. A direct flight on Delta from LAX was $750 round trip. I was determined not to pay such a ridiculous fare for a 2 1/2 hour flight.

Thankfully, Priceline has some great deals, including a non-stop flight on Alaska out of Burbank as well as two nights at the Embassy Suites and 2 days of car rental, for $200 less than Delta was offering out of LAX.

In any case, it was well worth the trip the NPHS XC team, winners for the first time of both the CIF Southern Section Division II title as well as the California State Division II title in 2018, It finished 6th overall in this prestigious event, teeing off for some even greater performances in the coming years.

To support Newbury Park High School Cross County in its annual travel, supplies and equipment needs, please consider giving a donation at bit.ly/DonateNPHSXC.

The Power of Social Media - Case Study: Getting Myrtle the Turtle Back Home

On Friday night, May 19, 2017, the Weathersfield School (@GoWeathersfield) Twitter page tagged @ConejoJoe asking that I share a photo of a turtle found at the school.

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I retweeted the post on my Twitter page.

I retweeted the post on my Twitter page.

And then I decided to also to post the photo on the CVG Facebook page, which at the time had over 13,000 followers and a lot more interaction than Twitter.

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Sure enough, comments started rolling in with suggestions…non-profit animal rescue, “we can give him a home,” “I remember someone posting a missing turtle on a neighborhood board,” etc.  There were 18 comments and 14 shares. Not viral, but apparently enough to get the attention of its owner, Paula Nathan, who at 9:10AM the next day posted:

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Given the turtle was found literally across the street from the owner’s home, without social media, perhaps signs posted around the neighborhood would eventually have reunited the owner with Myrtle the Turtle. But with the social media’s help, Myrtle’s owner was able to connect quickly with her turtle.