Counting Crows in the Conejo Valley and Nearby Communities

Counting crows. Maybe not literally, but figuratively, in the skies of the Conejo Valley, Simi Valley and beyond. We see the crows in the hundreds flying west in the morning and east in the evening ever so frequently here. These fellows were seen from the Conejo Valley Plaza, Moorpark and Janss Roads, the night of August 9, 2018.

Speaking of birds, the Conejo Valley Audubon Society hosts birding activities year-round.

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 this Memorial Day weekend.

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.

Conejo Valley Rabbit Montage and Some Local Area History

Here's a fun montage of conejo photos and footage from the ring of trails surround the Conejo Valley. If you're looking to take your own rabbit photos on the trails of the Conejo Valley, check out this compilation of over 50 local hiking and trail areas at THIS LINK

TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT NEWBURY PARK

California Quail Perched on MB2 Raceway Sign in Newbury Park

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It's the little things. 

Late this afternoon I was on a casual run on the streets of Newbury Park in the industrial area along Lawrence Drive. It was a beautiful day today and there was a cool breeze in the air.

As I cruised along, I noticed a bird perched on the MB2 Raceway sign west of the Rancho Conejo Boulevard intersection. This bird, a California quail, stopped me in my tracks.

I've seen quail out and about, but never as prominent as this one, with the comma-shaped crest on its head. This is a male California quail.

So I pulled out my camera and took a few photos before moving along on my way. He was o.k. with it, posing for me. Staying put on the MB2 sign.

Speaking of MB2, this Thousand Oaks location turns 10 years old this September. 

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State Route 23 Between the 101 and 118 is Dedicated to Japanese American World War II Soldiers

 Moorpark Freeway section of SR 23 taken from Marview Trail in Thousand Oaks.

Moorpark Freeway section of SR 23 taken from Marview Trail in Thousand Oaks.

State Route 23 stretches from Malibu to Fillmore in three sections. The south section is the winding, hilly Decker Canyon Road that connects Pacific Coast Highway to Westlake Village and Hidden Valley. This section is approximately 10 miles from PCH to the Potrero Road intersection, but generally takes 20 to 25 minutes to drive.

SR 23 continues as Westlake Boulevard to the Ventura Freeway (U.S. Route 101), where it runs concurrent with the 101 north a couple miles until you reach the Moorpark Freeway overpass. This is another 4 to 4 1/2 miles.

The most visible section of SR 23 in Thousand Oaks is the Moorpark Freeway, which stretches from the 101 to the Los Angeles Avenue exit in Moorpark; about 8 miles. This middle section of the 23 was named the Military Intelligence Service Memorial Highway in 1994 by the California State Assembly. The renaming was made in honor of Nisei, or Japanese American, Soldiers of World War II who served in units of the U.S. Armed Forces comprising the 100/442/MIS triad (Military Intelligence Service, 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team). **

 Military Intelligence Service Memorial Highway sign

Military Intelligence Service Memorial Highway sign

The northern section of SR 23 begins at Los Angeles Avenue (SR 118) in Moorpark and goes north as Grimes Canyon Road, ending at SR 126 in Fillmore. This is about a 12 mile stretch includes some eye opening, hilly twists and turns in the Grimes Canyon Road area.

The total length of SR 23 is about 32 miles.

** Some additional clarification from the 1994 legislation: Segments of State Highway Routes 23 and 99 are officially designated as follows: (a) State Highway Route 23, from Highway 101 to Highway 118, as the Military Intelligence Service Memorial Highway. (b) State Highway Route 99, between the Cities of Fresno and Madera, as the 100th Infantry Battalion Memorial Highway. (c) State Highway Route 99, between the Cities of Salida and Manteca, as the 442nd Regimental Combat Team Memorial Highway. Each of the signs to also include "A unit of the 100/422/MIS triad.

Mugu Rock Then and Now

Mugu Rock is a large rock formation that was formed when a 200 foot deep cut was made into the rocky ridge was made from October 1937 to February 1940. Prior to the modern day PCH at Mugu Rock (at the time called U.S. 101 Alternate (State Route 60), drivers went around a 275 foot radius curve that is now fenced off.

The photos in the video above from the October 1940 edition of California Highways and Public Works show what it looked like before, during and after the cut was made, compared to what it looks like today.

Tell Me a Little Bit About the City of Westlake Village Boundary

The City of Westlake Village is a master-planned community that is transected diagonally by the Los Angeles/Ventura County line. 

The Ventura County side is comprised of 8,544 acres and was annexed into the City of Thousand Oaks in 1968 and 1972. The Los Angeles County side is 3,456 acres and was incorporated as the City of Westlake Village in 1981. 

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Ah yes, the challenge of distinguishing between the Los Angeles and Ventura County sections of Westlake Village. It truly is a diagonal boundary that stretches from just northeast of Lindero Canyon Road, south of Blackbird Avenue on the north to South Westlake Blvd at Kirsten Lee Drive on the south.

It is impossible to drive, bike or walk the boundary line because it crosses right through the middle of Westlake Lake. Although, you could drive along the border on La Venta Drive southwest from Watergate Road.

Further north, the border cuts diagonally across Westlake Golf Course.  In fact, the driving range section of the golf course bordered on the west by Lakeview Canyon Road and on the north by the 101 is located within the City of Thousand Oaks while the rest of the course is in Westlake Village.

Costco Westlake Village and the Four Seasons Westlake Village are solely part of the City of Westlake Village, as is the Las Virgenes Reservoir.

Does it really matter what side you're on? For most, no. But there's one clear financial difference. Sales taxes. As of April 2018, sales taxes in the Thousand Oaks portion of Westlake Village are 7.25%, whereas they are 9.5% in the Los Angeles County based City of Westlake Village.

 Las Virgenes Reservoir, the only body of water lying completely in the City of Westlake Village.

Las Virgenes Reservoir, the only body of water lying completely in the City of Westlake Village.