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.

Roadrunner 2.2.19.JPG

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.

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

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.

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.


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:


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.

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!

Rolling Pin Donuts in Camarillo Captured in Oil Painting by Local Artist

Rolling Pin Donuts in Camarillo (Artist: Linda Dark)

Rolling Pin Donuts in Camarillo (Artist: Linda Dark)

Long-time Camarillo resident and artist Linda Dark enjoys capturing local scenes in oil paint. Rolling Pin Donuts has operated at 2153 Las Posas Road since 1992 and has quite a loyal following at this stand-alone location. Dark has lived in Camarillo since 1978 and recalls it was previously called Donna Lee Donuts.

Have a donut craving? Rolling Pin is open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. You'll want to stop by for sure after checking out their creations at

Rolling Pin Donuts on Rainy Day (Artist: Linda Dark)

Rolling Pin Donuts on Rainy Day (Artist: Linda Dark)