More from California

This is the last article from my California trip. Tomorrow I will be on my way to the Telluride Film Festival for more networking.   I will continue to keep you up to date on the progress of Footprints in the Dew and I will also be posting my weekly article.

        Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.   San Bernardino was on my list of stops on this adventure and I didn’t know much about the town except there were a number of Indian legends about the area and during the golden age of film in Hollywood there was a majestic hotel tucked back in the mountains where many of the stars stayed.

There was another interesting place in town I wanted to see that you Will Rogers fans may not know about and that’s the California theater. The theater has one of the two stage curtains that Will owned and which he would send ahead to any theater where he was scheduled to make an appearance. Three days before his fatal plane crash Will had done a benefit for the Red Cross in San Bernardino and after his death no one came to claim the curtain and it has hung there ever since. The curtain itself has what appear to be thousands of small stones glued onto it in a very unusual pattern. Although it is very frail, the curtain continues to be used for most shows because audiences are still eager to see something associated with Will Rogers.

During our visit we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn which was a great choice. The hotel was an easy stop right off Route 10 and is conveniently located for many of the attractions we went to, the theater, the history museum and Pharoh’s Water Park. We had a beautiful view of the mountains right from outside our spacious room and the hotel offers a business center, free Wi-Fi, a great pool and a hot tub. On a scale of one to five I’d definitely give this one five buffalo.

Another stop on our trip was the town of Ventura which is on the coast just a few miles away. I had been told to check out the Channel Island National Park while I was there because the islands are quite historic. The many small islands which make up the park were once home to early American sheep ranchers and farmers who shipped their goods inland. One of the islands also served as an early day prison where the worst offenders were held. The start of our voyage to experience the islands first hand was Ventura which also happens to be the largest offloading port on the west coast for squid (aka calamari).  The numerous fishing boats in the harbor also bring in red sea urchin,ridgeback prawns, warty sea cucumber and rock crab. The harbor was recently named as one of the top seafood offloading harbors in the nation and trucks line up all day long to pick up seafood that is then shipped around the world.

Tucked in among the fishing boats is the Island Packers Excursions fleet. They are the only state licensed excursion line taking visitors to Santa Cruz Island which I especially wanted to see. The early morning boat ride takes an hour and a half and on the way I saw seals, California sea lions, hundreds of dolphins and migrating whales. Great white sharks are also occasionally seen in these waters. You also pass by several offshore oil rigs which operate 24/7 and are interesting to see in action.

The boat drops you off on a narrow catwalk in the harbor and leaves you on the island until 4:30 in the afternoon so you pack in anything you might want during the day because there are no cafes or other services on Santa Cruz. Time went by way too fast as we hiked through the mountainous center part of the island, explored underwater caves and swam in a protected harbor with seals. On the return trip the seas were rough but the Captain had warned me that this was frequently the case later in the day and it added to our adventure.

When we got back to the harbor we were definitely ready for dinner.  I knew the seafood in the area would be good and the family owned Spinnaker Seafood Broiler was recommended because they buy their fish right off the boats. The restaurant has been run by the same family for several generations and they take great pride in their food. The big thing I hadn’t anticipated was the great price. With no middleman or fuel surcharges to get the product to your table, dinner was unbelievably delicious and cheap. I had everything the captains brought in including a wonderful seafood appetizer and our bill was still only 12 dollars and change per person. A person really needs a full day to explore this peninsula which is called Ventura Harbor Village but unfortunately I just didn’t have it. If you want to know more you need to call the Ventura Chamber of Commerce which I’ve found is always a good way to start a trip to a new place.

Coming next week its Whitey Bulger who was captured in L.A. just days before I got there. Also: it’s called The Big Event and it happens every year in Yukon, OK when buyers come from around the world to bid on premiere registered Angus cattle. Till then I’ll see ya down the road….




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