Trip Start Dec 29, 2011
37Trip End Ongoing
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The area around Ventura/Oxnard/Camarillo is very flat and has a substantial agricultural industry. They grow a lot of strawberries and veggies that, in season, are sold at many roadside stands. (Too early for us, I think.) The ocean is about a five minute walk from where we are parked. Downtown is not very big...the main street is Main Street (go figure) and it is a collection of little shops, galleries, book stores and a lot of second hand stores like Goodwill. We saw a number of homeless people wandering the streets and sleeping in the parks but only a couple of panhandlers. There is a newer area around Ventura Harbour that is trendy, high end shops and much more touristy
We managed to find a free parking lot near the city hall so parked there and headed on a walking tour of downtown. City Hall itself is quite an impressive building, big pillars and a kind of white limestone looking exterior. It has a bunch of smiling faces on it. There are 24 of them,representing the 24 padres that ran the local mission over the years. There was a large bronze statue of Junipero Serra in front of City Hall...you may remember him from the mission in Carmel.
Our first stop was the mission and another interesting self-guided tour. It is called Mission San Buenaventura (St. Bonaventure), Mission by the Sea. This was to have been the third mission in a chain of 21 that Padre Serra planned to found but somehow it ended up being the ninth and last one founded during his lifetime. It's surprising it is still here...The first church building was destroyed by fire; the second was started and abandoned after a door gave way and the place crashed down. In 1792, the current one was started. It wasn't completed until 1809
The church has been modified and modernized over the years and, in more recent times, has been restored to is original form. It still has the feel of an old mission church. The church itself is beautiful inside, big like the mission church we saw in Carmel. They still hold mass every day, twice on Saturday and five times on Sundays. Two masses on the weekends are in Spanish and one is in Latin. Confessions are available in Spanish and English...as proclaimed by the signs over the confessionals, and a reflection of the local population. We happened to run into the priest while we were walking through the gardens and had a nice chat. It is a beautiful spot but much smaller than the mission in Carmel. There were a lot of statues with burning candles in several places both inside the church and out in the gardens. Not sure who all the statues were...not enough Catholic upbringing I guess.
We crossed the street (as per the directions from the lady in the mission gift shop) and went in search of the local museum. We came across a fire fighters museum...bunch of stuff in the window...but couldn't find an entry. We wandered into a small hotel and asked and one of the staff offered to take us to it. She led us through a maze of hallways and ended up at that same window...she said that was it, there was no entry
By then it was time to head to the golf course. As we were leaving downtown, we spied the original office building where Earl Stanley Gardner kept his law practice and wrote Perry Mason stories.
We took a nice route along Ventura Bay and found the golf course without getting lost. It was unfortunate we didn't have a little more time because I would have liked to see the Channel Islands Visitor Info centre, walked out on the pier and explored a little...can't do everything, I guess.
Golf was nice. Very flat course and the wind was blowing, first off the land and then it switched and was blowing off the sea. It was nice because it was warm out and not so nice because it tended to blow a few shots off target. We played with two guys from LA that were about the slowest players I've ever played with. But they were friendly and it was still enjoyable. How bad could it be, it's January and we were golfing in shorts?!!
We met our good friend, Steve, at Yolanda's in Camarillo, for dinner. Carol is out of town but we hope to catch up with them later on our trip. We had wonderful Mexican food, ate too much and are now back home deciding what we'll do tomorrow.