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Ventura Highway in the Sunshine

We’ve found a cozy campground at Lake Piru that is as beautiful as it is inexpensive. Camping in California is pretty pricey, especially so close to Los Angeles, but we can stay here a month for $19 bucks a day. That includes an additional fee for having the dog, but there is a dog park on site so it’s well worth the extra $2 a day for one happy and tired pup. It’s a perfect balance of secluded nature camping and the excitement of the city only a short drive away.

We have settled into California like we belong here, slipping into the rhythm of the west coast with ease. Maybe it’s due to our much needed stay-cation. We previously hadn’t stayed anywhere for more than a week, nor did we feel called to do so. Now that we have settled down for a few weeks we are reluctant to leave. With the eternally pleasant weather here, the winter could slip right by us without notice. Time has taken on a dream-like quality and is only measured in cups of coffee and the passing of sunsets.

The campground is full of olive trees and many happy deer that find them utterly delicious. Orange and apple groves decorate the desert hills in and around the tiny town of Piru. There are many farmers markets dotted along highway 126 with local fruit, veggies and honey. We bought Valencia oranges and tried a prickly pear (cactus fruit) with the help of a kind woman running the cashier; She carefully removed the outer skin, cut the fruit and topped it with a bit of chili lime seasoning for us. It was a delicious, mild flavor like a mix of citrus and cucumber and the chili pepper accentuated it’s subtle sweetness; A refreshing treat, despite the many seeds. The rural setting has a rustic charm and familiarity that strikes a chord in our southern souls.

We ventured into LA and spent the day soaking in the iconic places that we had only seen through the lens of a film or the imagery of a lyric. It’s bizarre to go somewhere you have never been and recognize its geography. We did our tourist duty and hiked the Hollywood Hills, took the walk of fame down Hollywood Blvd, drove through Beverly Hills and strolled along the Santa Monica pier. Then, spent three hours in traffic getting back home; The complete LA experience. We plan to drop the dog off at day care for a day and go back to explore The Getty and Griffith Observatory.

We have been greeted with the hospitality of nearby family members, who have graciously fed and entertained us. Together, we explored Old Town Newhall, visited the library, purchased some fresh local cheese from a roadside market and enjoyed some spectacular coffee. We will be joining them for Thanksgiving dinner this week and are grateful to be included in the festivities. It’s our first real Holiday away from home and though we will miss moms cornbread dressing and Jan’s pumpkin soup, we feel we will be able to keep our homesickness to a minimum. We have so much to be grateful for this year and I’m reminded every day how simply beautiful this life is.

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  1. Genie Macfarlane says:

    Happy Thanksgiving! You write a great blog. I got pretty homesick on the road . Could you mention how you make your plans?