Friday, June 14, 2013

Heading north of LA to Simi Valley

June 6-12, 2013
Simi Valley, California
Tapo Canyon Park

Simi Valley is our third stop in Southern California to visit with family. My stepson Todd and his wife and two daughters have lived here for six years.  We were only able to visit with the granddaughters, age 14 and 11, for one evening last year when we were here so this time we decided to park the motorhome as close as we could to their home, so we could spend more time with them.

After reviewing several parks on-line and reading a few blogs about area campgrounds, we settled on staying at a Ventura County Park called Tapo Canyon Park, a county park with about seventeen sites. The location is great, the sites are decent and it is peaceful here, but due to the canyons, there is no phone reception or internet. This is the first time in all our travels around the country that our Mi-Fi (Verizon wireless) won’t get a signal and we are only ten minutes from town. A second problem is one we discovered two nights after we arrived: an invasion of tiny ants. Everyone in the park is battling them including the camp host, so we gave in and bought some Hot Shot spray (I don’t like to use chemicals) that we used outside; I was able to control them inside by sprinkling cayenne pepper on their trail. So far we are winning the battle.

In addition to visiting our grandkids, our close friends, Bruce and Sharon, from our hometown of Corvallis, are also here in Simi Valley visiting her mother. This is a sweet bonus as they now live in Mazatlan, Mexico, and, unlike previous summers since we retired, our time in Corvallis later this summer will only overlap about a week so we are grateful for any additional time together.

The granddaughters just finished school a few days before we came, but the oldest is already busy with Varsity Cheer practice and they both have numerous summer activities so we are trying to squeeze in any time we can. Thankfully, we are only about fifteen minutes away so our proximity gives us lots more options than if we had chosen to stay at the beach in Ventura (something we considered) which is almost an hour away.

We picked up Chloe from cheer practice one day and she gave us a tour of her new (she just completed her freshman year) very impressive private high school: Oaks Christian.  As retired public school educators, we were not accustomed to seeing such top of the line facilities. I think our mouths were agape on most of the tour. Check out these sports facilities for a high school:

Both our granddaughters will be attending this school next year as the youngest, Issie, will be going to the middle school, which is in a separate building on the same campus, as a seventh grader. 

While we were here ,we had a few meals out with the girls plus had them over to our park for a barbeque. They had not seen our motorhome before, so I think they were a little surprised to learn we weren’t roughing it as much as they had imagined. They were also surprised to discover such a remote park in the canyons just beyond their hometown as we heard a few coyotes howling after dinner.  After dinner, I managed to get a photo of the girls with their dad and grandpa.

In between visits with the granddaughters, we sneaked in a few other activities while we were here. One was a shopping trip to help my friend Sharon find a dress for her son’s wedding. I enjoyed this because I wasn’t the one having to go through this challenge and it was fun to just spend time with my friend and her sister. We also had a lovely evening with them enjoying dinner and playing cards one night—something we used to do often in our Corvallis days as teachers together (and I spaced out taking photos as I have been on a bit of blog vacation lately).

We also took a day to explore Ventura Beach—a place neither of us had ever been. Ventura is about 45 minutes away from Simi Valley and, like most Pacific beaches, it was significantly cooler and windier there. The beach itself seemed a little trashy to us, but we discovered we may have gone to the beach on the “wrong” side of town. It may also be that we are a both a little spoiled by the beautiful white sand beaches of the Florida Gulf. Regardless, we enjoyed a walk on the beach and the fresh salty air.

On our drive away from the beach, we looked for the Ventura Beach RV Resort as a possible place to stay next year. The sites were a little close, but we some were more open and the amenities all looked very well maintained. It was a little on the spendy side, but would be fun to stay at because of its close proximity to a nicer beach, a river, and within biking distance to the charming main street of town. After checking out the beach, we explored the downtown area of Ventura, and were quite impressed with its charm. It definitely has a vintage feeling in terms of architecture and the plethora of resale and antique shops on Main Street. 

The other thing that stood out was the amazing variety of restaurants all within a few blocks of each other. One of the cafes that caught my eye had a lovely outside patio that reminded me of our time in Italy—so we decided to splurge a little on a delicious lunch on their terrace.

fiore cafe

Another fun surprise for us was having the opportunity to go to a Dodger game with my step-son Todd who was able to score some VIP tickets from his office at Anheuser Busch. We were lucky enough to do this one time before a few years ago and, even though we are not big Dodger fans, it was a great way to spend a beautiful early summer evening. The Dodgers were playing the Arizona Diamondbacks whom they lost to 5:4 in the last two innings. For those who follow baseball, it was the next night when they were playing each other when the big brawl occurred. Other baseball news that happened the same night we were at the Dodger game was our hometown college team, the Oregon State Beavers, winning a super regional game to earn a spot in the College World Series (which they won in ‘06 and ‘07).  We arrived back to the motorhome that evening in time to see the last two tense innings of the Beaver game where they hung on to a 4:3 lead. Go Beavs!

vic and todd at dodger game

From Simi Valley, we are heading back to Orange County where we will spend another week with our grandsons now that they are out of school. Lots of family time here in California to make up for our long time away during the rest of the year.


  1. We have had great luck with our Mi-Fi also. That does seem a bit strange that you are so close to town but can't get good reception.

    We taught high school for 30 years and never had anything close to that campus. WOW.

  2. Beautiful granddaughters! So awesome to have the time to visit and play with them.
    The flowers and patio made quite a lovely setting for lunch!

  3. What fun to get to see all the grandchildren and children! Living on the road and seeing this wonderful country is so rewarding but being away from family makes it difficult sometimes. That why we are heading east for the next year. We'll visit family in NY, PA, and GA. Then next winter it will be much easier to fly them down to FL for visits. But come April we will head back west. I am already counting the days.

    Your granddaughters are beautiful. So glad you got to spend so much quality time with them. Have fun with the grandsons. Looking forward to photos of your activities.

  4. It is amazing how busy kids are these days. Hope you can squeeze in enough time with them:)

  5. You didn't say specifically (or I didn't see) if that's Vic's son but he surely has to be -- they look so much alike.

    1. Yes, indeed,, that is Vic's son in the family photo.

  6. Having a fun and busy time as usual. We managed to nip our first sugar ant invasion in the bud ... I'm sorry, I have no sympathy for any critter that invades my home ... the Terro Liquid Ant Bait worked great, but I will remember the Cayenne Pepper too ... a friend suggested wiping the trail with vodka (the cheapest rotgut stuff) ... haven't tried that yet!

    1. I have heard vodka has many uses--tee hee.

  7. Really beautiful grand daughters. I'm amazed that this is the first campground where you have not had Verizon service. Seems to happen to us all the time. Bummer about the ants. We had some and I just bought those little bait motels and in about a day, no more ants. We also sprayed around the tires and jacks. Hope you keep them at bay. Critters belong outside say I.

  8. Great area of Southern Ca. Judy and I lived in Camarillo when I was stationed at Port Hueneme.


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