I’m back at my hotel in Oxnard for now. As usual, the day didn’t go quite as expected, but also as (mostly) usual that didn’t turn out to be too bad.
I started the day with breakfast at Café Nouveau in Ventura, an excessively quaint restaurant in a converted 1920s home (in a neighborhood of unconverted 1920s homes, from what I can tell). I had their version of a breakfast burrito, with scrambled egg, green chile, cheddar cheese, potatoes and a couple other vegetables (no meat); it was probably the best version of this I’ve had anywhere.
From there, I drove to check out the Channel Islands Visitors Center, which is on the mainland: as it turns out, I didn’t call in time to book a trip to one of the islands. So instead, I drove down the Pacific Coast Highway, which seemed like a very “SoCal” thing to do, through Malibu and not quite to Santa Monica. See, just over the Los Angeles County line, Sunset Boulevard meets the PCH, and I thought, “Hey, I know that name!” and turned onto it.
So. After a drive through Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, and Beverly Hills, I ended up in Hollywood, parking near the corner of Hollywood and Vine, an intersection that’s apparently famous for reasons that escape me. (As I recall, there’s a gift shop at Disney-MGM named “Hollywood and Vine.”) I wandered around a bit, stopped and got a kind of odd (but good) fusion tea drink at a place called “Zen Zoo,” then eventually made my way to an early dinner at “Lucky Devil’s,” an upscale burger bar. I’ve just learned “Lucky” is Lucky Vanous, once famous for being a beefcake model in a 1994 Diet Coke commercial. It was certainly one of the best burgers I’ve had.
Last night I was musing: why Ventura? This is not exactly a top destination for spontaneous vacations, unless you’re making an effort to do whale watching (I’m not) or a surfer (ha!). Yet I’ve thought off and on of coming down here since I’ve been living in California.
I think it’s because Ventura is a road not taken. About fifteen years ago, I was working for Kinko’s in Tampa, and I had the opportunity to pursue a job with Kinko’s corporate doing computer work. That would have necessitated moving out to their HQ, of course: in Ventura. But I didn’t follow through. I realized Ventura wasn’t actually in either the LA or SF areas, which meant it wasn’t near anyone I knew. Both my mother and my roommate—unemployed and living on college loans—evinced clear panic at the prospect of me moving.
But part of me has always wondered, hey, did I chicken out? So I guess that part of me is seeing a little of what life in Ventura might have been like. I can’t say anything about the social life, of course—I’ve never thrown myself into a situation where I have no local friends and would have to start entirely from scratch—but I’ve gotta say, the area, from here to Santa Barbara and even on down into Hollywood, is pretty nice.
Well. It’s 7pm now, and of course I’m not hungry—but I’m not inclined to just stay in the room. That the hotel appears to be hosting a military convention of some sort and there are dozens of loud people in the hallways just outside isn’t encouraging me to stay, either; since I doubt they’d appreciate me walking into one of their rooms and nabbing appetizers, I’ll likely head back to Ventura and explore the downtown area again, maybe seeing if I can check out a place that supposedly has tapas, martinis and live jazz.