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August 2008

   The forecast for Elk Grove was for 100 degree (plus) days so Tuesday morning we loaded up and headed south for a few days of cool ocean air.  The destination was the Ventura/Oxnard area, just north of Los Angeles.  The area has great sailing (to the Channel Islands) and is a hot bed of equestrian activity - just our sort of place.
   Driving South on I5 we noticed a change right after the turn off for Monterey (Highway 156).  From there South I5 passes through some of the most inhospitable land California has to offer.  The fields seemingly grow nothing except tumbleweeds and the hot air makes an ever retreating lake shimmer in the distance.  Over the grapevine the trucks seemed to be lined up forever.
   Relief came when we turned West on highway 126; the land was green again and it looked a little like the Salinas Valley (lots of strawberries).  Our hotel provided us with a room overlooking the Oxnard marina.
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This was the view from our Oxnard hotel room.

   We unloaded and unfolded the bikes and took off to explore.  I don't think I've even seen so many boats in one place.  The marina segues into houses with channels along side for their luxury yachts.  
   For supper we hopped into the car and visited an Italian restaurant that had been recommended.  Linda said her spaghetti was the best she had ever eaten.  Back at the room we waited until the cigar smoking neighbors departed and then enjoyed the sunset.

      The next day was open since we canceled the boat ride to the Channel Islands.  It turned out the boat ride to the main island was one hour, but the return trip was after six hours.  During that time we would be left with no services - to explore the island's grass lands.  It didn't sound like a fun way to spend all day.  After we canceled the boat ride we also cancelled our third night in Oxnard; we will drive up the coast instead and visit Monterey.
   On Wednesday we decided to drive to Ventura and explore.  After unfolding our bikes we took off along the beach bike path.  We noticed that Ventura has a lot of public facilities along the beaches.  Oxnard beaches were lined with houses instead of parks and bike/walking paths.  We both agreed we liked Ventura much better than Oxnard.  Lunch was at the Ventura pier.  I had an excellent blackened shark meal and Linda had a salmon sandwich. 

   Back in Oxnard we made a quick trip to Best Buy to try to fix our GPS, but we were out of luck and had to make due with paper maps from then on.  Later, at the Whale's Tale restaurant we watched the return of the sailboats from their evening sail.  The boats all rushed out of the harbor beginning at five o'clock and returned at sunset.  It made a great show.  Our supper was another excellent meal. 

   Early Thursday morning we took off up highway one for Monterey. Our first stop was at the Santa Barbara Mission. The tour was very enjoyable and presented the opportunity for some photography.
   Later, along the way we stopped for lunch at Port San Louis and the Harford pier at Avila beach. The lunch tables had view ports through to the underside of the pier and it was a unique view. Then we stopped at Moro Bay where Linda was able to shop for some special sea shells (for her craft projects).
   In Monterey we stayed at the Borg's motel and had an excellent view of the ocean. We had a nice evening walk and supper at the Seventeenth Street Grill (my favorite). The motel was quite rustic and very basic so we decided we would make this our last time to stay there.

   The next morning we had breakfast at our usual place and after a short walk drive north to visit Santa Cruz harbor. Santa Cruz is a difficult town to drive in but we enjoyed wandering among the seaside houses. Then we headed for home and our own beds.    
   Except for being a little confused (no GPS) in Gilroy and Watsonville, trying to find our way through town, the trip home was uneventful. Lunch was at the Casa de Fruita.
   One thing we noticed was the fog. Each stop along the way was foggy. The fog in southern California seemed warm and friendly, even though it seldom got above 68 or 70 degrees (at the coast). By eleven or twelve the fog was usually just high clouds. When we got to Monterey the fog stayed on the ground and was decidedly colder.
   Once we turned inland the heat was like stepping into an oven. Fortunately, we left the air conditioner on for the dog (set to 82) so the house was relatively cool. The dog was glad to see us and we were glad to be home. The road trip was declared successful by all.

Dave & Linda teach horses to drive.

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We visit the park at Rancho Seco.
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No August is complete without a visit to the State Fair!

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Out and about at the ranch.  We feel like we own a ranch, without the maintenance issues.   The vegetable garden is in full swing, providing us with a daily load of tomatoes and zucchini.  

The hay barn is planned, but not built yet.  The star thistles are as sharp as we all remember.  Just behind the ranch we have a nice trail to ride on, with turkeys.  They have great feathers and Linda has quite a collection.  Across the street is a private airport and we see quite a few nice planes zoom past.

This is the Garrocha, the riding Dave aspires to.  

This Spanish/Portuguese branch of Doma Vaquera (the way of the horse) dates back to the crusades.  At that time horsemen rode with a long stick (called a lance) and eventually began to use it to herd cattle.  Spanish cattle are bred to be aggressive (for the bullfight) so it is better to keep them at a distance.

The moves of the Garrocha come from bullfighting (from horseback).  

Notice that the rider is not holding onto the reins.  All signals to the horse come from the seat and legs.  There is no trot work, only walk and canter.

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August 2008
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