Why I Love Ventura #10: The Beach

Well, the weekend was a success and we all had a really fun time. Everything that got all jacked up last week seems to have been resolved (not all of that was easy, believe me) and this week has started out quite well. Outside of the heat that is, but everyone's sick of hearing about that. You should try living in it. Seriously, it's making people go a bit barmy. I thought, in honor of the California summers of my past, and how homesick I am right now, I'd share my little corner of the Pacific Ocean with you. All pictures enlarge if you click them nicely. Photo credits follow at the bottom...

One of the things I really appreciate about the beach in Ventura is that the weather seldom gets too hot. Sure, sometimes we see 100°, but at the beach it stays pretty nice. Even better, once the sun starts to set you need a hoodie or a light wrap. But another cool thing about that is, you're allowed to build a bonfire on the beach. If the wind kicks up and it gets too cold, you can always nip into one of the bars, bistros or restaurants for drinks, soup, peel-and-eat shrimp, wine, or whatever you fancy.

The water is usually a bit too cold for swimming, but people do it anyway, and the surfers don't seem to mind it too much. In the winter, however, you'll see them in their wet suits. If you're not into surfing, it's still fun to walk the Promenade all the way from the pier to Surfer's Point. You'll probably see every kind of human being during that short quarter-mile walk, from homeless musicians busking for money, to skaters, to people dressed in costumes to walk their dog... you just never know what you'll see. It's this time-honored dedication to individuality that I miss most about Ventura.

While you're walking, don't be surprised of you catch a fleeting glimpse of the feral cats that live in the rocks beneath the Promenade. Many years ago, people used to heartlessly dump unwanted kittens on the beach, but some of them were plucky enough to grow and breed, and they're now taken care of by bighearted people who bring them food and water. The only thing I would warn you about is the elevator in the parking structure. It stinks. My friends and I used to call it "the urinevator". Again, just part of the general funkiness of the town. Instead, park downtown and walk the two blocks to the beach. Much more pleasant!

Finally, don't forget the pier. Ventura is famous for it; I wrote about in the 4th entry in this category. Day or night, I love to stroll the entire 1,958 feet of this crooked, wooden arm over the water; it's a great way to walk off a seafood dinner and a couple of drinks.

Sometimes I read things people say on the web about Ventura. There are visitors who bash it, complaining that the beach is dirty, the train is noisy, it's kind of funky... Bite me. This isn't Hawaii or Cabo San Lucas. It isn't really a resort town, either. Although Ventura welcomes visitors quite graciously, it's really just a town where people live. It's artsy, kitschy and a little dated and tired in places, but we love it. Additionally, if you come in June expecting glorious summer weather, you'll be in for a big surprise. We have what is lovingly called the June Gloom. It's a Mediterranean climate zone, not tropical. We get storms that really raise a fuss sometimes, leaving rocks, driftwood and other debris on the beach. Deal. You want white sands? Go south. And we love our trains too, damn it. When I lived up on Poli Street, I loved hearing the Amtrak roll through late at night, blowing its whistle. It always assured me that I was home.

Tony Jankowski
Joe Virnig
Jamie Watson
S. H. Verstappen
Cheryl Lunde