(October 4 – 10, 2017)
When we arrived in Ventura from the Channel Islands, our first job was to figure out which marina, out of the several dozen in the bay, our slip reservation was for. We navigated all the way to the back of the channel only to discover there was a boat in the slip we thought was ours. So, we pulled back out, and waved down the harbor patrol. The officer was very helpful and confirmed that we were in the right marina, and he suggested we temporarily tie up at the pumpout dock so that one of us could walk up and talk to the marina office – because of course, they weren’t answering their phones or radios.
We were assigned a new slip, and 30 minutes later we were tied up. The water was green and murky – nothing like the last stop in Monterey, or the crystal clear anchorages of the Channel Islands. It didn’t seem to bother the sea lions, though, and they happily swam past and under and around our boat at all hours, hopping up on docks for a nap in the sun when they found an unoccupied slip.
Ventura itself was uneventful. The first night, the girls climbed the mast for the first time with their new climbing harness. We could hardly get them down! Morgan was comfortable just above the boom, but Ellie wasn’t ready to slow her ascent until she reached the first spreader! When we finally got them to come down, we had some terrible Mexican food at a restaurant near the marina.
The next morning was a whirlwind of laundry and groceries. I woke up early and spent two hours working on laundry in the marina’s facilities. They had four washers, and I had four loads of laundry, which worked out very conveniently. After that, I had a very successful grocery shopping trip with the girls. Of course, we were in suburbia, so the nearest grocery store was several miles away, and LYFT rides were necessary. I’m growing more and more used to walking everywhere, and the thought of having to take a car to something as basic as a grocery store has become a bit depressing. But, we had a fun shopping trip nonetheless. It’s always fun to see the girls engaged in their work and loving the responsibility of provisioning.
But the most exciting part of Ventura – and the entire reason we stopped there at all – arrived that evening. My sister, Danielle, was joining us for the week! She arrived in the evening, and we were all so excited to see her! It was also going to be exciting to see what a kid boat with crew was like for a week.
The next morning, we set out for Smuggler’s Cove on Santa Cruz Island. After waiting a while to get fuel, we arrived later in the afternoon than we expected, and so we didn’t go to shore right away. The swell was also quite large, and we weren’t sure we could land a dinghy safely on shore. So instead, we set to work on dinner and enjoyed a fabulous sunset.
The night was rolly, and by the next morning the beach surf was more than we wanted to attempt in the dinghy. But, we had high hopes of hiking all week long, so we had to find a way to shore. We decided our best bet was to head over to the Northwest Anchorage at Santa Rosa Island. We had tried to stop there the previous week, but the rangers encouraged us to anchor elsewhere due to incoming weather. So, I was excited to get a chance to go back.
We arrived at Santa Rosa shortly after lunch, and decided it was time to start hiking. Dani had brought a hiking map of the Channel Islands with her, and after reviewing it for a bit, we decided to try the Cherry Canyon hike. It was only two miles round trip, and not too strenuous, so it should have been an easy hike for the girls.
It really should have been easy. But since when is anything with young kids in the mix easy? The first mile of our hike was plagued with crying and whining. Ellie had of course worn her water sneakers, which are the same shoes I told her she wasn’t allowed to hike in again after our last hike on Santa Cruz Island. The brush dropped very prickly seeds, which during the last hike kept getting in Ellie’s shoes and poking her feet, necessitating frequent stops to clean out her shoes. I told her after that first hike that she wasn’t allowed to wear those shoes hiking again, or she at least had to wear socks to help keep the brush out. Of course, she decided to wear those same shoes, without socks, on this hike as well.
Ellie is usually a super happy and cooperative kid – a real “go with the flow” personality. But today, she was whining about every little thing. Not just her shoes – she was also hot, and tired, and thirsty, and hungry, and claimed to have a tummy ache. It made the hike completely miserable. Finally, it became clear that her tummy was the real problem, and the reason she was whining about everything under the sun. About two-thirds of the way through the hike, she – well, she exhausted some surprising flatulence, and everything changed. She was happy hiking kid again. So, at least the hike didn’t end miserably.
Dani and I wanted to go for a “real” hike while we were at the islands, so the next morning, she and I woke early, packed a lunch, and Rich and the girls dropped us off at the pier for a sisters-only excursion. We planned a 10-mile hike through Lobo Canyon, out to a hidden white sand beach, and back. Sure, I hadn’t done any real, kid-free hiking in a while, but since the opportunities to do those hikes were so few and far between, I figured the longer the hike, the better. Wow, was I tired when we were done!
The hike to the canyon was mostly high desert, and not particularly interesting or scenic. Once we were in the canyon, though, the scenery was striking. We walked through forests of cattails, past honeycomb-carved rock walls, through small desert meadows, until we finally emerged on an enclosed, secret beach at the end of the canyon. It felt like we’d discovered our own little new part of the world. We wanted to swim at the beach, but the surf was violent, and filled with tar from natural crude oil seeps nearby, so we cooled off by taking a few splashes from the waves before beginning our hike back.
The girls had planned to go to the beach with Rich while Dani and I were on our hike, but their room cleaning and school took too long, so they were just getting ready to leave for the beach when Dani and I called for a ride back, and we had to move on to the next anchorage. We were disappointed the girls missed their beloved beach time, but the tide was so high that day that there wasn’t any beach they couldn’t have played on at Santa Rosa that day anyway. We planned to go to Coches Prietos, and give the girls some beach time there. Unfortunately, we arrived too late, and the swell inside the little cove was large enough that we didn’t want to anchor our big boat, let alone take the dinghy in. We went around the corner to Albert’s Anchorage and let the girls watch a movie to make up for their lack of beach play. I think the adults were more disappointed about the girls missing the beach than the girls were, and they were quite happy with a movie night instead.
The next day, we had a long run to Catalina Island. Dani had to be in Avalon by the evening of October 9 to catch an early ferry on 10/10 back to the mainland and ultimately a flight home. We arrived in Two Harbors, near the north end of Catalina Island, just in time for dinner. It was a Sunday evening, and the island had just concluded Buccaneer Days. The cleanup that would be required after that event was astounding. We had a meh little dinner at the restaurant in town, and discussed what our plan was for the following day.
We liked Two Harbors, despite it only having a few stores, and very murky water that we weren’t comfortable swimming in. We were also a bit road weary from moving to a new anchorage every night, so we had hoped to stay in Two Harbors. But, there was no way for Dani to catch her ferry the following morning, so we begrudgingly untied from our mooring and headed around the island to Avalon. When we arrived in Avalon, we were so happy we’d made the trip!
We tied up to our mooring without event (which, if you’ve seen how the morning balls work there, tying up without event is really an event in its own right). We were immediately struck by the crystal clear water, which we could easily see 20 feet down into. The girls were eager to swim, and we were happy to let them. Later, we headed into town to explore had find some dinner. It was the perfect little walkable, swimmable community – exactly what we’d been waiting for!
The next morning, we woke up early to take Dani out for breakfast before her 7:45 AM ferry out. We’d had such a great time with her all week! The hiking was fabulous, and she was such a huge help – with dishes, cooking, and the girls especially. The girls hadn’t seen her for over a year, and didn’t remember her at first; getting to spend such fun, quality time with her was so fabulous for the girls! Now they talk about Aunt Dani, and how much fun she is, all the time. And of course, I always love hanging out with my sisters. We can’t wait until our next family and friends crew visit!