Emery Cove Yacht Harbor
Some peope cruise in high style
Unusual flowers in bloom along the shoreline
Extensive beds of ice plant flowers
accompanied us on our walks
Ventura California coastline
A harbor seal teases a gull with a fish he caught
Mentryville barn and chicken coop, built 1890's
Roses in front of Charles Mentry's house
Oil well equipment
Lizard in Pico Canyon
Butterflies and flowers
They were very large
View from one of the peaks
The trail is outlined in rocks
Shams, trail blazer and trail builder
Surrounded by chain link fence til it settles in, this Valley
Oak made the Guinness Book when it was moved 1/4 mile.
Emeryville & Valencia, California
April 18-May 13, 2009 - From Arizona, we ran up and down the
coast of California in mad pursuit of a sailboat. We were driven
by the vision of a dream that had been developing for many
months: traveling with our trailer each summer, as we have
been, and traveling by sailboat in the tropics each winter.
We're both converted desert rats, most recently from Phoenix, Arizona, and
we like it warm. How warm? A fellow once told me he turns on the air
conditioning in his rig when the indoor temperature hits 79 degrees. For us,
that's when we start getting really comfortable. Our a/c doesn't go on until it
We have struggled to find a warm, uncrowded place to wander during each
of our two winters of fulltiming. We have ranged between southern Arizona
and Florida, but have done too much shivering. We aren't alone in this
quandary. When fulltimers meet each other, one of the first questions they
always ask is: where do you spend the winter? At first I didn't understand
why the seasoned veterans kept asking us that question, but now, after
wearing way too many layers for two winters, I understand.
Cruising in a sailboat
has been a longtime
dream for me, and
Mark has slowly come
to share that dream
However, there are a lot of details to work out. Shifting between two homes is
not easy, especially when each has to be put in storage for a period of time.
So, as our prospective boat purchases in California fell through, one by one,
this past spring, we tried to be more philosophical than disappointed, taking it
as a sign that we just weren't ready yet. As we talked through the nuts-and-
bolts of our plan -- getting beyond our dreams of gazing at the scenic mountain
backdrops behind our rig each summer and snorkeling amid eagle rays and
sea turtles alongside our boat each winter -- we realized that our plan was very fuzzy.
This frustrating discovery came to us as we froze our tails off on San Francisco Bay
in May. It was a bitter surprise to find that the Bay Area rarely gets much above 60
degrees at that time of year, and we got several weeks of almost daily rain to boot.
We got to know the tiny Emeryville peninsula on the east bay next to Oakland quite
well. It is the one sliver of beauty in an otherwise industrial landscape of smoke
stacks, snarled traffic and congested urban living.
The marina there has an
interesting array of boats,
and we enjoyed getting to
know some of the
liveaboards who make it
their home. Those folks
are some sturdy stock, as
the wind blew at 25-30
mph every day across the
bay, the fog and dark
skies hung around relentlessly, and the cold was that bone-chilling kind
whose icy fingers sneak past any and all layers of clothing you put on.
One retired couple had lived on their boat in the Bay for 17 years.
We took many walks, jogs and bike rides around the area, and
especially enjoyed the pink flowers on the ice plants that were in
bloom during our visit. We left boatless, however, and made our
way down the coast to Ventura. There we enjoyed a long stroll
along the beach and watched a harbor seal teasing a seagull. He
had just caught a huge fish, and he repeatedly surfaced with the
fish in his mouth, taunting the gull. Each time he lured the gull to
approach him, he would duck under the water out of reach. This
went on for quite a while until the gull finally gave up and flew off.
In a way, we felt like that gull, tantalized by the prospect of a sailing
dream, but taunted by the vicious boat selling industry that barricades it.
We started looking for a boat as wide-eyed innocents to the boat buying
process. In just a few weeks we got a bath-of-fire introduction to the
cutthroat world of lying, cheating and stealing that is sailboat brokerage
in the Golden State.
The stress of dealing with ruthless, unscrupulous brokers desperate for
a deal in a stalled industry in a failing economy finally got to us, and we
left. Unfortunately, the stress chased us down I-5, and while turning in
to stop at Pyramid Lake, north of Los Angeles, for the night, the back of
the trailer lightly brushed the guardrail. The damage didn't look like much,
but upon assessment by RV collision repair specialists in nearby Valencia
(what luck that there was such a place nearby!), it would take 7 weeks to
fix, most of that time spent waiting for parts.
This news took a while to digest. We stayed in Valencia, north of the Los
Angeles tangle of freeways and insanity, for a few days, deciding what to
do. We couldn't stay in the trailer once they began the repair work, as
their insurance did not allow it. However, our insurance gave us some
money for "emergency" hotels. We took a few day trips around the area
as we mulled over our options and waited for our insurance claim to be
The Valencia area is desert: no fog, hot
days and cool nights. We hiked up Pico
Canyon, starting at the base in
"Mentryville," a former oil boomtown
founded by Charles Mentry who dug
California's first oil well here.
Some of the old equipment from this
first oil well still stands today. Oil well Pico #4 was
the longest running oil well in the world when it
was capped (dug in 1876, capped in 1990). It
was such a success that it prompted the formation of the Pacific
Coast Oil Company that became Standard Oil of CA which was later
acquired by Chevron.
As we hiked up the canyon we passed some
unusual critters and flowers on the way. The
view at the top was well worth the climb.
As we walked we found the trail was neatly
marked by carefully placed stones. Someone
had taken great pains to outline the best route
to the top.
Hiking down we met a mountain biker on his way up. He introduced himself as
Shams, originally from Afghanistan many years ago. He asked if we'd been to the summit. Not quite. He seemed disappointed,
explaining how the very steep section that had stopped us was actually very short and the view beyond that was spectacular. He
then explained that he had built the trail over the last 14 years, grooming it, creating little stone outlines for the paths, so he and his
son and others would have a nice place to mountain bike. There's a man who has made the most of his new home.
We drove to another area and saw the most enormous tree. Standing back to admire it, I
noticed another person taking photographs of it too.
We got talking, and I learned that this tree, a Valley Oak, had been moved 1/4 mile to
make way for a road, and that he, Lee Lumis, had been the horticultural consultant
overseeing the move. It took 18 months to relocate the tree, and required 126 hydraulic
lifts, 24" I-beams and a 43' diameter box for the root ball. They had started the project and
then had to wait 6 months when the tree suddenly budded out and couldn't be moved. He
had rotated it a bit from its original orientation, but it looked truly majestic in its new home.
Even though we were here by accident -- because of an accident -- we could still look at
each other and say, "what a cool area!" As we gathered our thoughts about how best to
handle the upcoming seven weeks, we finally decided to fly out to Michigan to visit Mark's
family and do some sightseeing in a state we probably would never reach by fifth wheel.