We started at the Ventura Pier and immediately detoured out onto it. At the end of the pier is a plaque honoring Don and Edna Mills for their work in helping to get the pier restored. Don is an active Coastwalker and one of the co-leaders for our Ventura Expedition days, sharing the job with Burt Elliott.
We left the pier and soon were in San Buena Ventura State Beach where we were able to watch some lovely volleyball being played as well as getting a good view of the many groins built in the area to hold back the southerly flow of sand. For the second time in two days, we witnessed a dying sea lion lying on the beach.
The Ventura Harbor represents an obstacle to those wanting to walk the beach. Normally one is forced to walk around it but, thanks to our Ventura leaders, a cell phone call brought John Higgins of the Harbor Patrol with a boat to carry us across the mouth of the harbor. Since we had some extra time, John took us out of the harbor and around a buoy in the ocean, which marks the harbor entrance. This buoy was covered with sea lions, and a constant battle was going on between those who had clambered up on it and those still in the water who wanted to rest in the sun too.
Back at the harbor, we continued for a short ways to a pavilion set up by Janet Bridges with the Western Alliance for Nature (look them up at www.wanconservancy.org) and a welcoming party for us. There were plenty of cold drinks and fruit, and both print and television reporters were on hand to record the event. (Linda notes: we spoke with a local who lives at Hollywood Beach and learned of a snowy plover nesting a 100 yards or so in front of his house. Two nests were successful already this summer, once a plover fence was set up. (The plovers are still with us!)
We then continued on and gained Harbor Boulevard, which we followed for some distance, crossing the Santa Clara River on a multiuse pathway, which has been affixed to the west side of the older bridge. We were now back at McGrath State Beach, so we took our lunch at our very own campsite.
Lunch over, we backtracked a small bit so as to walk down to the mouth of the Santa Clara River. Until about a week ago the mouth was closed by a sand bar but it is now open and too deep to get across without swimming. (Note from Linda: When we arrived in camp two days ago some of us noted that the ground appeared wet, as though it had rained recently. The ground was wet from high water as the Santa Clara River overflowed, while the mouth was closed. We are close enough to the mouth and beach here to listen to the surf at night.)
For the next four or so miles, the high tide put us on fairly soft sand, which is difficult to walk on. We passed the Mandalay Generating Station and were forced to detour around its outlet channel. Then we continued on the beach in front of the Oxnard Shores area ? with new two and three story houses which must completely fill up their land parcels as they present a solid wall to the passerby. (Note from Linda: This is very flat country, so it seems strange that the front row of buildings, on the sand, has three stories, while the next block back has one story buildings with no hope of an ocean view.)
Then, at Oxnard State Beach Park, we turned inland. Arresting our movement a bit was the drama of a small boat washed up on the shore, and a Coast Guard cutter just beyond the surf and a fire department rescue truck on the beach. It turned out that joy riders lost control of their boat and fell overboard. Everyone was rescued successfully.
For the last five or so miles of the day, the U.S. Naval Construction Battalion Center sits in the way of further beach walking, so we were forced to take to the streets of Oxnard. First along busy Channel Islands Boulevard and then along Ventura Road, we walked into the City of Port Hueneme and ended at its pier. (Jon Breyfogle; photos by Linda Hanes)
Left: Janet Bridges of WAN greets the Expedition. Right: Don Mills at the end of the Ventura pier.