Destination: Ventura, California

Ventura Pier, looking down into the ocean.

Ventura Pier, looking down into the ocean.

Ventura, California.

For years, I confused it with Venice Beach. I blame the V’s. No more; I’m an experienced traveler now.

Ventura was my first sight of ocean in weeks. I parked in the gentrified downtown and walked, crop top sweater and denim shorts and a youthful aching to see the water, several blocks to the shore.

Ventura Pier is the longest pier in California

Ventura Pier is the longest pier in California

The most notable landmark here is the Ventura Pier, built in 1872 and, at 1,958 feet, the longest pier in California. Once used for shipping, it’s now a tourist destination complete with a restaurant. A bait shop serves a steady population of fisherman who, in turn, draw in a correlating population of gulls, who keep a close eye on the day’s catch.

I keep a close eye on the ocean.  I am a girl who grew up near water, a girl who took many childhood trips to the marina with her parents, and whose father owned a sailboat, a power boat and  a handful of smaller boats – not all of which I can recall, but I’m sure I counted at least two canoes sitting in our yard before I turned 21. I know because I sold them after Dad passed away. A man of Native American descent names Tomas came to buy them one afternoon, and that is as far as my memory goes.

As I am a girl raised near water, the ocean is a welcome sight and sound and smell after weeks in the deserts and mountains of the inland states. Ventura is new to me, but feels familiar. I can stand at the shore and know that 3 hours south these same waters break against my own San Diego, and three days north they filter into the Puget Sound and swell much more gently alongside my hometown of Seattle. This realization is akin to looking up at the moon at night to know that you and someone you know and miss are both under that moon, except we are both—we are all—not only under a moon, but along this shore. Connected, if you care to think in a slightly free spirited manner.

A walk along the pier, a sweep through a used bookstore because I’m also a girl raised on books, a pizza and a root beer along Main Street and I’m back in the car.

A squirrel bathes in the sun on a rock bordering the beach

A squirrel bathes in the sun on a rock bordering the beach

Learn more about Ventura here.

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