Ventura. Ahhhh, that fun and funky seaside town that's just under eighty miles from home.
We've had a mini heat wave going for about a week or so (just in time to coincide with the start of school, wouldn't you know it?!), and Saturday was supposed to be both the hottest day of it, and the last day of it. Beginning Sunday, the weather forecasters said we were going to begin cooling down. So, to the celebrate the last day of the heat wave, we thought we'd escape from it!
Bev, Ken, Kevin and I headed up the coast for a day-long road trip. We had so much fun! We promised Bev and Ken the best BBQ they'd ever eaten, and the best ice cream they'd ever eaten, and they felt - as we do - that we were right on the money with our promise.
Heading up the coast, we did run in to some traffic which slowed us down a bit, but really, for a holiday weekend, it wasn't too bad at all. It would normally take us about an hour and 20 minutes to get there and it took us about an hour and 45 minutes. Eh, what can you do. We knew that what was waiting for us would be worth it.
We got up there just in time for lunch. Whaaaat a coinky-dink, huh? ;o) If you're looking for a nice sit-down BBQ restaurant, you'd better keep driving. If you're looking for the best darn BBQ in - at the very least - southern California, stop at the corner on Main where you see something that looks like a former der Weinerschnitzel. Better yet, roll down your window to make sure. If you smell the mouth watering scent of smoky BBQ, you're in the right spot. Mouth watering you say? You tell me:
Can't you almost t-a-s-t-e it? Mmmm. Trust me, it's as good as it looks. Ken made it through about two bites before he said "I was skeptical at first, but I have to admit ... this is the best BBQ I've ever had!"
After lunch (and buying enough to fill several coolers to take home to the freezer), we headed downtown to walk off lunch ... before hitting McConnell's ice cream shop on the way out of town. We meandered from shop to shop, not looking for anything in particular, but just enjoying the hunt. Kevin found a perfect birthday or Christmas gift for a friend, and I found some vintage juice glasses - something that mom had been looking for to go with her new 'retro' dishes. Other than that, we didn't buy anything - just enjoyed the shops ... and people watching, of course! If there was ever a spot that was perfect for people watching, Ventura would definitely be it.
After a few hours, we made it back to the car to head to our next destination, McConnell's ice cream shop: Yes, it's a bit pricey, but it's worth every single penny. Besides, their scoops aren't exactly on the small side. Man! Is this stuff good! Kevin had mint chocolate chip, Bev chose Brazilian coffee, it was pistachio for me, while Ken had half chocolate chip and half rocky road. Mmmm. Sooo good! Again, Ken said we delivered on our promise of the best ice cream. (If you live in southern California, check out your local Ralph's grocery store. Many of them have a small selection of McConnell's ice creams. You won't be disappointed!)
Heading home, we decided to go another route. We headed south on the 126, which goes through Heritage Valley (Fillmore, Piru, etc.) and the view is of all the wonderful agriculture in this area. Lots and lots of citrus and avocado groves as well as nuts, and regional honey. We stopped at a road side stand that had, in addition to fruits, veggies, honey and other regional goodies, an aviary, a koi pond, a bee hive and a shop that had all sorts of things. Bev found a rustic iron wine rack for their new outdoor kitchen, and some iron geckos for decoration. We enjoyed watching the bees and the guys fed the fish. All in all, a nice little distraction for the road home. We got back in the car and popped in an old-time radio comedy: Fibber McGee and Molly, and the Great Gildersleeve.
We made it back to the area about 6:30 and enjoyed a glass of wine on Bev & Ken's patio. The wine rack found a new home and it looks like it was made just for that spot.
What a wonderful way to beat the heat.