We drove across southern California today, from Big Bear Lake down a winding road, plunging from 7000 feet to sea level and across the state to the coast to Ventura. The drought stricken landscape included vast empty streambeds and vegetation that looked like it would catch on fire any minute.
We settled into a hotel in the city and grabbed some fish tacos at a popular place called Spencer McKenzie’s Fish Company, on the sidewalk and then strolled across a giant pedestrian footbridge to the Ventura Pier. Then we headed to the center of the city, where a dramatic neon sign announced the Century Downtown movie theaters, on Main Street that is lined with cafes, open-front restaurants, and lots of live music.
We noticed that there were six thrift stores along this busy nightlife center, ranging from small consignment joints to huge former department stores that were now charity thrift shops with racks and racks of used clothing. When we asked the bouncer at the El Rey nightclub about the stores, he said there were many, many more. . He said the shopping was great and there were tremendous deals to be found in these somewhat dingy shops. “We’re not Santa Barbara!” he added.
Walking down the street, we came upon a corner building that was once a bank. Watermark on Main is an elegant building with lots of marble that’s lighted from below, and an old fashioned elevator that takes patrons to the top floor. We joined a rowdy bunch packed into the elevator and emerged into the W20, where the band “The Bomb” were belting out a salsa number. A bevy of local women celebrating a birthday party joined the mixed group of dancers, all close to the large band. It was a fantastic way to spend our first night in the city.
The Bomb moved on to more great songs that no one could resist dancing to, Tower of Power, Rick James, and they kept the dancers happy as the saxman blew glorious notes on his tenor. We can’t wait to hear more and see more of this exciting city!