California: Here We Are!

First off — thank you all SO much for your good wishes and positive energy during this “transition”.  It has really helped put things in perspective and take a bit of the stress off knowing that so many of you are pulling for me.  I’m trying to focus on the opportunity of the situation.

Sorry it’s taken a few days to update you about our whereabouts and whatabouts.  I’ve been waiting for a sunny day so I could take some photos for ya.  A lot of fog here — but still pretty much paradise. Yes, we arrived safely, in record time.  The cab of that U-Haul truck was much smaller than any of us were used to.  Much barking and misery for nearly 3,000 miles.  The movers came Monday morning and loaded up the U-Haul.  I got the super’s seal of approval on the cleanliness of the apartment.  Then, off to U-Haul to put Sparkle on the trailer behind the truck.  While waiting for that event, some impatient New Yorker raced into the parking lot and took out my truck’s passenger mirror, arm and all, with his U-Haul truck.  So I had to wait for that to be replaced.  I finally got going in the afternoon.   I paced off the length of us — from the nose of the truck to the end of the trailer:  33 feet.  Therefore, no roadside photo-taking along the way.  But here was one gas-up in Pennsylvania after some rain:

I spent Monday night in Columbus, OH (538 mi); Tuesday night in Tulsa, OK (816 mi); Wednesday night in Gallup, NM; arrived L.A. area afternoon Thursday (731 miles).  So, three days of driving.  And not soon enough! Some stats for those of you that like that sort of thing — or for those of you considering a cross-country move.  It ain’t cheap!!  I could not have done it at any other point in my life other than now with my investment banking days’ package.  I’m gonna be making a fraction of those wages now I think.

UHaul truck & trailer, insurance:  $4,022 (based on the distance)
Tolls:  $139 (you pay by the axle; $54 for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge alone)
Gas:  $1,362
Movers in Brooklyn:  $300
Mover in California (all my worldly goods now in a U-Haul storage bin):  $60
Grand total:  about $6,000 (not counting that there will be another move from the storage bin to wherever I settle)

Oh, and the week of the move, Sparkle’s transmission went — another $2,000.  I’m told her engine is shipshape.  So, hopefully she’ll carry us about for many years to come.  She deserves to spend her golden years in the California sun.  As do the five of us!!  The dogs have been to the beach at least twice per day — and then off to some park or another daily as well.  They’re quite digging this place.

I’m focusing on Ventura right now as my potential settling spot.  It was my birthplace and home for roughly the first 20 years of my life.  It took all this time to truly appreciate its wondrous-ness.  Gorgeous plants, palms, flowers everywhere.  Mid-century buildings everywhere.  And even a handful of sweet neon signs.  A lengthy beach and laid-back parks for the dogs to romp.  Perfect weather pretty much year-round.  No traffic or parking hassles.  Courteous people.  What more could you ask for?  Culture, restaurants, nightlife — oh, I don’t need any of that.  But I suppose they have that here, too.

So, I’ll do my damned-est to find a decent-ish job and some little ramshackle apartment here that’ll take four dogs.  Waiting for a tailor to hem my interview “costume”.  He said it’d take a week — but I begged him down to five days.  He’d be out of business in NYC at that pace!   Job hunting sucks but I’ll try to be patient.  I have time and money in my favor at this point.  I’m sure wages would be better in L.A.  And my skill set would be better appreciated there.  But I would rather be more broke and more relaxed at this point in my life.  Pre-retirement is how I’m looking at it.  When Social Security kicks in 10 or so years from now — I’ll be back on the road with a vengeance and no deadlines to get back home.  Wherever that is.  In the meantime, I assume I’ll have weekend trips to document for ya.

On with the photos then — and there are lots of them!!  Today (Sunday), finally, the fog and clouds broke up at noon and I made a mad dash shooting all around town.  Ventura — by the way the “tur” is pronounced like “turnip”.  Out-of-towners say Ven-tooo-ra.  The place is also known as the Poinsettia City (named after those red Christmas flowers which do grow here).  And which, if I remember correctly, locals call “pon-zet’-a” not “poin-set’-i-a”.

Purple flowers — no idea of the name:


The best example of Polynesian / tiki style architecture in town:  the Tonga Apartments:


Some mid-century buildings and details.  This one has those hanging ball lamps and stairs just visible thru the glass at the left — and a neat sun screen on the right:

A metal screen:


Cantilever roof and awning — this is actually the tailor which is holding my interview clothes hostage for a few days:


The Mission Bell Motel — I’m uploading some night shots of the signs to Flickr tonight.  If I remember correctly, my parents and I used to eat at the little building on the right which is now an ice cream place.  I don’t remember the food but I do remember getting these free peanut butter flavored candies (instead of mints) on the way out the door.  Maybe they were Mary Janes or Abba-Zabba or something else.  Note the neon bell on the chimney:

Note another bell on the building next door at the left.  Also those hideaway car ports for each motel room.  And what amazing shrubbery!

I think this was the Loop’s restaurant for the motel next door (photos at Flickr tonight).  But maybe not.  That plastic ball & the plastic sign seem pretty vintage.  Another metal screen:

150 foot tall palm trees — or so they seem:


A seemingly infinite variety of palm trees and exotic shrubbery around town:


Five Points is an intersection with a convergence of five streets.  I believe this was the same business here when I was growing up.  But maybe that is a repurposed Union 76 gas station sign:


I believe this was the hospital I was born in.  I can’t check since my birth certificate and worldly possessions are off in storage in Los Angeles right now.  The Community Memorial Hospital — undergoing some additions — so this view might not be for long:


And this building across the street which looks like this one has been updated a bit.  But I believe the swiss cheese holes are original:

Some more examples of holes and screens:

Fleur-de-lis details:



I have no idea — Martian-like fruit and sweet-smelling white flowers:


Most of the neon looks intact — must check on this one at night:

Screen-y passageway:

Just another palm & purple combo.  I believe that’s bougainvillea:

Some species of banana plant.  You can see a banana cluster just above the center if you look closely:


I don’t know what you’d call this style — Prairie Polynesian?


Dolled-up Victorian?  Or maybe never was Victorian to begin with:


A detail from a former garage:


More palms:


These guys I know from my childhood.  The flowers close up tight at night to stay warm.  Can’t remember the name:


A terrific spot for the dogs — Arroyo Verde Park.  There are trails in the background — but everyone says there are rattlesnakes — so we’ll pass.  That’s Nik running on the right:

Grem running, too:


And the seniors, Grip & Fix, engaged in more sedate activities — could that be a gopher hole?

Family photo:


More freaky but beautiful trees:

Century plant — I think:


No idea — but incredible:


Downtown — not sure how vintage.  Must have been a name change — those “lounge” letters are so scrunched:


Super nifty Morris Minor woodie:


A couple Deco buildings from the Avenue (Ventura Avenue):


Lots of oil derricks on land and on the sea in Ventura — and yet the gas prices are amazingly high in SoCal:  $4.50-ish right now:


Lunch at Lalo’s:

Corn burritos — which I couldn’t even find on the menu.  Fried corn tortillas rolled up & stuffed with refried beans — about 4 or 5 of them under the lettuce, cheeses, tomatos, guac & sour cream.  Super, very HOT sauce.  A meal for under $5 — and A+.


The view of the beach & downtown looking towards Oxnard from The Cross (aka Grant Park):


And speaking of beach — more shots of the kids:

Nearly blind Nik using his nose to find his ball in the foam:

Double trouble:

Gremlin — enough trouble by herself — cuter than hell, no?

Beating the foam:


Grip — can’t see a thing but surely knows an ocean when she hears and smells one:

Her overly rewarded, default jumping trick — she’s flying!


Fixie — sun and sand in her eyes.  She likes the beach.  I think.


I’ve seen more glorious beach sunsets — but here’s what we got tonight:


Wish me luck — the job hunting begins on Wednesday — and it might take a while.  Weeks?  Hopefully, not months.  I’ll keep you posted.  And your good vibes and prayers are welcome!

Don’t forget to check out the other photos from today over at Flickr:


36 thoughts on “California: Here We Are!

  1. Hello, I’m a french reader of your blog since long time, and would like to ask you something about your images, in particular about roadsigns. Can you send me back a little email, so I could explain better?
    Thank you.

    • I might be settling down for awhile. Expecting to be very tight financially — and with very limited time off. So you probably won’t see me unless you’re in California. I don’t mind a simple life for now. I’ve got 10,000 photos to work on for the website anyway and a lot of other projects that have gotten postponed over the years.

  2. Man, that looks like an adventure! Love discovering things about a new neighborhood after moving. The dogs must be in heaven with the beaches. Is that park within walking distance? Does it have off-leash time? Looks like a lot of fun. Great photos, of course. And makes me smile from ear to ear seeing the dogs like that!

    • I don’t have a place yet. Or a job. No guarantee that I’ll settle here in Ventura — but I’m hoping. The park has some off-leash time — but mostly it’s fine to have dogs offleash whenever you want. Same for another great park which I’ll post about soon. The beaches are all “dogs prohibted” (like even on-leash) — but tons of people walk them there off-leash.

  3. Hey there DJ
    Having just made the opposite west-to-east coast move, I was looking forward to connecting with you in NYC, but c’est la vie. Hope you find your feet in your new old home — barefoot on the beach + paws in the sand, nice. Keep on posting, please!

  4. Good news on the moving front, there were no incidents on the cross country jaunt. Ventura looks like it’s right up your alley. Good luck on the apartment and job hunting!

  5. Well, welcome to California!

    The “Prairie Polynesian” you show is a once-popular form of Craftsman Bungalow (probably ca 1910) with an Asian motif. There’s a beautiful example of this style — the Slater House — at 17162 Gothard St., in Wintersburg, CA (now Huntington Beach).

    The Tonga Apartments have some fun features! I must admit I’ve never seen a tiki torch with a faux-flame lightbulb in place of an actual flame! I’d guess the tiki is fiberglass, not wood. There are some similar ones among the rental tikis at Oceanic Arts in Whittier.

    I notice you also got a shot of a McConnell’s Ice Cream shop! Wish they had one of those in my neighborhood! Good stuff! (Their cappuchino ice cream is particularly wonderful, IMHO.)

    Can’t wait to see what else you and your camera find in Ventura’s old Downtown. There’s some wonderful stuff over there — not the least of which is the WPA padre statue over the Mission’s gift shop.

    Good luck with all these changes!


    • Thanks — I had no idea about the Ventura house. Bungalow Asian does make more sense. The tiki statue at the Tonga Apts. was too high up to determine materials. I’ve been to the McConnell’s in Santa Barbara of course. I think this Ventura outpost is new. Yes, very familiar the Padre over the thrift store. I used to shop in that store as a kid. It was surprising to see so many thrift stores surviving among all the trendy restaurants, etc. that populate Main St. now.

      I may not be shooting for awhile — gotta get my life together first. And this week is already looking like it will be consumed by van issues that weren’t resolved back in NYC. Just wanted to touch base with my “fans” last night & let them know we arrived safely.

    • Thanks! A bit of a delay in the job pursuit this week. Seems Sparkle might need an oxygen sensor or something (won’t know til Weds). — and her rear bumper is hanging on by a thread (from when she was rear ended in Atlantic City) & those parts won’t get her for a few days. So gotta deal with those issues taken care of first. You can’t do nothing here in CA without wheels.

      • Oh — it’s not that bad — just time-consuming. The garage that I want to use is just backed up til Weds. The bumper thing was a matter of time — thought it could wait a few weeks at least — but now looking like it could fly off at high speed so…. Better to take care of things now.

  6. Good luck in California. It will be great to see what you find as you explore your new environs.

    Congrats on roadsidenut being mentioned the NYT article.

    • Thanks! First the job & the housing… then more shooting. Might take a bit — a bit of an uphill climb right now.

      Weird how my blog got the coverage and not my website. The blog is just my “junk” — not stuff worthy of the website usually — and not nearly as comprehensive. I guess information and history doesn’t count for much these days! The Times even had two weird links to this blog — obviously a mistake. Makes you wonder how much fact-checking, etc. that they do.

  7. Best of luck on your new adventure! I would love to end up in Cali one day. Hope you find a new place for you and the pups and a great job too!

  8. Welcome home, Debra Jane! There’s nothing better than returning to California after living Back East. The 4 years we lived in hot and rainy Northern Virginia crawled along so slowly. Now that we’re back in OC, we appreciate it so much, every day is a sunny treat.

    I just got back from Yosemite, a road-trip with my pal here. When we were leaving Merced, she asked if I wanted to stop and get some photos of downtown, and I was all “No, I don’t need to shoot Merced, because I’m sure Debra Jane has it covered already!”

    Good luck on the job hunt. I haven’t worked in 2 years since I left Apple. Living on my savings, and when that runs out I’ll start selling the stock the company gave me in 2001. When that runs out, I’ll be a Wal-Mart Greeter or something. No worries. California is a good place to be unemployed, you save a lot of taxes that way.

    When you get settled, let’s make a plan to meet in person! I talk about Debra Jane’s Adventures so often, it will be nice to finally count you as a real-life friend.

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement! I’m getting a little freaked about employment (low wages) & housing costs (high) but I haven’t dug in yet. I have some B/S stuff to do this week. I would really, really like to stay here in Ventura. We’ll see. And, yes, VERY much looking forward to meeting you.

  9. I’m a little late to the party, but best of luck with everything. I’ve always enjoyed following your travels, have learned a lot and hope you can get back at it soon. Sometimes an unplanned leap of faith can turn out to be really good. I took a spontaneous exit from the corporate world a few years back and it was one of the best moves I ever made.

    • Thanks — I’m a little discouraged right now — but I haven’t even started really looking. All kinds of other odds & ends that need attending first. If nothing else, I’ll be glad to be here when it’s 18 degrees in NYC and 60 degrees here.

  10. My resident plant expert has some identifications for us:
    + The bush with the fruit & flowers is a Carissa-Natal Plum bush.
    + The bush with the orange flower clusters is a Cross Vine- Bignonia. [but I’m wondering if that’s right since I remember them being on a tree not some sort of vine like the photos I looked at]
    + The trees with the drooping needles are Mexican Weeping pines.

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