It was already two months ago, but my family's last journey of 2022 was to Channel Islands National Park. I love to visit places where macOS version names came from: e.g., Yosemite, El Capitan, Mojave, Big Sur, and Monterey. And consequentially, this time was Ventura.
Ventura was a small but beautiful harbor town. And it is the place where the ship set sail for Channel Island National Park. It was a rainy day. We left San Diego in the morning, and it took about two and a half hours for Ventura. The island trip was the next day, so we used a day for recharging. We visited Pete's Breakfast House for lunch. The famous Buttermilk Pancakes were terrific; I had never thought I could enjoy a non-meat meal so much.
We stayed at Amanzi Hotel. The room was clean and spacious, and the location was convenient: it took about 10 min drive to the harbor. The breakfast was included, though it was not luxurious but just good enough to start a day with pleasure.
The Visitor Center of Channel Islands National Park is located in Ventura - near the harbor. It was a well-managed place. It is my family's ritual to watch National Park movies at the Visitor Centers, and I can tell it was the best until now. A series of stairs led us to the observatory, and walls around the stairs showed us the ecosystem of islands; the lower level walls showed the deep-sea ecosystem, and the upper level showed the surface/land ecosystem. However, the sky was darkening; it was getting more and more stormy. The only thing we could do was crossing fingers and praying for good weather for the next day.
And the wish came true. It was a clear and usual Californian blue-sky day. We headed to the Ventura Harbor - Island Packers Cruises office. Channel Islands National Park encompasses five islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Babara island), and our day destination was Santa Cruz island.
It was a one and a half hour's voyage to the island - including some wandering time for whale watching. An island fox (it only lives on the Channel Islands) greeted us. After a short orientation, we headed to Scorpion Canyon Look Hike. As the map (we got at the office) recommended, we took a clockwise direction, which was the right choice as it gave us a gentler uphill path (and a steeper but less strenuous downhill path). The scenery was stunning - we could see Anacapa Islands clearly during the hiking.
We had a short lunchtime at the campground. You should prepare all the food with you: no restaurants and shops on the island - only drinking water (and restrooms) was available at the campground near the dock. We prepared sandwiches that we bought from Pete's Breakfast House. It was a perfect choice. Even after a day, their sandwiches had excellent taste.
After lunch, we had another (and the most popular trail on the island): Potato Habor Overlook Hike. It was a great trail, but we had one enemy: mud. The weather was clear, but the previous rainy day made muddy paths throughout the island. As we went on, we drew in more and more weight in our legs, which exhausted us. But the stunningly beautiful coastlines were the final winner. We happily completed a long path to the dock (Scorpion Anchorage).
We returned to the Ventura Harbor behind a beautiful sunset - and a free whale tour. It was my first time seeing so many dolphins around us. We had our last dinner of this trip at Water's Edge Restaurant and Bar. In the warm place, immersed in the sunset beach, it was the perfect end.
And... there was one more thing. We dropped by Paso Robles on our way back home the next day. I just picked it because it was in the middle of the path, but I learned that Paso Robles was another great home of California wines. We had lunch at La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant. Yes, it was a delightful experience at the end of the family trip: another 1,167 miles memory and one more bumper sticker.