Buy the beautiful sea …
As those of you who are in this community know, my theme this year has been beauty, both here and on my photostream at Flickr. I am specifically concentrating there on beautiful California. This was instigated largely due to my being so resistant to being here, as a transplanted New Yorker. But, I have now been in California for almost half my life. It’s about time that I feel incarnated in this place and not only accept its positives, but embrace them.
One component of moving toward that goal has been expunging the idea of moving back ‘home’ some day. I had thought I could convince my SO to relocate when he finally retires (as if I could every pry him away from his work) to, let’s say, the Jersey Shore (see my earlier post on that exceptional place), or Upstate NY where I went to school. Of course, I would love (and so would he) to live in Manhattan, but, the only place we could afford anywhere near NYC is Yonkers. More on that some time.
In my mind, one fantastic place to live would be Rochester. Well, not in it, in the environs. In that part of NYS you can still buy substantial acreage with a vintage house on it for less than 200K. And, you would be only 6 hours from the City, three from Boston, two from Toronto and two from Montreal. A very attractive proposition…if you can bear very lake-effect-snowiness and bitter subzero temps at night in winter. I always thrived in that climate, but, I wasn’t 47 years old in those days either, so who knows what I would suffer if I were 67 or 77 there.
When we thought about a place we would want to live ‘permanently’, we still felt Geoffrey would have to be within traveling distance of Downtown LA where he owns his building and his business. I have already posted ad nauseum about how hip and cool and everything edgy and great DT is. In fact, we are probably too late now to take further advantage of it as I have posted in the past. But, realistically, he needs to be close to it because the work he does isn’t contingent on his age, just his brain. We work on keeping both brains sharp daily, so, the guy will probably do what he loves until he dies. He would do it for free if I let him.
So, we started seriously discussing — and I think this blog and my photography truly were the impetus — where do we want to live for the long haul? Now, let me say as I have before, Valencia is a beautiful, safe, tailored, affluent, perfectly lovely and boring and conservative place to live. If I were a bit more staid, for example, I would be in hog heaven here, not to be invidious, just sayin’. But, those are the very reasons that I just am not sure I should stay here forever. Oh, and it is ungodly hot and far from the beach. Which brings me around to the campaign I launched this year to find the ideal place within striking distance of Downtown, as well as the in-laws but far enough away to avoid both when we want to kick back and feel we are living our dream, an escape from the madness.
So what else besides proximity to those two entities was on my ideal home bucket list? I want more seasonal variation (some cool or cold weather, for heaven sake — I am so done with twelve months of summer, you have no idea); it should be a comfortable, attractive house of course (I don’t want to suffer in my old age, after all); it should be in or near a town that has a university, i.e., sophisticated, intellectual, seat-of-learning-and-inquiry atmosphere; it should be culturally and ethnically rich and diverse (I am a foodie and the more exotic the better) with music and poetry readings and lectures and medieval (why not?) music events and workshops and interesting people. But I don’t want it to be too upscale, stodgy and stuffy. I want it to be very down-home, even a bit funky, a place where we can relax when we are shopping or dining out. I don’t care to be “on” all the time or dressed up.
Ah, most importantly: the people. I want to be with a range of people who are above all open-minded, wise, curious, fair, egalitarian, compassionate. I want them to be the kinds of people who like road bikes over mountain bikes, and sail boats over motor boats. I don’t care if they have money, I want them to value emotional and cerebral assets and to share them generously.
I also want to be near the ocean — very near, like walking distance. I know I cannot live anywhere on the beach in California because we don’t have a million dollars to drop on a dwelling. But, if I could be close enough to take my morning coffee or afternoon tea and sit and watch the sun rise or set on the Pacific, that would be the icing on the cake.
You already know that I explored a few places. Now, are there beautiful beach communities in SoCal? Yes, and I have already blogged about a lot of them. You are all familiar with the usual suspects, right: Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Pacific Palisades, Malibu. Then I talked and wrote and photoed about Long Beach, San Pedro, Manhattan Beach, Redondo, Hermosa. I don’t bother going farther south as that would be out of range of Downtown, but there are San Juan Capistrano, La Jolla, Newport Beach and San Diego. Every one of them is great if you are a multi-millionaire. And so are the famous beach communities in Northern California (Half Moon Bay, Carmel, Big Sur, Monterey, Santa Cruz, etc., etc.). So we looked at the Central California Coastal towns of SLO, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland, Goleta, and Carpinteria. But again, far from DT, especially during rush hours and prohibitively expensive.
But! I found it. After all these years of living in this area and hearing the names and even driving through, I forgot to check out San Buenaventura or Ventura as it is known to everyone here. Bingo! It ticks every box on my list. And, it is just about as cheap or expensive (depending on your reference point) as where we are living now.
I may have to make this a two part post, as I see I have already blathered on about it. Can I just say for now, I LOVE Ventura. Almost everything about it — its one drawback is not having snow in winter like Big Bear, for example. I have put up some pictures here, lots more will be on my Flickr site and the second part of this post will have additional photos, as we have been going there multiple times and I have now shot up a three month supply (don’t worry! I won’t force you to see anywhere near that many). Ventura may be the best kept secret west of the Rockies, so guard this info on the down low. I don’t want to price myself out of paradise. 😀
Watch this space …
Images: Chez BeBe, Ventura; click to enlarge