National Park #27 - Channel Islands


When I have plans visit a new city or region of the country I excitedly pull up a map to find out what the closest national park is. It's not a coincidence that the Channel Islands and Ojai are neighbors. Visiting both in a weekend is more than doable, the tricky part is picking which island to spend your day at and hoping that the weather cooperates.

I'm the type of traveler that, for the most part, likes to have everything and everyday planned. Even if that means scheduling a free day. I know, sounds like fun, right? Luckily most of my travel partners are the same way. Naturally, I was distraught when I was boarding my flight to LAX and got a call from the Island Packers letting me know that our boat to Santa Cruz Island had been cancelled the next morning due to high winds. Of course I had the whole long weekend planned (including driving immediately to Ventura where we would spend two nights as our island hub before heading to Ojai) and had two friends flying into LA to purposely meet me to make it to the islands and to purposely come later to skip the islands. I spent the flight thinking about how we could rearrange things but finally gave in and realized there was absolutely nothing we could do, including changing our prepaid Comfort Inn hotel room. Ventura or bust!

I had wanted to visit Santa Cruz Island because it sounds absolutely beautiful. Vast rolling mountains with creeks and an abundance of flora and fauna - especially the island foxes that can be found nowhere else. I was so excited to see their little faces! That didn't happen. Instead, we took what we could get and that was a ferry a day later than planned going to Anacapa Island. Now with my two friends in tow we were headed out into the open sea.

Aside from being choppy and 90 minutes long, the boat ride out the Channel Islands was spectacular. We watched as pods of dolphins surfed in the boat's wake and even saw a fin whale surface.

I started to get giddy as the outline of the island appeared. I didn't know what Anacapa had in store for us and was so excited to explore it. The closer we got, the closer it became apparent that the island was fairly small, desolate looking and appeared to be white.


As were pulling in to jump off the boat (not dock, jump off of the boat onto a ladder which was hanging off the side of a giant cliff) we were told that this island is where the seagulls lived. And it was mating / nesting season. That didn't seem like a big deal until we climbed up the the stairs and got a full view of the barren, shit covered island. Within the three mile loop trail (versus Santa Cruz's 75 miles of coastline) there must have been a seagull sitting on its nest and eggs every 5 feet. I'm not exaggerating. At all. There was probably more. And they all squaked as loud as they could at you when you walked (or in our case ran) by them. How they even allow people on this crap (literally) island when it's nesting season is beyond me. I actually felt bad for them.

There were a few spectacular view points from Anacapa. We found one not so stinky area and ate our lunch. I had very high hopes for my jalapeno cheddar loaf, but it too was disappointment. After lunch the handfuls of Dramamine we took really kicked in and we crashed out for an hour or so waiting for the boat to take us back to Ventura.

I thought it was a fairly successful adventure until a few nights later we overheard some people discussing the Channel Islands at Chief's Peak in Ojai. Two ladies were planning a backpacking trip to Santa Cruz when someone else jumped in and said that they had just been there and it was amazing and the island foxes run up to you when you arrive.


Thanks to my two dear friends for humoring me and my attempt to make it to all 59 US National Parks.