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Trip 13, Park 1: Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park comprises five islands off the coast near Ventura, California. There are mainland visitor centers in Ventura and Santa Barbara, but the islands are accessible only by park concessionaire boats and planes, or private boat. During the winter months, ferries run daily to Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the islands in the park, but less frequently to the other islands. We took the ferry to Scorpio Cove and had about five hours of hiking time before the ferry returned to the mainland. The ferry ride out to the island was a bit sporty due to large rolling waves, so if you are prone to seasickness, taking a motion sickness medicine like Dramamine or Bonine is recommended. There are no services on the island, and all food and beverage must be packed in (and packed out!) and only vault/pit toilets are available. For those interested, there are primitive campgrounds for overnight stays; reservations for these must be made in advance.

Once on the island, we spent our day hiking and taking in the views. We hiked the North Bluff Trail to Potato Harbor, the Cavern Point Loop Trail, and then hiked about a mile up Smugglers Road (we would have gone further, but we were getting short on time). The ocean views from the hiking trails were beautiful and the trails were quiet and peaceful. As for wildlife, we saw island foxes right along the trail and dolphins and a large herd/raft of sea lions in the water (you can just make out the sea lions in the upper third of the picture on the right above).

As for brew pubs in the area, there are plenty to choose from in and around Ventura. On our drive up the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles, we stopped at Malibu Brewing Company and sampled their Kokua West Coast IPA, First Point American IPA and Stargazer Nitro Stout, all very good. In Oxnard, we went to Red Tandem Brewery and tried the Big Trouble in Little Oxnard IPA and the nitro So Cal Milk Stout, again very good. In Ventura, we tried Poseidon Brewing Company (the Hooyah Deep Sea! IPA and Pokers' Porter), Ventura Coast Brew Co. (Double Up Double IPA, Vanilla Whispers in the Dark Stout, and Choco Taco Stout - yum!!), and Transmission Brewing (Dyna IPA and Front Street Stout)--again all very good beers! Transmission Brewing is the largest of the brew pubs we went to and is worth a stop in the late afternoon/evening. It has an upstairs bar area with garage bay walls/windows that overlook the ocean in the distance; we were able to watch a spectacular sunset while enjoying the beer there.

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