And an active lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle.
It wasn’t until I was a young man that I decided I wanted to be a jogger. The main thing that stood in my path was that I was a smoker. It seems like about 15 minutes after I decided that enough was enough with the smoking that I went out and bought a pair of running shoes. Bursting with anticipation, I immediately laced them up, headed out for a run, and then had a learning experience.
At the time, Rebecca and I were living in an apartment in Mesa, Arizona, and that morning, my plan was to jog across the courtyard and then pick a direction for my first running shoe adventure. I never got to the “pick a direction” part. All fired up and looking good in my new running gear, I stretched, took off, and jogged about 150 feet before almost collapsing. Gasping for air, I called it a day.
For me, it is almost impossible to stay indoors
Now over three decades later, memories of that morning seem pathetic, if not a little laughable. That was 1988, and though I became a gym goer and a part-time treadmill jogger, it was only after we landed in Ventura in 1997 that we could make the complete transition to an active outdoor lifestyle.
Living along the coast, the outdoors screamed at us to come out and play. Within a year, we had bicycles, kayaks, and hiking gear to go with our running shoes. We were like kids in a candy store. If we weren’t playing with our new toys, we were walking along the beach or harbor, hiking in the local mountains, or taking a drive along this magnificent coast. And why not, with all the surrounding beauty, coupled with an ideal climate, being sedentary was not an option.
Of course, we can all make choices about our health regardless of where we live. After all, the best health choice I ever made was to quit smoking, which happened years before we came to California. And we can get outside regardless of where we live, but it is much easier here in a 12-month moderate climate than it is in the summer heat of Arizona or the brutal winters where I grew up in Wisconsin.
I’m not a competitor
I still marvel at all human activity I see around me since we’ve come to live in California. Our landing spot was a condo that we rented along the Ventura Promenade. The sheer number of cyclers, joggers, surfers, and walkers was fascinating to me. As I said earlier, we had already been moving into a healthier lifestyle while still in Arizona, and one of the first things we did when we got here was to join a gym. But all the human activity that we witnessed, coupled with the sights, sounds, and smells surrounding us, was inspiring.
And, of course, anyone familiar with the Promenade knows that it doesn’t take long for a race to appear with its number-tagged joggers and mobile first-aid stations. Since coming to the Ventura County Coast, I have become a bicyclist, an outdoor jogger, and even a kayak surfer. But I must say, I have never been a competitor. Maybe it’s because I don’t like to lose, but I think it’s more about solitude and connecting with our surroundings. (Rebecca finally began to agree with me that the best time out is early morning) Same with mountain biking in the local mountains. No races for us. Just slow, methodical “bike-hiking.” But regardless, that call to the outdoors way back when has been implanted into our psyche ever since.
Times have changed, but the song remains the same.
In 2002, after spending most of our first five years living in Ventura, Rebecca & I moved about 10 miles down the road to Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard. Another extraordinary place to land, and though beautiful at the time, it is even better now. Unlike the Ventura Harbor Village, which is very centralized, Channel Islands Harbor is much larger and has multiple focal points. But for visitors and locals alike, the Marine Emporium Landing finds local vendors providing food, watersports, including kayaks, electric boats, and jet ski rentals for visitors and locals alike. You can even have a parasailing adventure for about $90. The local fishing charters and other vendors will get you out to The Channel Islands National Park, a series of undeveloped islands lying off our shore. There you can hike the islands, kayak along the shore and into sea caves, and even go snorkeling and diving.
Surrounded by three different beach communities, Channel Islands Harbor was originally developed in the 1960s. Already a good-sized harbor, it was dredged and expanded beginning in 2005 to include two new waterfront developments, beautiful public walkways and parks, and a shopping plaza. But our favorite thing is still to walk, jog, or cycle along the beaches and harbor walkways. The best decision we ever made in our lives was to come to the Ventura County Coast, where we can step out our door into paradise where nesting herons, barking sea lions, and the sound of surf all invite us to come out and play.
In 1988 I couldn’t run across a courtyard. But then, I had no idea what was out in front of me.