Lake Piru

Busy work, school and sports schedules leave little time for quiet family time.  When the time avails itself, you sure want to take advantage of it.  So on this beautiful, sunny day in May we grabbed the camera, the fishing poles and a deck of cards and headed to Lake Piru for day of family fishing and relaxation.  Lake Piru is twenty five minutes west of Saugus along the 126 highway on your way to Fillmore and later Ventura.

This town is a simple, country town whose main attraction is the lake situated four miles above the town in the Los Padres National Forest.  Good for fishing and waterskiing, the small lake attracts mostly a few local Los Angeles area families and even on a crowded day there is plenty of room for both fishing and watersports.

Piru is a gritty town, very local in its nature.  There is nothing fancy or pretentious about it.  In fact, the fanciest site there, the Piru Mansion, is interesting while being obviously out of place.   However, there is a rifle range and motorcross track (Only $5 charge) in town that also draws the attention of the more outdoorsy families.

The park costs $10 per vehicle (pets and boats are additional) for a day pass to the lake.  There are a variety of camping opportunities available at additional cost as well.  While in the park you can enjoy fresh burgers, hot dogs and fries as well as a few other items at the park snack bar situated on a hill overlooking the lake which provides nice cool breezes even on the hottest days.  Boats of all kinds, including pontoons, are available to rent as well as fishing poles and other water equipment.  If you’re more of a land loving family, they also support fishing from along the beaches and have several parks filled with shade producing trees and large picnic areas for you to play cards, listen to the Dodger game and play tag with the little ones.

Less than a half hour from our home, we were able to enjoy the wonderful weather, do some quiet fishing and card playing and have some much needed time for conversation and family time. We had wonderful conversations, hikes and game time all for under $30 including lunch.  It got us out of the house and was a lovely and convenient last minute distraction from our otherwise way too busy lives.

Summers In Saugus

About Saugus

Almost ten years ago we went searching for a place to settle down until our son finished high school.  The prerequisites were simple, we wanted a simple neighborhood where kids rode their bikes and played ball in the street.  We wanted there to be a lot of parks, hills, and community sports to be involved in.  We also wanted a place where people knew and socialized with their neighborhoods.  Santa Clarita had all of that.  With five main towns (Valencia, Stevensons Ranch, Canyon Country, Newhall and Saugus) we found a city that is completely family friendly.  The proximity to Los Angeles and Burbank area made the commute to work and school (our son has attended private christian schools in the valley) was not too daunting, and the weather extremes (over 100 in the summer, and fighting frost in the winter not to mention the high winds) were easy to get used to.  The most amazing thing is that in this transient world where few people stay put for five or more years, we have had the same neighbors for our entire stay so far.  The boys in the neighborhood have grown up together and look out for each other.

This series, Summers In Saugus, will take you through a variety of activities to do in and around the Saugus, CA area.  There are a lot of attractions and natural sites that are extremely entertaining and interesting right in our own backyard.

If you’re visiting Los Angeles, we’re not that far away – come see what we have to offer.  Many residents commute to Los Angeles daily, so its not that far to drive and its different than the same old Hollywood Blvd tour.

We’re going to document our summer experiences without taking a plane, and still managing to get a 15 year old boy to enjoy spending family time.  We’re also expecting other stories from friends and acquaintances telling of the interesting things they did as well.

Ok….Let’s go!

Written by Anne Reincke, Travel Writer

Living on the wild side (just a little bit anyway), I decided to book a hotel, sight unseen, when we extended our vacation for a night in Florence.

Located on the Via de Tornabuoni, the hotel Tornabuoni Beacci is only one block up from the river Arne, only a couple blocks from the Ponte Vecchio, and just a ten minute or so walk to the Duomo. The hotel is a delightfully eclectic (20th century meets the 15th century . . . just read the different reviews on expedia.com), and infinitely affordable hotel (E$85 per room in November and I booked with the hotel via www.booking.com/hoteltornabuonibeacci))/residential accommodation that is part of two converted 15th century townhomes.

What really makes it a winner in my book, though, is that it currently shares an address with Tiffany and Burberry on the ground floor. Bulgari, Gucci . . . the list goes on and on . . . are close neighbors. Up and down the Via Tournabuoni, without doubt one of the most elegant streets in Florence, you can spend all sorts of quality time staring into the beautiful shop windows of some of the most exclusive merchants in the world . . . and it doesn’t cost you a cent!

Bars, cafes and trattorias can all be found close by. There’s a very friendly bar, the name of which escapes me, on the right side corner at the end of “the street of window shopping Nirvana” where it intersects with the Via de’ Cerrelani. This is where a very good light afternoon snack or full lunch can be found for just a few Euros. On the advice of the desk clerk at the hotel, we dined that evening at La Antiche Carrozze (www.leantichecarrozze.it), a friendly trattoria ensconced in a warm and rustic ambience, and conveniently located only a couple minutes walk from the hotel.

As with many other Italian hotels, a continental breakfast is included in the price of the room. The menus for these breakfasts vary with each hotel, but their offerings are usually more than adequate to start the day and get you through until noon. The Hotel Tournabuoni Beacci is no exception, and the service is, as we’ve come to expect in Italy, friendly and courteous.

Surfing Waikiki
Surfing Waikiki

Oahu, the gathering place. Having grown up on Oahu I have been back to Hawaii several times in my adult life. My family often gets frustrated with the way I take it for granted. I mean, I’ve been there – done that. But this summer, in the wake of a much needed break, my husband suggested I take my 14 year old son to Hawaii to relax. I have never relaxed like I did at the Sheraton Waikiki. In fact, our days revolved around waking up and renting a surfboard for my son as I sat at the beach bar with my coffee and a good book for two hours. The service was completely friendly and hospitable. We then took the show on the road with strolls down Kalakaua, a trip to Ala Moana beach park (where we avoided the “no skateboarding” signs so prevalent in Waikiki), sunbathing on the beach just outside the hotel, making puka shell necklaces, and trying to get to see the sharks in Haleiwa (we got cancelled due to high winds). At night we had a variety of local and mainland foods to choose from along with the constant serenade of Hawaiian hula troops, guitars, ukuleles and singers up and down the Boulevard.

It amazed me…with no car, no plans, and no work…Waikiki offered us the relaxation I desperately needed and the kitchy, although sometimes cheesy tourist attractions that made our trip an absolute blast.

Yes, the waves are small in Waikiki. Yes, there are many tourists from all over the world swarming the beach and the “good” pool spots. Yes, there was little authentically “hawaiian” about the vacation. But if you wanted to relax in a beautiful, warm, friendly place then Waikiki is your spot. The Sheraton Waikiki is beautifully located right on the beach. The rooms and the service were wonderful. The food at this hotel was not good, but it was surrounded by great places to eat. Location is the key – If you want to be on the beach and in the center of shopping, food and entertainment, the Sheraton Waikiki is your spot.