Ventura/Chumash/Pt. Mugu

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So the last few days have been eventful and uneventful at the same time. I was supposed to get COVID but somehow I didn’t get COVID. I had butt to butt exposure to someone with COVID several times. Okay it wasn’t butt to butt, but I was directly exposed to someone with COVID for three days, didn’t have any symptoms, got a test six days after “exposure” and I was negative Mr. Shmegative.

I have no clue, but I’m thinking I’ve either had it before or I’m just one of those people whose body says “not now not eva!” Which would be funny because I usually catch every cold or flu that’s out there. Maybe I caught COVID before it was cool. Who knows. Point is, no COVID for me.

And I’m sure some people are thinking, “you’re traveling around the country and seeing people right now? OH MY SMOG TEST HOW DARE YOU!” But, I assure you it is all okay. It’s a risk I’ve decided to take on my own accord and I’ve communicated with everyone I’m seeing. I’m not just barging into grandmas house and hacking a loogie on the welcome mat. I am being oh so careful and considerate, like a pleasant house pet.

So I’ve been in Ventura for four days now, staying with my friend Adam. Ventura is a really nice spot. It’s about an hour north of Los Angeles, far enough away from all the hustle, bustle, muscle, and plastic surgery, while maintaining the beautiful whether and those sweet sweet sandy beaches. I can walk to the beach from Adam’s apartment, which is pretty shwifty if you ask me. I think I’m going to do that after I finish this post as a matter of shaft.

Some days have been quite windy, but every day has been between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit and serendipitously sunny. It’s pretty insane. Almost as insane as me seeing the sign for fresh strawberries this morning and not slowing down enough to stop and buy some. I’m still upset about it. I hesitated for a brief moment, and that was enough. So stupid. Why would I hesitate on fresh strawberries? What kind of animal have I become?

It’s my fourth day here, and two of the first three days Adam and I went to Chumash casino to play poker. It was the first casino I played poker at when I was eighteen years old as a college freshman, buying into the $1/$2 no limit game for $100. I wasn’t very good back then, but I’ve always been fascinated by the game and have gotten a lot better over the years. Being a good poker player involves a lot: strong intuition, trusting that intuition, thinking on the spot, reading people, calculating odds, being patient, and being in control of your emotions. I’ve learned a ton of life lessons from the game and am always grateful for that whether I win or lose.

One of those key lessons is not to focus on results, but process. In poker, there’s a lot of variance, and you can play everything right and still lose. You can play terribly and still walk away from the table and say “I won,” because you left with more money than you started with. Playing terribly and winning will never last in the long run, but can definitely happen in a short session of an hour or two. And you may have won $100 playing terribly, but if you played well, you probably would have won $700. So yes, it looks like you won $100, but really you cost yourself $600 of potential earnings given the way the cards ran out on that particular day.

The same goes for losing. You can play well and lose $100. But if you let your emotions get the best of you and start to play poorly, you may turn a $100 loss into a $700 loss. The point is, the results are irrelevant. The best strategy is to always play your best. Just like in life, you should always try and make the right decision, and then live with the results. I think a lot of us worry about what other people will think when we make a certain decision, instead of simply saying “I know this is the right decision. I am going to make it. What happens after is out of my control and I will deal with it.”

Sometimes we have to tell people things they don’t want to hear, knowing they’ll react with hostility. Personally, the things people have told me that I pushed back hardest against were the things which ended up being the most helpful in the long run. I usually had a strong reaction because there was deep-seeded truth behind those statements that I hadn’t addressed. Once I addressed these truths, I became so grateful someone spoke them.

Wow, would you look at that. Poker talk and life lessons all in one. Exactly what you came here for, right?

I just went for a walk on the beach. I lied. I said I was going to finish this post first but I just couldn’t resist that smooth sand and tight ass. There was some tight ass on the beach, but I’d like to think mine was the tightest. Thank you.

Something about being around the water is so invigorating. I think someone wrote a whole book about how being around water changes your brain chemistry. It’s probably called “Water” or something. I don’t know. It’s out there, I know that. And it’s about water. I like water. Water is nice.

This morning I went for a hike out at Pt. Mugu State Park. So far I’ve gone to Mt. Tamalpais in Marin, Henry Cowell in Santa Cruz, Del Monte Beach in Monterrey, Montaña de Oro Park in SLO County, Morro Rock in Morro Bay, and now Pt. Mugu. Yay! Six parks so far. Pt. Mugu is my favorite name of any park so far, that’s for sure. Mt. Tam is still my favorite park I’ve been to. There’s just so much variation from the woods to the coastline to the ravine to the top of the mountain. It’s all glorious. The trails are really nice and there are a ton of different options based on difficulty, length, and penis size.

Henry Cowell had my favorite tree, and is a great place for trees in general. Del Monte Beach is a beach, so not a great place for trees. Morro Rock is a fucking rock, so also not a great place for trees. Montaña de Oro is on the coastline and is a phenomenal place for bushes, but not ideal for trees either. Definitely the best place I’ve seen for layers of sediment. If layers of sediment is your thing, go to Montaña de Oro because I promise you will find what you’re looking for. It should be called Montaña de Oreo with all those layers. Double stuffed with sediment, just the way you like it. Mt. Tam is amazing for trees, and probably takes the cake for overall foliage. Really scoring high on the foliage rating there. Again, Mt. Tam seems to score high on everything if you ask me. Morro Rock had my favorite beach. Quiet, beautiful, looked good for surfing as well. It doesn’t score as high as Ventura on the tight ass scale, but that’s okay. Pt. Mugu had some very interesting stick trees. At least that’s what I called them. They don’t have any leaves and hardly any branches. They just look like a ten foot stick coming out of the ground. Here, take a look for yourself.

Stick tree.
A collection of stick trees.

The hike up Pt. Mugu was a little bit on a whim, so I made the mistake of not putting my trail shoes on. This is the second time I’ve made this mistake, and I’ve regretted it both times. The problem is that I tell myself I’m only going to go on a short little hike, which never ends up being the case, because once I start hiking I don’t want to ever stop hiking. I can see a silly tree shaped like a potato in the distance and I just have to go hike another mile to see it. I’m constantly asking myself, “ooh, what’s around that bend?” It’s just a series of bends and a series of me wondering what’s around said bends. I need a rule: always put on my hiking shoes.

They’re technically trail running shoes, not the big clunky suckers that go past your ankles. I don’t see how those would ever be comfortable for hiking. Don’t you want something that’s light? The ones I got are called the Altra Lone Peak shoes. They’re pretty stylish and look like good nike running shoes but with way more grip on the bottom. They’re fantastic. If I would just remember to wear them… I’m not used to having hiking shoes. I’ve always just hiked in my running shoes so if I already have my running shoes on it doesn’t click in my brain to change shoes yet. I’ll get there. Hiking noob, population me.

I took the wrong trail today, and that was a bit of an adventure. It was so obviously not the main hiking trail within 30 seconds but I’m a sucker for the off-beaten path so I just figured this is where I was going now. It was a collection of bushes and limbs and rock and uneven surface. There was definitely a trail there but it was not maintained at all. I got stabbed by countless bushes and there were several spots where I had to crawl under shrubbery. It wasn’t until I got to a large rocky face on the hill where I said “yeah I don’t think this is the main route anymore.” Not when I had to do weed whacking and parkour; no, it didn’t click for me then. It only clicked for me when the trail became near-impossible and I thought to myself, “there’s no way that old lady behind me is getting up this shit.” She had a walking stick but I know for a fact she did not posses the posterior flexibility to navigate this terrain.

I’m incredibly dumb sometimes. I have a very interesting brain. When it comes to things other people find tremendously difficult like creating a multi-layered joke from nothing or solving some complex hypothetical, I’m your guy. But if you need me to screw in a nail, there’s a decent chance I’ll end up with the screwdriver in my eye. Adam pointed this out the other day, when he asked me to do something painfully simple and I was struggling with it. The same thing happened on the poker table. I was reading people’s exact hands and there came a point where I meant to raise a guy because I knew exactly what he had and my hand was better, but I didn’t put in enough chips for a raise so it ended up just being a call. Absolute airhead move. Cost me $80 dammit!

I think I might have ADD. I know a lot of people say that, but I remember when I went to see my therapist after not seeing her for a long time, she said “and you’re diagnosed ADD, right?” And I said, “no…” and then she just looked at me for a second and then looked down and said, “okay.” I still think about that moment sometimes. I totally could have gotten some adderall. I’m kidding, I don’t want adderall. It’s basically meth.

I guess it doesn’t matter if I have ADD or not. I understand how my brain works and that’s enough. I get distracted easily and simple tasks can prove troublesome. So be it. I can try and work on my focus in other ways but I’d rather not take an amphetamine.

So I explored Pt. Mutu for about an hour or so. I got a burst of energy so I ran straight up a hill to catch a view and then was totally winded and almost got blown off a cliff by a giant gust of wind, so that was cool. Good thing I wasn’t wearing my Superman cape, I would have flown right on away.

I think it would be fun to get a camper and spend a couple weeks just going down Highway One on the west coast. Every time I find myself on Highway One I want to stop everywhere. There are so many cool spots. A couple of weeks ago in Marin there were people sitting on turnouts playing guitar and I was totally on board with that vibe. They probably had some pretty neat drugs, too. Most likely not adderall. Could you imagine? Some hippy on the side of the road just strumming the absolute life out of his acoustic guitar because he’s hyped up on amphetamines. What a sight to see.

If you’re looking for an adventure, though, I don’t think you could go wrong with a Highway One trek. Pack up the bags and go baby!

Jason Brendel
Jason Brendel

Jason Brendel is an author, poet, and comedian living in Austin, Texas. Navigate the buttons below to follow him on social media, make a donation, or purchase his collection of laugh-out-loud poetry on Amazon.

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