A summer snapshot, starring my town (Weekend Assignments #271/272)

I didn’t intend to blow off last week’s Weekend Assignment from Professor Karen at Outpost Mâvarin, but I did have some trouble getting a handle on it…until now. It’s being worked into this week’s Assignment. I hope that it will be accepted as my make-up exam!

Weekend Assignment #271: No matter where you live, the daily sights you take for granted are bound to seem exotic to someone who lives in very different surroundings. Describe your home town, city or whatever to that theoretical someone, entirely in words. You don’t have to write the proverbial “thousand words,” but do not post a photo to aid you in conveying a sense of what the place is like.

Extra Credit: Summarize your description Twitter-style, in 140 characters or fewer.

Weekend Assignment #272: What are your plans for the summer months? Do things get busier for you this time of year, or slow down? Do you go on vacation, or stick close to home?

Extra Credit: Do you do much summer TV viewing? Is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to watching?

Freeway-close to LA, but with suburban comforts. Warm and breezy in summer, but not far from the beaches. Our valley is a family town.

Driving west on the 118 Freeway, north of Los Angeles proper, one leaves the San Fernando Valley through the Santa Susana Pass in the Santa Monica Mountains. This is the northeast gateway to Ventura County, California, and the county line is also the eastern limit of the city of Simi Valley. Simi Valley is one of the three largest cities in the county, although “large” is a relative term here – most towns either have a population between 100,000 and 150,000, or one somewhere under 40,000. Large parts of Ventura County are still rural and agricultural, but Simi is a thriving suburb. Route 118 passes all the way through town, east to west, and when traffic is favorable (yes, sometimes that actually happens) parts of L.A. are well within a forty-five-minute drive.

Many Simi residents are commuters, but there are some large employers in town too. The central part of the city is fairly compact, bordered by north-south streets Kuehner Drive on the east and Madera Road on the west, and the main streets across town, Los Angeles Avenue and Cochran Street, run parallel to the freeway. The houses and businesses in this area are on the small side, but the edges of town contain the business parks and the subdivisions. The fastest-growing areas are on the southern and western sides of the city, and that’s where the bigger, newer houses are. Because both land and water are in a premium in this desert-bordering climate, yards tend to be small, but the city is generously dotted with parks of various sizes, and the local parks district runs a wide range of recreational programs and classes.Simi Valley is also the home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and given the predominant political leanings of the city, it’s an appropriate location (but I will note that there are some blue and purple pockets in this rather red town).

School is out for the summer now, and families will be looking for ways to keep the kids busy until it starts back up again a week or so before Labor Day. My family is no exception. The summer days in Simi Valley can get very hot and dry, but thanks to low humidity, the nights are usually pretty comfortable. However, my husband doesn’t have a high tolerance for the heat, despite having lived in Southern California all of his life, so we tend to seek out air-conditioned indoor activities during the day. We’ll be going to the movies a lot, or staying in to watch DVDs. This year, we want to try to make one or two trips to the beach – the nearest one is only about thirty miles away – and to use the neighborhood swimming pool. Simi Valley Town Center is an outdoor mall, so if we have shopping to do on really warm days, we’ll probably go to the indoor mall in neighboring Thousand Oaks.

My husband and his ex-wife alternate years for vacations with the kids, and she gets first priority this year. Each of the kids will get a week at their grandmother’s during the summer, and I’ll be going to Chicago next month for theBlogHer’09 conference, but we really haven’t planned anything big together – I think this summer will be a “family staycation ” year by default. And while we’re sticking around the house, we’ll probably be watching some TV. My husband and kids are glad that Wipeout is back on for the summer, and I’m watching Burn Notice every week with him and my stepdaughter. At 14, she’s old enough to watch some shows with us that we’re not exposing her 9-year-old brother to yet, and that includes our Buffy-on-DVD sessions; we’re up to Season 4 now.

When the weather’s not too hot for outdoor activities, it’s rarely necessary to make a backup plan in case of rain. While some mornings may be overcast, the clouds will usually clear by afternoon – and those overcast mornings help keep the temperatures down a bit. By late summer, though, most days are sunny all day long, the winds change, and we start looking anxiously at the dry brown brush on the hills surrounding our valley – it’s fire season, just in time for the kids to head back to school and the freeways to get crowded again.

Welcome to summer in my suburban corner of SoCal.

**I’m attending an author event in SoCal tonight, and you can win a copy of the author’s book by entering my giveaway of The 19th Wife. The book review and entry instructions are posted here – entries are open until Friday, June 26.**

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  1. YOu town isn't so different from mine. Well, except for the nearby ocean. 🙂 Oh, and when it gets hot here it is definitely not dry! I hate humidity.

  2. Beth K – Some days, it's not quite near enough for me, but I've lived near one coast or another most of my life. It just seems right to me.

    Diane – It actually looks more like the Florida beaches I grew up with than the California beaches I live near now :-).

    Mike – I think in a lot of ways, a suburb is a suburb. Except for the geography, they have a lot in common.

    You did pretty well to make it through a week in Florida in June, considering how you feel about humidity :-)!