I’ve lived in the west San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles for thirty years now – that sort of amazes me.
It’s not a bad area, as cities go. We’ve had good schools for the kids, decent parks, a low crime rate, and so on. We’ve been lucky to live here (and buy a house here) at a time when the property values increased significantly, although they dropped about 45% in the 2007 “Great Recession.” (They’re now getting back close to where they were.) All in all, a pretty nice place.
But in the end, it is a city. While I’ve lived in one for most of my life, and I enjoy visiting other cities, when I come home from visiting friends or family in a smaller city (Durham, Fort Wayne, Burlington) or town (Springfield, Barre, Blacksburg) I always wonder why I’m not leaving here to go home there instead of the other way around.
Regardless, here’s a pretty good view of the area, taken from our room near the top floor of the local Marriott. We were there for a convention, the weather was clear, and while I get much better “bird’s eye” views when I’m flying overhead, I’m usually a little bit too busy flying the plane to take a lot of pictures. (That’s a good thing!)
This panorama comes from ten images of 2592 x 1944 pixels (5 megapixels each) combined into an image of 15,655 x 1883 pixels (29.4 megapixels).
This view is pretty much due west, looking at the hills that form the west end of the San Fernando Valley and separate it from Simi Valley to the northwest and Canejo Valley to the southwest.
At the far left you can see a portion of the Santa Monica Mountains. On the other side of those you’ll find Malibu and the beaches at the northern end of Los Angeles County.
Hidden by the small hill in the foreground left is the pass where the Ventura Freeway (US 101) leaves the SFV and goes down into Calabasas and Agoura.
Along the top of the ridge running left to right in the center of the picture is the county line separating Los Angeles County from Ventura County. Almost everything on the LA side is houses, while in this area, almost everything on the Ventura side is open, wild parkland. It’s great for the critters and a nice place to go hiking, biking, and so on. It’s no so great every fifteen or twenty years when it all bursts into flames and we get a wall of brush fires from Simi through Calabasas and marching all the way to sea in Malibu.
Off the the right, sort of right above the Wells Fargo Bank building, is the Santa Suzanna Pass that goes from the San Fernando Valley to Simi Valley. The 118 Freeway runs through there.
That’s what can make it somewhat tricky getting from where I live out to the CAF hangar in Camarillo, which is about thirty miles out on the Ventura Freeway. Between the Ventura Freeway on the south and the Simi Valley Freeway on the north, there aren’t really any other routes west through those hills. (OK, I know one, but it’s basically a one-and-a-half lane death trap that would no doubt be a blast on a motorcycle or with a new convertible and a ton of insurance, but I wouldn’t use it to commute.)
If one of those two freeways gets clobbered by a big accident, there are very limited options. If you know of a problem on one you can take the other, but a 100,000 of your new closest friends will be joining you. If you don’t know about the problem until you get caught in the backup, you can get stuck for an hour, two hours, three hours…
The other driving option if both freeways are clobbered is to use Topanga Canyon to cut south over the mountains to the ocean, then take Pacific Coast Highway north to Point Mugu and Camarillo. This is also on twisty, two and three lane “highways,” which were state of the art in the 1940’s, but not so much now. Still, if there isn’t any traffic and you just want to kill the extra time to have a fun drive, it’s great. When it’s the last driving option available and all of those aforementioned close, personal friends are joining you, then not so much.
Of course, if I had my own plane and was current, the better option in such a mess would be to drive the opposite direction entirely to Van Nuys or Whiteman, then fly to Camarillo. Much faster, much more fun. I highly recommend it!