Best Aimless Drive



Highway 23 between Fillmore and Moorpark


In the age of global warming and fuel scarcity, I’ll probably find picketers outside my door for writing this, but there really is nothing like a rambling, aimless drive (what’s worse than picketers are the accusations of hypocrisy I’m due for).

While the freeways of Ventura County offer increasingly congested tedium and city streetscapes grow ever-more bland with the mediocrity of modern development, the county’s backroads remain gems. Many know the adventure and beauty of ascending Highway 33 into the Los Padres, the idyllic time warp of Highway 126 and the stunning vistas from the Pacific Coast Highway, but how many people are familiar with the stretch of Highway 23 from Fillmore to Moorpark (also known as Grimes Canyon Road)?

Sure, the length of Highway 23 from Thousand Oaks to Moorpark is just another boring freeway most defined by views of McMansions and SUV’s. But head further North along Moorpark’s Los Angeles Ave. and it soon becomes a country road.

Passing through orange groves, the last expanse of cookie cutter developments give way to a climb into a mine-scarred hillside. Bring a driver, for the winding road includes a few treacherous points and you’ll want to see the strange, somewhat saddening moonscape sand and gravel mines have wrought in the hillsides. If you persist, you’ll be rewarded by stunning views of Fillmore and the Heritage Valley.

In many ways, the road doesn’t exactly scream majesty, but it is so out of the ordinary that exploring it is an easy fix for those who can’t go on the full-fledged road trip their jonesin’ for.

Runner Up: Route 23 from Moorpark to PCH. This beautiful drive (not all of which is in Ventura County) through the Santa Monica Mountains is well known to residents of the Conejo Valley and Malibu, but often overlooked by the rest of the county’s residents.

— Bill Lascher


Best chauffeur



Ventura Intercity Service Transit Authority (VISTA)



Oh, so the bus doesn’t count as a chauffeur service, huh? Why, because the driver doesn’t wear a stupid hat? He is being paid to shuttle your ass around town — by definition, that makes him a chauffeur. Sure, he doesn’t drive a stretch limo or Hummer, but his vehicle is longer and bigger and louder than both, and therefore better. Besides, this isn’t SCAT we’re talking about: It’s VISTA, the Ventura Intercity Service Transit Authority. No awkward trips spent crammed between a grease-stained derelict and a mother with three screaming kids. On these luxury land liners, you ride in style. The seats are comfortable, it’s air conditioned, and it will get you to Santa Barbara for $2. It’s good for the environment and easy on the wallet, too. Best of all, you can travel with the people without being all up #in# the people, if you know what I mean. Knock public transportation all you want, you bourgeois scum, but if your car is in the shop and you can’t afford a rental, or if you just can’t pay for rent #and# gas at the same time, or if your license is suspended for whatever reason, the VISTA is a painless alternative. High schoolers, here’s a bit of advice: Save cash on that limousine and take the bus to prom. Trust me, your date won’t know the difference.

— Matthew Singer