A Week of Day Trips from the Beautiful Santa Clarita Valley

When are you going back to work and/or school? Those of you who are back from your scheduled main vacation and feel you need more and still have a week of vacation time left, you can do several day trips.  There are many day trips you can take coming from the Santa Clarita Valley or around the Los Angeles, CA area.  Below is what my family chose to do the week of July 4th.  NOTE: The schedule below did not include Independence Day; which we spent and celebrated with our friends, The Fernandezes; and is from July 2nd – July 9th.

Kalia and Keeli at Huntington Beach

Just before going home.

On Day 1 we went to Huntington State Beach for a cool relaxing dip and sand crab catching.  My daughters caught a lot of these alien-looking creatures, the biggest of which was a little bigger than a pressed penny.  They had as much fun releasing them before we had to go home as they did catching them.  There are three beaches next to each other.  Huntington State Beach (Pacific Coast Highway from Brookhurst to Beach Blvd.), Huntington City Beach (Pacific Coast Highway from Seapoint to Beach Blvd.), and Bolsa Chica State Beach (Pacific Coast Highway from Seapoint to Warner).  All day parking at all three beaches is $15.  The distance is about 70 miles from Santa Clarita.

Batcave at Broson Canyon

At the mouth of the Bronson Cave, a.k.a. The Batcave.

For Day 2, we chose to go to Bronson Canyon.  Our plan was to be there at 8 a.m.  and hike to the back of the Hollywood sign, hike back down, eat lunch and then proceed to The Japanese Garden in Van Nuys, CA.  Well, we got there late.  We went to the Bronson Caves, also known as The Batcave from the 1960’s Batman TV series.  This is a very short hike, which is not really part of the trail.  When you go through to the other side of the cave, you’ll have a good view of the Hollywood Sign.  After doing the Batcave walk through, we ate lunch, rested for a while, and then started hiking the Brush Canyon Trail.  We made it about one-third of the way and decided it was too hot to continue and pledged to come back on a much cooler day and arrive earlier.

If you have not seen the Batcave, I highly recommend experiencing it.  Bronson Canyon is about 30 miles from Santa Clarita.  From US-101 S, Exit #8B/Hollywood Blvd., turn right on Hollywood Blvd., then right on N Bronson Ave., continue on Canyon Drive.  Keep going until you can not go any further there will be a few parking spots to your left (when you get to this parking area, you would have passed the trail head to the Batcave on the right side just by a few hundred yards).  After the Batcave, you go back and walk past the parking spot mentioned earlier to start the Brush Canyon Trail (NOTE: Canyon Drive becomes Brush Canyon Trail).  About one-third of the way you can see the Hollywood sign, stop and snap some pictures at this point.  Continue on and make a left on Mulholland Hwy., then turn right on Mt.  Lee Drive, which ends at the back of the Hollywood sign.  Read all signs posted on the fence and OBEY THEM!

Alternate route (note that I have not done this alternate route.  I am just interpreting what I see on Google maps.  Please research on your own): After seeing the Batcave, go back to your car, drive back to Franklin Avenue, turn right on Franklin Ave., then turn right on N Beachwood Dr.  Keep going until you see a turn out to your right (it looks like you can’t go any further after this as you will be on a private property).  Follow the trail that looks like it goes down (south) for a while and then back up again (like making a U-turn).  This will cut into Mulholland Hwy., make a left and then right on Mt.  Lee Drive.  Click here to learn more about movies filmed at Bronson Canyon.

Kalia, Joel & Keeli - Japanese Garden

In front of the waterfalls in The Japanese Garden.

We then drove 13 miles from Bronson Canyon to The Japanese Garden.  6100 Woodley Ave.  in Van Nuys, CA and stayed there and enjoyed it to the fullest until they closed at 4 p.m.  Admission to the Garden for docent-led or self-guided tours is $3.00 per person, $2.00 for Seniors 62+ and Children under 10.  Special Event admission fees are generally higher.  Check their Web site for more information.

Duel at Paramount Ranch

"Duel" at Paramount Ranch.

We visited Paramount Ranch and Malibu Creek State Park on Day 3. There is no fee to visit Paramount Ranch.  From 1992 to 1997, Paramount Ranch was used as the setting for the television show, Dr.  Quinn, Medicine Woman.  Expect to spend about 30 minutes just to walk through the Western Town; more if you plan to do some hiking.  Click here to learn more about Paramount Ranch, and to download a hiking map or a film list in pdf form.  Paramount Ranch is about 42 miles from Santa Clarita.

From Paramount Ranch, we drove about 3.5 miles to Malibu Creek State Park’s paid parking area at Mulholland Hwy and Las Virgenes Rd.

Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park

The park was the center of Chumash Native American life for centuries and was once used to film numerous movies and TV shows, such as Planet of the Apes and M*A*S*H.  All day parking is $15.  Click here for more information and to download a trail map.

Pier Fishing at Port Hueneme

Pier Fishing at Port Hueneme

It was pier fishing for us at Port Hueneme on Day 4.  We caught at least 30 pounds worth of blue mackerel, smelt, sardines and croaker.  We had so much fun, I forgot to put sunblock and got so burned, my ears were extra-crispy for a few days after.  For more information and fishing tips, click here.  All day parking is $15.

We bought 4 tickets to Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching‘s Whale Watching Sunset Cruise via Groupon for $16 per person, regular price is $32 per person.  (I later on found out that their Tuesday cruises are always half off, but this is OK since: 1. We were not forced to go on a Tuesday, and 2. There’s probably less people going on any other day since it’s regular price).  We scheduled this whale watching on Day 5

Mission San Juan Capistrano Bells

Mission San Juan Capistrano Bells.

and since we do not need to be there until 4:30 p.m., we decided to do something else in the morning.  We went to Mission San Juan Capistrano, this way we’re just a few minutes away from Dana Wharf.  Mission San Juan Capistrano may be the most popular among the 21 California Missions.  The miracle of the return of the swallows takes place each year on March 19th, St.  Joseph’s Day, at the Mission.  At 4:20 p.m. we took the last few photographs before we made our way to Dana Wharf.  Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching guarantees that you will see either whale/s or dolphins or they will give you a voucher (that does not expire) to come back for another trip.  We did not see any whales that day, just a pod of common dolphins and a pod of bottlenose dolphins.  However, it was still very much worth the trip and we highly recommend the experience.

La Purisima Mission in Lompoc and The Chumash Painted Cave were on our itinerary for Day 6.  However, we decided to do this some other time.  La Purisima Mission is about 140 miles from Santa Clarita and my online research tells me that there are no restaurants and no gas stations at La Purisima, so make sure you pack lunch and fill up before you get there.  The walls of the Chumash Painted Cave, which was carved from towering sandstone boulders contain some of the finest remaining rock art created by Chumash Native Americans.  The Painted Cave is about 43 miles from La Purisima Mission going back to Santa Clarita.  From there, Santa Clarita is about 105 miles away.  Click here to learn more about the La Purisima Mission, and here for The Chumash Painted Cave.

The Getty Center

The Javans at The Getty Center.

We decided to go to The Getty Center instead, since our last visit here was about 11 years ago, when Kalia & Keeli were 0ne year old.  After The Getty, we had dinner at the famous Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n Waffles…  yum!

The famous Roscoe's Chicken 'n Waffles

Dinner at the famous Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles.

Day 7 for us was a very relaxing movies day.  We saw Super 8 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

To search for properties for sale in The Santa Clarita Valley or anywhere in Southern California, click here.

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Vacation Preparation

If your thoughts are turning toward a summer vacation, don’t let those pleasant images keep you from addressing some harsh realities – accidents happen, trips can get cancelled.  So as you prepare your vacation to-do list, spend a few minutes thinking about these items:

Health insurance:  Double-check your policy so you know what to do if you need medical care while you’re out of town.

Homeowner’s policy:  Review your policy, checking provisions for replacement of your clothing and other belongings in case of a theft, or a fire in your hotel.

Documents:  Make sure all your important papers, such as your will, durable powers of attorney for health and finances, and life insurance policy, are stored in a safe-deposit box and that each trustee has a copy.

Auto insurance:  Check your policy to see if it covers you in the event of an accident when you’re driving a rental car.  This will help you determine ahead of time if you’re going to need the rental agency’s liability waiver.

Do you have someone you care about who is going on a vacation soon?  You should share this with them.



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Bullying: What Parents Can Do

Bullying can be a serious problem for children.  But often it’s not obvious to their parents, and even when it becomes clear, stopping it isn’t easy.  Here’s what to look for, and what to do about it:

What To Look For:

•  Decline in school performance.
•  Reluctance to go to school.
•  Unexplained bruises or torn clothing.
•  Difficulty sleeping.
•  Complaints of headaches, stomach aches, or other physical problems.
•  Excessive moodiness or depression.
•  Lack of friends or social activities.

What To Do:

First, talk to your child. Maintain open lines of communication by asking what happened at school that day and showing interest in his or her activities.  Encourage your child to open up when something seems wrong.  Listen attentively, and don’t downplay real concerns.  Ask for details – what happened, who was involved, who else saw it, and so on.

Talk to the school. Contact your child’s teacher and principal if you believe bullying is going on.  Because bullying frequently takes place out of adults’ sight, they may not know what’s happening.  Explain the situation and ask for their help.  In many cases they’ll be able to help resolve things.

Teach children how to respond. Don’t suggest retaliation, but do talk over some coping strategies, such as telling the bully “I don’t like this,” and walking away, or yelling “No!” or “Stop!” and then going to an adult for help.  Role-play some of the most common scenarios with your child to help him or her get comfortable with the response.

Do what you can to boost your child’s self-confidence. That might mean giving them the opportunity to join a club or sports team outside of school; taking lessons in something they really enjoy and want to excel at, like painting or skateboarding; and reminding your child that you’re in their corner.  Being more confident can help a child avoid being chosen as a victim.

If articles like this interest you, subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Joel Javan’s Home NewsClick here for information on how to get it delivered to your door every month.

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Five Deadly Mistakes Home Sellers Make

Sooner or later, most homeowners will be in a position to sell their home. This report summarizes the top five mistakes that home sellers make, simply because the experience is new to them.

Mistake #1. Using a Real Estate Agent Instead Of a Realtor

When you’re looking for help buying or selling property, it’s important to remember that the terms “real estate agent” and “Realtor” are not synonymous.
To be a Realtor, you must be a member in good standing of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).  The equivalent organization in Canada is the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).  Both are non-profit trade organizations that promote real estate information, education and professional standards.
NAR and CREA members adhere to a strict code of ethics founded on the principle of providing fair and honest service to all consumers.  Realtor business practices are monitored at local levels.  Arbitration and disciplinary systems are in place to address complaints from the public or board members.  This local monitoring keeps Realtors directly accountable to the individual consumers they serve.
The National Association of Realtors also has earned a strong reputation for actively championing private property rights and working to make home ownership affordable and accessible.

Mistake #2. Failing to Maximize the “Curb Appeal” of Your Home

When you’re preparing your house for sale, remember the importance of first impressions.  A buyer’s first impression can determine whether they’ll choose to look inside.  It’s estimated that more than that 50 percent of shoppers decide to purchase a home even before they get out of their car.  With that in mind, be sure to stand outside your home and take a realistic “fresh look.”  Then ask yourself (and your Realtor) what you can do to enhance the “curb appeal.”  It could make a significant difference in your final sales price as well as the speed of your sale.

Mistake #3. Not Appreciating the Buyer’s Point of View
Unreasonable though it may be, a prospective buyer would like to see a perfect home from top to bottom and inside and out.  To improve the likelihood of an easy, fast and profitable home sale, we suggest that you attend to the following items:

On the outside

1. Sweep the front walkway.
2. Remove newspapers, bikes and toys.
3. Park extra cars away from the property.
4. Trim back the shrubs.
5. Apply fresh, clean paint on your home, wooden fence, and outbuildings.
6. Clean windows and window coverings.
7. Maintain sprinkler systems.
8. Maintain sealants around windows and doors.
9. Make sure roof and gutters are clean and in good condition.
10. Mow the lawn frequently and plant flowers.
11. Keep pet areas clean.
12. Take down out-of-season decorations.

On the inside

1. The kitchen and bathroom should look and smell clean.
2. Vacuum rugs and carpets (and have them professionally cleaned, if necessary).
3. Place fresh flowers in the main rooms.
4. Put away dishes, unless setting a formal display for decoration.
5. Make all beds and put away clothing.
6. Open drapes and turn on lights for a brighter feel.
7. Straighten closets.
8. Put away toys.
9. Turn off televisions.
10. Play soft music on the radio/stereo.
11. Keep pets out of the way and pet areas clean and odor-free.
12. Secure jewelry, cash, prescription medication and other valuables.
13. Consider removing unnecessary furniture and appliances from counter tops to create a greater sense of space.
14. Consider baking cookies or lighting scented candles to create a homey atmosphere.

Mistake #4. Thinking You Need To be In the Home to Provide Details to Prospective Buyers

Allow your Realtor to do his or her job without you on site.  Most potential buyers feel more comfortable if they can speak freely to the real estate professional without the owner present.  If people unaccompanied by an agent would like to see your property, refer them to your real estate professional for an appointment.

Mistake #5. Over-Pricing Your Home

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of selling a home is listing it at the correct price.  It’s one of several areas where the assistance of a skilled real estate consultant can pay for itself versus trying to sell your home yourself.

If the listing price is too high, you’ll miss out on a percentage of buyers looking in the range where your home should be priced.  Some people think that if they leave some “wiggle room” in the price, they’ll always have the opportunity to negotiate and accept a lower offer.  However, chances are the offers won’t even come in, because the buyers who would be most interested in your home have been scared off by the price, and won’t even take the time to consider it.  By the time you correct the price, you’ve already missed exposure to a group of potential buyers.

The listing price becomes even trickier to set when prices are quickly rising or falling.  It’s critical to be aware of where and how fast the market is moving – both when setting the price and when negotiating an offer.  An experienced, well-trained real estate consultant is always in touch with market trends – often even to a greater extent than appraisers, who typically focus on what a property is worth if sold as is, right now.

Send me an email at: joeljavan@yournotsosecretagent.com to request for a copy of my FREE Report: How to Sell Your House For the Most Money In the Shortest Possible Time

Also, check out my other FREE useful reports for sellers or buyers.

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How to Sell Your House For the Most Money In the Shortest Possible Time

Your imagination is the most powerful tool you have to improve the value of your property — and it’s free.  Here’s how:  Step out of your own shoes and step into your potential buyer’s shoes.  Then take a good, realistic look at your house and property, and consider:  Is it appealing?  Can you imagine yourself living there comfortably?  Or do you imagine yourself putting in a lot of work to make the house and property acceptable?

Most buyers are interested in three things about a property they’re considering
Visual appeal (landscaping, spaciousness, cleanliness, color, lack of clutter)
Maintenance (everything in working order, nothing to repair or paint)
Safety (locks and deadbolts, burglar/fire alarm systems, busyness of the neighborhood)
If a potential buyer can’t form a good mental picture of living in your house – no sale!  With this in mind, you’ll want to give your property a good, hard look from the outside in.  You want to create a fabulous first impression so everyone will want to come inside.
What to Look For On the Outside
• Roof and gutters
• Landscaping
• Paint and siding
• Porch or covered patio
• Fence
What to Look For On the Inside
• Kitchen
• Bathrooms
• Master Bedroom
• Flooring
• Wall covering
• Personal touches

Deciding What to Do First
The most important thing to think about first is this:  Fix what you can see!  Cosmetic changes, regardless of the cost, will make a world of difference when it comes time to sell.  Whatever you saw when you put on your potential buyer’s shoes, that’s what you do first, from the outside in.

This was excerpted from my FREE report of the same title. Request your copy of the entire report for free by sending me an e-mail at: joeljavan@yournotsosecretagent.com

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Holiday Celebrations and Christmas Lights Display in Santa Clarita Valley

My family and I had one of the most awesome experience Monday night, December 13, 2010 Javans Chistmas Lights display tour courtesy of the Goodspeeds.  We were picked up by the KHTS firetruck driven by none other than KHTS (Hometown Station) owner, Carl Goldman.  There were sixteen of us, two sat in front with Carl and 14 at the back — every major stop, they switch seats so that more people get to try sitting in front and ringing the firetruck’s bell.  The 1948 firetruck was decked out with holiday wreaths (some made of pine branches and some made with gold bells that jingle every so often), and red ribbons and tube lights and lighted snowflakes.  Carl took us to see three neighborhoods and one home in the Santa Clarita Valley — Angelica Place in Valencia, Ash Court and Wakefield Court both in Saugus and The Maddux residence in Newhall.  It was such a fun experience.

The trip from the Goodspeeds’ beautiful Canyon Country home to the first neighborhood Christmas Light Ball, ©Joel Javanand in between was so cold because the firetruck was open.  Those of us who sat in the back, which was actually where the water tank used to be when it was still being used to fight fire, were all wrapped in blankets to keep us sort of warm.  Even with the cold temperature, the trip in between neighborhoods was so much fun.  People were looking at us like we were celebrities, a lot of them even took pictures and videos.  We were waving at people along the way, most of them would wave back and yell Holiday greetings. We passed by Ms. Jean Morrison’s Tae Kwon Do Studio, Bright Star ATA Martial Arts and saw some of our peeps kicking and punching, we were hoping they would notice the firetruck so we can wave at them, but they were so busy making sure their stances were correct they didn’t.

Our last stop was the Maddux residence at 19121 Dalton Street, Newhall.  Jim Maddux and his sons started preparing this year’s light and music show December 31, 2009.  Hometown Station reports: “35,000 Christmas lights, 400 extension cords, 275 computer controlled zones, and four programmed Christmas songs later, the Maddux’s produced a Christmas light masterpiece that beats any Christmas display you’ve seen on your street.” The light show is on every night starting at 5:30 p.m. and continues every fifteen minute until the finale at 9:45 p.m.

I was so thrilled I decided I wanted to see this type of thing every year so I told Jim, just before we left and after thanking them for a wonderful show, that they should move to our street.  His whole family laughed.  They probably didn’t know I was half serious (I’m mailing them one of my business cards just in case).  Jim is planning on taking the lights down after New Year’s so make sure you visit their home before then.

Of course, anyone can drive to these neighborhoods,  and be amazed by the display of lights, but it’s not quite the same as not having to drive and being on board the KHTS 1948 firetruck.  I can not describe the feeling I had that night, I don’t even want to attempt to describe what we saw.  It’s one of those things that you just have to see and experience for yourself.

Thank you Scott, Karen, Kristi, Emily, Jessy and Sammy for winning this at Sulphur Springs School’s Annual Mustang Round-Up and for inviting us.

Enjoy the video below — a slideshow of some of our pictures from that night.

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I’m Afraid of “Salespeople” Too! :(

Do you need to sell or buy but don’t know what to do and/or fear “salespeople?” I understand your concerns, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I’m not a big fan of “salespeople” myself. I always thought they will make me buy things that I don’t even need. The bad news is, you still have to buy or sell your home and your fear of salespeople won’t help you do that. The good news is there are people who understand this dilemma with which people like you and I have to deal.

fearful coupleFor my part, I have created FREE REPORTS and RESOURCES for both buyers and sellers, and even real estate investors.

An example of this is a FREE, quick over the net Home Evaluation for sellers found here: Home Evaluation

For buyers:
• …who search over the net first before contacting a real estate agent like myself to help them with their needs, I have this wonderful, easy to use home search page where you can search like an agent would. Give it a try at: Search Like An Agent Would

• Have you been “just looking?” Well that’s a great place to start! Or… maybe you’re just saying that because you have not asked yourself the questions you need answered before YOU BUY.

I don’t know if…

I am the right consultant to help you, or if you are the right client for my services, but if you ask yourself a few questions, The right real estate professional might be able to help you with your needs.

1) What happens when you IMAGINE OWNING A NEW HOME?
2) What’s IMPORTANT to you about BUYING A NEW HOME?
3) What would OWNING A NEW HOME GIVE YOU that you don’t currently have right now?

To Sellers, Buyers, Investors. We don’t need to call a high-pressure salesperson who will just make us feel obligated. Some people are more comfortable over the phone, some of us prefer e-mail correspondence or even text messaging, and believe it or not, there are still some who would prefer the good old fashion snail mail. Seek out a real estate professional who can help you with your needs AND who is open to communicating via the same means with which you are comfortable.

Check out the video below:

More FREE information and resources and videos can be found at:
Stay Happy, Healthy & Wealthy
Joel Javan is a REALTOR with EXIT Realty SCV. You can connect with him via phone, text, e-mail or snail mail. Click here for his digital business card.

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