My neighborhood is in the...
My neighborhood is in the hills and there are many hiking trails where you can mountain bike or just take a good, long hike through the mountains. All the trails are well maintained and marked by the city so they're in great condition.
Here's a view Rocky Peak. ...
Here's a view Rocky Peak. From high atop this peak, one can see the San Fernando and Simi Valleys.
The day I was here, there were severe Santa Ana winds gusting up to 80 miles in the canyon passes. But high atop this peak, the winds seemed to be blowing at least 80 and with gusts up to 90 miles.
Because of the high wonds, it was dangerous to stand up near the edge of this peak.
This Mirage is Real
The hills beyond the San Fernando Valley are occasionally, during the winter, a nearly fluorescent hue of green--that's when I generally take pictures--but most of the year, they tend towards a dry brown, or else a charred black. The sun is piercing, the heat is searing, and water is virtually nonexistent. Amid these hills, the lushness, year-round greenness, and ostensible life of Simi Valley (the life of the hills being more subtle most of the year) is a shock to the senses.
The shock wears off quickly. Unless you live and/or work there, there's not much to do in Simi. The valley is eight miles long and two miles wide, and the city of Simi Valley has spread out to fill that whole area. It's a long, long walk from one part of it to another, and while I've heard of public transportation there, I've never seen it. So you'd better have a car--which, if you want to go "do something," you will use to leave Simi Valley.
Myself, I tend to go right back into the hills. The adventurous soul could spend a lifetime exploring those. Before it became a standard suburb, all kinds of crazy people used to live around here, and a few Westerns were filmed in the hills in Corriganville Park. And development stops as soon as the elevation rises ten feet above the valley floor, so after even the slightest climb, you can head in any direction you want.
But no matter how much I go into the hills, I always find myself returning to the valley. Something always draws me back. I think it might be the water taps.
It's On Fire!
The hills burned in October, 2005. It's natural and normal, and three days after it died out, though the ash was knee-deep in some places, coyotes were already foraging, cottontails were running about, and even birds were chirping. After looking at the cooked rattlesnake pictured above, I almost immediately ran into a live one. It may look desolate, but nature knows how to handle these fires quite well.
Notice in this photograph how the electric poles and radio tower are fine. The firemen carefully protected them, but they didn't try to put out the whole fire. They know to let it burn. The hills need this every now and then. Otherwise, the brush gets too dense.
Again, note the condition of the power poles and the antenna.
By February (four months later), the hills were bright green, and though I could occasionally reach deep inside a bush and pull out a charred branch, there was otherwise no way to tell there had been a fire.