Thursday, May 20, 2021

Hop onto a 'Hopper,' you'll sail away your troubles

"Cap'n Keller," Bruce Keller, this column's photographer, is a lifelong sailor who took the wheel
of a Hopper Boat Rentals small craft recently on a leisurely trip through Oxnard's canals.

Oxnard's architectural variety is pleasing to observe from
the water. From Victorians, to unique stone and slate
creations to Mid-Century Modern, it's an eye catching mix. 
Harbor seals greet small boats as they glide
by; there is abundant sea bird life, too.


WE LOVE the Channel Islands and 
make several pilgrimages a year there.
Always on the trail of something new, we happened on Hopper Boat Rentals and spent a lovely afternoon exploring the channels of the tranquil, clean and not-yet-discovered town of Oxnard, California.

Hopper Boat Rentals is tucked away on one of Oxnard's quiet little corners in Channel Islands Harbor. The rustic dock holds the Hopper fleet of a dozen or so boats, ranging in size from single and double kayaks and fishing kayaks to electric boats for a party as large as 12. The outfit also rents paddle boards for the more adventurous, and pedal boats for anyone out for a relaxing time.
Lane Norton helps his parents
at the family owned business.

The business is owned by the Norton family; the parents started the business and continue to sustain it in office while son Lane works outdoors on site. He's an amiable, helpful fellow, manning the  harbor business, checking in passengers and keeping the boats clean and ready. He offers sailors a cheerful smile and a strong arm for getting on and comfortably seated, casting off then coming back in to port.
Hopper Boat Rentals is tucked away in a quiet corner,
offering relaxed viewing of a variety of other water craft.
You can rent by the hour, for an afternoon or a day, in small or larger groups celebrating an anniversary or birthday and groups as small as the two of us -- just a couple out for the afternoon, with our Yorkie, Nicky.
OUR SMALL, quiet boat was one of dozens out on the water that day, but the channels never seemed crowded, and that's the way it usually is, Lane said.
The business has based at Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard for 15 years. 
Yorkie Nick is at home on
the waters of Oxnard Harbor.
Off for the afternoon: Cookie, Keller and Nick.

We really enjoyed the pace of this adventure on the water. The architecture in Oxnard's canals is fascinating, like most  harbor towns. The mix of styles ranges from elaborate Victorian, to Italian, mission style and Carpenter Gothic. We took photos of gorgeous gardens and artful patios.
OXNARD IS at the end of the Santa Barbara Channel and offers year-round viewing of whales, dolphins and seals. The calm water was never "rock and roll" swaying, as we've felt many times on small crafts.
Oxnard's colorful harbor area on Victoria
Avenue is in various states of repair and renewal.

It was a perfectly smooth sail with other easy-going sailors. "Cap'n Keller" kept us safe and the ride smooth navigating with perfect sailor prowess. He has sailed oceans, rivers and lakes since he was a kid.
I would have been nervous piloting the boat myself. But if you've never driven an electric boat, don't let that stop you. Lane gives easy walk-through instructions, as we saw him do with a novice-sailors couple who arrived along with the two of us. 
 IT IS COMPLETELY relaxing. And fascinating. We loved viewing boats from another boat. There's a whole community of boat people in Oxnard. 
The picturesque Oxnard, Calif., harbor reveals itself
during a leisurely few hours aboard Hopper Boat Rentals. 
 We  watched them enjoying life on their homes, which ranged from elaborate and sleek to rustic-casual, with plants, beaded curtains and sleeping dogs. Our boat was so quiet we couldn't hear its motor.
If you've never been to Oxnard, it is an undiscovered gem on the California coast, a quiet beachside community -- not as opulent as some nor as laid back as others. It has its own rhythm and profile, and is a friendly and welcoming place to spend a few days. We recommend Hampton Inn Channel Islands Harbor, where stunning marina view rooms offer an ever-changing picture of life on the water. Fishing boats, pleasure crafts, luxurious yachts, kayaks and paddle boards all make their way to and fro as you watch with a cup of coffee or glass of wine, while your troubles disappear.
Hampton Inn Channel Islands
Harbor is our Oxnard "home."

As Cap'n Keller says, "If you've always longed to be captain of your own boat, consider a 'Harbor Hopper.' We've rented small electric boats around the world. Whether you're on the canals of Venice or the waterways of Oxnard, California, you'll find a peaceful, relaxing way to slow down."
So do consider a weekend in Oxnard, and set aside a few hours for a Hopper boat rental. You'll be so smitten, you may decide to own your own boat!; 805-382-1100
Poet Allen Ginsberg was special guest at Writer's Voice, and
the dedication of the Bruce Kemp Meyers Poets Garden
 on the campus of Montana State University-Billings.
UP NEXT: Memorial Day approaches, so we remember a unique memorial celebration for a talented teacher, poet and actor.  Twenty-eight years ago, famed poet Allen Ginsberg made a guest performance in Billings, Montana, to honor the memory of Bruce Meyers.  The award winning writer delivered a eulogy, read his poetry and sang songs. His performance during the first "Bruce Bash" christened the Bruce Kemp Meyers Poets Garden, in memory of the late professor of English at Montana State University-Billings. While working on his MFA at Kent State University, Meyers took a workshop from the acclaimed poet and they struck up a correspondence. Ginsberg's visit was arranged by Corby Skinner during Ginsberg's Billings appearance at Writer's Voice the same May weekend as the 1993 garden dedication. We look back on the remarkable celebration of music and theater. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live, and catch us each week for a fresh take on travel, nature, family and the arts. Please share the link:


  1. We like Oxnard, too, and the Hampton Inn. The hotel is quiet and the views so very beautiful. Ever changing. Let's hope it continues thus.

  2. How nice you can access the water year round. Envious but happy for you.

  3. Fun to travel via armchair with you two. Oxnard is our winter home. Your next week's piece sounds fascinating, too.

  4. Northern California VisitorsMay 24, 2021 at 7:29 AM

    Fun diversion. We will check it out. Always appreciate your ideas and pretty photos.

  5. We always stay at Hampton Inn on the harbor. Lovely setting and pleasant, helpful staff.