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'Tis the Season to Seek Solitude, Easy Fun

June 11, 1998|WENDY MILLER | Wendy Miller is editor of Calendar Weekend's Ventura Edition

Even in the suburbs, right up against pastures and national forests, we get the equivalent of urban chaos. There are the obvious causes, such as freeway calamities or power outages at four-way traffic lights.

But much of the confusion and disorder is seasonal. During the summer months, rural and seaside communities tend to swell to bursting, like popcorn bags in a microwave. Weekend festivals are a magnet for tourists and their vehicles. Kids returning home from college arrive with friends, dirty laundry and all manner of stuff. Beach dwellers with extra rooms find that all of a sudden everyone they ever knew is coming to visit in July and August. Even the cat is bringing home more than the usual number of house guests, or at least their remains.

It's the time of year when many of us find we need a vacation from everyone else's vacations.

At such moments, it's not a bad idea to have a list of places to go. No, not the off-the-rack commercial list of big, looming lizard movies, 300 mph roller coasters, or any of the other entertainment opportunities that drop you in long lines with great numbers of loud, sticky people.

This is the time for, if not outright solitude, then at least mellow entertainment.

If it is the former you crave, take a look at writer Judy Willis' Centerpiece story on the Carpinteria Salt Marsh (page 38). This is not a place that will compete with major theme parks for visitors, but a quiet strip of salty wetland. Here, a great variety of animal and plant life vie for survival in an environment inundated by salt water from the sea and fresh water from the mountains.

If a hike, a picnic and some folk music are more your style, check out Jane Hulse's Jaunts column (page 7), for information on the Peter Strauss Ranch, in the Santa Monica Recreation Area. The historic estate, once called El Enchanto, now offers guided walks and a concert series, the first of which is this Sunday.

You can spread out and relax. Just avoid the intersections en route.

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