A welcome surprise in Southern California Extended Stay America – Simi Valley, California

Bob van der Valk gives the Extended Stay America in Simi Valley two thumbs up.
Bob van der Valk gives the Extended Stay America in SiMi Valley two thumbs up.

We have had the opportunity to travel and visit family and friends as well as do business in Southern California for the last five years traveling from our home in Terry, Montana. My wife and I lived and worked in Southern California most of our lives prior to our move to Big Sky Country Montana about five years ago.

We typically bunk up at the home of a family member or friend but did not do so on our recent trip in the beginning of August 2013. This time we planned mixing business with a little pleasure since we hardly seem to make time to visit museums and amusement parks while we are “in town”.

Our daughter recommended the Extended Stay America in Simi Valley being in close proximity to our various stops scheduled during our stay. We reserved a room with a queen size bed, kitchen (with utensils) and a desk to get some work done. The price quoted was under $100 per night for a 4-day stay. The short of it is they exceeded all of our expectations and then some.

Upon checking in the desk clerk recommended the king size bed and even gave my wife the key to the room so she could check it out. My wife decided it met our expectations and we finally got some much needed rest after our travels to the hotel.

The “Wow’ factor is the friendliness of the staff at this hotel. Verica Weikal, the Manager of the hotel, took time to greet her guests and patiently answered any questions posed her. I had two exhausting days of work during our stay but each time was relieved to see the insignia of the hotel ahead knowing I was at my home away from home.

Verica Weikal posing next to the picture taken of her meeting President George W. Bush.  She said he was a "hugger", which he had learned from his mother Barbara.
Verica Weikal posing next to the picture taken of her meeting President George W. Bush. She said he was a “hugger”, which he had learned from his mother Barbara.

The run and grab morning continental breakfast was helpful in keeping me on schedule for my early morning appointments along with having Freeway 118, right next to the Kearns exit, easing my traffic concerns. The shopping center next to the hotel has a variety of fast foods and to our great surprise an In ‘N Out Burger restaurant is located just on the other side of the 118 from this hotel. a

Two supermarkets are within a mile of the hotel with many more restaurants with foods of any choice of which you might want to eat when you’re hungry. It made our stay even more comfortable and we did not have to cook with the inexpensive places to eat out or bring-in so close by.

Dogs and cats are allowed at this hotel and guests were polite as they brought them in and out of their rooms for their regular walks.

After two hard days of work came the “pièce de résistance” visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum located close by this hotel as well. Again Verica Weikal came to our rescue and informed us about the ins and outs and does and dont’s to make our visit to the site easier and spend time on the most worthwhile exhibits since we were on a limited time schedule.

Our trip to Simi Valley was made even more comfortable by being able to sleep on king size bed as well as not getting that cooped up feeling whenever we stay at a place where we did not have time to check reviews before booking our room.

I give Verica Weikal, her staff as well as the hotel two thumbs up and will be back soon to stay there again on our next visit to Southern California.

Bob van der Valk is the Managing Editor of the Bakken Oil Business Journal as well as Petroleum Industry Analyst living and working in Terry, Montana. He can be reached at editor@bakkenoilbiz.com

Jessica and the Swift Fox

Swift fox family living in Montana

Montana is used to having fugitives chased by the authorities in their forests and prairies. But this article is not about some big burly tough guy averting law enforcement; it is about the hunt, for a small elusive fox to find out if they still exist in Eastern Montana, by a demure looking young woman.

A big buck tripped the shutter on the camera just as he came into range

Jessica Alexander, who much like Evelyn Cameron ending up taking beautiful pictures of people, landscapes and animals, came to Eastern Montana with the good intentions of chasing the swift fox with her cameras, She is has also been taking pictures of the land, people and the animals to be found around taken by those same cameras she uses in her extensive swift fox research.

Jessica Alexander setting up the camera in her quest to catch the swift fox in action

On a cloudy, rainy day in early June 2011 Jessica Alexander walked into the Badlands Café and Scoop Shoppe in Terry, Montana with a laptop and some notebooks under her arm. Being very inquisitive, some might call it nosy, I introduced myself and asked what she doing in Terry. Jessica replied she was homeless and came into use our Wi-Fi connection for her laptop.

Jessica then proceeded to tell me she is on a master’s graduate project with Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota to determine the status of the swift fox population in Eastern Montana.

In 1806 Meriwether Lewis described the swift fox in his journal as: “The most beautiful fox that I ever beheld”. The swift fox population in Montana all but disappeared after eating the same strychnine poison being put out to kill coyotes in the early 1900’s. The swift fox was trapped in Canada for their fur and were much in fashion with the ladies in those days. They are scavengers and usually feed on rodents, birds and road kill.

Now it has been put up to Jessica Alexander to gather information, which will be used in the management of the species in Montana, for a study being conducted in cooperation with the between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department. A family of swift foxes were replanted at the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and the Blackfeet Tribe reintroduced swift foxes on their lands between 1998-2002.

Wild fox research includes camping and roughing it in the outdoors

The swift fox has a light orange hue but was called “yellow fox” by pioneers, who marveled at the animal’s inquisitive nature. It is named for its lightning speed, which can reach nearly 40 miles an hour in a sprint. The swift fox has the unique distinction of being the smallest canine in North America, weighing just 5 pounds, about half that of a red fox, and standing roughly 12 inches tall.

Jessica is trying to catch “Swifty” in the act by placing cameras near their suspected dens and hangouts but so far to no avail. For this article Jessica shared some of the many pictures of other wildlife caught in their natural habitat with her cameras.

The Andy Pehl ranch on 10-Mile Road in Terry, Montana was used as one of the sites after Jessica trailed a red fox to its den and caught some of the denizens curiously peeking at her while she installed her cameras.

A red fox caught peeking at one of Jessica's cameras

Jessica is currently traveling between Miles City and Sidney setting up her cameras in the hopes of catching on camera and proving the swift fox is alive and well and living in Eastern Montana.

About the Author – Bob van der Valk lives in Terry, Montana is a Petroleum Industry Analyst with over 50 years of experience in the petroleum, gasoline and lubricants industry. He has been quoted by the news media and his opinions are also solicited by government entities. You can reach Bob at: tridemoil@aol.com or (406) 853-4251

Ripley’s Museum Is Believable… Or Not?

When walking around in the armpit of San Francisco’s touristy sweat-pit, it’s hard not to get drawn in to the many museums that abound in that area. Right in the heart of it all on Jefferson Street just up from Fisherman’s Wharf is the Ripley’s Museum, which I found to be more appealing and as curiously interesting as any of them… Believe it… or not? Continue reading Ripley’s Museum Is Believable… Or Not?

Bay’s Boudin Bistro Boasts 150 Yrs of Being Awesome

If you’re laying your day in the historically touristy hotbed of San Francisco’s waterfront, you’ll want to catch everything from Pier 39 to Pier 43 to even Pier 45. Somewhere in that mix is Fisherman’s Wharf, but it’s no matter because by this point you’re already hungry, and I’ve got just the place for you. It’s called Boudin Bakery (plus bistro, restaurant and museum) and it’s got an age-old history of fresh bread dating back a billion years. Continue reading Bay’s Boudin Bistro Boasts 150 Yrs of Being Awesome

Technology Museum Makes Innovation Almost Seem New

We skated in to The Tech Museum, located right in the heart of San Jose, late in the afternoon despite the fact that not one of us had any wheels on our feet. We’re techy folk for sure but we had no idea what this place had in store for us. With all their crazy, technological exhibits, honestly, the whole place made technology and innovation seem new to me; and I’ll be the first to tell you that I ain’t easily impressed. Continue reading Technology Museum Makes Innovation Almost Seem New