A couple of friends came up to spend the day with us on Saturday and we wanted to take them on a drive to see how pretty our part of the world is. After all, they live in Camarillo, where they only have the ocean and the mountains… ahem. 😉
Anyway, we drove to the Big Oaks Lodge, which used to house an interesting looking Italian restaurant called Cavi. I didn’t realize it had closed when I suggested we drove out there, and Hydra thought the place was “just five minutes” from the intersection of Lake Elizabeth Road and Bouquet Canyon Road. Um, more like 20 minutes, but “just five minutes” became the mantra of the day.
The amazing stone work is worth a closer look if you’re driving or biking Bouquet Canyon. The fellow who waited on us told us he thought it might have once been a stage coach stop. I found this article which confirms its stagecoach and old Hollywood history. It must have been a lovely retreat back in the day. There are grills built into the stone walls, and lots of levels to explore.
Now it has a closed down look. I mean, there’s a lot of land here, so why park your covered car here? And put an ugly shed in front of the stonework?
We arrived around noon, and were told that the dining room was closed. If we’d sat in here, we might have felt it was a kind of cool experience. As it was we all sat in a row on one side of a table facing the bar while we shared two $12.00 pizzas that seemed like they should have been priced around half of that. The sausage was good, but the crust was from frozen, I’m pretty sure. They also serve a limited number of sandwiches and hamburgers. By the time we left, the one other table of customers who came in were sitting in the high ceilinged dining room.
The server said that their business is very dependent on the weather. They usually get a lot of motor- and bicyclists. It was a gorgeous fall day, but we hardly saw anyone on our drive. Maybe Bouquet Canyon is out of fashion. The parking lot of La Cabana, back in Acton was full of cars and bikes and there were a half dozen horses at their hitching post.
The server also told us that the place is for sale for half a million dollars, but it’s on National Forest land, and they aren’t offering 99 year leases anymore. Just 20 year leases, so you own the buildings but not the land. That’s a big risky investment. It’s too bad the parks don’t just buy them out and make something interesting out of this historic site.