How To Make Every Duty Station A Home: Port Hueneme, CA


California, You Called My Name

written by Shelly Osborne


The vast terrain;

From desert to forest,

Mountain to ocean.

You called my name.


Palm trees sway

The crash of the ocean waves.

Picturesque drives along the PCH.

You called my name.


Wildflowers covering the hills.

Trails in every direction

Offering vantage points of the ocean and city.

You called my name.


Only temporary

A home for our family

Adventures and memories to keep forever.

You called my name.


Sand castles and creatures.

Park days and popsicles.

Form bonds with strangers.

You called my name.


A church family.

Meal trains, park days, and fellowship.

Growth, encouragement, and deep love.

You called my name.


A tribe of families

Fire pits and game nights.

Support, immense joy, and lifelong relationships.

You called my name.


A place to explore.

A place to grow.

A place to love.

You called my name.

Sunny day, lush valleys, and mountains to explore

Port Hueneme (why-knee-me for those who have never heard of it before) is a hidden gem. Yes, you are in California so you will still have the politics, the crazies, the traffic, the expensive gas and groceries. But, you are nestled between the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ana Mountains in this beautiful cove. If you live on base, you will become familiar with coastal fog and salty air, but if you live in the neighboring city just a few miles away you will have a different weather forecast. Near Port Hueneme you have endless beach options. Our family typically went to Point Mugu beach, but we also really enjoyed Hollywood beach, Mother’s beach, and the Hueneme beach park. We moved to California with an almost 1-year-old and a 2.5-year-old, and they quickly became Cali kids! On evenings when my husband came home early enough, we would throw few towels in a bag and drive the mile and a half down to Oxnard beach where we would play in the tide pools and watch the sunset. Having the beach only a mile-ish away, we absolutely didn’t go enough, but we loved having it so close. Our family also enjoyed hiking.  We invested in a second child carrier hiking backpack, downloaded the AllTrails app, and on Friday nights we would scroll through and just pick a random hike to do the following morning. I began to truly appreciate California’s terrain the more we were outside. The beach, the mountains, the weather, the wildflowers, the city, the rocky shores…California truly has it all.

One of our last minute trips to the beach to watch the sunset

We knew one couple when we moved to California. Just one.

(long pause to let that sink in)

At our previous duty station I was beyond lonely. I was insecure, recluse, and unsure of life in a full-time Navy career.  I didn’t want that to be how I felt in California. I remember the first few command gatherings and really trying to push myself out of my comfort zone to avoid a repeat of Nevada. Slowly, we began to get to know one another, I made it a point to be a neighbor who said “hello”, and I pushed myself to start conversations at the park if another family was there. When I think back to our California tour and try to make a mental list of the families/couples we met, I have a surge of names and faces race through my mind and I’m left feeling so much gratitude in my heart. The last year of our tour there I really don’t think I went on any solo adventures or beach days unless I wanted to. Just a simple text to the group, “beach day?”, and without fail someone would join in- if not a small group!

A small outing to the Santa Barbara zoo with friends

We found an amazing church in Nevada, and I really wasn’t sure how we were ever going to find something similar in California- but we did! It took about 5 weeks of Church hopping to land on Redeemers, but it was all worth it. That church will scoop you up and welcome you right away! Caleb and I grew spiritually, and the boys did too. Our small group became a family away from family, and our leaders became grandparents to our boys. I could not have asked for a better church family.

I was excited for our California tour, but I had no idea how deep the roots of that tour grew within me. We’ve been at our current duty station for 6 months now and not a day goes by that I don’t miss our California days. I watched my boys grow from babies to “big boys,” and I made some incredible bonds with some truly remarkable women. We created a tribe of families that looked out for one another, took care of each other, and held each other during our low points. I challenged myself to be a better mom/wife/friend by setting and crushing goals. I experienced true agape love with people I had just met. Our California tour will forever be “the one that got away”. I know I took it for granted at times, but I also knew towards the end of our time there that what we had was an absolute blessing. I’d give anything to rewind the clock and go back to any one of our casual park days, our spontaneous beach days, or to go on one more hike in the Santa Monica mountains with friends. My heart hurts when I think of California but I’m also so grateful because it means I was engulfed in blessings. It was certainly challenging to put myself out there and invite strangers into my life, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat if it meant I walked away feeling the way I do now.

Enjoying a quiet day at the beach


  1. Shelly, u have a heart of gold together the special friends u did not know
    You and the boys made. Many new friends to think of a send a message when needed. I hope we can get to see u son, today we are in Mesquite, Nevada with Frank Shirley, heading back home soon. You are a special young lady, we love u all. Bud and Papa


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