Ojai, Ca. Overnight.
The bad news is that my best friend is packing up and moving across coasts to live in New York late next month. Leaving me to mourn the loss of our regular LA day dates - pool parties, Sunday flea markets, poolside cocktails and stellar thrift hunts. Amongst everything else . . .
The good being, I have ticket booked and will visit in November (I haven't been to back there since 2004) and in between the big move, she is living with us in our back room (formerly the "office) which means I've got an extra hand with homework and cooking, drop offs and housework - with Mike working so many overnight shifts these past few weeks - it's been a life saver. It also means that we're dedicated to squeezing in as much last minute "California" bliss as we possibly can in the 50 some days remaining before she's gone.
With a truckload full of merchandise to unload around Ojai we had the perfect excuse to pull a one nighter over at the Ojai Rancho Inn. Where an exceptionally friendly staff, a snazzy little back house bar, wood planked hot tubs in a few of the rooms, and a spacious field around back to sip chilled cider and rest on Mexican blankets they keep stuffed in an old wire basin while an ever curious 16 month can entertain himself by throwing rocks and collecting softly weathered palm frawns, makes for a sweet & easy stay every time. And for those of you familiar with the debunked pool, they assure us it's very close to finally reopening!
We packed light and left before noon, sailing down the 101 on a Sunday because it's the only day left where traffic isn't unbearable. We passed Jay Leon gunning it towards Mulholland Drive in a fancy foreign sports car, and arrived around 3 to find the heat and humidity had followed us there. From there it was lunch on the patio at The Knead Factory before swinging by Shop Summer Camp and over to visit Bianca at In The Field. Which, in less than a year's time, appears to have made itself a shinning gem on the quickly evolving Ojai strip. A beautiful shop curated to reflect the smart, bohemian vibe Ms. Roe herself carries off so well in her own personal style. We talked a little about how she and her husband got there - what it took to make it happen and how when they moved there, her and her husband with a brand new baby in tow, they came knowing "literally no one" with nothing but the best intentions wrapped up in healing her newborn son who had been born prematurely and anemic in light of it. The way she describes Ojai, as a kind of mystically alluring place of natural healing is something I carried around with me the rest of the trip, as if suddenly deeper in tune to the underlying vibe of it offering more than just a slice of country pie for the over-polished LA folk.
Other than that, we spent a good hour driving around town fawning over slightly decrepit wood shingled houses hunkered around wide wheat colored yards, usually with a few horses on site that only help enhance the fantasy. In addition to some of the very best tree houses I've yet to see.
I think every time I'm there I fall a little more in love.
Maybe with the next stocking, we'll find a way to stretch our time a little longer.
* Interesting article on Johnny Cash's link to Ojai (who's "landmarked" house is pictured atop) here
* And a great insight to the background of the Ojai community as well chronicling the "youth quake" happening now in the very recent NY Times here