Let’s say you’re hitting the wall. You need to be somewhere quiet. Somewhere to think, breathe, sleep. Maybe you need to be alone, a solo traveler. Or, the two of you crave de-stressing. If you’re located somewhere between Orange County and Santa Barbara, choose Ojai.
From Westwood, go North on 405, then North on Hwy 101 and when you hit Ventura, turn inland on Hwy 33, for a total of 75 miles.
Ojai is what moneyed Angelinos would probably consider “country.” It’s rural, yes. And there are plenty of homes that are modest and darling. But there’s definitely a whiff of upscale. Take, for example, the number of nice boutiques in town. Nothing mall-like, no brands or chains or franchises. Cool stuff.
On the same streets with modest abodes you see big ones, some new and some quite old. Built with respect for the valley’s ancient oaks. Citrus grows in practically every yard, too. Celebrities have properties here. It’s the kind of place where stars put on a ball cap, go for a cup of coffee and pastry without being hassled.
And it feels safe. We met several women traveling solo this weekend; Larry and I were guest presenters at The Oaks at Ojai, a health and fitness spa in the heart of town. If you want to go somewhere and return home “better,” pick The Oaks. Unpretentious, a place to kick-start a health and wellness routine. Imagine my delight, too, when Sheila Cluff, founder of the Oaks, showed up prior to our session with a warm welcome, then sped off to the dining room to drum up attendees. Sure enough, they heeded her push and a good flow of folks came in.
Back to Ojai and what to do for a visit. Well, The Oaks keeps you as busy as you want with yoga, pool exercises, stretch classes, lectures and those spa treatments. Venture out and within a block, hit booklover’s mecca Bart’s Books – you could spend an ENTIRE day there. It’s a repurposed home now completely covered in bookshelves, indoors and out. Books to buy, or sit and read. And a charming detail: at the sidewalk, outside the store, stocked bookshelves 24/7. After shop hours, put your payment in the box. Now, don’t you want to come here?
Sunday morning, the Farmer’s Market happens one block in the other direction from The Oaks. This solved our dilemma of an empty fridge back home. My only regret is we didn’t put an ice chest in the car before we left home (those local eggs, mmmm). Our haul included fresh walnuts, walnut oil, beets, carrots, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, a small berry pie, sweet pea flowers.
As I drafted this post back on our patio at The Oaks, Larry was reading his book. It was pretty much silent. Occasional bird. Bees buzzing the citrus blooms next to our space. A few light voices at the pool. But no trucks. No gardener’s leaf blowers. No car horns. No helicopters. Oh wait… there went the church bell.
Which leads me to daydream; if I had a book inside me dying for quiet time to get onto paper (or computer), I’d pick a few days and come back to The Oaks at Ojai. Focus, write, edit. They’ll feed me. I’d certainly get a lot done. Take a stretch class for a break. A massage as a treat. Go for a walk in the neighborhood to clear my head… this is my favorite kind of hood, no sidewalks. Walking in the street is a treat to me. If anything, I will have dropped a few pounds before going home. The Oaks does that.
And, I’d buy more local products while here, Farmers Market or no. Pixie Tangerines are an Ojai celebrity, as are olive oil and lavender products.