Monday, July 2, 2018

Ojai-Rising from the Ashes

Ojai, about an hour north of L.A. has long been one of my favorite getaways.  I was saddened to see the flames of the Thomas Fire, said to be the largest fire in California history, scorching the mountains surrounding the idyllic valley. I was delighted to see that the ring of fire threatening to swallow the town just snarled at the edges of the village.  Artists of all stripes who have hideaways tucked in the hills and shady glens gathered refuse from the fire and created mobiles and other objects de art that are on display in the galleries that line Ojai Avenue.

Sadly, heading north on Hwy 33 did not fare so well. The Wheeler Gorge was singed and a rock slide has generated road work that will last for at least a year.  The Cozy Dell Trail which was my favorite was badly damaged. What was a shady, flower infested walk is now lined with the spiky blackened limbs of dead trees.
Cozy Dell Trail Before Thomas Fire
Cozy Dell Trail June 2018

I decided to explore the Oso Trail that takes you into the through sage-littered meadows lining the rocky river bottom. I was delighted to discover an inviting swimming hole I had no idea existed. If only I had brought my baby suit, I could have taken a swim with the local family enjoying a picnic there.
Ventura River Preserve
Swimming Hole Ventura River Preserve

The scenic drive from Carpentaria to Ojai on Hwy 150 was spared. The curvaceous road past avocado farms through lush green tree tunnels remains the same. However, when you crest the summit overlooking Castaic Lake you see the mountains framing the valley for miles around are nude. Splotches of orange witches dodder are all that decorate the barren scene.
View from Second Floor Oakridge Inn

Ojai is still a joyous place known for its meditative and restful qualities. The Oakridge Inn is a comfortable, clean economical place to stay. If you get a room on the second floor you will enjoy a view of the mountains a sweet breeze wafting up canyon. It is conveniently located walking distance to the Bocalli’s Italian satellite cafe, famous for farm to table fresh produce.

Linda Ballou is an adventure travel writer with a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales; historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i; as well as her latest novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon

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