When my parents started planning on coming out to California for Thanksgiving, we were originally going to stay in Ojai. We booked a house and were all set to go, and then the house's owner (a woman with a very California name and a very California vibe) cancelled, so we ended up getting a beach house in Oxnard, which worked out just fine. But I was insistent that we still take a day trip up to Ojai, knowing that the buildings and the shops and parks would be things my family would enjoy seeing. I also wanted to show them a different side of southern California; as we were driving up into the mountains, past horse ranches and cacti, my mom said, "It almost feels like we're in the southwest!", to which I responded, "Mom...we are". People don't think of desert and hills when they think of SoCal. They think of beaches and palm trees and celebrities.
Ojai may have its fair share of part-time celebrity residents (Reese Witherspoon and Ted Danson, to name a couple), but its quiet, small-town feel and eclectic community make it the perfect weekend getaway from LA, and this day trip reminded me of how rejuvenating it is to get out of the city and just breathe for awhile, unencumbered by never-ending streams of vehicles and helicopters whirring overhead (she wrote as two cars got in an accident outside of her apartment and ten other cars decided they would be helpful by honking for the next five minutes). City life is comprised of a lot of white noise, but even white noise can take its toll on you without you realizing it. I never notice how tense the constant activity makes me until I am able to escape from it. I've always considered myself a city girl, but I'm starting to think that I need nature more than I've ever realized.
We ended our day on Meditation Mount, just outside of Ojai, to watch the sunset and listen to the wind blowing through the trees in almost complete silence (my mom and I got gently chided by another visitor for laughing too loudly). It felt like the family vacations we used to take when I was a kid: exploring a new place, eating at cute cafes and restaurants, doing a bit of shopping, my dad getting impatient and waiting outside the store when my mom and I took too long deciding if we should buy anything or not... =] And my favorite part, as is usually the case, was having Toby along, an additional, wonderful element to the family dynamic. This trip makes me happy just thinking about it. High five, Ojai.
My parents doing Tai Chi, because they're adorable.
And the most attractive family award goes to...