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A quick trip to Ojai

Day Trippin' with Mel

My friend Leila wanted to visit friends – Sandy and Baruska – in Ojai the other day, and I was delighted to be invited to join her. We took off about 9:30 in the morning and got to her friend's home, right in the center of Ojai, about 12:30.

I know Ojai is a great destination for many reasons, but I also want to mention how much love the drive there. Once you get to the I-5 at Gorman you're in some pretty magnificent mountains... and, it should be mentioned, a whole lot of traffic. That doesn't last long, though, as the turnoff to the 126 comes up soon enough and you get into some really pretty agricultural settings. Lot of trees, tree farms and vineyards. All along the way are fresh fruit, veggie, and nut stands.

You pass through historic Fillmore (another great day trippin' destination) and Santa Paula. We were there on a Sunday and yes, it was crowded with cars and visitors. On to Ojai, on the 150, which is a narrow, twisty, windy road through lush vegetation and huge trees. In Ojai, trees are abundant everywhere you look, as are flowers and a wide variety of vegetation.

To get to the friend's house we drove through several neighborhoods that I probably wouldn't have seen had we not had a purpose to go there, and I loved the tree-lined streets, green yards, varying housing types, and more lush flora.

The restaurant Seafood Fresh Market turned out to be very near Sandy and Baruska's home (and right on the 150, the main street through town) and that's where we had lunch. A very delightful lunch, I might add, on the patio with such great company. It wasn't too hot, there was a gentle breeze and lots of plants and trees around us; the service was fast and friendly. The menu had so much more than just seafood, and we all got something very different and very delicious.

After lunch, Leila drove us by the house she lived in when she was an Ojai resident artist. She claimed it was on the prettiest street in Ojai and I think she might be right – the street was under a canopy of dense trees and the neighborhood was quite eclectic, with houses of a variety of types and styles and the ever-present variety of plant life.

After a fun visit with our friends back at their house, Leila took me on a little tour of downtown Ojai. We didn't stop to shop – it was a very busy afternoon and parking spots were sparse and it was getting late. I plan to go back another day and check out the stores and art galleries; this particular trip was more about friends (and the beautiful drive) than shopping.

We came home on the backroads of Antelope Valley, which was another pretty drive through Bouquet Canyon, but I eventually made a wrong turn off of Lake Elizabeth Road so we put on a few extra miles on Leila's car and took a little longer to get home than we'd thought. Oh well, it was all part of the fun of the day.

If you go, there are many scenic backroads through the Antelope Valley to get you over to the other side of the 5 and Ojai. One way is to take the Willow Springs Road to the Antelope Valley, which becomes 90th Avenue West. Follow that and turn right (west) onto West Avenue D (which is Highway 138). Turn left (south) on 110th Street West and go towards Lake Hughes. You'll soon find yourself on Johnson Road.

Turn left off of Johnson onto Lake Elizabeth Road and follow that until you turn off onto Bouquet Canyon Road. That will take you into Santa Clarita, where you'll turn onto the 126 (Newhall Ranch Road) at a stoplight, which will take you across the 5 and on to Fillmore and Santa Paula, where you'll turn south to Ojai on the 150.

If you want an easier route, here's how we got to Ojai: we took the Willow Springs Road out of Tehachapi (90th West), to D Street (Highway 138) or you can take the 58 to the 14, then exit on the 138 West. That took us over to where we got on the I-5 South at Gorman. We took exit 126 off the 5, just before Magic Mountain, to Santa Paula, where we took the 150 south to Ojai.

Ojai is a great day trip – especially to see friends – and an even better two-day trip as there are so many other things to see and do there.

More on that another time.

© 2023 Mel Makaw. Mel, Tehachapi writer/photographer and avid day tripper welcomes your questions, comments, and suggestions at [email protected].