Hi hi you guys!
I've been away for a while I know, figuratively and literally. This month's travels are off to a super brilliant start, and for the first time I think - ohhhh - ever, I've had some truly off grid days. I began my first official book writing road trips this month, first along the beaches of 30A (more on that in a later post!) with Hunter and then a few days later I flew out to LA for my first trip with Allister. Both are photographing the adventures for "A Wanderful Life."
When I landed in LA I had a day to get organized. A 6 day road trip through beaches, mountains, valleys and farms with photo shoots for the book planned all along the way requires a lot. A car full of props, clothing, accessories, plus the standard road trip supplies was necessary. I landed, spent a few hours out on Venice Beach and then headed into LA to collect wardrobe for the trip. I met up with 3 killer (and super cool) LA designers: Rob of Jungmaven, Renee of 16th Colony and Ayumi who's the designer for the newly launched Miss Me Vintage.
The next morning Allister and I took off from the Los Feliz neighborhood of LA (funny how she lives there, and I decided to Airbnb in a backyard '78 camper before knowing that's her 'hood).
We headed up the 101, wound our way along rolling green fields, pretty spring flowers, and then, there she was, the Pacific Ocean -- directly out of my driver's side window. We dipped off of the interstate beneath old gnarled vines and trees into the electromagnetic force of Ojai Valley.
The Chumash natives named the valley for the moon - the word is "ʼawhaý" - which at night, rises up creating a famous pink glow across the valley sky. Ojai is a mecca for artists, and let's be honest, anyone that follows the fashion forward instagrammers of LA has seen a weekend trip filled with concerts, horseback riding, spa days, tangerines (they're everywhere) and the beautiful back country in their feeds.
As an artist's retreat it's a bit different from other art destinations - there seems to be a synergy there between the spirit seekers, the makers and the ranchers living off the land. When Allister and I pulled in to the valley I got whatever invisible force Director Franck Capra must have felt when he chose Ojai as his location for the filming of "Lost Horizon." The Shangri-La vibe is everywhere.
Chain stores (other than a few gas stations and banks) are prohibited by law and the galleries and boutique shops featuring locally made wares are abundant. The mix of businesses is perfectly curated... think Truman Show but for the nouveau hippie glamping set.
There's vintage inspired lifestyle shops, Airstreams in parking lots, a farm-to-table biker bar, succulents and California flora, pop-up fairs and the most instagram-worthy road side inns. The vibe is old-school bohemian California blended with modern day farm, and the town streets are filled with handsome rancher types (with tattoos and cowboy boots) and gorgeous art girls on solace searching retreats.
Here's my list of things to do, places to stay and must see destinations if you're going for a quick weekend trip!
Ojai Rancho Inn - right off the main drag the Ojai Rancho Inn has the cutest little lobby that doubles as a boutique. Cactus plants line the fireplace and palo santo is for sale at the check in desk. The rooms have jacuzzi tubs (!, yessss) however the vibe is distinctly rustic. The pool out back reminds me of what you'd find in a 70's summer camp.
Lunch at Boccali's - it's directly between two peaks overlooking the valley beneath the shadow of hundred year old oaks. Sitting on a mountain side curve, there's a garden out back providing the pizza and pasta toppings. It's directly outside of the downtown strip (if you can call it that) -- serving up Italian family dishes, they're known for their Strawberry Shortcake.
Hip Vegan - I picked up a Vietnamese Iced Coffee made with coconut milk, Allister and I tried the tangerine marmalade cookie bars... I don't recall if that's what they were called, but that's what they tasted like and they were perfect! Directly next store is an adorable vintage/thrift shop.
Meditation Mount, Vista Point and sneaking into one of the tangerine farms to walk along the groves. Schedule a solid hour to explore Bart's Books (an open air bookstore that's been operating in the same location since the '60).
Visit Shop Summer Camp - a former gas station converted into a little lifestyle and frame shop featuring a perfect Americana mix of jewelry, art, vintage clothing and home decor. On your way out visit Ojai Valley Olive Oil, one of the many family-owned working ranches. The farm land is stunning.
Leaving Ojai Allister and I headed north -- next stop the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. Can't wait to share that over the top experience with you!