As the expansion of our family is nearing closer every day, I wanted us to have a little getaway prior to our baby boy’s arrival. We didn’t have a lot to spend, so we couldn’t go far and we were just in Santa Barbara in June. In all of my time living in California, I’ve only driven through the town of Ojai on a major detour on my way to drill team camp in Santa Barbara (yes, there is such a thing…) and I’d always wanted to explore. In addition, I had read about a certain dark skies ordinance there that I knew the Man would love. If you’re not familiar, a dark sky is something you need to see the expanse of the heavenly stars above. Not just any dark sky either – a really dark one, missing your average bright city lights and other non-essential lighting that makes most city dwellers incapable of seeing much besides the moon and a few of the brightest stars and planets without the help of a telescope.
Ojai was calling.
We left on Saturday morning, a little later than we had planned (because that’s how we roll) and we took the scenic route (read slightly longer, but much less traffic) to this little town nestled in below the Topa Topa Mountains.
An hour and a half and a few windy roads later, we arrived at our destination. The hotel wasn’t ready for us yet so we decided to explore the small downtown shopping district…and by shopping I mean bookstores. Bookstores galore. And restaurants, all the yummy-looking variety. We hit a used book store first at the western end of the district and inhaled the beauty that is inherent in used books trapped in a cool room. I purchased a copy of A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle for $0.75. I felt good…but hungry. We started to head back to a restaurant we had seen at the beginning of our walk but got sidelined by the menu at Osteria Monte Grappa. We chuckled when we noticed the initials…and once we started eating, those were exactly the words I uttered. Oh. My. God. So delicious…
On the very long walk that ensued after this, I headed towards another bookstore that I had heard about Bart’s Books. Despite it being close to 90, and me being 7 months pregnant, we trekked back up the street to find this place…and wow was it worth it. This outdoor bookstore (yes, outdoor!) has a gazillion titles for you to read, plenty of shaded nooks for you to sit in, and the best vibe in the world. There is something about a town where book stores are plentiful and non-commercial. We could have spent the day here reading, but alas, we needed to check into the inn and it was getting late.
Our stay at the Chantico Inn was lovely – we got upgraded to a suite with a jacuzzi tub and a little outdoor patio. The lovely woman who checked us in gave us some good direction in terms of where the darkest part of the city was so we drove up Signal Street until we could no longer drive and parked the car. It was quiet..so quiet save the wildlife. And the sky was something I’ve never seen before…the Milky Way, clear as day. Not to mention, countless stars that I’ve never seen living in the city. I almost felt like I was drowning in a sea of them…but in a good way, if there is such a thing. The clouds of the incoming rain only gave us about 10 minutes to really use our portable telescope…but while the Man set it up, I just stared at the sky. Truly spectacular sight to see.
There was a continental breakfast complete with a newspaper to read in the morning …something I never do anymore and was grateful for the opportunity to peruse unfettered.
It didn’t rain in earnest until we were on our way out-of-town, and I was grateful for that too.
A perfect weekend away. Now we just have to plan our return…