Sunday, May 28, 2017

Ojai, California ~ The City

The Chumash Indians lived here early on and the town gets it name from a word for "moon" in their language. Later, the area became part of a Mexican land grant, Rancho Ojai, made to Fernando Tico in 1837. After he sold it, well, you know the history of California: Native Americans, Spanish settlers, Mexican settlers, and then the white folks arrive. And, for a change, we didn't ruin Ojai. Yes, it's a tourist attraction now. The town has fancy shops, spas, music festivals, wines and organic food. 

It is what it doesn't have that makes it so special. Chain stores, with the exception of a few gas stations, are prohibited by Ojai law; so no Walmarts here, no McDonalds or others like it; and no high rises. Local small businesses are encouraged and seem to thrive.  

I first saw this town over 40 years ago and the last time I visited was in 2005, but then Errol and I were looking for a place to retire, so my impressions are from 40 years ago. 

Of course, much has changed, the fancy store pictured above and many more like it were not here then. More cars and tourists are here, but the rich history of spirituality is very much alive. Ojai is still unique, I felt it in a few short hours, a city unlike any other I have ever visited. 

Bart's famous outdoor bookstore was nothing then, like it is now. I remember home-made bookshelves lining the sidewalk, coffee cans on top, where you left your payment. The coffee can system, in lieu of a cash register, began Bart's now famous honor system. It's still in place for books left on the sidewalk shelves during night-time hours. 

Bart's bookstore is a truly fabulous place, a book lovers paradise. I think I heard someone say they have more than 150,000 books there. 

Rachael and I had lunch at a lovely vegan restaurant she discovered last year. Then it was time for some shopping, beginning with this thrift store.

Continuing in this new age store, full of interesting things to peruse and buy. 

I bought this amethyst necklace and two stones, one for Rachael, with hearts on one side, and the text "You are loved" on the reverse. And for myself, this rock:

A sailboat with "Journey" painted on the back. A good way to look at life, I think.

There was also an outdoor area under this old oak, where I found the rusty scales and old Coca Cola sign I posted earlier. 

And many other interesting things to look at and perhaps buy.

This house was across the street and Rachael noticed this

magnificent tree in the neighborhood. We had to turn the car around and take a picture. 

Then we headed out, past orange groves, to Meditation Mount. After our walk down the path through the gardens I wrote about earlier, it was time to leave.

On our way home we pass this place, Thomas Aquinas Chapel and college close to the small agricultural town of Santa Paula. Then it's on toward busy highways and freeways and home. 


  1. Hi Inger - so good to have a brief resume of Ojai's history and to know that it hasn't been spoilt. Amazing that there are laws that no big chains are allowed in - they are invasive ... like a weed: yes some are needed in some places but not in every town one visits - similar high-streets everywhere.

    It does look gorgeous and those clear skies, mountain surrounds with lots of historical places to visit and walk in ... no wonder you're so enamoured. The book store looks to be staggering ... and lots of variety books to read ... love your photos - thank you ... cheers Hilary

  2. This is indeed a beautiful, peaceful place to live or visit. My daughter Nicole would have loved to visit this place. She just loved places like this. I'm in awe of the bookstore exposed to the outside. It mustn't rain often there. I would think the books would get damaged by moisture. I love the honour system. It reminds me of Prince Edward Island in a way. People have bags of potatoes by the road and a can for people to leave money.
    It gives you a good feeling for the place.

    Thanks for sharing this little paradise with us.
    Hugs, Julia

  3. a truly beautiful town, number 7 and 12 are my favorite photos but I love them all. that tree is AMAZING... I am wondering how it is pronounced so am off to find out. great post, thanks for the tour.

  4. What a huge number of books, and all on open shelves. Lovely pic of Rachel, purples and blues indeed!!! And such a peaceful place up there with wide views, your stone a reminder of life as we travel through each day. Hugs,XXX Jean.

  5. That is why I love blogging. You get visit places you would never get the chance to normally via the words and photos of another blogger. Thanks for the tour of Ojai. Always loved the name.

  6. Friends will turn the car around so you can take a picture; husbands usually won't!!

  7. What a beautiful wonderful place. The books! The Tree! The shops! I would never want to leave! Many thanks for sharing this with us!

  8. I would love to see this place, the thought of the bookstore fascinates me, it all sounds wonderful.

  9. Oh Inger, what a special trip! Of course I've heard of Ojai and seen pictures, but you've given a really lovely tour! I love the bookstore, and would love to just browse the shops. Towns like this are so few these days, and I love when one takes control and keeps out those stores that make them like everyone else.

  10. Bart's book store sounds like a very special place. I'd love to visit it!!!

  11. Dear Inger, this series is being so interesting as I've never before heard of Ojai. I do know what you mean about a place feeling spiritual --so many prayers said there over the years--so many dreams brought there--so much goodness.

    I like your stone. I have several I've collected over the years. Each brings me peace when I hold it and takes me back to the time when I found or was given the stone. Peace.

  12. What a wonderful trip! Ojay looks a beautiful city. I would love to be there with you and Rachael!
    So magnificent trees and flowers in the neighborhood too.
    Love so much the Bart famous outdoor bookstore. More than 150,000 books there! Wow!

    So beautiful the amethyst necklace and two stones! I am sure that Rachael love the gift! So sweet of you!

    Lots of hugs!


Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger


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