It had been way too long since we’d taken a big trip of any kind, so Drew and I decided to celebrate our 3 (!) year anniversary by flying out to California, with our dog in tow. The last time we were there was on our honeymoon, going to Napa Valley and Big Sur, driving along the Pacific Coast Highway and visiting Hearst Castle. We didn’t get that far north on this trip; we spent most of our time in LA, but we did set aside a couple days to explore Ojai for the first time.
It’s a trendy place to visit right now, I know. While we were planning our trip I looked for alternatives to Ojai because I was afraid it might be pretentious or too hip to be relaxing, but that really wasn’t the case at all. We went during the week when it was quiet and stayed in our own little cabin on the edge of the Topatopa Mountains. We walked around town a bit, visited the outdoor bookstore and stopped into a couple local shops I’d heard about. They were really cute, but we weren’t really in the mood for shopping–haven’t been for a while. Mostly we went to California to hike and to eat the sort of vegan food we can’t find around Nashville.
We hiked the Horn Canyon trail, right in the mountains on the outskirts of town. It’s about a five mile hike—not too short, but not so long that we’d end up exhausted or stranded, which honestly I was halfway afraid of. California hikes aren’t like the ones we’re used to in Tennessee. A moderate trail around here would probably get rated easy in California; we’re used to rolling hills, not mountains. This particular mountain was steep (for us) with lots of switchbacks, but it was so beautiful that we hardly noticed. We’re not used to views like that in Tennessee either.
Another thing we’re not used to: California vegan food. I know that hippie Ojai is probably a special case, but I couldn’t get over the fact that such a small town had so many vegan options to pick from. We had a post-hike lunch at Hip Vegan (delicious and not scarily hip, despite its name), where Drew had a Mexican bowl and I had a raw bowl, not because I’m raw vegan (I’m not), but because when else do I get the chance to eat entirely raw meals with seed crackers? The Farmer and the Cook isn’t completely vegan, but just about anything on the menu can be made with cashew cheese instead of regular cheese, and their Mexican food tasted so authentic (to us) that we ended up eating there two nights in a row.
On our anniversary day we got sappy and headed up to Meditation Mount to watch the sunset. It’s a scenic overlook on the grounds of a new age-y, hippie center, and by all accounts it’s the best view in town.