Carefully—very carefully—we hitched up and drove a few miles to Dos Picos County Park, where we spent a couple of nights moving back in and reacquainting ourselves with our little home on wheels.
We vacillated for a couple of days about whether to travel Highway 395 through the Sierra Nevada mountains or head to the California Coast on our trajectory north. (We avoid I-5; it’s the most direct route, but also boring and heavily trafficked.)
Fickle weather in the mountains made the decision for us, and we went to sleep comfortable with our plan of heading to Tehachapi, and then to Morro Bay and beyond. It’s a very good route to take, because it circumnavigates most of the insane traffic of southern California. But Mother Nature intervened.
An Unexpected Change Of Plans
I sensed Eric standing over me in the early morning light. “I have bad news,” he said. I opened one eye. “We can’t go to Tehachapi. There are severe wind and dust storms along our route through the Mojave Desert. We have to go through L.A.” THAT got my attention.
The entire time we were in San Diego, we only had to make one trip through the nightmare of Los Angeles traffic. It was a necessary expedition to transport Eric’s mother’s ashes to her final resting place (she had been in a closet for several years, patiently waiting for the cemetery to reopen after some legal ridiculousness). That was the most terrifying traffic experience of my life, and I swore that I would never, ever drive in Los Angeles again.
We hitched up and I steeled my nervous system for the journey. Miracle of miracles, it was without incident. We sailed smoothly up the freeway, encountered no kamikaze drivers, and arrived in peaceful Ojai within several hours. I wish I could tell you that it was because we planned the timing perfectly, or because it was a specific day of the week. We have no idea why the trip was so easy. But I can tell you that we were very happy.
Peaceful Ojai, California
We’ve wanted to visit Ojai for years, and our two days there gave us a taste of the serene beauty of this delightful little town. We stayed in a lovely county park at Lake Casitas, explored the picturesque downtown, shopped the fantastic farmers’ market, visited the peaceful sanctuary of Meditation Mount and enjoyed a delicious tapas lunch downtown at Azu.
It wasn’t nearly enough time—there’s a lot to do in Ojai and the surrounding area. We’ll definitely return, although we’ll come in from the north—we’re not counting on good traffic karma for a return visit.
A Short Stop At One Of Our Favorite Central Coast Campgrounds
Our next stop on our way up the coast was a revisit to El Chorro Regional Park—our favorite location for exploring nearby San Luis Obispo, Montana de Oro State Park, and Morro Bay. This time, we were here only two nights, but it was enough for long walks on Morro Rock Beach, saying hello to the flotilla of otters in the bay, and a hike in the fog at beautiful Montana de Oro. It feels great to be back on the road.
Glad to hear the trip was uneventful and you’re back to enjoying your home on wheels :-)
Ingrid, we were very happy to have an uneventful drive through L.A.! We’re loving being back in our home.
I understand your pain…When we lived in SD and had to head north we would get up at 3am in order to have an easy drive through LA. It’s nice when the traffic gods align and allow a smooth transit!
Lisa, I can totally understand why you would get up at that hour to travel through L.A. I lived in Boston for 10 years and the traffic there is notoriously bad, but it’s nowhere near as crazy as L.A.
Ooh, can’t wait to read about Pinnacles! The Mate and I have driven up and down CA for decades, but somehow never managed to stop there. Yet. Glad you guys made it safely through LaLaLand and are back on the REAL road again.
Gretchen, we’ve also intended to go to Pinnacles for years, and finally made it! It’s a special place for sure. We’re very happy to be on the road again — we’ll be seeing you soon on Lopez! :-)
These are areas I really want to visit. We actually had reservations in San Luis Obispo two years ago but had to cancel because of some work we were having done in Bakersfield. I also want to visit the olive groves near by. Your photos are calling me to get there:) I love all the photos of you and Eric. I so enjoy seeing my friends in their posts:) I’m glad you didn’t make that trip through the Mojave area in the wind. We did that and it was not fun. We had a nightmare time with our long window awning. We now have a lock on that awning. Good to be reading about you back in your home:) I assume you are actually back in Oregon at home!?
Pam, the olive groves are on our list of things to do, too, when we return to the area. (There are olive growers in both Ojai and San Luis Obispo.) There’s also a great bike trail in Ojai, and the sweet little beach town of Carpenteria is only 17 miles away. Lots and lots of fun and interesting places to explore! We returned to Ashland mid-May. I’m just way behind on the blog for a variety of reasons. :-)
I thought you were back in Oregon. Thanks for the extra info:) Have fun back in your home town!
Thanks, Pam. It was fun — and we also had some adventures we didn’t bargain for. :-(
Ojai and San Luis were two of my favorite places when I lived in the valley in southern California lo those many years ago. Bart’s books looks like the place for me. I can’t believe those purple cactus. Did you dye them to match your outfit? :) Morro Rock and the beach are so beautiful but the top of the line for me is that fabulous sea otter picture! I could watch them all day if they’d just give me a chance. Perfect closing picture of you and Eric. This really looks like a wonderful way to get back on the road. Nice planning!!
Sherry, it was a wonderful way to get back on the road — as it turned out, I was happy we had to go through L.A. so that we got to go to Ojai. I love the sea otters, too — there are dozens of them in Morro Bay, and they’re so much fun to watch.
I thought you’d never pull out of SD, ha ha ha. I know where you are now.
Tehachapi is the windiest place in the US so driving there would be a leap of faith.
I was never a fan of LA freeways, we had a nightmare there with a rented motorhome.
ML, we thought we might be permanent residents of San Diego! It was so not fair that our maiden voyage with our newly repaired trailer involved going through L.A. Talk about trial by fire! But it all worked out fine. :-)
Love the pics of Ojai, it is such a wonderful little town in the hills. Wish the otters had been “there” when we were in Morro Bay, they are sooooo cute! With no dogs allowed on the trail, we missed Montana de Oro this trip – one of Bill’s most favorite places. Thanks for sharing your time there.
Jodee, we loved Ojai and are looking forward to a return trip and a longer stay. Glad you enjoyed our hike at Montana de Oro — it’s one of our favorites in the area — so beautiful in the sunshine or the fog.
Love the pictures. Guess we are going to have to go back that way soon. Safe travels.
Thanks, Debbie. We want to return soon, as well! There’s so much more to explore, including the Ojai Valley Bike Trail. That’s definitely on our list for next time.
So glad to hear you are back on the road. ;) Now I am woefully behind on my blog since we have not had the internet for over a week. Thanks for this blast from the past. I have not been to this part of CA for many many years and hope to make it one of our side trips when we are back in the Temecula area. Looking forward to seeing you both soon.
LuAnn, now I feel like I’m in good company. Maybe we can get caught up on our blogs while we’re on Lopez. :-) You’ll have a great time on your winter trips exploring the California coast.
So good to see that you two are back on the road! However, it appears you didn’t suffer much. I am looking forward to visiting California in the future.
We are in Colorado and I am loving the low humidity and not-so-hot summer.
You guys keep having fun!
Loretta, we are so happy to be back on the road! But you’re right, we didn’t exactly suffer while we were waiting. You must be loving Colorado — the summers in the west are quite different from the summers in the south. :-)