Camping in Ojai

Last February Joe and I went on a weekend camping trip to Ojai. I am so excited to share some details of the trip with you guys. Ojai is one of the more relaxing and beautiful places I’ve been in a while and our trip was fantastic. I love that California is filled with fantastic vacation locations.

I’ve wanted to check out Ojai for years. Ojai is about 90 minutes north of Los Angeles in Ventura Country. All of my friends who have gone to Ojai say that it is a very calming and spiritual place. Joe and I have been talking about going camping for our entire relationship but hadn’t organized ourselves enough to go. Joe’s birthday is right after Christmas so this year I decided to surprise him with a weekend camping trip as a joint birthday/Christmas gift. On Christmas morning I gave him smores ingredients with a card that had photos of all the activities I had planned for us. I preplanned most of the trip before I gave it to Joe. I know the activities he likes and this way he could just relax and enjoy a break.

I picked a camp ground, planned out our activities and our meals. Before we drove up Friday afternoon, I went to Trader Joes and Albertsons to get the essentials (i.e.: wine, cheese, firewood). We drove up Friday afternoon and managed to beat traffic.

Dennison Park

We camped at Dennison Park outside of Ojai. I read a few yelp reviews of this campground and knew it would be perfect for us. There were only 20 campgrounds and few people staying there the same weekend as us. We were the only people when we arrived so we had our pick of spots and snagged this one with a killer view.

It was only $20 a night. Each site had a fire pit, picnic table and there were toilets and running water nearby. The camp host came by in the early evening to introduce himself. There were only two other groups camping each night and we had barely any interaction with them. The tree cover kept the site pretty private. After setting up we commenced with our favorite vacation activities: drinking wine/beer, eating and generally doing nothing.

On night one I made salmon and baked potatoes. I’ve never camp cooked before so I went simple on night one. The potatoes were just wrapped in foil and cooked over the fire. After they were soft enough I cut into them and added cheese, garlic salt and pepper. For the salmon I made a simple marinade and cooked with foil over the fire. It was so nice to relax in the fresh air, under the stars. We (mostly) turned off our phones while on this trip so we just sipped wine and enjoyed being outside.

Day 2 we ate homemade cheddar scallion scones and then explored downtown Ojai tomorrow which is very small. We walked the whole thing and got coffee. After we did a hike in Los Padres National Forest and went wine tasting.

Rose Falls, Los Padres National Forest

For hiking we went to Rose Falls in Los Padres National Forest. There are many hiking trails around Ojai. I didn’t want us to kill ourselves with anything too long or intense but I wanted to end somewhere beautiful. The hike was on the short side, maybe only a mile, but the trail ends at a waterfall. It was a bit drier than usual because of the drought. Luckily the waterfall wasn’t totally dry. I highly recommend this trail. It wasn’t too challenging but the end product was beautiful.

There was a longer trail but after the mile out, exploring around the waterfall and walking back along a small creek we were OK with not spending hours going on a much longer hike. The falls was truly beautiful. I would love to hike this trail again. While hiking we met a nice golden retriever and took photos. The falls were tall and beautiful. I wish we were able to go when the water was flowing more. We were able to stand in what should have been a water bed. Pray for rain.

Old Creek Winery

After hiking we went to Old Creek Winery. Again, I researched this winery online and liked the reviews. The winery is on a large, open ranch. There were dogs running around and the vibe was very laid back and relaxed. There was an outside sitting area and a building where they do the wine tasting. For $10 we got 10 pours.

Great policy!

The verdict? We loved it! I highly recommend Old Creek. Joe and I were keeping tabs on which wines we liked and I think were starred about 6 bottles which is way more than usual for us. Usually when we got wine tasting one or two bottles are good enough to want to buy but at Old Creek there were several we absolutely loved. I even liked the Rose which I am not typically into. The women who poured for us was so nice and personable. Overall, we loved Old Creek and will be making return trips.

California, I love you.

After the winery we went back to the camp ground to eat more wine and snacks. Saturday night dinner was campfire pizza which I burned. Still need to work on some of my campfire cooking skills.

Sunday we drove back to LA through Ventura where we grabbed a delicious diner breakfast.

We really loved escaping for a weekend to Ojai and camping. Joe and I both love camping and are OK with going for 2 days without a shower so I think there will be a lot more camping in our future. I highly recommend all the places we went to in Ojai. I could not have imagined a more relaxing vacation and I really hope we are able to camp out again soon. As far as budgeting goes, I managed to cash out my tips from work and that paid for almost the entire trip. Campsites are cheaper than hotels and I loved being outside and seeing all the stars at night. Even though we went in February it wasn’t too cold and luckily there wasn’t rain while we were camping (unlike the time I camped in a tornado rainstorm with my dad as a small child). We came back to LA recharged, relaxed and with more wine than we left with. I’d say that it was an excellent vacation.

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California Love

If you did not gather from my last, teaser post I was lucky enough to spend the past week and a half exploring California. Despite living in Cali for a little over 3 years I haven’t actually spent that much time exploring my adopted home state. I’ve taken a couple trips to Palm Springs and I’ve been to San Francisco and San Diego but there was so much more of the state that I wanted to see.

My Dad flew into LA on my birthday, we rented a car and hit the road.

We went to Santa Barbara.

Cambria and Hearst Castle.

Traveled up the 1 through Big Sur.

Carmel.

San Francisco.

Healdsburg and Wine Country.

and San Los Obispo.

This trip has completely reaffirmed my love for California. I feel so lucky to live in a state with such geographic diversity and beauty. Big Sur was especially breathtaking and I really want to go back. This trip was planned over the summer so major credit goes to my mom. I basically said “I’m busy, just plan it for me” and she did a really good job. We had great hotels where we stayed with locations that were walking distance from the downtown areas.

We only had one night in Santa Barbara, Cambria, and SLO. I really liked Santa Barbara and spent plenty of time on the main shopping drag through town. Same with SLO. It was the end of the trip and I was pretty tired but we stayed at a really cute little hotel that felt super homey and I managed to get some shopping time in too.

I ate at some amazing restaurants and I documented about half of the meals I ate. I plan to do separate posts detailing those meals. I was a huge fan of the dinner I had at Slanted Door, lunch at Chez Panisse, the baked goods at Tartine (might give my beloved Flour a run for its money as my favorite bakery), and Baci and Scopa in Healdsburg. I definitely came home with a food baby. Always the sign of a good vacation!