Thursday, April 12, 2012

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

Su Nido Inn in Ojai

Santa Barbara pier
Mission at Santa Barbara


Danish village of Solvang

We spent several days on the border of Oxnard and Ventura. We had hoped to visit the Channel Islands National Park, five islands just off the coast, but were discouraged by cold, windy, rainy days.  Fortunately, the weather was in our favor during the 5 days we spent in Ojai (oh-hi).  This idyllic area was the site of Frank Capra’s 1936 movie Lost Horizon.  Ojai Valley was the Shangri La Ronald Coleman discovered.  

The charming little town has an artsy/new age ambiance and boasts a ten mile “rails to trails” path for hikers, bikers and horses. We were fortunate to be there the one day of the week they show an art festival film.  The showing that day was  “Whistleblower,” a true story about an American policewoman who went to Bosnia as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission and uncovered a human trafficking ring in which members of the UN played a part – either directly or in covering it up.  A woman who addressed the audience after the film said that there are at least 27 million slaves in the world today of which more than 2.5 million are sex slaves. 

Ojai was also the American residence of Krishnamurti, considered one of the greatest philosophers and spiritual teachers of the last century.   We visited his home and retreat center.  Our visit to Ojai was enhanced by the cozy one bedroom apartment we had at the Su Nido Inn, a small complex built around a lovely courtyard. 

Ballard Inn
We were in Santa Barbara, sometimes known as the American Riviera, over Easter weekend.  
During our time there, we enjoyed walking State Street and the pier, eating at a few of the numerous restaurants.  On Sunday, we strolled through the weekly art show, drove around Mendocito and followed winding paths across the Santa Ynez mountains to the Santa Barbara Mission.  Completed in 1820, it was the tenth of 21 Franciscan missions built in California.



One of best schools in Santa Barbara

125 miles north of Los Angeles and not far from Santa Barbara, six small and picturesque communities sit within the Santa Ynez Valley.  They are surrounded by the Santa Ynez and San Rafael mountain ranges.  This is big wine producing country and wineries abound.  It is also some of the prettiest countryside you can imagine. 

Western village of Santa Ynez
The biggest of the villages is Solvang.   It was founded in 1911 by a group of Danes who had come west to escape harsh midwestern winters. The architecture reflects traditional Danish style, the restaurants serve Danish dishes and there is even a replica of the little mermaid statue.  After lunch in Solvang, we drove on to our destination, the Ballard Inn.  The town has less than 500 residents but the Ballard School has been in operation since 1882 and is one of the top performing schools in Santa Barbara County.

We spent 3 nights in a charming room at the beautiful Ballard Inn. While there,
Santa Ynez library
we visited Los Olivos (seen in the movie Sideways), and the western style town of Santa Ynez.  There we saw a replica of one of the stagecoaches that passed through all these towns.  As you can see from the pictures, the stage coach is almost bigger than the local library.   

In the late afternoon the Ballard Inn hosts a wine and hors d'ouevres hour for guests.  It is a wonderful way to meet fellow lodgers, and provided some of the pleasurable memories we will carry of this beautiful area.