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Fond Rememberings

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

Travels with Heart

By Annie Bowler

Vol 5 - July 1st, 2023

My classmates and me at our high school reunion

John and I went to my 50th high school reunion recently at Villanova Prep

in Ojai. It’s a small school and ours was a

particularly small class. Ours was a small but mighty reunion. It was wonderful to catch up with so many friends and former classmates. We shared lots of laughs and memories and even learned things we never knew about one another. It was truly a special day! Some of us had dinner on the pier in Ventura, which was where I worked when I went to Ventura Community College. Talk about a day of walking down memory lane!

A gathering of friends from Villanova at Eric's

Fish House on the Ventura pier Villanova School

Villanova BBQ is an annual tradition Class of 1973!

I feel very lucky to have grown up in Ojai, a small, eclectic town just 13 miles from the beach in Ventura County. Ojai is often described as a nouveau hippie California town but to me, it will always be home.

Downtown Ojai with Topa Topa Mountains in background The arcade in downtown Ojai

Citrus Orchards with Topa Topa Mountains

Topa Topa Mountains famous "Pink Moment"

Ojai Art Center

Why does Ojai feel like home? My parents lived there until they passed, and

many dear friends still live there. But beyond that, it’s a well-planned small city that’s surrounded by tall, gorgeous mountains that offer glorious “pink moment” sunsets. Ojai has a lovely downtown with its classic Spanish architecture and a well-designed park that’s been a gathering spot for years. Ojai has taken steps to preserve much of its agriculture land which has allowed citrus groves to flourish and kept urban sprawl in check. Ojai has long been known as a haven for creatives like woodworkers, painters, ceramicists, and sculptors who create and sell their wares all over town. The Ojai Art Center is the oldest Art center in California and a place I folk danced every Thursday night during my high school years. Ojai has been a haven for spiritual seekers like Krishnamurti, Krotona Institute, Meditation Mountain, and many other philosophers who have long called Ojai their home. It’s famous for its music festivals, tennis tournaments, lavender, and wine festivals.

I grew up in the middle of a Valencia Beatrice Wood was a long time Ojai resident

orange orchard but now Ojai is famous who is famous for her beautiful and

for its "Ojai Pixies" which are quite similar creative pottery. Other artists followed her

to Placer County's beloved sasunia mandarins Downtown Ojai Arbor to Ojai.

John and I got married in this chapel in downtown Ojai. It is now home to

the Ojai Museum (shows how old we are :)

In other words, there was always something interesting going on in this little town, which as a kid, I found fascinating. The older I get, the more I miss this quirky, beautiful place, and its colorful people.

My dear friend owns a fabulous little grocery store and restaurant in Ojai called Farmer and The Cook

One of my favorite spots in Ojai is Bart’s Books which is the world’s largest outdoor bookstore. It’s been open since 1964. Bart’s boasts over 130,000 new and used books including many rare and out of print. Their goal is to have books that will interest everyone.

One of the things I love best about Bart’s is, if you want to buy a book on shelves that are on the street, you just throw your payment through the front gate. I went to grade school just down the street from Bart’s; I used to love to peek through the gate and see how much money was lying in the entryway. Only in Ojai!

As these picture show, our road trip up and down the coast was beautiful. Our state is amazing, is it not?

Lake Casitas which supplies much of the

water to the Ojai Valley has been low for I love the plants that were able to grow in

for years. It is full now thanks to last a coastal environment. These are heads and

winter's storms. Road trips views are the best! (Morro Bay) chicks.

Patagonia was founded in 1973. Its flagship

store has been in the same location for all

these years, right by the beach in Ventura.

Health update… I am healing slowly and working to build back my strength. I

have appreciated all the good wishes!

Happy and healthy trails to you!

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