I've lived in Southern California my entire life and I've never ventured to Ojai, which is only about a ninety minute drive from my house. So close that it's a shame that I've waiting until now to discover it.
It's a city that wasn't on my radar, until it was mentioned pervasively on the television series Brothers & Sisters. The fictional Walker family of Pasadena owned a ranch in Ojai and several episodes a season, there would be some drama that would drive the entire family to run away to their second home. They made it sound so pretty and so not-LA, that I wanted to visit. Dan and I had a free day this weekend, so we took a trip to check it out.
We drank too many margaritas the night before and has a lazy Saturday morning, not hitting the road until nearly eleven.
One rule of any good road trip is to hit the brakes when you see a miniature golf course. We stopped at Golf N' Stuff in Ventura for a quick competitive round. Nearly a year ago, we played one of the courses with Dan's dad, who beat us both. This time, we played a different course and although the game was close, Dan took the lead and edged me out. He even got a hole-in-one!
We went for the thirteen dollar package, which included one game of golf, four arcade tokens and a ride. We picked the Go Carts for the ride, which was a pretty good deal as we got to drive about five laps on a lengthy course. One thing that sort of freaked me out, were the warning signs. Anyone with long hair, must pull it in a bun, because hair gets caught in the motors. I was assured that it had not happened at Golf N'Stuff, but that it has happened many times on Go Carts in other places. Having been a ride operator myself, I am quite obsessed with ride safety and love to hear a gory accident story.
Dan was on a winning streak, after beating me at golf. We went into the arcade and with one a single play, he won a thousand tickets on a fishing game. All of the kids in the arcade were green with envy. This big win gave us enough tickets to get something cool (meaning not utter junk) for Dan's daughter.
We finally hit the road to Ojai and made it there by mid-afternoon.
Our first priority was to find a place for lunch. We found a free parking lot behind the main street and decided to walk until something caught our fancy. Unfortunately, a lot of the restaurants seem to close between lunch and dinner, limiting our options. We had arrived right in the middle. Lucky for us, we found a very cool wine bar that served small plates and was just opening for the evening. The woman who served us, who we think may have been the owner, was really warm and welcoming, letting us take any seat in the house and quick with recommendations.
We loved Barrel 33 so much, that we had a very leisurely meal and it was basically the extent of our visit to Ojai. We shared a bottle of wine, some beer, a shot and loads of great food. The atmosphere of Barrel 33 is intimate and cozy, the perfect place to warm up on an overcast winter day. If I owned a bar, I would want it to look exactly like Barrel 33. We can't wait to go back on a future trip to Ojai.
Even though we were stuffed, we had a bit of room for some local ice cream. Who doesn't always have room for ice cream? We got cones and walked across the street to a very pretty park. On the way to the park, we saw a ladder leading to a tower, but it was locked.