Ojai, CA. // Ojai Rancho Inn

By Maggie -- Sep 26, 2014

As some of you might know, I've been working freelance on the road for a friend of mine as a community manager for her web app. MAP (www.madewithmap.com) is her startup creation that is currently in development, and it's focus is allowing creative travelers to share places they've been and find new places via MAP's community. Basically, it's like Google Maps but on crack. You can search for a location and see photos of that location taken by others, leave a comment, save it to your own map, and more. It's also based on the principle of searching by #hashtags, similarly to instagram. It's a wonderful tool and it's been so much fun to help her grow her initial user base and test the beta as it's being built. Also, working with Puno is never boring. Here's her About Page on her website - yeah. She rocks!

During our weekly checkin, she asked if we were planning to stop in Ojai (pronounced Oh-hi) at all, to which I replied, "maybe?". We had no clue where were going to go after San Luis Obispo. "I can get you a room at the Ojai Rancho Inn, they said anytime I want a room I got one!" We gleefully accepted her offer and within minutes we had a free room booked for us in Ojai. She had done some photography shoots for the owners of the hotel, and had done a collaboration with them on MAP's social media account. The Inn owners have an awesome collective of artists and creatives in their personal network who have completely outfitted the hotel. From top to bottom, this place defines the word COOL.

Walking around the hotel property, we noticed a yellow Shasta trailer tucked away in the backyard, unlocked. Of course we had to investigate - it's in mint condition, and you can rent it and stay in it! We knew we would love this place. The vibes are great and the people have a very welcoming, casual attitude and approach to everything. It was refreshing and reminiscent of vibes from one of our other favorite hotels in Palm Springs- the Ace.

When we checked into the hotel, we found out that their pool is "closed indefinitely" due to some long-running city dispute. Total bummer, man! But as it turns out the hotel down the street is allowing the Rancho Inn guests to use their pool. WHEW. It was 90 degrees and not a breeze to be found, so we needed a pool asap. First we stopped in the tiny hotel bar for a drink, later on had a fabulous dinner at Osteria Monte Grappa down the main street.

Yes, we went big in Ojai. We're in celebration mode mainly because I'll be gone for a few days this weekend for a bachelorette party, so Ryan will be camping solo while I'm gone. These are the last few days on the road together and we wanted to go out in style!

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Arroyo Grande, CA.

By Maggie -- Sep 26, 2014

The closer we get to home, the more we're needing to email, text and call people. It seems like our "reality" is slowly creeping back in with every mile we get closer to Los Angeles. That's ok, we're ready for it. It's forcing us to camp at places where we can take calls and have a strong wifi signal to do some work, so after we left the mission, we stopped at the Madonna Inn to get some wifi. The restaurant/cafe had great coffee and free wifi. Perfect! 

While I drank my 4 cups of coffee and worked for a couple of hours, Ryan got to walk around and experience the Inn. There's quite a bit that can be written about it, but it's pretty clear just by the photos that the Madonna Inn has a very colorful history. It's worth stopping for a bite to eat and probably even staying a night in one of their bizarre rooms. Someday, maybe!

We left the Inn and traveled east again to the Lopez Lake campground, tucked up on a hillside by the half-full lake. It's so sad to see how low the water is in these California lakes, and it's even worse to hear the local people talk about it. This campground is huge and overlooks the lake and the beautiful wine country in Arroyo Grande. It also seems to be a haven for certain animals including turkeys and deer. Both felt safe in the park and weren't afraid of humans, so we all went about our business and had a great time co-existing in the campground for a couple of days.

We're on the homestretch, the final countdown... and even though we're trying to take our time, it feels like it's coming way too fast.

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Los Padres National Forest, CA.

By Maggie -- Sep 24, 2014

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We had heard it from so many people, "be sure to make a reservation for Big Sur", but we still didn't make one and it came back to bite us in the booty! 

Big Sur is by far the most packed camping destination in the USA that we've seen. We've never seen so many campers in each campground and so many sites reserved for months into the future. So after backpacking, we needed a place to stay, and we were forced to go back east instead of camp on the coast like we had wanted to. Driving up through the National Forest was an intense hour-long ordeal of winding fire roads. Once we got to the campground, we weren't sure if it was even open or not - there was not a soul in sight. We parked, and no one bothered us or even came around to collect dues. We maybe saw two other people for 24 hours straight. Both of us crashed hard by 8pm, and it was lovely.

The forest in the area east of Big Sur is huge and barren, minus the oak trees and millions of squirrels. After driving through most of the mountains, we saw a sign for a mission - the first one we'd seen in California so far - and we stopped and walked around for awhile and bought some cold water in the gift shop. Mission San Antonio de Padua was Ryan's first mission experience. I told him about my mandatory 4th grade art project where every kid in the class had to create a miniature version of a mission and bring it to class, and he thought it was insane. When I think about it, it was sort of ridiculous. Usually, the parents or grandparents got stuck with most of the work, and more often than not it was a source of unnecessary fighting and tears. I can remember one kid came in and stole the whole damn show because his dad installed a battery powered lighting system throughout his mission (watch this! flick! the entire mission lights up!), and also a water fountain that slowly dribbled out water. I mean, what a jackass.

That aside, we did have fun at the mission. We stole some figs from a tree in the courtyard (forgive us, Father, but they looked so good) and took off back on the road. We wanted to see a little bit of San Luis Obispo and find some camping near there.

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