Monday, February 24, 2014

Taking to the hills

Santa Paula, CA – Some of our days on this great journey are packed to the gills with activities, mileage or both, and some are not.  Today was one of the lighter ones, but pleasant nonetheless.

We set out in our little car for a drive to Ojai, the next town over from this one.  (It’s pronounced “Ohio” without the final “o”.)  We followed Highway 150 north from our campground, along a winding two-lane road in the mountains that would be a dream for anyone on a motorcycle.  The serpentine route, well banked at each switchback, revealed new vistas at each turn.

Information about Santa Paula reveals that Steve McQueen, the movie actor from Bullitt, The Great Escape and Papillon, lived the last two years of his life here, riding his motorcycle and flying small planes from the local airport.  We could easily picture him on the road we traveled today.

On the slopes and in some of the flatter areas we passed groves of lemon and orange trees.  Santa Paula is known as the lemon capital of the US, and here was proof.  The oil industry is also active in this area, and as we descended into the valley, we passed a number of pump jacks nodding their heads by the roadside.

Ojai is a charming little town with a strong arts community, nice parks and tall trees.  One item on our agenda was to get the car washed, but around here it’s more involved than wheeling through a tunnel with jets of water and soap spraying the car.  We surrendered our keys and went to sit on a shaded porch while a team of attendants did the water and soap thing, but also vacuumed the inside, wiped off the water drops, cleaned the windows and mirrors, sprayed a sheen onto the tires and provided one’s choice of scents (we picked vanilla) for the interior! The Honda was practically smiling when the job was done!

After looping back along the coast highway and returning to the KOA, we sat out on our shaded patio to read and relax for a while.  Our attention was drawn a short time later by the arrival of the local peacock, strolling past with the missus!  She disappeared, but he came right over and wowed us with his iridescent head and neck and sweeping tail.  Val shared our rice cake snack with him, which he snatched up, and when we finally went inside to make dinner, he came to the door expectantly.  We ignored him, and then discovered later on that he had left a calling card on the mat before giving up and strutting away.  Guess there’s something to the expression ‘proud as a peacock’!

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