In Praise of Mini-Vacations

Sometimes living in San Diego can feel claustrophobic. I feel trapped between the vast snarl of Los Angeles, the Pacific Ocean, the desert and Mexico. It’s a good minivacation when we go north of L.A. Almost immediately the landscape begins to change. The oak trees get bigger and more like something out of Tolkien. In the fields and wild places, the plant life is greener and thicker and less likely to have thorns on its stems or prickles at the tips of its leaves. Just coming to Ojai, less than two hundred miles from home, is a terrific getaway.

Our hotel has gorgeous sheets and pillows that my head sinks into at the same time it’s supported very nicely at the perfect angle. There are blackout curtains on the big windows and try as I might (or might not), I can’t hear freeway surf.

Bart's Books Ojai, CAHonestly? There’s not much to do in Ojai and that’s part of its charm. We visited Bart’s Books on West Matilija. Probably the best used book store I’ve ever been in and most of it is outdoors. Patios with chairs to lounge in, coffee if you get snoozy, and rank upon rank of bookshelves, one outdoor room merging into the next. And so much fiction, I was almost delirious and would have been sorely disappointed not to find at least one book by Drusilla Campbell. I was pleased to see BONE LAKE, BLOOD ORANGE and THE GOOD SISTER lined up side by side like siblings called to attention.

In a charming wine bar we had a light dinner and dessert of broken chocolate, walnuts, cheese strips and sliced strawberries. Had to buy a couple of things to support the local economy, of course. The point of all this is to get enough of a break from routine and let our minds jump their ruts and wander in new directions.

Meanwhile, the dogs are guarding the homeland, watched over by Adriane. We’ll be home on Sunday. Just a few days away, a few miles up the road: when it comes to vacations the mini kind suit me best.

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