Roaming Around in Shangri-La

red and green trolley car stopped at a pick up spot

The Ojai Trolley

Another House Sit in Ojai –

Here we were back in Ojai for our 13th house sit and the second from a personal referral. We had come for the meet and greet a few weeks earlier and had agreed to do the house sit. 

The owners were heading out in their RV and could have taken their dog. Sadly, she had extreme motion sickness, so they had to make arrangements for her care and leave her home. A great couple, from back East, retired to the West Coast.  

They were the first people we met who had done some house sitting. It was great fun finding camaraderie with other people who had some similar experiences. 

B&W drawing of a ship on the ocean

The House

Jim went solo here for two days since I was still at the last house. We passed like ships in the night: Jim left one morning for a trip up north, I arrived later after my school day. Then, I was here the rest of the time.

There were two unique things about this house: it is on the downward side of a hill, so the sights from the backyard included all the mountains and sunrises.

Also, it was very dark, away from street lights and that meant the stars appeared bright all night long even into the early morning. What a treat.

oranges growing on a tree

Ojai citrus – it’s everywhere

We had one duty at this house that we hadn’t had at any other house before or since. Our homeowner subscribed to one newspaper, her neighbor behind subscribed to a different paper.

You might be able to tell where this is going – our task was to place our newspaper on the top of the wall dividing the two yards. Then, magically, it would turn into the other paper later that day. So practical and neighborly: we got a kick out of that.

an arbor in Ojai

It’s close…

Our Joyful Companion

This house came with one four-year-old Poodle-Bichon mix. She was tiny and oh, what a sweetie; easy-going and joyful. She was very obedient and friendly if a bit shy at the start. She followed her humans from room to room: whatever was going on she was there. We had a good time playing with the ball inside as she loved that.

Eating wasn’t a big deal for her; she just nibbled through the day, and it showed: one very slim and trim little lady. If she needed to go out, she was trained to stand by the door. However, we couldn’t leave her outside alone, even in the backyard – coyotes.  

close up of small white dog

What a good girl

A Wonderful Companion

She loved the word ‘walk,’ and got excited if we got our shoes or jacket on or if we touched the leash. She loved taking walks, for such a little thing, she could go very fast with those tiny legs.

Watching television with her in the room could be intense. Neither of us had ever seen a dog watch TV, but she did. She waited to see a dog on the screen and then ran at the set, wildly barking; what a sight.

That’s a strange evolutionary turn if you think about it. A two-dimensional image sets off a reaction like the real thing.

small white dog sleeping

A late afternoon nap in the shade

She had many places to rest all through the house except the master bed; that was a first for us. We had gotten used to sleeping with the animals or, at least, having them in the bedroom at night. So it was a bit difficult for me to close the door on her at night. Of course, the dog was all right with it and didn’t know any different.

Since I had to work during most of my stay, we had arranged for a friend of the homeowner’s to come at mid-morning on four days to let the dog out – I felt terrible about it.

We had explained our schedule and my long commutes; the owners seemed okay with it. But we prefer fulfilling every duty of a house sit: that way we know things are well handled.  

outside courtyard surrounded by shops

Such a nice place

A Bit About Ojai  

When in Ojai we always try to get our shopping or sightseeing done during the week if possible. We have noticed that Ojai is a very popular getaway spot and gets very crowded each weekend.

It seems the powers that be have worked out the yearly calendar, so there’s a public event every weekend, seriously. They have a variety of festivals, art and music events, bike and motorcycle events, marathons, the tennis tournament, to say nothing of all the private gatherings.

It is a small town; the city sign says the population is just over 10,000. There is no way a town so small can support so many events just for locals. There must be a wider draw, and the proof is in the traffic.

Old fashioned drawing of girls dancing around a blossoming tree

The Traffic

With all those events happening, traffic is a pretty serious issue here, in particular on the weekends. There is only one main road into town, and it gets clogged up a lot and often traffic comes to a complete standstill.

There is a back way in and out of town, on the east side. It takes you up over the mountains, through the next valley, and then follows a stream south to Hwy 126 and back to civilization.

We took this pleasant drive a few times. Though slower than the main road, it goes through parks, past farms, ranches and even a monastery. It’s a popular stretch with motorcyclists especially: lots of twists and turns going through the mountains.

an orchard with mountains in the background

This kind of orchard surround Ojai

Some Gardening

Most of the flowers and vegetables were on timers, so no watering needed. Again, it’s the water or lack of it. We found many signs that people took the drought seriously in Ojai.

Out in the backyard, there was a great picnic table with a huge umbrella – an excellent place to hang out when it wasn’t too hot. My little friend and I relaxed there in the shade more than a few times. I spent a few late afternoons out in the backyard cutting off dead roses and bringing fresh blooms inside (those that wouldn’t last until the owner’s return.) 

red roses blooming on a rose bush

Love those red roses

In the front yard, I found some Sweat Pea plants in full bloom. A favorite with a heavenly scent. A few bunches migrated inside, and the spent blossoms got clipped. There were also a few rose bushes out front, and I pruned them as well. It was great to do some real garden work and be among the blossoming flowers.

When this stay ended, I spent a few days at a friend’s house (Jim was still up north at a house), and then returned to Ojai for another house sit, this time with new hosts and pets.

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