Ojai, California

ojai california

Happy Thursday! You may remember a recent trip I took to Ojai: a small town in Ventura County, California. Set in the Topatopa Mountain Valley, Ojai is brimming with beauty + charm. So much, in fact, you may find it hard to believe that's it's only one hour outside of chaotic LA. 

 

I had never heard of Ojai before, but my photographer Katie had been wanting to go and I'm always up for an adventure. It didn't take long for me to fall hard for this idyllic little town that's somehow managed to be kept a secret (for the most part) from the masses. So if you're looking for a retreat from the hustle + bustle of southern California to enjoy scenic landscape, delicious wine and the perfect touch of quirkiness, look no farther than Ojai. 

greetings from ojai california
caravan outpost ojai california

I can honestly say I wouldn't have loved Ojai as much as I did if it weren't for our accommodations. We had the great pleasure of staying at Caravan Outpost- a community of beautiful Airstream trailers set in an awesome garden setting.  Not only is the concept of staying in an Airstream cool, but so is everything else about the property. They have a slack line, corn hole boards, bicycles and picnic tables all available to use freely. 

I'm not much of a fan for "roughing it" but Caravan Outpost is hardly that. They have in-unit refrigerators, bathrooms and even vinyl players (with plenty of records you can choose from). There's also a bathroom in each Airstream, but also the option to go indoors at their main outpost to use modern, full-functioning showers + toilets.

My favorite part of our stay was the community fire pit where you could always find people to chat with (and great music always on). We had so much fun talking with the owners and learning more about Ojai.

Long story short, Caravan Outpost gives you all the charm of camping without any of the hassle (plus a comfortable bed instead of a sleeping bag). It was hands down the most unique place I stayed on my road trip and someplace I'll definetley return. 

 

KNEAD BAKING COMPANY

For breakfast one morning, our friends at Caravan Outpost sent us (by bike of course) to KNEAD- a family run artisan bakery that specializes in cakes, pastry, desserts, breads, breakfast, lunch, picnic fare and more. Their baked goods are all about texture- whether it's crumbly, chewy, crunchy or creamy- you'll want to eat all of it. Their recipes are a reflection of a life long love of food that truly shines (not to mention, they use local ingredients like orange-tangerine honey organic walnuts + seasonal fruit/veggies). It was the perfect place to enjoy a delicious breakfast on the patio and soak up the Ojai sunshine. 

 

 

 

BEACON COFFEE

The next morning, we took another recommendation (along with the bikes) from Caravan Outpost + went to Beacon Coffee. This cool little coffee house has a great atmosphere and even better coffee. The owners spend several weeks per year visiting with all their producers all over the world in hopes to bridge the gap between the grower and the consumer. We had some insanely delicious avocado toast and struck up a conversation about travel with a local couple who was heading to Cambodia the next day. We went back again our final morning on the way out of town for one last cup of coffee, and I'm already looking forward to the next one I get to drink there. 

 

BART'S BOOKS

If you haven't noticed by now, we didn't drive anywhere in Ojai. Why would you when the weather is perfect and you can reach everything by bike? To continue the time outdoors, we went to Bart's Bookshop- a bookstore unlike any other because it's outside. We loved browsing the selection while simultaneously soaking up the California sunshine. 

As if Ojai weren't amazing already, did I mention they have great wine? We biked to Topa Mountain Winery, which is situated under the watchful eye of the Topa Topa Mountain range in the Upper Ojai Valley. They boast exceptional wines made from grapes grown in the Ojai Valley Region, but that's not the only great thing about this place. Their tasting room and entertaining grounds are the perfect place to enjoy Ojai's beautiful weather. Set under the mountain scenary, you'll love unwinding with a glass of wine, live music or a game of corn hole.  

We also biked to The Ojai Vineyard for a tasting. While they don't have the large entertaining grounds like Topa Mountain Winery, they have a beautiful indoor tasting room and a delicious selection of Ojai wines to taste. 

Overall, Ojai is a dreamy little destination that's a great addition to add to the itinerary if you're planning a trip to LA or Santa Barbara (stay tuned for more on those destinations next week!) I'd say the most ideal months to visit are September and October or April and May (although we went in February and it was gorgeous). Summers are hot and dry, so if you don't want that I'd avoid July or August. Temperatures in the winter (November-March) can drop to single digits during the night, so just be mindful of what you're likely to encounter and plan accordingly. 

 

So there you have it! I hope you get to experience Ojai for yourself so you can fall in love with it as much as I did. Stay tuned tomorrow for more about my recent trip to one of my favorite places- San Diego!

xx,

Whitney

 

 

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ojai california

Moab Utah Travel Guide

moab utah travel guide

When I was plotting my return trip back to Nashville on my coast-to-coast road trip, including Moab, UT in my itinerary was a no-brainer. Renown for it's iconic Arches National Park (home to over 2,000 arches) Moab is a natural-beauty-lovers dream and somewhere I highly recommend visiting. When you do, here's what you need to see:

 

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

image c/o fresh off the grid

Chances are, this is the reason you're coming to Moab- and for good reason. This park is brimming with incredible rock formations and provided me with some of the most spectacular scenery I've ever seen. We only had one day to see everything we wanted, so I sat down with the adventure team at Sorrel River Ranch (which I'll get to in a minute) and created the perfect itinerary (in order as you drive along the loop) if you want to see the "best of the best" in 4-6 hours or less. 

 

1. PARK AVENUE TRAILHEAD

park avenue trail

Start your trip with a bang on this easy, one-mile trail (2 miles total). It will take you along some of the giant monoliths of the park and is one of the first major attractions you’ll hit on your way in. 

 

 

2. LANDSCAPE ARCH

LANDSCAPE ARCH

Next, you’ll drive for a bit all the way to the top of the park. Park at Devils Garden Trailhead and hike over to Landscape Arch- the largest arch on the entire planet (#casual). The hike is only about a mile and a half round trip and is an easy difficulty level. 

 

 

3. SKYLINE ARCH

skyline arch

Leaving Landscape Arch, make a short (like, really short) jaunt over to Skyline Arch. This short + easy trail is one of the most popular landmarks in the Arches and is less than a half-mile roundtrip from the parking lot and back. 

 

4. SAND DUNE ARCH

SAND DUNE ARCH

After Skyline Arch, you’ll make another short journey over to Sand Dune Arch (where, as the name implies, you’ll find quite a bit of sand at its base). You’ll often find hikers kicking off their shoes to dip their toes in the sand as if they were at a beach. This is also an easy trail (1.7 miles round trip) and definitely worth a stop. 

 

5. DELICATE ARCH

moab utah

From Sand Dune Arch you’ll drive for a bit over to the most famous arch in the entire park (and arguably, the world): Delicate Arch. You’ll probably recognize it from the Utah license plate or countless of posts on social media, but the hike up also happens to be one of the most dynamic trails in the park. Delicate Arch is in a bowl, freestanding at the top all on its own. Seeing as this is the most popular arch, be prepared for more of a crowd on your 3 mile round-trip hike (but you simply can’t leave the park without seeing it). 

 

6. BALANCED ROCK

BALANCED ROCK

As you leave Delicate Arch and drive back toward the Visitor Center, stop at Balanced Rock- located almost in the middle of the small park. This trail takes you on a short loop hike up to, and around the Balanced Rock (one of the easily recognized landmarks of the park). Again, another easy hike here- not even half a mile roundtrip. 

 

 

7. DOUBLE ARCH

DOUBLE ARCH ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

For your final stop of the park, scoot a couple miles over from Balanced Rock to Double Arch. This incredible formation takes its name for obvious reasons- two arches share the same stone for their foundation. The trail is half a mile round trip and is a magnificent way to end your time in the park. 

 

Everything we saw in the park is incredible and I highly recommend this route. Be sure to pick up a map of the park from the Visitor Center (if you don't already have one) just to keep on hand- cell service can be spotty. You also won't find much of anything for food or water once you're in the park, so plan accordingly by bringing your own according to your needs. 

 

SORREL RIVER RANCH

While Moab is an incredible place to visit for it's natural beauty, I'd argue there's not a ton of options in terms of accommodations. While camping is certainly an option, I found another way to experience the best of the natural beauty + adventure without compromising any luxury. Enter Sorrel River Ranch. 

moab utah sorrel river ranch
sorrel river ranch

Set amongst the most spectacular scenery near southern Utah's famous arches and red rock mountains, Sorrel River Ranch Resort and Spa elevates the standard of luxury lodging in Moab, Utah. With 160 acres of wide open ranch land tucked away along the Colorado River, this property is truly a destination in itself. 

sorrel river ranch

Before I dive into the additional features of the property, let's start with the rooms. Ours offered gorgeous views of the river + red rocks, a cozy fireplace, and stunning decor.  We could have easily spent all our time here and been quite content, however there was way more on-site we wanted to experience. 

sorrel river ranch
sorrel river ranch
sorrel river ranch luxury resort utah

Aside from the lodging being heavenly, they've thought through everything you could possibly need to ensure you have an enjoyable stay: complimentary wi-fi, complimentary bottled water, laundry, babysitting, fitness center, a spa, a petting zoo + stables for kiddos, in-room dining, a pool + hot tub, complimentary guided hikes, morning yoga, astronomy nights, live music, tennis courts, bicycle rentals... do you see why this is a destination in itself? 

My personal favorites? Every night they have a bonfire (complete with a S'mores concierge) where you can cozy up + socialize with other guests staying on the property. But the most helpful and unique offering (in my opinion) is their adventures concierge. This is who helped us plan our entire route through Arches National Park, but they certainly offer more than that. These guys can help you plan hikes, hot air balloon rides, skydiving, mountain biking, canyoneering,  river adventures, horseback riding and even excursions to the Grand Canyon by private plane. They've literally thought through every kind of activity you could possibly want (be it in Moab or a popular destination that's even remotely close enough to venture to). They were so knowledgable and helpful and I can only imagine what adventures they could have planned out for us if we were staying longer! 

I can't say enough wonderful things about Sorrel River Ranch. They've truly thought through every single detail to ensure that your time with them is unforgettable. Whether you're traveling as a couple, with friends or as a family (especially a family) you're guaranteed to have an incredible stay and your expectations will be greatly surpassed. 

 

While I was mostly in activewear for my time in Moab, I did have fun "looking the part" in some western-inspired gear like this bodysuit paired with this bandana neck scarf

So there you have it! My time in Moab was short + sweet, but absolutely incredible. You could easily entertain yourself here for a week if you like outdoor adventure, but you're also capable of seeing the highlights in a few short days if you're pressed for time. Either way, be sure to add this stunning destination to your list of places to visit in the US. 

 

Thanks as always for stopping by! I hope you're feeling inspired to see more of the world that God created for us. Stay tuned for more adventures coming to the blog this week. Until then, have a great day, friends! 

xx,

Whitney

moab utah travel guide
moab utah travel guide

Airport Etiquette

airport etiquette

After a 3am wake up call and 10 hours of travel on a recent trip home from Mexico, it dawned on me how utterly oblivious some people are to <what I find to be> common airplane + airport etiquette. Okay, so perhaps I was a bit more grumpy than I’d like to admit (again 3am wake up call, people). But I have to believe I’m not the only one who’s been there. This lead me to do some research on the subject to see what the masses think. After scouring my favorite travel journals and polling many travelers, here are the 12 commandments to know (and abide by) before you fly. Consider it a friendly PSA.

 

1. THINK AHEAD IN SECURITY LINES

Okay, friends. Chances are, we’ve all gone through airport security before. We know how this works. If you’re not TSA pre-check (which I can’t recommend enough) you know to remove your shoes, take everything out of your pockets, and to remove portable electronic devices (like laptops or iPads) from your bags. So let’s not wait until the very last minute to do so. As you approach your turn in the security line, try to have your belongings ready to go to keep things moving. And when they come out, collect them quickly and move somewhere that won’t be holding up the line.

 

2. DON’T HOG THE OVERHEAD BINS

Don’t get me wrong- I know how annoying it is to use your precious legroom to store personal items like a purse or your laptop bag. But technically, it’s common courtesy to keep one bag at your feet and the other overhead- not both. Wait until boarding has completed to store any additional items overhead as a common courtesy to those needing to store larger carry-ons somewhere that won’t fit under the seat.

ALSO on this topic- avoid storing your bag in the bin horizontally if possible. This takes up unnecessary space and requires flight attendants to do lots of rearranging. Spare them the trouble and do it right the first time.


 

3. KEEP YOUR KIDS IN CHECK

If you’re traveling with a small child, great! I’m in full support of kids seeing the world starting at a young age. With that said, it’s your responsibility as a parent to keep them in check from disturbing other passengers as much as possible. This includes educating your children on common courtesies like using inside voices and not kicking the seat in front of them.

 

4. HAVE GRACE TO CHILDREN ON BOARD

Having said all of that about keeping children in check, let’s assess both sides of the coin here. Adult passengers not traveling with children should show grace to those that are and remember kids are kids, and they have just as much of a right to be on the airplane as you do. Babies are going to cry sometimes, so giving the mother (who is likely doing the best she can to calm the child) dirty looks isn’t going to change that. Be kind + remember to pack headphones in case you need to turn on some tunes.


 

5. MIDDLE SEAT PASSENGERS GET RIGHT OF REFUSAL TO ARMRESTS

Window seat can lean their against the airplane wall. Aisle seat can sneak some leg stretching in as long as beverage service isn’t happening. But the armrests are the only saving grace our poor middle-seat passengers have. It’s only fair to yield them both of the arm rests.

DISCLAIMER: For all ye middle-seat-sitters, this does NOT mean you can stick your elbows all up in my personal space and pour yourself into my seat. Take the armrests, but let’s not get carried away...


 

6. DON’T STAND IN THE AISLES

I know that international flights can be grueling and it’s quite necessary to stand up and stretch your legs now and then. This does not however, make it acceptable to stand in the aisles and chit-chat to friends sitting a few rows away from you. Remember to be courteous that other people are trying to sleep, read or simply seek some peace & quiet for this long, uncomfortable flight.


 

7. CONSIDER YOUR SCENT

This goes both for poor body odor, but also fragrant perfumes. Remember, all air in those planes is recycled, so whatever you bring on board will be shared with all the other passengers over, and over again. Shower. Wear deodorant. And go easy on the fragrances. It’s simple, really.

 

8. AVOID BRINGING FRAGRANT FOOD ON BOARD

While we’re on the topic of scents, let’s also discuss fragrant food. Remember people, recycled air. No one wants to smell your spicy chicken curry or tuna fish sandwich for hours on end. Eat that before you board the aircraft. If you want to bring your own food (I don’t blame you) stick with dry goods like nuts, fruit + veggies, etc. that won’t give off an offensive scent to those around you.


 

9. CONSIDER YOUR BATHROOM BREAKS

You know if your flight will have beverage or meal services, so don’t be that person that waits until everyone is eating to get up and go to the bathroom (the same goes for moments when you know people will be sleeping) Plan your breaks accordingly to be courteous to other passengers. If you have a small bladder and need to go frequently, consider an aisle seat for this reason.


 

10. BE PROMPT IN THE LAVATORY

If everyone is considerate about when to use the lavatory (which they should be), that naturally means there is likely to be a line. So be prompt when you do (don’t style your hair or do your make up). For the record, this is a pretty filthy place to spend your time anyway… do you really want to linger?


 

11. LET PASSENGERS IN FRONT OF YOU DEPLANE FIRST

Everyone wants to get off the plane as quickly as possible. Don’t push your way off before the passengers in the rows in front of you have time to deplane (unless they tell you to do so- which is courteous if you know you’ll be moving slow for any reason). The ONLY time this is an exception is if you’re cutting it close for a connecting flight. If that’s the case, it’s best to notify the flight attendant prior to landing so they can make an announcement to all passengers so those in your position can have priority getting off the plane.   

 

12. STAND ON THE RIGHT. WALK ON THE LEFT

Whether it's before or after your flight, you're likely to encounter a moving sidewalk at the airport. These are created not only to help move you along if you're weighed down with luggage, but also if you're in a hurry. So be mindful to always leave a path on the left for those travelers who are in a hurry- they certainly deserve right of refusal over people who simply don't feel like walking! 


 

Flying is a necessary part of travel that can often be a headache. Let’s all be courteous to one another and not make it any more painful than it has to be. What are some other courtesies you think everyone should abide by while traveling? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Thanks so much for reading and be sure to come back again tomorrow for my travel guide from a recent trip to Moab, UT!

xx, 

Whitney