Well, I had a fine time, even though I ignored all your advice. (Sorry about that.) The hotel was right on the beach and represented the first time I can remember being able to see the ocean out my window.
I had a couple of decent meals and hit two bookstores and a comic shop prior to the start of the conference, which tied up the rest of my visit. Except for a side trip during some built-in free time to the Reagan Library, but I plan to write about that in Friday’s column.
As a fan of downtowns, let me offer an eyewitness report. Ventura’s is gentrifying with boutiques, a wine bar and interesting restaurants, but it’s changing slowly enough that thrift stores, art galleries and mom and pop places haven’t been priced out. There’s a modern movie theater, a vintage theater now used for rock shows and very few chains, only a Starbucks and a Ben and Jerry’s that I noticed.
Downtown hasn’t reached its potential and it’s still a little scruffy, but it’s in considerably better shape than a few years ago. If Ventura were in the Inland Valley, its downtown would be second only to Claremont’s. It’s something for Pomona to aspire to; Upland, meanwhile, would kill for a downtown with the activity of Ventura’s.
Not feeling in the mood to go to Ojai on my way home as Bob House suggested (all the bookstores except Bart’s appear to have closed, Bob), I took Highway 126 to luxuriate in quasi-rural atmosphere before transitioning back to the urban fray.