A visit to Ventura

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.

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  • Ramona

    Although I haven’t made the trip in some time I always enjoyed the trip home through the “quasi-rural” areas as well. It’s good to know that Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and Starbucks haven’t taken over the area.

    On a side trip to Ojai and the art galleries there, I came across a painting by someone I knew. Not remarkable except that I had no idea this person was an artist of some repute. Very low key, this lady.

    As for the Ronald Reagan Library, I was helping load a bus with elementary school students headed for a field trip there and I overhead this comment from one of the parents:

    “I hope they don’t all come back Republicans!”

    Hope you didn’t either. (Or were you already? Hard to tell the difference these days.)

    Glad you had a chance to get away for a while.

  • Don J

    It doesn’t play Redondo Beach in “Little Miss Sunshine” very convincingly, but I’ve enjoyed going thru downtown Ventura for years. Before the Glass House, the Ventura Theatre rivaled the Coach House for the L.A. outskirts’ best-kept concert secret. You could grab a general admission ticket for $18, a mom&pop motel for $30, prepare with a great meal at this Italian place across the street for $7. I’m sorry you mssed the American Freedom Train Museum back when it was @ Fillmore & Western; http://www.freedomtrain.org/html/main.htm http://www.fwry.com/

    [There were some decent people on the marquee at the Ventura Theatre: Gregg Allman, Blues Traveler... but no shows while I was there. -- DA]

  • Krista Carson Elhai

    You really do need to find the time to go to Bart’s Books in Ojai. It is an amazing place.

    A few years ago I found another copy of Through Darkest Adolescence by Claremont’s Richard Armour. I had misplaced my copy and only had a reader’s theatre version I had directed as a One Act so I was thrilled to find a gently used version.

    Where else can you find a selection of books on a shelf outside the store with a box to leave the money after the store has closed?

    [Hi, Krista. I know, Bart's is a neat place. I have been there -- I bought a couple of SF pulp magazines from the '50s for $1 each maybe six or eight years ago -- but was in the mood to get home this time. Oh, and Armour is unjustly neglected; nice to hear you're an admirer. -- DA]