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My name is Trent Jones. I am an Ojai Valley Realtor and the Broker for Ask Now Real Estate. I have the privilege to live in this magical place called the Ojai Valley. Perhaps it is the surrounding Los Padres National Forest, the orange and avocado groves, the pink glow of the mountains at the end of each day, the friendly people or just the quiet easy going rhythm of this place that has captured my heart and caused me to call this beautiful valley home sweet home. Whatever it is, I know I am at home in Ojai. I moved to the Ojai Valley in 1997 from Burbank. I left Burbank because I wanted to get away from the stress of living in a big city. Not only did I get away from the stress of city living I found a magical and exciting place to live and work. I often tell my wife Olga, Ojai must be as close to heaven as you can get on earth. One thing I love about the Ojai Valley is that instead of being surrounded by city I am now surrounded by mountains and mother nature.
As I stand high above the Ojai Valley at the Dennison Grade looking out over the Valley I wonder what it must have been like hundreds of years ago as smoke rose from the camp fires of the Chumash Indians. Perhaps I would have been able to hear the faint sounds of the Chumash Indian children playing, dogs barking or men and women busy with their daily chores. This ancient culture of American Indians were some of the first people to inhabit North America and inhabited areas of the Ojai Valley and other areas along the Pacific Coast between Malibu and Paso Robles, as well as on the Northern Channel Islands. Before the white man arrived there were some 150 independent Indian villages.
The Ojai Valley had much to offer these early inhabitants. The natural hot springs up in the Matilija Canyon areas and other parts of the Valley was surely one of these attractions. Another was the pleasant year round climate and abundant wildlife. In addition the Chumash Indians considered the Valley a sacred place where it was said they experienced spiritual vibrations from the Topa Topa Mountains that tower over the valley below. I am also sure that the spectacular sunrises and sunsets along with the brilliant pink glow of the mountains caused even these ancient peoples to take pause and be in a state of reverence.
It is said that the word "Ojai" is derived from the Chumash word "A'hwai" (pronounced aw-ha-ee) meaning moon. If you have ever experienced an Ojai Valley full moon you will know the magic of the word A'hwai . However, let it be known that there is some disagreement of the actual meaning of the word A'hwai where some claim the true meaning is "the nest" referring to the way the mountains encircle the elongated east-west valley. I suggest we let the scholars fight over that one.
Other Chumash words still linger about and are used by the locals. For example the word Kuyam (koo-yahm), a Chumash word meaning "a place to rest together" is used by the famous Ojai Spa to describe its signature spa treatment.
The City of Ojai, which is the heart of the Ojai Valley, is off the "beaten path", some fourteen miles inland from the ocean. You have to go out of your way to get here and that is just how the residents like it. This is not a Wal-Mart town and never will be. Instead, you will find many small town, family-owned businesses, one movie house, some great "down home, kick back" coffee houses, a weekly farmers market with organic fruits and veggies, one small town local newspaper, some incredible art galleries, quaint shops and many fine restaurants. For the outdoor lovers there is a world famous 18 hole champion golf course, numerous hiking, biking and horse trails, a full service athletic club complete with tennis and two pools and acres of peaceful park lands and Lake Casitas.
Ojai is a community where, on the 4th of July everyone comes-out to watch the local parade and the fireworks. It is a community where people gather to raise money for and provide support for the Land Conservancy, Ojai Valley youth, the arts and to promote local theatre and music and film festivals. You will find all the major churches here, a number of meditation centers, health food stores, fitness centers and yoga centers, dance studios and more. There are world famous private schools here and excellent public schools. It is a place where the stress levels are low, the dress code is casual and people are just down-right friendly. There is always something going on here and if you want to get involved and participate, you will never be bored or lonely. In the Valley there are more than 250 clubs and organizations that provide a wide-range of cultural, fraternal, and social opportunities. Flowers will bloom here all year-round and the weather is almost always perfect. By 10 PM this town is in bed and all is quiet except perhaps the distant sounds of a group of coyotes in the nearby Los Padres Mountain Ranges.
A Brief History of the Ojai Valley
In 1542 Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo anchored his fleet off what is now Ventura. The Spanish Missionaries soon followed. When the first Spanish missionaries arrived, there were believed to be as many as 22,000 Chumash living in various Pacific coast areas. Eventually the Missionaries and the early settlers in their quest to civilize and convert them to Christian ways wiped out the Chumash Indian tribes.
Indian land was soon divided up and given away as Spanish Land grants. In 1837 Gov. Juan Bautista Alvarado granted to Fernando Tico a large area which was named the Ojai Ranch. He used the land to raise cattle and grow crops. Mr. Tico sold the Ranch in 1853. The land in the Ojai Valley then sold and resold, was the center of unsuccessful Oil exploration and eventually became and area where people again, like the Chumash Indians, where attracted to the Ojai Valley for its spiritual and healing attributes. If these early settlers could only see what Ojai Valley land is selling for now they would roll over in their graves.
A lot of people do not know that the first name for Ojai was not Ojai but Nordhoff. It seems that in 1872 a group of early settlers named the town after the writer Charles Nordhoff. Mr. Nordhoff had written about the experiences of moving West and the settlers felt that naming their little community after him would pay him a rewarding tribute. But the name Nordhoff did not stick. Edward Drummond Libby one of the early developers of the now downtown area along with others later renamed the town Ojai after a special event called Ojai Day.
Today, The City of Ojai is by far the smallest city in Ventura County, yet it serves as a hub for the larger unincorporated areas in the Ojai Valley and as a gateway to the Los Padres National Forest. The Ojai Valley is ten miles long and three miles wide.