17 August 2013
The Ojai bike trail runs from the beach near my house all the way to Ojai, and beyond. The nearest entrance to the bike trail, shown in the photo above, is where I usually exit the trail on my way home after my daily walk.
When I leave my house and start my walk, I walk along a street nearby until reaching Django’s Coffee House, where my first cup of coffee awaits. After coffee I stroll a short distance to a nearby entrance to the bike trail.
A right turn at this “T” intersection where the sidewalk meets the bike trail leads toward Ojai.
Actually, what I call the Ojai Bike Trail is made up of two trails: The Ventura River Trail, and the Ojai Valley Trail
The Ventura River Trail starts near the beach where the Ventura river empties into the ocean just south of my house, and joins the Ojai Valley Trail at Foster Park, about 5 miles north of Ventura.
To simplify matters, I refer to the combined trails as The Ojai Bike Trail, or just the bike trail.
My daily walks can take up to five hours, and cover various distances from a couple of miles to about ten miles, round trip.
I have never walked all the way to Ojai (about 20 miles) but I use parts of the trail on a regular basis.
My Django’s Loop walk has been documented in a previous post, so this presentation will start at Django’s Coffee House, and show some of the things along the trail.
About once a week, I walk all the way to Foster Park, (about ten miles, round trip). For the other days I do shorter walks, usually about three to four miles.
The residential area abruptly comes comes to an end soon after leaving Django’s, and becomes a semi-rural / industrial area featuring pumping oil wells, large storage & staging areas for trucks, and various kinds of oil well facilities.
About a quarter mile from Djangos I pass by the City Limit sign, and leave Ventura behind.
Along the Bike Trail there are dozens of markers with cryptic messages, such as the one shown below.
Atop each marker is a metal object made from discarded oil well drilling equipment. The cryptic messages on the markers always end with a “mark” of some sort . . .
Yes, this is serious “Oil Country”, right here within easy walking distance of my house.
The photo, above, shows 4 oil wells with pumps that operate day and night. Three of the wells are close by, with a fourth atop a hill in the distance on the other side of the Ventura river. The nearby wells are in a far corner of one of the OST Truck and Crane Co. storage/parking yards.
Where there are oil wells, there must be pipes to carry the oil to storage and/or processing; lots and lots of pipes . . .
“OST Trucks and Cranes” is one of the largest family-owned businesses in Southern California. An entrance to one of the huge OST storage yards is just down the street from Djangos.
This well established company is an important part of the southern California oil well business.
Here is a Youtube video of one of the OST trucks in action . . .
The Bike Trail actually passed through one of the OST large Storage / parking facilities.
The STOP sign automatically swing down when a truck is approaching the bike path from either side – similar to railroad crossings. The STOP sign is, of course, for the bikes, not the trucks.
For safety, there are lots and lots of No Trespassing and various kinds of warning signs to help keep unwanted visitors away.
After leaving Ventura behind and passing through the OST property, the next significant sight is an old refinery that has been being dismantled for the past twenty years, or so.
To help with geographic orientation, an areal view of the Refinery and immediate surroundings is shown below (thanks to Google Maps)) . . .
The Ventura River flows along the far left edge of the photo: Highway 33 (Ojai Freeway) is shown on the far right. The bike trail is the narrow roadway shown looping to the left of the refinery grounds.
There is still work to be done, as shown in the photo, below.
All of the really valuable things have been removed long ago, and the remaining stuff is mostly just scrap metal and huge chunks of concrete, all of which must be removed before anything new can be built on the property.
The value of all the scrap metal (mostly in the form of huge petroleum storage tanks) on the site probably does not justify the cost of removal, so the property remains an eyesore until a profitable means of cleaning it up is found. Just the disposal of all the huge chunks of concrete will be a major undertaking; and there is the clean up of the ground contamination that must be lurking just beneath the surface. Oil refining is a nasty business!
Be that as it may, the taggers and graffito “artists” have found abundant surfaces waiting to be decorated . . .
About the only surfaces that have escaped the taggers are the two huge spherical storage tanks . . .
Just outside the fenced-in portion of the refinery there is another well decorated graffito haven . . .
Inside the “gateway” shown above, steps lead to the top of a huge concrete slab . . .
The concrete slab has concrete “rooms” on top . . .
Surviving scraps of pipe, floor drains, etc. suggest the rooms were used as large shower rooms, or possibly a kitchen where parts of a hood that might have once vented above a cooking stove . . .
Part of the large concrete slab appears to have been a loading dock of some kind . . .
Once well past the old refinery there little other than “countryside” until we reach the bridge that takes the bike trail over a tributary that empties into the Ventura River, which flows about half a mile to the west of this bridge.
Yes, there is water flowing in this small creek year-around, but at this time of year (August) it is only a trickle, as opposed to a full flowing flood after the heavy rain of winter in the southern part of the Los Padres National Forest.
From the bridge to the end of the Ventura River Trail near Foster Park the trail passes through farmlands . . .
. . . where leaf vegetables such as cabbage and lettuce are grown.
The roadway visible on the left is actually an extension of Ventura Avenue. Highway 33, aka the Ojai Freeway, is hidden by trees to the left of Ventura Avenue.
There are several very old trees near the bike trail, such as the sycamore shown below (the tallest tree in the photo).
The trunks of sycamores can get quite large. The one in the photo, below, is almost 10 feet in diameter at the base.
The beginning of the Ojai Valley Trail at Foster Park marks the end of the Ventura River Trail and the beginning of the Ojai Valley Trail.
The entrance to the park is guarded by a lion . . .
After relaxing for a while in the park, it is time to begin the 5 mile trek back to Ventura, possibly taking an alternate route, or not – and that’s a story for another day.