Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Santa Paula, California - Black Gold and Citrus Haven

If you were wondering where you would find the California Oil Museum then look no farther than “the Citrus Capital of the World.”  Still not sure where to look…well try Santa Paula, California.  O.K., I can tell you have not heard of Santa Paula.

The California Oil Museum building
Santa Paula was our “home” for a few days while we visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum and explored more of California.  We were pleasantly surprised when we drove through historic downtown Santa Paula and saw how cute it was.  Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the California Oil Museum.  We love little obscure museums like this and added it to the list of “things to do” and filling up our schedule book.

The California Oil Museum is housed in an elegant building built in 1890 and was once the headquarters of Union Oil Company which gave birth to the California oil industry.  The museum is small but we were amazed at how nice all the exhibits were and how well they explained the oil drilling process.  They had two rotating exhibits – one on bugs and the other on modern design quilts.  Not sure how they fit in with oil but that was O.K.  We enjoyed them anyway.

The exhibits are well displayed and many are interactive with videos, working models, and computer games.

A wing was built to accommodate a working replica of a 1900's oil rig.
Santa Paula’s rich agricultural industry is omnipresent.  Acres and acres of land surrounding downtown are dappled with citrus farms and trucks full of lemons whiz past you on the windy county roads.  The towns’ 60-year reign began in 1880 when citrus groves were planted.  The railroad came to town shortly after and soon goods were freely getting shipped across the country.   

As we were driving through downtown, we marveled at the colorful murals that depict fascinating chapters and events in the history of the city.  The murals are beautifully done by some of the country’s most famous muralists.   
Walnuts are a big agricultural crop in the area and were harvested by men using long poles with hooks to shake the trees.  Women and children would gather the nuts off the ground.
Santa Paula claims to be the Citrus Capital of the World from 1880 - 1940 and pays homage to the hard work by Latino, Anglo, and Japanese workers that harvested the lemons.  
Small family farms surrounded the Santa Paula countryside where apricots, lima beans, walnuts and citrus made for a productive area.
The next day, we took a trip to Ojai for a hike and to see the town.  The trip from Santa Paula to Ojai led us through the Los Padres National Forest which was perfect for hiking and a redneck bath for Spirit.  The town is charming and filled with trendy boutiques and restaurants that fit into a Mediterranean theme.  It sits in a picturesque valley framed by green mountains that make the desert seem like a distant past. 

One happy dog in the water.

Ojai valley
Now, it is on to the California coast.


  1. spirit looks like he is really enjoying that swim. He almost looks like an alligator coming at ya. LOL

  2. Great photos. Santa Paula looks like a great find.

  3. We loved the little oil museum and thought it was a gem in that little city.


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