Off the beaten path in Ventura/Oxnard/Ojai, CA.

The old shuttered & abandoned Foster Bowl used to be the place back in the day (1928-70's) until the new fancy Libbey Bowl in Ojai stole it's thunder.

The old shuttered & abandoned Foster Bowl (seating capacity 1000) used to be the place back in the day (1928-70’s) until the new fancy Libbey Bowl in Ojai stole it’s thunder.

Foster Park Bowl is a shuttered outdoor amphitheatre located between Ojai and Ventura. Built in 1928, it had a seating capacity of 1,000.

At the northern edge of Highway 33, where the highway plunges toward Casitas Springs, the ghosts of a forgotten town linger amid the rush of traffic. Few people notice the remnants of brick walls pressed against the mountainside as they drive across the freeway overpass. Nor do they realize that trees alongside the Casitas Vista Road exit once stood in the yards of people’s homes. But this cluttered loop of asphalt and concrete, this dusty stretch of weed-strewn land next to the steeply sloped hillside, used to be a tiny town called Foster Park.

One of the town’s most memorable institutions was Okie’s, a rowdy tavern run by Oklahoma native Fred “Okie” Leaf. Leaf was famous for his humorously misspelled signs, such as one on the bar that read “Jist Plane Folk tryin’ to make enuff to git back to OKLAHOMA.” In the early 1960s, he added a boxing gym, which became a training ground for Foster Park resident Ray “Windmill” White, who went on to become the California Light Heavyweight Champion.

One of the town’s most memorable institutions was Okie’s, a rowdy tavern run by Oklahoma native Fred “Okie” Leaf. Leaf was famous for his humorously misspelled signs, such as one on the bar that read “Jist Plane Folk tryin’ to make enuff to git back to OKLAHOMA.” Prior to becoming Okie’s, the tavern was a community dance hall belonging to the Loyal Order of Moose. After hosting big bands during the 1930s and ’40s, it became a stop on the country western and hillbilly scene. Some of the era’s biggest acts played there, including The Maddox Brothers and Rose, Tex Ritter, Jim Reeves, the Everly Brothers and Johnny Cash. After it became Okie’s in the late 1950s, popular musicians continued to play there, including Buck Owens, Freddie Hart and Jerry Lee Lewis. Today, the abandoned Foster Bowl is all that seems to be left of the long demolished town, although I wasn’t aware of the town’s history and didn’t explore much beyond the bowl itself. Looks like a return trip is in order.

Although, Santa Claus now resides in Oxnard, CA, for 52 years he lived at Santa Claus Lane in Carpenteria along with his pal Frosty the Snowman and an entire Christmas themed street!

Although, Santa Claus now resides in Oxnard, CA, for 52 years he lived at Santa Claus Lane in Carpenteria along with his pal Frosty the Snowman and an entire Christmas themed street!

This eighteen foot tall Santa Claus found in Oxnard, CA just off of Highway 101 use to be located on Santa Claus Lane just south of Santa Barbara in Carpenteria.

This eighteen foot tall Santa Claus found in Oxnard, CA just off of Highway 101 use to be located on Santa Claus Lane just south of Santa Barbara in Carpenteria.

The juice stand located on Santa Claus Lane was started by June and Patrick McKeon. With Santa Claus perched over their business, it evolved from nuts, fruit, olives, and dates into the Christmas themed attraction that it was for many many years. Santa resided in the chimney atop Santa's Candy Kitchen for fifty-two years.

The juice stand located on Santa Claus Lane was started by June and Patrick McKeon. With Santa Claus perched over their business, it evolved from nuts, fruit, olives, and dates into the Christmas themed attraction that it was for many many years. Santa resided in the chimney atop Santa’s Candy Kitchen for fifty-two years.

wear and tear eventually made it unstable and hazardous to have it perched on top of the buildings there. It was taken down in March 2002. Luckily, it was saved by several citizens and transferred South to Oxnard in January 2003.

Wear and tear eventually made it unstable and hazardous to have it perched on top of the buildings there. It was taken down in March 2002. Luckily, it was saved by several citizens and transferred South to Oxnard in January 2003.

Artist Dennis Oppenheim created Ventura's award-winning (but also hated) bus transfer station in 2002. The twisting and arching perforated steel sculpture abstractly shows a bus turning into a house.

Artist Dennis Oppenheim created Ventura’s award-winning (but also hated) bus transfer station in 2002. The twisting and arching perforated steel sculpture abstractly shows a bus turning into a house.

Fans of the arts adore its whimsy, while those who actually use the structure gripe that it's completely inadequate to shield bus customers in rainy weather.

Fans of the arts adore its whimsy, while those who actually use the structure gripe that it’s completely inadequate to shield bus customers in rainy weather.

Fishermans's Memorial

Fishermans’s Memorial

Ceramist Michel Petersen cast the sculpture's figures from working fishermen from around the area.

Ceramist Michel Petersen cast the sculpture’s figures from working fishermen from around the area.

Created as a tribute to their colleagues who have died on the water.

Created as a tribute to their colleagues who have died on the water.

VHPD

VHPD

Hangry for fish?

Hangry for fish?

It's old, lovely and owned by the City of Ojai.

It’s old, lovely and owned by the City of Ojai.

FF was from Missouri in case you were wondering.

FF was from Missouri in case you were wondering.

This knotty tree's got heart.

This knotty tree’s got heart.

A very touching offering placed in front of a child's grave in Nordhoff Cemetery.

A very touching offering placed in front of a child’s grave in Nordhoff Cemetery.

This grave site sucs.

This grave site sucs.

Powerful.

Powerful.

I love JJ's simple yet beautiful civil war confederate marker. The dead leaf placements are spot on.

I love JJ’s simple yet beautiful civil war confederate marker. The dead leaf placements are spot on.

I love old cemetery's and this grave at Nordhoff Cemetery in Ojai was my favorite.

I love old cemetery’s and this grave at Nordhoff Cemetery in Ojai was my favorite.

I waited to long to explore this abandoned refinery off Hwy 33. I was totally preparing to go there on this trip but found out that they are currently tearing it down and now have 24 hour security on site. Fortunately, the path for my cycling event this morning followed the property's borders.

I waited to long to explore this abandoned refinery off Hwy 33. I was totally preparing to go there on this trip but found out that they are currently tearing it down and now have 24 hour security on site. Fortunately, the path for my cycling event  followed the property’s borders.

The very controversial Matilija Dam above Ojai, if you look closely enough...

The very controversial Matilija Dam above Ojai, if you look closely enough…

...you will see this incredible environmental street art piece. Watch the doc, DamNation for the full story.

…you will see this incredible environmental street art piece. Watch the doc, DamNation for the full story.

Ventiki owned by my friend Scott Noble is a great place to grab a Mai Tai and shoot the shit with the locals. Thanks Scott!

Ventiki is a great place to grab a Mai Tai and shoot the shit with the locals after your day of exploration.