California Dreaming

There is so much to say about California that there is just no way I’ll be able to write about it in one post.

I’ve moved to California twice, each time a little reluctantly. Each time from Texas. Apparently, There is no love lost between the two states, especially because Texans think that Texas is the last great place on earth. And Californians think California is paradise.

One of the things I liked least about California was the high cost of living. I had visited when gas was still under $1/gallon in Texas (back in the day. Anyone remember that?) and 300% more expensive in California. Basics like milk and bread were double the price. Housing costs were exorbitant. I remember wondering how Californians could afford to live in California.

So when I moved and discovered that some jobs were paying 40% less than they did in Texas for comparable positions, and that California charges state taxes, I was peeved.

Now California has grown on me. Ah, well. The state’s most redeeming feature, in my eyes, is its close to 900 miles of coastline, surpassed only by Florida and Alaska. But Alaska doesn’t count because of its freezing temperatures.

California beaches pale greatly when compared to Kenyan beaches (on which I cut my ocean teeth), but they are a few steps up from Texan beaches. I really have this intense affinity to the ocean; what can I say?

A few days before I left on my 2013 cross-country road trip, I drove down to San Diego to hang with friends and unofficially kick off my trip from the southernmost tip of the US on the West Coast. We visited Coronado Island, an idyllic ocean town. It was a wonderful, storybook day: temperatures in the low 70s, cool ocean breezes, blue skies. We had plenty of time to stroll and admire the scenery. Like real tourists, we visited Hotel del Coronado, sat in the lobby, walked out to the ocean, and took pictures.

That same day, we attended a street festival close to downtown, with all kinds of booths. I almost always gravitate towards the artists. There were several fine paintings, sculptures, and mixed media art. So inspiring! Later that night, we ended up at a coffee shop, gabbing and trying unusual drinks.

I’ve been to San Diego several times, and I love it there. It is a wonderful blend of big-city-small-city, and much of the vegetation reminds me of parts of Kenya. The weather is almost always perfect and, again, it reminds me of Nairobi weather.

There is much to see and do in San Diego: Balboa Park, the Zoo and Safari Park (not my thing), and SeaWorld, among others. The easy access to Mexico is also a big draw. Defense and the military contribute the most to San Diego’s economy, with several Naval and Marine Corps bases in and around the city. It is an easy and relatively quick day trip from Los Angeles–just 120 road miles–but far enough away to feel like a wonderful getaway.

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