It’s been over two years since I last stepped foot in my native land. I’m a California girl bread and buttered. I love California! And after a year in Texas, I love it even more. This July my sweetheart and I will take a week long summer vacation to the land of my past. The place I grew up. I can show him my old high school, my old home, and even some old friends. Having lived for years in both No Cal and So Cal, I think I can find some pretty cool things to share with ya. “My favorite things about California”.
- Disneyland – The happiest place on earth! I don’t want to hear about the high cost of tickets or how Disney is taking over the world. I don’t want to hear about lines and I don’t want to hear about overpriced food. It’s Disneyland! Home of “Space Mountain” and “Big Thunder Mountain” and all the other mountains! There is a castle, a merry-go-round, and a flying elephant ride all within feet of each other. And just for the record, Disneyland cost just about the same as Universal Studios and I would much rather go to Disneyland. There are lines at all the theme parks and at least at Disneyland the food is edible.
- The Bay Area – For some reason there is always a war between Nor Cal and So Cal. But the war is being waged solely in San Francisco. LA folks couldn’t care less where you are from. But if you say you are a native of L.A. while in SF… see what happens. There is no need for war here. Both places have beaches. Both places have horrid traffic. Both places have great restaurants and both places have insufferable hipsters, scenesters, and wannabe’s. But the Bay Area has L.A. beat and I’ll tell you why. Public transportation. L.A. sucks at public transit. It’s almost as bad as Austin. Maybe as bad, but I haven’t used it in over 6 years. Nobody does. L.A. is not walkable. And it is full of smog, smug and actors. Eww. The Bay Area is smaller, cooler (both weather wise and attitude wise) and The Bay Area is way more diverse. Oh, and The Bay Area has Peaches Christ, The Oakland Bay Bridge, The Golden Gate, Golden Gate Park, and BART. Yay for the Bay!
- Catalina Island – I have fond memories of taking the ferry to Catalina Island and spending days there riding tandem bikes or just laying out in the sun. Catalina is a small island just a few miles outside of L.A. You can go fishing, hiking, snorkeling, swimming, shopping, or just spend the day walking the island. Such fun! Catalina is a great place for a weekend getaway, or just to spend the day someplace different. Be sure to check out the beautiful casino if you go. I saw Lady Hawk there when I was a kid and I’ll never forget it.
- In-N-Out Burger – A California classic and hands down, the best fast food hamburger I have had. When In-N-Out FINALLY made it to the Bay Area it was crazy. There were blockbusting lines in both the East Bay and in The City. In-N-Out has been making fresh burgers and fries since 1948 and they still do it the same way: No microwaves, no heat lamps, all food made to order. Every time I go to L.A. the first thing I do, without question, is get an In-N-Out hamburger. With cheese.
- National Parks/Camping – You want awesome National Parks? California has them. Not just one, or two, but dozens – something like 25 of them. There is Yosmite, Joshua Tree, Redwood, Kings Canyon, and more. I don’t want to list them all for you, but trust me that they are awesome. Hiking, camping, and awe inspiring nature. Next year my sweetie and I plan on visiting National parks all over the country, but the ones I am most excited about are in California.
- Wine – When it comes to wine, I was a little bit spoiled being raised in California and having a wine snob for a brother. I also had the privedlidge of working in one of the East Bay’s best restaurants for food and wine: The BayWolf. I learned more than I ever thought I could from just 2 years working there. I can now say with confidence, “I know good wine”. I think. I’m no expert or anything, but I get it. California has great weather, thus great wine. About 90% of all the wine produced in America is said to be produced in California. I know it isn’t produced in the Czech Republic. My 7 years in Prague proved to me that Czechs might know beer, but they don’t know wine. And I don’t want to hear that “Moravian” wine is better. Or that the white wines are ok. No they are not. Like eating food in the Czech Republic, you just get used to it and convince yourself it is “good”. You can get a pretty great California wine for about $15. Not bad.
- Weirdos –
Every day I see at least one person wearing a shirt that says “Keep Austin Weird”. The shirt is usually tie dyed because I guess in Austin that’s weird. California is full of weirdos, real ones. Just take a trip down to Hollywood Boulevard or Venice Beach. Walk around downtown L.A. for a while or head over to Berkeley or the Mission District. If you are really brave spend some time in Ojai. California is known as being weird. Why? Well, probably because of Hollywood and hippies. We have Hollywood – the mecca for every crazy nut job wo thinks they can be the next big star. When they inevitably fail, they stay. They do odd jobs, or wait tables while in their spare time they take gigs as birthday clowns or nude models for art classes at PCC. The hippies in the Bay Area keep regenerating which keeps The Bay Area humble. If it weren’t for the old hippies weirding up the place, San Francisco might sink under the weight of its own pretention.
- The Dinosaurs – Did you ever see Pee Wee’s Big Adventure? Remember those Dinosaurs? They are in California. If you are driving from L.A. to Palm Springs – you’ll find them. When I was little I remember climbing into the Brontosaurus and being a little disappointed to see no guts or bones. Maybe it looks better inside now, but either way… there are Dinosaurs in California!
- Carmel by the Sea – When I retire from a life well lived, I hope to do it someplace like this. Carmel is what you picture when you hear the words “charming” and “seaside” and “art”. It is a tiny little town in Monterey that was build specifically to be a haven for artists. Today it is a quiet little seaside town that still caters to folks with an appreciation for the finer things. If you want McCrap then keep moving. Carmel is home to quaint bodegas and little coffee shops. Carmel has lovely bookstores and 4 star dining. Famous people flock there and Clint Eastwood used to be the Mayor. I don’t know what that says for the community, but I won’t count the 80’s against them. Carmel has a great community for people who love theater, art galleries, books and all of natures beauty. Oh, and Pebble Beach is not far. My favorite thing to do in Carmel is take a long, rambling walk just to look at all of the cute houses.
- Location – What makes California the greatest state? Well, if you ask me it is the location. California is in the best spot. You wanna go skiing? No problem. Like surfing? Cool. We got that. Forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, canyons? Yes. Feel like going to Vegas tonight? No problem. I can get us there in 5 hours. Aside from its accessability to just about any type of outdoor sport you can think of, California is also pretty close to other cool places like Hawaii, Vegas, Portland, Seattle and The Grand Canyon. That means it is cheaper getting there. California is a beautiful state and I am proud to be a native Californian. I just pretend Encino doesn’t exist.