This [Eclectic] Place Called California

I left my clear, bright SoCal valley one morning a few days ago to once again attempt a trip to the north, and as soon as I crested the grade out of the moisture-deficient valley, boom, heavy rain began. For hours I battled a dumping so heavy it was difficult to see cars in front of me. Then, when the rain ceased, I passed through the area of the recent Santa Monica fires, the scent of smoke still strong in the air, the hills turned to charcoal. Sobering.

As I made my way further north, I revisited Santa Barbara, where, 45 years ago, I traded a ragtop VW for a plane ticket to Hawaii. Later, I spent the night in the near-perfect (and correspondingly expensive) town of San Luis Obispo. I left my hotel early in the morning (it was very cold, and I realized I am going to have it hard in Norway) to walk a few miles to the lively and beautiful downtown.

I imagine living there.

A few more miles north, I dropped into a winery where I tasted many wines, and then bought many wines, you know, as host gifts.

I then spent a few days in Oakland visiting family; we accidentally witnessed the community Christmas tree lighting at Jack London Square. Oakland has a lot to offer, but it’s a bit rough for me. On my way still north, I cruised the small town of Crockett where I lived decades ago, and was nearly overcome by feelings of lost chances. This was sobering in a different flavor.

Eventually I made it to Sonoma, more family visits, and daily hikes. In Bodega, we were met by a bitingly cold wind that sliced at my ears and made eyes water so much I couldn’t see; yet another hint of what might come in Norway. Thankfully we found a warm, lovely, nearly-deserted beach to walk on for hours, and then tromped through a forest of stately redwoods.

California is something else.

One follow-up to my previous post: back in Palm Springs I met someone who feels kinship with coyotes, calling them “elegant gentlemen.” But she added, “That is until you see them catch their live dinner.”

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photos. You may have noticed I find beauty in vegetables . . .

Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.

8 thoughts on “This [Eclectic] Place Called California”

  1. Luv the cauliflower! Beautiful pics, as always… I too often feel very nostalgic about my previous life in California… the life I traded in for my notes from the jungle… can’t wait to hear about Norway! Totally Fav!

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  2. I guess I’m one of many, many who used to live in California–thanks for helping us revisit it. I eagerly await your report of the cold vs. beauty in Norway. I was there once in July, and it was plenty cold and snowy on the top of a mountain we visited.

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