We just concluded a 2,000 mile pleasure drive throughout the state that I call home. We thank Jesus and Rosemary for once again providing their van to travel in.
To recap our trip, we drove from Los Angeles to two amazing sites in the Sierra Nevada mountains (Yosemite and Tahoe). Thereafter, we drove to the City by the Bay and explored the city and vicinity. Next, we drove from San Francisco to Morro Bay via the scenic California State Route 1. We returned home after taking this 14-day road trip.
I feel like we saw and experienced a great deal on this trip and yet I know that we only explored a tiny portion of this large and diverse vertically shaped state.
Over my lifetime, I have probably traveled through the majority of this big state. I have visited its major cities and stopped to enjoy many of its charming and distinctive ones. I think Mammoth Mountain and Lakes is the only spot I have not visited.
I believe that I have been blessed to have been born and living in California.
I have learned a great deal about California through my travels statewide and visiting other countries. My years in elementary school and subsequent travels has provided me an opportunity to compare California to many other regions and get to understand my home area.
I first heard that idea in school and as I continue to live here and traveling worldwide, I come to believe it even more.
I first heard and learned in elementary school that California was special.
I can still remember our teacher informing us that California would someday be a major site in world development and that we could be part of it.
I didn't fully understand what she meant back then but, her words stayed with me. I knew then that I wanted to be part of a winning team so I have always been interested in learning about the ongoing developments in California. I wanted to find out how I could contribute, participate and enjoy its fruits and treasures.
Where we lived back then provided me with an ability be compare California with elsewhere. I was born in this state when it celebrated its 101st birthday.
I was born in Chula Vista, California and lived on the Mexican border city of Tijuana. My father was a U.S. citizen commuting to his work in aircraft development in San Diego. My mom's employer required us to live in Mexico since she worked in Mexico's federal judicial system.
My early years helped me to see, on a daily basis, how unique the Golden State was.
I crossed the international border into the U.S. for seven years in order to attend parochial school in San Ysidro. Each time I crossed, I could see the wide contrast between each side of the border. I started to ask, "how can two places be separated by a fence and yet seem like two different planets?
I have spent years looking for the answer to this question and I have expanded it to compare California to countries throughout the world.
I can still recall when I was a kid how one traveled from San Diego to Los Angeles to visit family. The only way to make the journey was to travel over the two-lane, stop-and-go U.S. Highway 101. We drove slowly and could see many small coastal towns. I loved it each time we passed La Jolla. We passed sandy beaches. We could see the surfers fall into the waves and enjoy much of it's natural landscape. Now we dash via Interstate 5 with few opportunities to see any of our surroundings and vistas. I still miss traveling through the large orange groves in Orange County! I couldn't believe how many distinct places I could see in just a few hours. I remember asking back then, "how big is this state?"
The more I traveled to various parts of California as a youth, the contrast became greater. The scenery on the U.S. side was unique. I saw wide roads practically everywhere, vast miles of agricultural areas, planes flying constantly overhead, large rivers and lakes, seeing mountains with snow on them while I am standing in a desert, and the coast line! Oh, that gorgeous coastline of ours! It seemed calm and as if it never ended.
In time, I learned that we live in a large state that is highly populated and with many different regions. I can be in Los Angeles with its population of 3.5 million and in a few hours drive and be in Death Valley with its population of 350. Within the state we have extensive areas that can practically replicate any weather I have seen throughout the world. We have mountains, deserts - high and low ones - flat lands, valleys, and coastlines with marvelous weather conditions. It's true that one can surf in the morning and ski in the afternoon. The state offers 1,126 golf courses to choose from.
As a lifelong resident of California and visiting the sites on this trip, I realize that we live in a special area of the world. It reaffirmed that we are blessed to live in California. As I travel to distant lands and see how others live, I return and appreciate what a wonderful place in the world I live in.
As Californians, we live in what could be considered as a cornucopia. Our mild weather, an extensive water distribution system, and prime lands allow us to grow crops year round. We have been provided with large natural harbors and ports and thus we now enjoy the expansion of commerce by being a vital door leading to the Pacific Rim.
Each time I return to home to California from my world travels, the contrasts of living in this state given the conditions in other countries is clearly noticeable.
California is by no means a paradise, but life here is unquestionably one to be very proud of.
Now that we are home again, I think that the highlight of this trip was driving along stretches of the historic Highway 101 and 1, constructed in 1926, are still in place and available for all to enjoy its breathtaking panoramic views all the way up from San Diego to the Oregon border (which also continues northward).
I will continue to travel throughout the world as well as through my state. Given what I have seen so far in many foreign counties and here, I appreciate what we have in our Golden State.
I invite you to share with me your thoughts and views about living in California.