Updated: Mar 7
I’m a California girl, born and bred. I’ve known no other life in these United States, than that of living in this beautiful, golden state. Even as folks seem to be leaving the state in droves due to the cost of living and overpriced real estate. Seriously, everything is overpriced. I mean, come on, California, who could ever afford to live here? Not only that, everything has codes and regulations—from building projects to water usage, electricity, recycling, public restrooms. If you can name it, California will code and regulate it. Still, it’s my home.
Truth be told, I love this state. It has it all. There's a beautiful coastline. Soft sands and warmer water in the south, to majestic, rocky cliffs in the north. You can get in your car, jump back and forth between Highway 101 and Pacific Coast Highway 1, and see it all. Just be prepared to have your mind blown. Some of that coastline butts up next to towering redwoods and rolling green hills, filling the senses with sites and sounds. Even the floral scents wafting on the ocean breezes have the power to transport. I have no other way of describing it. You simply need to experience it.
Don’t even get me started on the mountains. California has too many mountain ranges to list. Some stay snow covered all year long. During a so-Cal winter, you could hang out at the beach in the sun, then drive a couple hours up a mountain to go skiing if you like. It’d be a busy day, but you could do it.
Deserts. California’s got them, and they are breathtaking. True, some of them could kill you if you were lost in them. But, there’s nothing like making the long drive through the Mojave Desert when the sun is rising over the horizon.
I was born in Orange County, southern California, and lived there until my late twenties. As a child of the 70’s, growing up in so-Cal was a dream. I have no complaints. Who could complain about being able to roam the neighborhoods all day long in the summertime with your best friend without a care. Where else can you ride your new bike at Christmas time in 80 degree weather? Well, maybe Florida.
Teen of the 80’s—same thing. Freedom to hop on the city bus in the summertime, and spend summer days at Newport Beach from early morning until late afternoon, burning my skin to a crisp. Sadly, my knowledge about sun damage and skin cancer was limited. We lathered baby oil on ourselves, not sunscreen. Trust me, I’m paying for it now. The 80’s was also the time when I made a commitment of faith that would change the very core of who I was, and who I would become. But that’s a story for another time.
Seven years after I married my husband, we moved to the Napa Valley in Northern California in 1993. If I thought southern California was great. northern California took my breath away. The rolling, vineyard covered hills of the Napa Valley were like nothing I’d ever seen in my still young lifetime. Then there were the redwoods, and hills, and mountains just a little further away. And goodness sake, we actually have seasons in nor-Cal. In autumn, the color of the leaves on the vineyards is a magical treat for the eyes. I speak of it a bit in For The Love Of My Enemy. And, let me tell you…it is like a different state up here. The way people dress and talk. Life in general is different. How could it not be? There are actually those who would love to see California separated into two different states. I’m not one of those people though. I believe California is better as a whole. We just all need to get over ourselves.
In 2001, Chris and I hopped the eastern hills to make our home in Sonoma County. It’s a lot like the Napa Valley on this side. Same beautiful, rolling, vineyard covered hills. The town of Windsor, where we live, has lots of incredibly old oak trees. Some of them are Heritage Oaks. So old, you can’t just remove them if they’re on your property. There are laws to protect them. So, we just build around them. But they truly are a site. I always try to imagine the tree houses that could be built in those trees. On this western side, we are much closer to The Coast. And yes, that is what you have to call it if you live in nor-Cal. It’s not the beach. It's The Coast. Also, when you drive, you don’t say, “...such and such, and take the 101 freeway.” God forbid. You say, “...such and such, and take 101.” Just the number. Actually, you could say, “Highway 101” if you so choose. But if you don't want to sound like a tourist on their wine country tour, say just the number. Also, if you are going to San Francisco, which is less than an hour away from where we live, you say, “I’m going to The City”, not, “I’m going to San Francisco.” One might ask, “What about Santa Rosa? Isn’t that a city that’s closer to you?” To which I would answer, “Yes, Santa Rosa is a city, but it’s not The City. San Francisco is The City.” And for cryin out loud, don’t ever call it Frisco. There would be nothing I could do to help you if you call it that.
By the way, I still say words like gnarly and dude. That will never change.