What is it about California?

Ok. I’ve lived in a lot of places and visited even more. I’ve been a long time Arizona resident and other than the center of the universe “Phoenix” most of the state is rather rural in feel. Even Tucson tries to put out a small town vibe, rather unsuccessfully, considering a population of a million people in the greater Tucson area.

It usually takes a couple of days to get the feel for a place. A visit to neighborhood grocery store, home grown eatery or the post office and you will absorb a bit of the local color and style. Find a place with locals, make friends and you will be given the low-down on who they are, what they are about and where they go for fun. I enjoy delving into each place and trying to feel a part of it. It is what I love best about travel.

But California, I don’t quite get it. I have been to southern California often. I have been to San Francisco and through Sacramento as well as the Yosemite area and Lassen Peak region. California is different.

I have been trying to put my finger on the feel I get when I am here and it is elusive.

It feels fast and easy, but intense and relaxed. The people feel friendly but also reserved. Sometimes I can blend in but then I will observe one of those humans who look perfectly put together, beautiful or handsome with a well made face and body. They usually get into a Range Rover, BMW or Mercedes. It is the stereotypical California resident based on TMZ and the Kardashians.

People drive everywhere, and I mean everywhere. The freeways are not for going places fast. Don’t even try it. The freeways are primarily for moving a massive amount of vehicles in one direction toward a destination. No one expects to get anywhere very quickly. Locals use surface streets much more.

I am sometimes blown away at the parking. It literally looks as though someone said “there are no trees here so lets make a parking lot.” Another item that strikes me is the way two or three blocks of homes look straight out of Home and Garden and the next block looks abandoned or has a many years old commercial property with nail salons, liquor stores and a Starbucks.

Maybe it’s being near the beautiful coast or the proximity to the narcissism of Hollywood which plays with the feel of this place. Whatever it is it a tangible thing but not too well defined.

It is welcoming, but laughs at your unsophisticated ignorance.