On Valentine’s Day, we published a letter from one Emma Miller of Mishawaka, Ind., who is working on a school report about California and requested that readers share with her what they love most about life in the Golden State.
I imagine Emma got lots of responses, because if there’s one thing we love to do out here it’s brag about how good we’ve got it.
You don’t even need to ask, really.
Just pause in a conversation with a Californian for more than three seconds and you’re liable to end up hearing a travelogue of all the state’s spectacular destinations followed by a treatise on why In-N-Out makes the best hamburgers followed by an epic poem about the perpetually sunny, 72-degree weather.
At this newspaper, we are so surprised to see gray clouds releasing water on our heads that we immediately send the entire photo staff dashing out the door to document the occasion.
Hurry, you must go now. It’s heavily misting outside, and it could stop at any moment!
If those Midwesterners saw how we react to these minor meteorological events, they would laugh and laugh.
Those are hardy folk out there, raised on sweet corn and 110 percent humidity, White Castle and auto racing.
I know — I have relatives in Indiana, and I visit them once every 10 or 20 years. This makes me an expert.
When I was young, I thought the only thing that ever happened in the Hoosier State was the Indianapolis 500, because every year one relative or another would send me a T-shirt.
Last time I flew back there was for my grandmother’s funeral one February a few winters back.
It was about 12 degrees, not counting wind chill, with skies the color of a battleship’s hull.
I spent the time running from one car or building to another to avoid the cold, taking heavy jackets on and off, eating at Applebee’s, trying not to shop at Walmart and incessantly mocking my uncle and cousin about their wardrobes, which consisted of seven days worth of slightly varying Colts jerseys.
I also had a terrible time getting my bearings, what with there being no mountains or ocean to provide orientation.
One night, I circled out of Indy’s downtown roundabout convinced I was pointing north toward our hotel. Not until I’d driven past a dreary industrial complex through a neighborhood of abandoned shacks and into a corn field did I realize I was headed not to the Hampton Inn, but Kentucky.
But enough about Joetopia’s adventures in Indiana.
Emma wants to know what’s great about California, so here’s what I would tell her:
It’s really two states in one, divided into Northern and Southern, Northern being the supremely more desirable portion.
San Francisco has more character than all the characters in Los Angeles. Lake Tahoe’s majestic mountains make Big Bear look like a snow globe. And if you’re going to live a lifestyle of luxury and riches, earn it in Silicon Valley, don’t inherit it in Orange County.
The only thing better about SoCal than NorCal? The Dodgers, of course!
Here in San Luis Obispo, located on the Central Coast nearly smack-dab between those two competing metropolises, we often get the best of both worlds.
We have virtually no traffic, and the only real air pollution is too much sand and dust churned up by ATV tires at the Oceano Dunes.
We grow fresh vegetables all year round, and we buy and sell them at weekly farmers markets, which we reach by way of mountain bike, Prius or Ford pickup, depending on which area of the county you’re in.
Our university is the crown jewel of the California State University system.
We wear flip-flops all year round, our kids can walk to school safely and you hardly ever hear a car horn honk. When you do, it’s usually to say hi.
Last year, SLO was named the happiest city America, and it absolutely lives up to that billing.
Emma, these are the things I love about our slice of California.
Come visit us some time. I’m sure you’d love them too.
What do you love about living in California? Share your thoughts here.
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