California: The Art of Seeing Everything

A few weeks before our trip to California, I purchased a weighty tome of a Lonely Planet aptly titled “California.” Its authors carefully guided readers through the 31st state in 776 pages, a full 100 pages longer than the travel companion to Argentina. That’s right: California, one/fiftieth of the United States of America, apparently offers a meatier selection of travel opportunities than the South American country of Argentina.

Opening the book was problematic; each section enticingly delineated some must-see staple of the majestic Golden State: formidable old-growth redwoods in the north; secluded, piny vistas tucked away in national parks; sprawling acres of purple vineyards and quaint country wineries; deep lakes ensconced in stocky sequoia groves; over six hundred miles of coastline stretching from sandy shores near the Mexican borderline to rocky outcrops nudging up against southern Oregon. I wanted to see all of it.

Of course, this was far from possible to achieve in the seven days Sharlene and I had allotted for our trip. What’s more, my no-sleep, hit-the-road-heavy, see-everything mode of travel certainly does not appeal to everyone, and Shar and I hadn’t traveled together before. For all I knew, Shar might be content to anchor in San Francisco for most of the trip, gorging on sourdough bread and photographing sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf. (This is an exaggeration. Shar would not want to do that, ever.)

Needless to say, I was thrilled when she turned out to be as much into the nomadic art of travel as I was. Shar and I are alike in many ways, so I shouldn’t have been too surprised: we both embrace a laid-back attitude when it comes to planning; we both share similar views on all sorts of topics, from books to politics; and, as it happened, we both viewed California as an eccentric buffet of delectable, essential places to visit.

Our gluttonous need to experience all that California had to offer in the brief span of seven days led to an invigoratingly exhausting vagabonding spree throughout the state that, unsurprisingly, turned out to be one of the best trips I’ve taken. If we had left a trail of red paint along all the roads we traveled during our trip, California would look a bit like this:

California, home of the giant jalapeno.

California, home of the giant jalapeno.

Of course, like most of my travels, this trip was filled with its fair share of collapsed plans and detours, all beginning from when we first left New Jersey.

2 replies »

  1. Hope you enjoyed it! Let me know if you come back, I’m living in San Francisco. Glad to see your travels are still treating you well!

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