Leaving California – blog 31

I’m not sure abut how I feel about California.

With  a population of 38million it is the most populous of US states, and indeed it would rank as the 12th largest economy in the world in its own right, so it isn’t to be ignored.

I’ve spent about two weeks here – partly to see Yosemite and the Xerces blue parts of San Francisco, partly to see Monterey Bay and a roadrunner in the Joshua Tree NP and partly because I knew it would be a good place to watch wildlife at either end of the day and write in a cheap motel in the middle of the day.  All that has worked well.

California seems less American than quite a lot of America.  The only times on this trip when, so far, I have encountered anything close to English off-hand rudeness were in California.

And there are masses of people and with them come the masses of parking lots and sprawling malls and casinos and just stuff.

But then, arriving in eastern California from Nevada it was like another world from that of the Central Valley or the ghastly Los Angeles – remote roads and beautiful country.

And then in the San Joaquin Valley there are wonderful wildlife refuges and kit foxes and coyotes and butterflies.

I’ve hardly scratched the surface so there’s no reason for me to have a view on California but as I drive out with the Beach Boys playing I carry a rucksack of good memories with me – of blue whales, of Liam the butterfly man (and actor), of my first roadrunner, of Mexican food, of sea otters, of El Capitan, of giant sequoia, of a very good Caesar salad, of avocados, of heat in the desert and of some good walks and some friendly people.

And a trip like this is for filling up the memory bank so that you can dip into it in the future.  I’ll be dipping into my California memories for some time to come.

Still looking for Hawaii (won’t happen), South Carolina and Rhode Island license plates.

Bird list on 235 species.

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5 Replies to “Leaving California – blog 31”

  1. Hi Mark, couldn’t agree with you more about California. My wife and I spent 4 months car-camping/wildlife watching in SW USA last year including 6 weeks in California. Coming in from Nevada and hitting the Big Sur, we found higher prices and image-concious, less-friendly people. Funny how the friendliest people we came across were in the more rural, right-wing States! Also, California State had let its campsites in parks and forests to private compnies – they were expensive with poor facilities and unfriendly service. Some parks/reserves had closed down as the State could not afford to run them. This, in one of the world’s richest places!
    We had a great time in the Tuscon area, and were greatly helped by British expat bird guide Richard Frey (Funbirding Tours). He is active in Tuscon Audbon and may well be in your audience. Please send our regards if he is. Also, if you have time try and get to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum near Tuscaon – fantasitic interpretation and outsidoors wildlife. Underwater beaver and otter-watching.
    Barry O’ Dowd (Onziebust and Trumland Warden, Orkney).

    1. Barry – hi! I’ll be seeing Richard Fray tomorrow and the next day – so watch this space.

  2. Simply love your blog it reminds of when I visited ten years ago… The pelicans flying over the 18th hole at Pebble Beach golf coarse with the Pacific waves lapping nearby, Monterey Bay with the cute Sea Otters, Muir Woods with the giant Sequoias … reliving so many wonderful memories of California , thankyou x

  3. Oh how I laugh, after spending 6 years in San Francisco and coming back to this country with an American accent, I had my fellow Brits call me “a war mongering yank”, “f-off home yank and take your nukes” (I’ll remind you I was only 8 at the time and BRITISH) also one London cabbie took my father, mother and myself to a police station (honestly) as my ol’ man had a scottish accent, my mother a cokney accent and me with an American accent…he thought they had kidnapped me!!!! And people say Americans (Californians anyway) are rude and arrogant etc, perhaps they’ve visited the UK? I often wished at times we had stayed stateside …at least they seem to be something right in regards to conserving wildlife, how would the Bald Eagle fair in this country, trapped/poisoned or shot probably, what have we done recently?

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