Some states we hop through. Others, we linger.
In those where we have more time, more late night alone for myself spent around a dwindling campfire, not ready for sleep but at the same time tired, I have time to write about the what and the where, to let the feeling of a place transform my lackluster realization that I should just call the night a close change up and into the idea that perhaps I might extol a small slice of what it feels like to be in a state on another human being.
So I sat tonight, pondering California.
More than several of the states natives have impressed on me that most Californians–the millions living along the southern half of the coast–don’t consider much of this place even really “California”. They jest, sometimes only slightly, but it’s true. America sees the Golden State through a Housewives of… and silicon lens.
Anything north of San Francisco or east of a straight shot view of the Pacific is just somewhere else altogether. A different state.
And that is where the beauty sets in. It hangs around in the misty air between the Redwoods. It climbs daily up the slopes of Sequoia National Park and falls back down the Eastern Sierras. The desert in and around Joshua Tree. Small towns and vast wilderness with just a touch of modern delicacy–a hip coffee shop here, a great wholesome breakfast joint there, a brewery or two between–that leaves me realizing these places are so special. They’re momentary.
Today a few Southern Californians have given up on big city traffic struggle and found their way east or north. They’ve traded the convenience of having everything right at your fingertips for being the person who puts even just one of those things at the tips of all of our traveling fingers.
And it’s a gorgeous thing to be in a place at exactly the right time, and to actually realize it.
So it’s Joshua trees and Mt. Whitneys and Trinidads for me all the way, for as long as summer refuses to break in the Pacific Northwest. It’s star field black skies and impressive ancient trees and free or darn cheap camping. It’s California, and it’s the only California in which I care to be.