Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good Vibrations - Or Pre-Conceived Notions?

We just got back from a short vacation in southern California.....like a month after just getting back from a vacation in Maui...... I must say, that both were a bit of an eye opener for me. I guess I should say that reluctantly, because a few years back, the same scenario occurred for me after a couple of trips to New York.....Manhattan, to be more precise. You see, I as probably many of you, embarked on all of these adventures, eyes wide open, but laden with stereotype images of each place I visited, and while this post only deals with California, I must say, that in each case, the images in my mind, were not only dispelled, but shattered. Do not get me wrong, I love my native Texas, but the bubba mentality and perception of California, at least as has been my experience, could not be farther from what I found.
Yeah, yeah, I have heard the jokes......"Cali is like a bowl of granola - full of nuts, fruits and flakes".....uh has anyone read the Victoria Advocate lately?......or The Chronicle? Or The Dallas, New Jersey Morning news? I rest my case. There are freaks, geeks, cheats, tarts, old farts, young turks, and televangelists everywhere. Simple as that. You want traffic? LA has it......at the far west end of the Katy Freeway.........you want a ghetto? Take your pick - East L.A., East Houston, East St. Louis.......

Now may I brag about what I found in Orange County, on the beaches from NewPort to Huntington Beach, to San Clemente?(no, Tricky Dick was nowhere in sight). What I found was one of the healthiest, most alive places I could have imagined. All buff bods, beach babes, and golden haired surfer dudes? Hardly. I found an Austin with an ocean. Fat guys catching waves on their forty year old longboards, alongside teeners ripping it up on short boards, skateboards, and moms and dads with the brood in tow, just down for a day in the sand and sun. I saw myself renting and riding a Pee Wee Herman style coaster bike ten miles on the boardwalk, and just like on the Seadrift seawall, I saw Mexicans tossing cut bait out for anything that would bite that could be taken home for dinner, and I saw gringo fishing "scientists" with big bucks rigs, hoping only for sea bass, and halibut(or maybe they said they were just fishing for the "hell of it" (the surf was loud).

The fact of the matter, is that despite the preconceived notion I had in my mind about California, that it was after all, a validation of all of the dreams and images in my mind I had as a fifteen year old, listening to Surfin' USA, and Little Surfer Girl, and Little Deuce Coupe on my transistor radio in Seadrift or on the bus to ball games. The city is the city.....which like most big cities, sucks out loud. But the place the girl and I chose to visit, was everything we had hoped for, and that I dreamed it would be, and more. It just dripped healthy, wholesome, and friendly, and the locals and the storekeepers, innkeepers, and everyone else we encountered, were anything but O.C., pretentious, Hollywierd types.........will I go back? You bet, as soon as I can, with my kids in tow next trip. Hell, who knows? If they are as smitten with the place as I was, maybe they'll move there, and I'll have a place to crash when I go out to surf and ride my bicycle a decade from now.........


Edith Ann said...

I've never been to California, but I have a nephew who cut out for there as soon as he could. Used the Navy,and Seal training at San Diego to do it. All he wanted to do was surf.

He married a California girl, blond of course, and has the blond kids. They all look like California!

Now, almost 20 years later, he's a CHiP officer,and he and his family are living the good life on the upper coast of California. Couldn't get them back here for anything.

Sounds like you had a great trip.

Anonymous said...

California is one of my fav places. People are people everywhere you go. What amazed me the most about the whole state was the absolutely beautiful beaches. Brother had a condo where the Beach Boys got their start. We walked to the beach and rode the wooden roller coaster. San Jose is such a beautiful spot. The east coast is also a WOW. My dream was to have one boy on the east coast and one on the west. Almost there....

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