Sunday, April 08, 2012

[Travel] That's Sooooo Cal

That's Just Sooooo Cal: I don't get L.A. Just don't see what's so special. But that's just L.A. proper. I do get Southern California. From Orange County all the way down the coast to San Diego the beach towns (actually cities) and parks and crashing waves and sunset views are a delight. So a beach house in Laguna Beach to celebrate Miss Anna's 20th birthday was just fine with me.

It was chilly though. In that paradigm of sunny climes, I seem to have the bad luck to visit during atypical cold spells. I remember one trip to San Diego where it got too cold to even walk on the beach. A trip to L.A. for the Rose Bowl a few years back was another chilly one. Now this trip -- high never reached much more than 65.

But even with a nip in the air there's no denying how pretty and shiny So Cal is. We spent our days wandering the beach -- spotting dolphins and seals -- sampling the local restaurants, chatting over drinks, and enjoying the view from the beach house balcony. I must admit that in search of heat, we did decamp one day and take the two hour drive to Palm Springs where the temperature was an appropriately deserty 90. A splendid time was had by all; no of us wanted to leave.

So I started the month in Florida and ended in Southern California and loved both. Should we compare and contrast? Why not.

As far as the ocean is concerned, since I have never learned to surf, I have to give the edge to Florida. I don't think the Pacific ever gets warm enough to swim in for pleasure, but bobbing about in the Atlantic or the Gulf in high summer is an existential joy for me. The beaches in FL are powder perfect, but the views are better in SoCal. Both have a big coastal city that I would avoid (Miami and L.A.) but the surrounding areas of those cities are sweet. SoCal has San Diego and I don't think FL really has a counter to that, St. Pete maybe? SoCal has an image of being easy and laid back, but I did not find it so. It is younger, more active, and more crowded than FL. FL has the Deep South and Caribbean influences to keep it more lackadaisical. SoCal is a desert climate, Florida is sub-tropical. Gotta give SoCal the edge on mosquitoes, no debate. Gotta give FL the edge on cost of living.

I don't know. FL is a two and half hour flight for me. SoCal is beyond four. It sounds like a small difference, but when you are in your third hour in the middle seat, and you realize you could already be checked into your hotel in FL it seems larger. Luckily I don't have to choose. Miss Anna spent a year in the worst place in Florida and is now in the best place in SoCal, so her choice would be obvious. Me I just don't know, but I suspect when retirement time comes, that cost of living thing might loom large.

For now, I'll take both.