Thursday, February 04, 2010

C is for California

I discovered California in the summer of 1963.  I was a student nurse at Charity Hospital in New Orleans and I made the long drive west in a tiny compact car with two LSU medical students, headed to Santa Monica to extern for three months.  I was bound for Monterey, CA to visit Garlon Lim, a friend from my high school days who had had been in the Army judo club with me at Ft. Benning, Georgia.  The car wasn't air conditioned and it was a sweltering trip.  I thought Texas would never end!  We finally stopped, exhausted and hot, at a cheap El Paso motel to get a few hours sleep in air conditioning and to shower. 

We finally arrived in Los Angeles around midnight and I remember my amazement to see the freeway filled with cars. My friends took me to the bus station where I purchased my ticket to Monterey and I dozed for a few hours, among the unsavory characters, until the dispatcher announced my bus. I was filled with excitement to actually be in California and, when the bus finally arrived in Monterey and Garlon came to pick me up, I felt like I was in another world.

His family, all Chinese, were wonderful to me, thanking me for my family's hospitality to their son during his service at Ft. Benning. They fed me incredible meals, better than any of the Chinese food I'd eaten with my Asian friends at the Formosa restaurant in my home town ( the only one back then! ). Garlon took me sightseeing in Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel. I marveled at the 17-mile drive along the Pacific coast and was deeply moved at seeing the Mission San Carlos Borromeo which was founded in 1771.  He died there in 1784 and is buried under the sanctuary floor.

Monterey Bay by Allie Caulfield

Old Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey, CA

Mission San Carlos Borromeo, Carmel by Richard Masoner

Carmel-By-The-Sea Beach by HBarrison

The Bixby Canyon Bridge by mrkathika
 18 miles south of Carmel, this is one of the ten highest single span bridges in the world.

Lone Cypress, 17-Mile-Drive, Pebble Beach, CA by mrkathika

At the end of my visit to Monterey, Garlon gave me the most incredible surprise - a round trip ticket to Honolulu so I could go see some of the other members of our judo club who had been members of the Hawaii National Guard.  My flight was to leave from San Francisco and we spent a few hours sightseeing before my departure.  That was all it took for me to fall in love with  this breathtaking city by the Golden Gate.  I knew that, someday, I was going to live here and, thirteen years later, in January of 1976, I moved to the Bay area.  It has been my home now for 34 years and, though I have traveled the world over during that time and have seen the most amazing places, I still feel an overwhelming joy when I see the spires of the Golden Gate Bridge or hear Tony Bennett sing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" or listen to that fabulous Sony Holland's "On a San Francisco High."

Chinatown, San Francisco by doortoriver

San Francisco From the Oakland Bay Bridge by Franco Folini

San Franciso Painted Ladies by Tom Mascardo

Darioush Winery, Napa Valley by jimg944

Napa Valley Vineyards by jimg944

State Capitol, Sacramento, CA by paraflyer

Beautiful Yosemite

Santa Barbara Mission by Allie Caulfield

Los Angeles by kevitivity

The Beverly Hills Hotel by Alan Light

Disneyland by Denise Cross

San Diego

The state is in the worst financial mess I can remember. I, myself, only a year ago, lost my nursing position of 21 years with the city and county of San Francisco in massive cuts to the Department of Public Health .  I wonder how we will ever recover as the jobless rate increases and San Francisco now has the highest homeless rate in the United States. 

California is the most populous state in the U. S. and ranks third in size to Alaska and Texas.  It is the most geographically diverse of all the states and boasts the highest point, Mt. Whitney, and the lowest point, Death Valley, in the contiguous United States.

Major booms in Californa growth came from the Gold Rush in the 19th century, making San Francisco a major city.   Los Angeles, in the 20th century, became a mecca for entertainment, and the Silicon Valley developed as a leader in information technology.

California has it all - mountains, coastline, big cities, lakes, desert, rural towns.  It also has earthquakes, tsunamis, forest fires, mudslides. 

In spite of its current problems, there is no where else I would want to live.  Though I was born in Georgia, two of my three sons are San Franciscans and I want to take my last breath here.


  1. Congratulations on such a wonderful post. I really enjoyed reading it. Thank You!! I appreciate you as a customer for doing business with us... A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.Okay, go and signup on & give your valuable feedback on my blogs.

  2. Congratulations on such a wonderful post. I really enjoyed reading it. Thank You!! I appreciate you as a customer for doing business with us... A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.Okay, go and signup on & give your valuable feedback on my blogs.

  3. I can see how you fall in love with California, and I had the same impression of it as you but I can't move there yet..I love the weather, the mountain, the coast line, and everything about California too..

  4. Love the photos!!

  5. We drove to California and back for our honeymoon. Didn't see as much as we would have liked. We loved San Francisco. What we saw it is quite the beautiful state.

  6. Hi Carmen!
    As Joanne knows, I use to live in San Francisco years ago, 1979..beautiful city. I loved living there also. Beautiful post. The pictures are incredible! Especially Carmel by the sea. Thanks for sharing with us.


  7. I think this is my favorite post from you. Incredible!
    Maybe one day you'll tell us more details about Chinatown where I've always wanted to visit?

  8. Moved from Oregon to Pasadena to Minnisota to Pasadena to Oregon to Pasadena to Oregon...oh how I would love to move back!!!

  9. Fabulous C post!!! Thanks for sharing! Pop on over and visit me when you have a chance.
    And be sure to ENTER MY GIVEAWAY!
    Happy Alphabet Day!
    C is for Coralie

  10. I've been to CA a couple of times. It was an interesting state. I'm always ready to visit new places. But I'd have to learn a whole new botany!

  11. Carmen, you love for San Francisco really shines through in this wonderful post. My husband and I visited SF a few years ago -- he was on business and I was able to wander around on my own and see many of the city sights. Walking up Telegraph Hill was a feat I'll never forget, but what wonderful views from the tower!:-) When my husband's business obligation was met we drove south on Route One along the coast all the way to Pebble Beach one day, and on another went north to Sonoma and Nappa Valley to visit some wineries. If we ever get a chance to go back we'd like to visit Muir Woods and Yosemite National Park.

    We have a beautiful country! I hope that all its problems can be resolved for the well fare of future generations!

  12. What a wonderful post. Your love for San Francisco and California just shines through. Sorry the trip through Texas took so long, people are always amazed at how "wide" the state can be. I tell them try driving from the panhandle to the coast sometime! Loved all of your photographs. San Francisco is one place I've never been and I so want to see it. Kathy

  13. California is a beautiful state. I enjoyed seeing the photos of many places I've had the pleasure of visiting. Thanks for sharing.

  14. gorgeous pics - tfs :D

  15. That was very interesting and you are so fortunate to be living in a place that you really love.

  16. Ooops...I just tried to post a comment, but I don't think it went through. I wanted to say how fortunate you are to be living in a place you really love. Very interesting post!

  17. What a wonderful post....I love California. I preferred San Diego to Hollywood even.... I am happy you love where you live. Great photos.....:-)Hugs

  18. California is a land in my dream! The first time I saw it from the airplane, I felt like I was home, but then happens!

  19. I loved your post, totally wonderful!

  20. Beautiful post, Carmen, and I totally understand why you fell in love at first sight with SF and CA. I too don't think of moving anywhere away from CA, I just love its geographical diversity, the mountains, the desert, the oceans, and close enough to the city!

  21. a wondrous place indeed!

  22. I visited California in November 2007. Loved it! We were in San Francisco and traveled up the coast a bit to Muir Woods and visited Napa Valley. Lovely, lovely, lovely!

  23. I have only flown in and out of san francisco, but someday I promise to look you up when I come for a real visit !

  24. it sounds like you got hooked right from your first visit...It does have some beautiful places!

  25. What a wonderful place on earth! I heard so much about it from my friends who have been there. I would love to visit one day.

  26. Leonard Okoth -
    Thanks for visiting my blog. I did check yours. Sadly, with the loss of my job of 21 years and subsequent retirement, I won't be doing any limos or private jets! Sounds like a great business, though.

    Icy BC - we would so love to have you out here on the West Coast with us!!!

    Carol -
    so glad you liked the photos. This time, most of them were from other photographers ( credits
    given ). I've used my own so often, I thought people would like to see some new ones for a change.

    Viki -
    I, also, honeymooned here 36 years ago! But I'd already been to San Francisco several times before thn!

    bessye -
    I never knew you lived here. I moved to SF in 1976 so maybe our paths crossed and we never knew it!!

    Margie -
    I'll have to go out to Chinatown sometime and
    have lunch. Maybe Jo and I can go together and we'll do a "double" blog.

  27. Charmingdesigns -
    Why all the moves back and forth - though Oregon is a beautiful state.

    Coralie Cederna Johnson -
    You're book is such a nice giveaway. Thanks for coming to visit my CA post.

    Sharkbytes -
    there must be every kind of flora and fauna in'd certainly stay busy!

    Pat @ Mille Fiore Favoriti -
    Well, it sounds like you had a wonderful trip to northern CA, visiting some of our nicer spots. I wish I had known you then so we could have hung out while your husband was in his meetings. Of course, I was working then, I'm sure but I often had some daytime hours free with my night call.

    mbkatc230 -
    I made that drive from New Orleans to San Francisco five times in my youth, then again, with my husband when we moved west. The last time I did it was about four years ago, when a friend and I drove from GA with my mother's car for my youngest son who was beginning college. With aching bones and back, the Texas part seemed longer than ever!

    lakeviewer -
    CA is a wonderful state, filled with so much to see and so much to do. Sadly, though, we are going broke!

    Sarah -
    I'm glad the photos brought back memories of visits to my adopted state.

    latrg8r -
    I appreciated the use of the CA pictures that were on the free websites as many of my own were on a computer that crashed several years ago.

    Betty ( picture circa 1951 ) -
    I have so much enjoyed living in CA - the years have gone by so quickly.

  28. Bernie -
    I, too, prefer San Diego to Hollywood! I did live a year in Orange County but I knew, even then, I was heading to San Francisco!

    Mumsy -
    I was just lucky that I had moved from Florida to southern CA when I divorced. I knew, then, that it was time to head to San Francisco...and I have never regretted it.

    Jo -
    I am so glad you liked my CA post.

    betchai -
    We really are lucky to live in CA, in spite of all its problems! I don't think there is any place like it.

    magiceye -
    you, too, live in a very wondrous, diverse place. I love India but not quite as much as CA. I am glad, though, that we have many Indians here.

    Amy -
    So nice that you were able to visit my neck of
    the woods!

  29. beth -
    I would be so delighted to spend some time with you if you're ever in the San Francisco area. You would definitely have a great time with your camera!

    Melinda Cornish -
    I have definitely been a cheerleader for San Francisco all of my adult life.

    EastCoastLife -
    I do hope you get out to visit one of these days.