I have mixed feelings about California. On the one hand, I remember spending time in San Diego with my grandparents, whom I loved very much. On the other hand, I remember a year of isolation in El Cajon during my junior high school year while my father was stationed in Vietnam. It’s a tough place to fit into, even if you’re an Army brat who is used to fitting into places.

Southern California has changed since those days. What was once a beautiful paradise is now just noisy and dirty.

In 2003, Lori and I took a trip up the coast, from San Diego to Long Beach, stopping along the way at the tourist and scenic spots, like La Jolla, Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove, Pelican Point, etc. It was a nice trip, but even back then, it was becoming much too crowded. La Jolla looked like nothing I remember from the 70’s!

In 2016, I took a trip up to Crescent City to explore the Redwoods. It was a great trip, and I loved it up there, but didn’t feel much love for everything along the I5 corridor. I hoped to never have to drive that route again!

Well, in 2018, I was making regular use of the I5, going back and forth between Coos Bay in Oregon and my home in Arizona. I can’t believe how much things changed in two years. Everything from Grants Pass down to Bakersfield was under a blanket of smog, and the areas around Sacramento and Stockton were lucky if they had visibility greater than half a mile.

Now, I can understand there are “seasons” for poor air quality in California, but I traversed the I5 corridor a half dozen times between May of 2018 and January of 2019, and those “seasons” were in fact the “norm”. Yuck!

Northern California, up around Mt Shasta and Crescent City have better air quality, and are just more beautiful. However, they’re remote, and therefore not every ones cup of tea. That being said, the wildfires of 2018 made breathing in those areas a nightmare. I had to commute a lot from Coos Bay to Crescent City during this time, and it was always unpleasant south of Port Orford. I gave up any dreams I had of moving to Crescent City to be near the ocean and the redwoods because of the constant poor air quality.

So yeah, I have little love for California. I’m sure that most people feel differently, and that’s great, because I don’t have to live there. Still, I remember how beautiful California can be, and I do hope that some day it will get its act together and try to recover the awesomeness that made it such a great State to begin with.