Tuesday, May 11, 2010

California Dreamin'

California Here We Come

Above, from left to right: Disneyland, Hearst Castle, Big Sur, Carmel Mission

"So!", you may be asking yourself: "What on God's green Earth is the Booktraveler going to write about now, now that the tales from last summer's Western Sojourn have (finally) wrapped up?"

Well, not to worry my fellow travelers. For since that unparalleled summer odyssey, your humble Booktraveler has once again been wandering the planet, bringing more stories from the road with which to edify and regale. So sit back, fasten your seat belt and, if you're sitting in first class, please enjoy the beverage of your choice before we get under way.

Our next tale from the road begins, once again, out west. This time in California, where I found myself touching down just a few short weeks after my vaunted Western Sojourn.

Ah, California. Land of Hollywood, hipsters and hype. While the prevailing image conveyed by the media may leave something to be desired, that's largely because most of what Hollywood and the media focus on is confined to the suburban megalopolis of Greater Los Angeles, or LaLa Land, as I prefer to call it, which in my opinion, is the least tempting slice of this most delicious pie.

OK, OK, I'm not busting on LA. There's plenty of great stuff to see and do there, which we'll get to shortly. But California is a huge state (second only in size to Alaska and Texas) with a lifetime's worth of things to see and do. LaLa Land is just one small part.

In fact, California the most populous state in the US with a cozy 37 million inhabitants sprinkled around its 163,000 (and change) square miles, nearly 2/3 of whom (upwards of 22 million) live in or around the two largest metropolitan areas of Greater Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area 400 miles to the north. It's also a state of incomparable beauty and unsurpassed diversity. I mean, just the fact that you can see the highest point in the Continental US (Mt. Whitney @ 14,494 ft.) from the lowest (Death Valley @ -282 ft.) tells you something.

How do I come to know so much about California my fellow travelers? Well, it just so happens I used to live there for oh, a little over a decade or so, during my formative adult years. That's right, I'm one of those anomalies of life, the former West Coaster who prefers the hard boiled realities of life in Philly. But that's a different story altogether.

For our current soiree we'll be starting off in the afore-mentioned LaLa Land, then make our way up the coast to Hearst Castle, the soaring cliffs of Big Sur and the halcyon streets of Carmel before heading north to San Francisco and the Wine Country. This being a somewhat compressed trip, there wasn't a whole lot of time to visit local book establishments. But don't fret none booklovers, there'll still be an interesting literary tidbit or two along the way.

So check back soon and we'll kick off our trip with a visit to that most famous of all California destinations, Disneyland. Yippi-i-0-ki-yay! Until then...keep reading!

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