August 25th was our one year anniversary here in California! I meant to do a post last weekend, but better late than never.
I thought it might be fun to talk about some of our favourite things about the Golden State, starting with The hills. Almost everywhere we go, those beautiful rolling golden hills are in the background (well, they’re green during the rainy months), contrasting against the (usually) bright blue sky.
We also, of course, love the sunshine and fantastic weather – we’ve gotten into the habit of not even checking the weather in the morning (vs Ottawa where we checked the weather every single day before even getting out of bed) — since there’s a 99% chance that it’ll be a high of around 75F (65F in the winter), and sunny. Sometimes, when we walk outside in the morning to eat breakfast on the back deck, we’re surprised when things are damp because it rained overnight! Of course, that could also be the sprinklers…
Mexican food is another amazing thing down here…I never really liked Mexican food up in Ottawa, and, well, it’s because it’s just not very good up there! My favourite thing down here is a chicken super burrito (super burrito = meat, beans, rice, guac, cheese, cilantro, sour cream, and a little sprinkle of heaven) and a Mexican Coke (made with cane sugar instead of HFCS, taste a little spicier, like someone added a shot of root beer to it). A close second is fish tacos…or any kind of taco, really…so good!
Somewhat related, the multiculturalism here is fantastic. I have met many people down here from Canada, India, China, Japan, the UK, Australia, and lots of folks from other states. Back in Ottawa, most folks we know are Canadian and mostly from Ottawa.
For a Puritan country, the U.S. sure does love its booze! California makes us Canadians proud with its widely available, cheap, and excellent adult bevvys. BevMo, Cali’s version of the LCBO (albeit privately owned), is a candy store for adults where bottles of wine often go on sale for “buy one, get one for 5 cents”. There’s beer, wine, and liquor at the grocery stores and corner stores, often in the range of $5-$10 for a bottle of wine. It’s like Quebec, but cheap!!
How can I mention booze without mentioning wine country — Napa, Sonoma, Livermore, Morgan Hill, Mendocino, Russian River…are all nearby within either a short drive (Livermore is 45 minutes away), or a day/weekend trip (Napa is 2.5 hours away). We love Sonoma and Livermore and are looking forward to exploring the others – many wineries have tastings for $5 – $10 where you can try 3-6 wines, and in my experience the pours are fairly generous and the wineries beautiful.
San Jose is close to so many sights – Santa Cruz, Monterey, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, lots of hiking and bike trails, and of course, San Francisco is a destination all its own only 45 minutes away, with a seemingly unlimited number of restaurants, bars, museums, shows, festivals, parks, and something going on every single day. We have no trouble filling up our weekends and days off with activities and we still are missing a ton (we missed the SJ Bacon Festival this weekend!).
And finally, all the things that have made our lives easier operationally — free shipping & free returns on almost everything (including 200lbs of water softener courtesy of Google Shopping Express!), no cell phone long distance charges (many people have never changed their area code despite having lived in a number of different states, just because there’s no reason to), and maybe you’ll be surprised by this one: the health care sure isn’t cheap, but if you can afford it, it’s fast and high-quality, which is a nice change from having to schedule specialist appointments six months out and only getting 15 minutes at a time with your doctor.
Oh, and how could I forget how much we love our little blue house
(ours for a little while, anyway (we rent)), with its dream kitchen, backyard paradise, and spa master bathroom…and private guest bedroom/bathroom (hint, hint, potential visitors!).