I returned from California yesterday. It was only my second time in the state. And I left quite unimpressed. I don't see what all the fuss is about this place. People just drool over California, as if it was the Promised Land. So as you'll see below, I am going to propose 11 reasons why New England is way better than California. The list is not exhaustive, of course, and there are probably one or two (if that) things that are better about California, but I would live in New England any day over California. And, unless the Lord calls me to California (famous last words), I don't see any reason why I won't do that.
So, without further ado, here is my list (with apologies to my friends and loved ones who love California):
1. Green is good. Research shows that the color green has a positive effect on a person's psychological well-being and their ability to concentrate. Why would one want to live in California then, as opposed to New England? Granted, there are green places in California, but even those are laced with patches of brown.
As I drove throughout the state, from Redding to Sacramento, to the Bay Area, all I could see was brown, brown, brown. And this is not to even mention Southern California, which is even more brown than these other places.
Meanwhile, in New England, all you see is green: green trees, green grass, green tea, the Green Monster, the Green Mountains. To me, this is probably one of the most important aspects of a landscape that I need. There is just something about seeing green that comforts me. And California just doesn't have that.
Of course, it isn't always green in New England (winter anyone?), and it isn't always brown in California. But for the most part, these two colors are present in these respective places.
2. The Rest Areas are better. I went into three Rest Areas in California, and my life literally flashed before my eyes. Not only were there some shady characters hanging out at them, but the bathrooms looked like they hadn't been cleaned since 1974. I guess that's what a "Free Way" buys you.
Sure, you have to pay a toll on some of the New England Highways, but I'll fork over the $1.00 if I know the Rest Area has a relatively clean bathroom and a Burger King.
3. There are not long stretches of flatness. Right down the middle of California is a long stretch of flat land with few trees. New England has never been accused of being the most mountainous region (though we do have some tall ones), but at least we do not have long stretches of flat area.
4. The weather is unpredictable. Some may covet the fact that it is sunny and 85 every day in California. But I like unpredictable weather, thank you very much. In New England, one day it may be sunny and 80, and the next day it could be 55 and raining. That spices things up. Seriously. Predictability is what makes life mundane. And in New England, the weather is unpredictable, thus taking away the mundane.
5. The swimming is better. To begin with, you can swim anywhere in the ocean in New England - from northern Maine, to the southern tip of Connecticut. Granted, it may be on the chillier side in some of those places, but it is still bearable.
Meanwhile, in California, there is about a ten-mile stretch of ocean just north of San Diego where you can swim. What good is hundreds of miles of coastline if you cannot swim in the water?
And, on another note, I just discovered that swimming in a very humid place is a lot better than swimming in a very dry place. Why? Because when you get out of the water in a dry place, even if it is 95 degrees, you are a lot colder than in a humid place. This happened to me twice last week, even though it was in Oregon (I believe my hypothesis would still work for California). I would lie down to get some sun, come to a boiling point, and then jump in the pool. The problem was, the moment I would get in the pool, I would be freezing again because there was no humidity in the air, and even the slightest breeze made me chilly.
Meanwhile, you can go swimming in 75 degree weather in New England, and still not be cold while swimming because there is 90% humidity.
I can't explain it, but just trust me.
6. Your mouth doesn't get try every night while sleeping. It took me a few nights to finally realize why my mouth would taste and feel so dry every morning, but it finally dawned on me. Since the air is so dry in California, it would dry my mouth right out. This is not a good feeling.
7. Gas is cheaper. In San Francisco on Monday afternoon, we paid something like $4.39 a gallon for gas. When we returned to our town in New Hampshire yesterday, it was $3.77 a gallon. Gas in New England is usually at least 30-40 cents cheaper than in California. I think that is a lot.
8. Our fire departments are better. This is tongue-in-cheek, of course, but when a fire starts in New England, it is extinguished pretty quickly. Meanwhile, the whole state of California is ablaze before they can put it out. Case in point: a day before we were supposed to go to Yosemite, a fire started that was 1000 acres large. Twelve hours later, it had spread to 16,000 acres and was 0% contained.
And it seems like there is one fire after another in that unfortunate state. I do not know how a person could live all summer with smoke settled over them. We drove down from Oregon on Sabbath afternoon, and the whole way down, from the Oregon border, to Redding, the sky was filled with smoke. We could not even see Mt. Shasta, which is just off the "Free Way."
9. One word: charm. New England just has charm, like no other region or state in the US. From our white-steepled churches, to the old General Stores, to the enchanting light houses, we've got it architecturally. Meanwhile, California has Alcatraz and Rodeo Drive - quite charming in their own right, I suppose.
10. Autumn. This, of course, is one of New England's greatest assets. Our Fall Foliage - along with that charming architecture to go with it - cannot be beat.
11. We have better trees. Oh, sure, California has redwoods and giant sequoias, but their tree variety is rather lacking. Actually, this is what makes the East Coast better than the West Coast in general. In California, for the most part, all they have is evergreen trees. But in New England, we have plenty of evergreen trees, with lots of deciduous trees, thus making a very healthy and beautiful mix (and contributing to #10).
As I said, this also applies to the West as a whole. In some places, all they have are Ponderosa Pines, or whatever the pine is of your choice. And as much as I like Ponderosa Pines, it makes for a rather boring landscape.
Not New England. In fact, I was just speaking with a young man who is from Washington state, originally, now lives in Portland, Oregon, and is probably moving to New Hampshire, and when I said, "Oh, Oregon is a beautiful place," he specifically sited this issue as a big draw for moving to New England. "All we have is evergreens in Oregon," he said, "Whereas you guys have deciduous trees, too."
So don't just take it from me!
Quick: which place is prettier?