website statistics

Finally Leaving California: the Pros and Cons

Posted by on Apr 27, 2012 | 9 Comments

Our three month “avoid winter at all costs” stay in California is coming to an end.  We’re leaving for our first major cross-country excursion of the year on Monday.

I knew we’d like California, but I didn’t expect to like it as much as we have.  Here are some of the things I’ll miss the most… and least:

Pro: Friends.  We’ve had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with friends, which has been awesome.  That includes frequent runs (and post-run drinks) with Shacky and Vanessa, running races with Pablo and Krista, and feeding my inner shoe geek with long discussions about the state of the industry with Jon.  We’ve also met a ton of super cool people.

Con: Traffic.  This really just pertains to the metro Los Angeles area.  We’ve been to every major metropolitan area in the US, and I can safely say LA has the worst traffic.  It’s entirely possible to sit in gridlock for four hours anywhere within a fifty mile radius of the city.

Pro: Mountains.  I never expected California to have such spectacular mountain running.  I’ve run in the northern Sierra Nevadas at Western States, but the Southern California mountains were a surprise.  We had access to five or six excellent mountain trails within 30 minutes of our campground outside San Diego, and the mountains surrounding LA were shockingly rugged.  The Los Pinos trail was humbling and Mount Baldy hit 10,000 feet+.  This stuff rivals Colorado.

Con: Lack of public restrooms.  It’s as bad as Europe.  I’m glad I’m an ultrarunner that has developed the ability to go anywhere.

Pro: Attitude.  Californians have a laid back detachedness.  The people are friendly and accepting, but tend to keep to themselves.  Most people are pretty liberal and are happy to let you do your own thing.  There’s not a lot of judgmental cliquishness.  It’s less like middle school and more like college.

Con: The ominous threat of major earthquakes.  This sort of freaked me out when we first arrived.  I routinely imagined scenarios where we’d be rumbled back to the stone age in an Armageddon-type catastrophe.  I avoided parking near overpasses.  I hoarded water.  I sharpened my hatchet (you know, in case the new society that emerged from the smoldering wreckage needed someone adept at chopping thin sticks and kindling).  After a few weeks, I chilled out.

Pro: The Pacific Ocean.  It puts Lake Michigan to shame.

Con: Gas prices.  Gas is expensive everywhere… but California is ridiculous.  This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if we weren’t driving a Sherman tank.  I was relieved to get to Texas where gas was sold for the rock-bottom price of $3.50/ gallon.

Pro: Local “flavor.”  California is the only place we’ve visited where the homeless don’t actively ask for money.  Every homeless person I encountered either passively held a sign, struck up a conversation without asking for anything, or asked for cigarettes.  It was equally common to be approached in parking lots by well-dressed people asking to spare some change.  They always had an outlandish story explaining why they were stranded in the Lowe’s parking lot and needed gas money to get home to their small children, which were presumably left alone.  They were always itching their arms for some reason…

Con: Poison oak.  I still don’t know exactly what it looks like.  And I’m still itching from the last encounter… two weeks ago.

Pro: Dry heat.  My current side trip has taken me to Austin and Fort Worth Texas, Wichita Kansas, and Oklahoma City.  The temperature is roughly the same as San Diego… except for the damn humidity.  I’m not looking forward to the late spring/early summer humidity in the Midwest and East Coast. I’ll miss the arid air of the Southwest and Southern California.

I’m going to miss you, California…



Be Sociable, Share!
Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts


  1. Steve
    April 29, 2012

    A little off-topic, I’ve always wondered: is “share and enjoy” a Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference?

  2. Rob Y
    April 27, 2012

    Meh! I was born and raised there and while it’s fun to visit I’m so happy I moved away; no regrets. I’m not real into crowds, traffic and an absurd high cost of living. No thanks. I do miss the BIG mountains but my wife and I get a chance to travel and play every now and then; it’s enough.

  3. Warren
    April 27, 2012

    Where did you guys camp? I was stationed out in SoCal for 8 years and hiked all over the Cuyamaca and Laguna mountains. Also, hiked all over the Anzo-Borrego desert. Some very scenic running out the in desert during the winter. Hot as BALLS in the summer. I left there in 2007. I REALLY miss it.


  4. Richard
    April 27, 2012

    Con: The ominous threat of major earthquakes.

    You learn to live with them when you find somewhere you truly love, as odd as it sounds. They freaked me out when I came to Japan – never more so than last year – but there are so many positives that outweigh the dangers. My friends in California tell me the same.

    And yes, the Pacific is awesome. I hope you went surfing, Jason!

  5. Dave Goulette
    April 27, 2012

    Were glad you came. It was cool to meet you and Shelly at zombierunner. You inspired me and my wife to sign up for some races later this year. We are going to try to encourage each other and run together when we can. Please come back whenever you like! You have to hit Yosemite some time. I’ve lived in norCal my whole life and I never want to move.

    David Goulette

  6. Troy
    April 27, 2012

    Dude, lake superior puts lake Michigan to shame. I know what you mean though 😉

  7. Jen
    April 27, 2012

    I moved to California 7 years ago and I love it. The only two cons about living in the Bay Area are the high cost of living and the random crazy (literally!!) people wandering the streets. They’re harmless but they definitely make me feel uneasy.

    Here’s a slideshow of Northern California wild plants — including a photo of poison oak:

  8. Paul
    April 27, 2012

    We will miss you just as much! Safe Travels to you and the family. Can’t wait to run with you again.

  9. Kelli Taylor
    April 27, 2012

    woop! woop!! That’s my home state and I TOTALLY agree with each Pro and Con. Nicely done Mr. Robillard.

    If the family wants to continue a running life, you can migrate up and down the west cost forever and be happy (I’ve been doing this my 28 years of life).

    P.S. Leaves of 3, let them be!