Michelle at Scribbit has had two posts recently, one of places she would like to see, and one of places she has already seen. What a fun idea! So I’m ripping her off, and trying this one too. Several of my selections are here in California. Born in Berkeley, raised for a few years in Alaska and then the Central Valley of California, college in San Francisco, and now raising our daughter in the Bay Area suburbs. I’ve seen a few places outside of the United States, but for now, I’ll stick stateside. Though not only lower 48, as it were.
1. Monterey, California. If I could afford it, I’d move to Monterey in a heartbeat. The laid back, relaxed vibe. The Cypress trees. The cool, foggy weather. The tide pools. The aquarium. The Monarch butterflies. The ocean. The ocean. The ocean. Dennis the Menace playground. I love this little coastal California town. But geez, it’s EXPENSIVE real estate.
2. Muir Woods, California. Just a short drive north from San Francisco, this cool misty forest, this is the place to go to see huge, old coastal Redwoods if you don’t have time to drive up to Redwoods National Forest, which is closer to the Oregon border. Muir Woods has trees up to 258 feet high, and up to 1,200 years old. It’s peaceful and lovely.
3. Oahu, Hawaii. I haven’t been to any of the other islands yet, owing to a family timeshare on Oahu, but I’ve been to this island twice. I’m not a big fan of the crowds at Waikiki, but then again, it’s not so bad. I love going to the North Shore of the island and doing some snorkeling. That’s worth the trip any day.
4. New York City. We went to New York a few times when we lived in Philly, and then again in 2000 when Ted was defending his dissertation. I’d like to go again, now that Maya is old enough to enjoy it. We really liked going on “The Beast”, which is a quick boat tour that takes you out to the Statue of Liberty and back again, pumping pop hits the whole time. I love the museums there, and the feeling of electricity that vibrates through the city.
5. Washington, DC. Haven’t been since we left Philly in ’96, but we did manage to make it down several times while living on the East Coast. I love D.C. Love the awesome Ethiopian food in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, love the monuments and the museums. Love that so much is free, and everything is in walking distance. The humidity I could do without.
6. Juneau, Alaska. My mom lived in Juneau from ’93 until ’08, and if it weren’t for her health problems, I think she would have stayed there forever. My brother and SIL still live there. It’s a gorgeous little town, full of tall mountains and the rain forest (though arctic, not tropical), plus the ocean coming in and giving glimpses of whales once in awhile. The bald eagles are common there, though still much appreciated and loved. Maya and I went up in ’99, I think, for a week. I’d like to go back sometime, and show Ted.
7. Shelter Island, New York. My friend Janet had a party on Shelter Island once many years ago, when Maya was still a baby, and we drove up from Philly. The family’s house was right on the water, and it was fun to take jet skis out onto the water. The Pacific Ocean up where we are is so COLD, so it’s always amazing to me how warm the Atlantic can be, especially in New York, which gets snow, while we do not.
8. Arches National Park, Utah. Ted and I went camping back in ’89. The beauty of the desert is awe inspiring, especially the canyons and the arches themselves.
9. San Antonio, Texas. I’ve been to S.A. several times, always for work, always without my family. I haven’t seen much of it, mostly the area around the hotels I was in, mostly in the evenings after work. The Riverwalk is nice because it’s below street level, and so out of the direct heat of the sun. That’s important. It never failed to amaze me that the Alamo was right there in the middle of town, across the street from a mall. On one trip, I decided I had seen the Alamo and the Riverwalk too many times, so I ventured out on foot in the other direction, and I enjoyed walking around a historic neighborhood with beautiful old homes.
10. Las Vegas, Nevada. Seriously? I could go the entire rest of my life without going here again. My old boss said he didn’t like ‘Sin City’ because there was nothing wholesome about it. I don’t know that I’ll go that far. I don’t need wholesome to have fun. My beef is more that Vegas seems so…fake…to me. Sights and sounds and experiences based on beautiful and interesting places around the world. But none of them the real thing. I think of it as Disneyland for adults. And I’m not a huge Disneyland fan. I’ll take a day at the Santa Cruz boardwalk over Disneyland any day of the week and twice on Sundays. And now that the contract with Steve Winn that kept Spamalot from the rest of the west coast has ended, and it’s coming to San Francisco, there’s truly no point to Vegas. You know, unless you want to inhale cigarette smoke and gamble.
11. Crater Lake and Ashland, Oregon. My dad, step mom, and sisters all live in Portland, so while we sometimes fly to go visit them, we sometimes drive. Driving from the Bay Area to Portland is a long haul, and it’s fun to break it up with a stop in Ashland for a play at their well renowned Shakespearean theater (though they produce many plays every year that are not Shakespeare as well), dinner, and spend the night in a hotel. If you’re there in the summer, there’s a bakery that makes a pretty amazing Marionberry Pie. Wow, so good. Then you’re fresh for the drive in the morning the rest of the way. We stopped in Crater Lake once, probably late 80s, for an hour or so. The water is so blue, and it’s like a mirror. Really pretty.
12. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, CA. Since I mentioned Santa Cruz, why don’t I tell you what I like about it? I like that it’s not HORRIBLY crowded. I like the rides, the saltwater taffy, the bumper cars, carousel, and log ride. I like the old wooden roller coaster, the smell of sun and sea, the seemingly endless ocean right there. I like that there are affordable places to stay, and that it’s not too long of a drive from home if we don’t want to stay. I like the pier with really good restaurants where you can eat food that isn’t theme park food. I like the whole vibe of it. I like the arcade where they have a small section put aside for old folks like us, where you can still play Pac Man and Tempest. God, I loved Tempest back in the day. I like that I’ve been going to Santa Cruz for as long as I can remember.
13. Niagra Falls OK, kinda cheating here, since Niagra Falls is on the border of New York and Ontario, and the best view is on the Canadian side. But I’ve been to both, so I’ll count it. Does anyone else remember that short lived show called Wonderfalls that took place here? Cute, quirky, ran out of steam and didn’t get the ratings. Too bad. I liked it.