The Sum of SoCal
I have nothing against assimilation. I think being in Rome is as good a time as any to try your best Roman, and this is an attitude I’ve adopted to travel. It’s easy for me as I like to please people and worry that I’ll make a right fool of myself but try as I might, the best laid plans go all kinds of awry.
So it was in Japan when I tried serving Green Tea only to splinter the bamboo stirrer in everyone’s cup; or my embarrassing inability to NOT use the words “lovely”, “bullocks” and “right-o” when speaking to anyone with a British accent. I make attempts, and my trip to sunny San Diego is no exception.
What is inherent to Californians? Those clever celebrity-dense ad campaigns would suggest sun and able-bodied fun. I grew up in the land-locked US. My family didn’t jet-ski or engage in bouts of sand volleyball. We were efficient travelers. We used up all our time riding every ride imaginable in Disney World. The idea of sun-soaked leisure is new to me.
Some posts ago I referenced my very real fear of showing skin. I wear 3 piece bathing suits and I hate the summer because everyone seems to strip down. Strip down if you will, but don’t expect me to follow suit. And this is what I feared most- that to do as the Californians do, I would have to wear a bikini and vapidly dismiss everything in a valley accent. I can now say my preconceptions of the dear state of CA were wrong.
We visited so that Hiro could present at the American Chemistry Conference in San Diego, CA. It was a first time for us both and I was a-flutter with suggested trip plans. The internet would have you find that there are a bounty of free things to do in SD! Due to our wedding budget we did so much of what was suggested, but the one thing – the thing that seemed so very SoCal – I wanted to do was ride a bike on a pier in sunshades.
Note Hiro is an avid cyclist. I last rode a bike in Japan when I had a basket on the front and the bike and rode slowly on paved sidewalks at the speed of all the neighborhood grannies. That’s why, when I saw a brochure for a scenic 3 hour adventure tour through La Jolla, replete with cave dwellings, canyon cliffs and seal parks I signed Hiro and I right up!
This was not for the timid cyclist. Our tour guides (see: SO FRIENDLY) attached a smart phone to the back of their bikes, blasting Bob Marley and riding on the street at speeds I would otherwise not travel. There was no safety-briefing on how to signal to cars, or brake on a hill. In fact, there were no questions what-so-ever concerning our abilities or know-how. I LOVED it. That meant I had to keep up. That meant I had to cruise at a quicker clip so that I could see all the amazing sights they had to show. Let me be fair to our ragtag tour team – they would not let us ride to danger, and I trust had been eyeing our abilities discreetly (one lagged behind, humming his own Bob Marley).
Still, it felt so free to ride up a cliffside for a stunning view of the ocean expanse; to ride the boardwalk and dodge Cali skateboarders; to cruise the winding streets of the HGTV-ready La Jolla suburbs, taking downhill straight-aways at heart quickening speeds!
It felt lovely to be one with the sun, keeping active with the locals (although I must have seemed such a tourist!). Our tour guide, originally from Delaware, told me that he sometimes misses the Northeast. I asked why, incredulous. He said that in Delaware, on a rainy day, you can just stay in. You have reason to outlast the poor weather by doing nothing with you time, if you choose. But in San Diego, he said, the weather is so often nice that you have no choice but to get out and exercise. Enjoy the wind and the weather. Be one of the many moving parts.
What a nice way to consider a state’s role! I’m ever so happy to have played the part and will gladly again.