California dreamin’ on a winter’s day.
Imagine it is January, and the thermometer drops below 0F every night. And when it doesn’t, it’s snowing. That just means shoveling your driveway and sidewalk all over again. If you should get a rare warm streak (above freezing) the road turns to slush, the ground turns to mud, and the river overflows from ice dams and snowmelt.
Sure there’s skiing and snowmobiling and ice fishing. Snowball fights and snowmen. But the days are short and dark and the roads are glare ice until they salt them. And then your car starts to rust. “Back east” cars rarely show up on the used car market out west, while California cars are a prize where I grew up.
All you folks in Canada, Iowa, Michigan or North Dakota… don’t lie… don’t you secretly wish you were in California? Yeah, the government is screwy, the taxes are high, and real estate is expensive. So, don’t live here, just come here and couch surf for a while.
Reposting this because it feels appropriate.
And those California girls… It’s true. Every woman who dreamed of making it in television, movies, or rock music, migrated here over the last century. Those beauty genes build up and concentrate. Ditto for guys. All those sun-kissed maidens and youths along miles of beach. Stunning lookers in Beverly Hills and the Hollywood Hills. Even the mall rats were gorgeous.
Los Angeles is a place where talent comes to be “discovered.” More often, they end up pumping gas…
Starting with the hippies of the 60s, California has become a mecca for sexual freedom and acceptance. Out here, you can always find a niche – even if it takes a bit of searching. You can be who you really are better here than anywhere else in the country.
Even someone like me. You’ve heard of round pegs and square holes? I’m a triangular peg.
Technically, there is no official “Ventura Highway.” When Dewey Bunnell, the vocalist and writer for the group, wrote those lyrics he was thinking of the stretch of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) from Lompoc to Ventura. (In some places, its route has been overlaid by US Highway 101, named the Ventura Freeway.) PCH, aka CA Highway 1, is an amazing road full of beauty and charm, passing through resort towns, spectacular coastal mountains, and sun-drenched beaches. Many of its towns have grown, but there are still hundreds of miles of empty coastal magnificence.
Alligator lizards are a real species here.
Very young Sally Field. What is not to love?
The adorable Sandra Dee also had her turn in the iconic role.
It is here that the beaches became legendary. I grew up watching Gidget and Beach Blanket Bingo while the raw winter winds blew snow into drifts twice my height. Locations like Malibu, Zuma, and Venice beaches were burned into my imagination. Sally Field moved into my secret crush zone, along with Doris Day and Diana Rigg.
Imagine my amazement when this cornfed, mid-western, and deeply closeted nudie discovered what Black’s Beach was famous for. And then, when I got out here, “unofficial” beaches were easy to visit. Elysium was my first nudie club. Many different colleges, and all of them used nude models for art classes. A bottomless demand for male stripping for private parties.
The beaches are still stunning today but they are also far more crowded. There are currently two and a half times more people here than in Gidget’s day. There used to be numerous informal nude beaches up and down the coast but most are gone, victims of less tolerant days. Elysium folded.
My California Dreamin’ was all about the beach and the big city, the opportunity to grow and prosper in a growing economy. It wasn’t until later that I discovered the desert and the mountains to fall in love with. The outlines of my dreams were colored in by the many television series and songs set in the west. Everything from police procedurals like Dragnet to humorous satires like The Beverly Hillbillies.
I imagined glitz and glamor and a laid-back life. LA was supposed to be mellow – as opposed to the cut-throat competition in the east. It was also about hooking up with a counterculture that was beginning to fade before I could make the trip out. I got lucky and caught the last hour before sunset on that scene.
February 25, 2023 at 23:30
Classics re always better! I love california due to many reasons. But party in california with he Beach boys beat is definitely worth it.
February 14, 2023 at 07:07
Beautiful photo. Brought back memories.✌️
February 14, 2023 at 18:24
January 22, 2023 at 20:55
Fred, you’re making a pretty attractive sales pitch for California. Almost every Canadian I’ve met has been there, usually on family car trips to Disneyland as a kid. My parents never took me there, but they did take us to Hawaii, so I got to surfing. I know an elderly couple who used to take their minivan for winter breaks to a state park near Los Angeles. They loved it but stopped going because after Trump was elected all the other campers wanted to talk about was Trump and politics- even supposedly normal people like librarians- and that turned them
off. By the way, once I knew a lady from San Diego who was perfect (to me), so I believe what you say about the women. So Cal is on my bucket list.
January 22, 2023 at 22:39
California is still a brilliant place to visit but if I had a choice, I’d live in Washington state. It has gotten very crowded, very expensive, hot and dry.
January 21, 2023 at 06:48
I liked California when I went there, but New Zealand is where I want to be. Love it there. Not too hot, not too cold, surfing, and less people than Cali.
Snow is fun when you’re a kid, but more than a week of it gets very old as an adult.
January 21, 2023 at 09:38
New Zealand is a true paradise. There’s a wide variety of climates, from subtropical to alpine. Beaches and mountains and forests and fields all close together. Low population density, lots of low-intensity agriculture and lots of wilderness. Auckland is still big enough to have the good things only a large urban center can provide.
California used to be a bit like that. Plus it has desert, a biome NZ missed out on. Now there is ten times the population as I would like to see.
I read a lot of things that say they don’t flip out over a bit of casual nudity on the trail or beach. Important to me but probably not many others.
January 11, 2021 at 05:52
Now that’s going to be stuck in my head all day… lovely post. Right now even Nevada is cold. 🙁
January 2, 2021 at 13:25
I love California (and the Mamas and the Papas). Can I come couch surf at your place? I’ve been to California twice in my life, when I was much younger. I was there in a wintertime, away from frigid Quebec. I wish I had moved there permanently. I spent time near San Diego, the El Cajon area. Was fortunate to have my host drive us into Arizona. For somebody from the hills of Quebec, that was very special.
January 2, 2021 at 12:07
Nice post, but I have never seen a good looking mall rat. Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway is on my bucket list along with driving on Route 66. That is one giant surf board and I had a large one when I was young, but I was never able to catch a ride. The board did come in handy when my car got stuck in the sand as I used it to get traction on the beach.
January 2, 2021 at 15:18
Depends on the mall you were at and how young you were at the time.