Go ahead, trash California.
It is the favorite pastime of national pundits who believe the undisciplined spending and political dysfunction in Sacramento that produces mind-boggling red tape to suffocate business and individuals alike is destroying the lure of California.
It’s easy to declare that the California Dream has turned into a nightmare when you dissect the state while perched in a cubicle 30 floors above a concrete jungle where everything you eat is imported and your senses are caressed not by nature but by concrete, steel, and asphalt.
Just try to dump on California when you’ve crested Mt. Whitney at 14,494 feet and can gaze over the majestic granite of John Muir’s Range of Light while standing higher than anyplace else in the continental United States.
Slam it for being overcrowded as you hike in the middle of nowhere to 200-foot-high sand dunes in the Panamint Valley where the silence is deafening or as you step gingerly down to 282 feet below sea level to reach Badwater in the stunning, stark beauty of Death Valley.
Claim California is no longer relevant in today’s world as you travel past Facebook, Google, Apple, Oracle and a host of other cutting edge high tech companies that populate the Silicon Valley and San Francisco.
Dismiss the state’s economic might as you travel the 450-mile length of the world’s most fertile valley as you pass farmland that produces over a third of the fruits and vegetables grown in the United States.
Ridicule those who migrate to California as you travel the length of the Golden State coast going from the warm, sunny beaches of San Diego, past the rugged mountainous Big Sur coast, drive across the Golden Gate, and into the land of giants where redwoods a 1,000 years old crowd the Pacific Ocean as they soar over 300 feet above the ground with trunks that make Hummers look puny.
Say the shine has gone from California as you peer across near pristine Lake Tahoe, look up in awe at the north state’s two volcanoes – Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen – navigate the 1,100 miles of waterways that snake through the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta, walk in the glacier-carved Yosemite Valley or stroll along the estuaries at Point Reyes National Seashore.
Who’d want to live in California anyway? Much of the state has a Mediterranean climate, the snow is where it belongs up in the mountains, and you can even hit the beach in December. Besides who needs a state you can snowboard, snow ski, water ski, rock climb, surf, bicycle, hike in shorts, hang glide and do all sorts of other nonsense on the same day if you so chose in the dead of winter?
And why would anyone want to live in the young cities of the Golden State? The likes of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, and Sacramento all have distinct personalities and climates that create no sameness as you can expect in the big cities of many other states.
And who want to live in a place where you can stay in 105 degree heat in the San Joaquin Valley at the height of summer or escape to 60 degree temperatures just 50 miles away in San Francisco?
Open your eyes. Take in California.
The California state of mind is still dreaming big. It is where men’s ideas – whether it was creating the world’s longest aqueduct to transform the state or building a high speed rail system – are still big enough to match the Sierra.
This is a land where one draws strength from 3,000-year-old old bristlecone pine trees and inspiration from the most diverse mixture of cultures on earth.
California is a state that was instrumental in getting man to the moon and planted the seeds for Apple.
High jinks in Sacramento may tarnish California in the eyes of others but once you remove the political crud it is – and always will be – solid gold.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-249-3519.