My honeymoon was fabulous. I recently returned from an amazing trip to Palm Springs with my husband. It was a much-needed break from reality. However, while traipsing through the land of “fruits and nuts,” as my Californian friend calls it, I realized that I was not created to live on the West Coast.
As a kid, I had always dreamed of either living in New York City or Los Angeles; I wanted to be a famous actress, but that dream was crushed when my parents told me how corrupt and sleazy the entertainment industry was (shocker). So, on my adolescent bucket list, I had the Big Apple and Hollywood as my top two places I’d like to visit.
My trip to New York City came early; I was 17. The term “culture shock” is an understatement when I think back to that week in April 2001. You could’ve picked out our group of curious teenagers and excited adult chaperones from a mile away; all we had to do was open our mouths. Most of the concrete jungle natives thought we were from Texas, which I considered an insult at the time. I thoroughly enjoyed that trip. My latest excursion, however, did not live up to my 17-year-old expectations.
Palm Springs and Oceanside, where we resided for a glorious week, are remarkable destinations. The resort we stayed at had tall and beautiful palm trees, gorgeous flowers, swimming pools, a spa, dining spots, fitness centers and other numerous amenities and activities. It was amazing how we could be relaxing in the lukewarm pool in 80/90-degree weather and look up to see the snow-capped mountains in the distance. (Trust me, seeing the snow did not make me miss the weather back home in Lancaster.)
Oceanside was a bit more crowded than I would’ve liked, but I was able to dip my feet into the Pacific Ocean for the first time in my life – and it was very cold. We ate at the cutest little 50s-era restaurant on the pier and relaxed on the beach (or shore as some call it). Then, we left to visit friends who live in the hills of Oceanside. I’ve never seen so many orange and lemon trees in my life. The climb was long and curvy, but the views were breathtaking.
I was excited as we headed out that Thursday on our 2-hour journey to Los Angeles. Turkey Hill’s lonely windmills looked inferior compared to the West Coast’s infinite number of windmills that lined the drought-stricken area. The highway was incredible and nothing like I had ever witnessed. (Who would’ve thought that six lanes of traffic could be so jam-packed? Also, the area’s speed limit of 70 really means you need to travel at speeds of 80 to 90 miles per hour if you don’t want to be run over. In other words, be prepared to drive like a bat out of Hades.)
Because I am obsessed with the latest celebrity gossip, I talked Justin into taking a TMZ tour in LA. We finally made it and nabbed the first public parking spot we could find (in close relation to the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, of course). Seeing the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame line the sidewalk and the handprints of famous celebrities – past and present – were just two of the many highlights of the day’s adventure. We passed by a former cast member of Mad TV on the street immediately after crossing through the actual making of a future film (or possibly a commercial, who knows?).
During our TMZ tour, hosted by staff member Danica, our bus crossed paths with Cam Newton (Of all the celebrities I would’ve loved to have come across, our bus passes the famed Panthers’ quarterback, who I could’ve seen perform while attending games back home in Alabama when he quarterbacked for Auburn – my beloved Crimson Tide’s rival.) Anyway, after seeing the many rock venues, boozy night clubs, expensive hangouts and hotels where the celebs eat, sleep, drink and party, our tour came to an end, and we headed back for the resort (which was a 3-hour tour thanks to the lovely rush hour traffic).
The following is a list of reasons why I’m not meant to live on the West Coast/or in California: not enough vegetation (too much of a desert area), no seasonal changes (I need to experience spring, summer, fall and winter), too expensive (lifestyles of the rich and famous … and richer and more famous), kind of trashy (some areas looked like wastelands, literally), and the overwhelming traffic (It’s insane; I now understand why road rage is so bad out there).
Peace out, Cali. I love Lancaster County! I’m home, y’all.