My Two Cents: California dreamin' back in Washington

So, earlier this month I was in California (new state motto: Kah-lee-fornia!). More specifically, I spent five days in and around Newport Beach, Calif., visiting my girlfriend, the lovely Krista, who thinks it’s pretty cool that I’m mentioning her in my column. It almost goes without saying – almost – to note that I experienced a mild case of culture shock going from Washington state to Southern California.

Not to sound too much like Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” but I didn’t think I was in Washington state anymore when I noticed all of the palm trees that dot the landscape in the Golden State. This was quite a sight for someone used to seeing almost nothing but pine trees and fir trees in the Pacific Northwest.

I also noticed that Californians play by a different set of rules when it comes to driving, which makes sense, given the stereotype – which I didn’t find to be true, by the way – that walking is frowned upon. Anyway, it’s legal to make u-turns on a lot of California streets, which is not something I’m used to here in the Evergreen State.

California also seems to have a lot more highways, freeways and state routes than Washington, although that might just be my flawed perception. I have a horrible (read: almost nonexistent) sense of direction and occasionally get lost, but in California, I was completely disoriented the whole time.

I did, however, enjoy seeing more Hummers and Ferraris on the road in five days in California than I’ve seen in a decade in Washington state. (I’m not a big car guy, but I have a thing for Ferraris, especially the Ferrari Testarossa, like the one in “Miami Vice.”)

Not surprisingly, but still shocking nonetheless, was the high cost of living in Southern California. For example, the price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas was about $2.30! Also, Krista’s apartment, which is so small you can sit on the toilet and do the dishes at the same time, costs nearly twice as much as my more spacious apartment in Steilacoom.

Finally, of course, the weather was different. Not once did it rain during my visit! In fact, I think Gov. Schwarzenegger recently signed an executive order banning rain in California.

But seriously, I had a great time in Newport Beach. It wasn’t the location that made it special, but the company.

“My Two Cents” is a weekly column where the author – who hopes Krista has a sense of humor about her tiny apartment – gets in his two cents worth in spite of the old saying that you only get a penny for your thoughts.