Sunday, August 01, 2010

Travels to the Los Angeles area

Boring plane rides totaling over 7 hours including a layover in an airport named after one of the George Bush's = drafting blogs in my head. And of course, now that it's the next day, I've forgotten most of it, but I remember the jist of some, even if it's not so eloquent now.

I was in Southern California for a few days this past week, on not-happy business with my boyfriend's family, but the experience is still standing out as positive in my mind. Having lived in Massachusetts my whole life, even for college, I have become accustomed to the idea of four seasons being normal and right, but in California, they have something completely different. Rain? Rarely. They are in a constant state of drought. Snow? Well, there are mountains there...they probably have snow...sometimes. Clouds? No, there is no humidity down there, only smog, so what you think is mist, is really from your car, and the thousands of cars all around you. That is probably what unnerved me the most. I don't like the non-clear blue sky. But the streets are wide and spacious, the sidewalks are not decrepit, and the curbstones? What curbstones? They are made of concrete like the sidewalks, and are sloped to prevent tire/rim damage should you make contact with your vehicle. How neat is that? The streets are much more grid-like than in New England, which is of course a little boring, but so much easier to find your way. That is probably one of the reasons why everything felt so big there; in a grid, it is easier to make adequate space!

The landscape is so different there. We were in "The Foothills", I guess, and I could see mountains in the distance practically all the time. These are not the mountains of New England, the mountains you can sometimes see on the horizon, driving on I-190. These are real mountains, with foothills, and expansiveness, and height. You can probably tell, I found them really cool. And not only is the landscape different from the way it contours, the plant-life is very different there. Being so dry, the most green you see is from happy-desert plants (palm trees of all kinds) and from well-kept plants with hidden sprinklers at the base. Near any shopping complex, peek under the shrubbery and you will find some kind of watering system. It's necessary to keep their flora and fauna alive there. That is an odd concept for me, coming from a pretty rainy place.

There aren't highways there, (you pay for highways) they are freeways. And you have to stop at a light before getting on, to help regulate the flow of traffic. The hairpin exit/on-ramps for the freeways were a bit unnerving too. There are noise-barriers next to the freeways, so nearby neighborhoods experience only the distant din of whooshing cars, rather than a roaring just down the street. Oh and the colors are different there! New England's idea of "earthy colors" generally means deep browns and rich, dark greens. Southern California favors sandy colors, and sandy pinks. Many of the houses and walls were of this color, with very little boring grayish concrete to be seen, even Targets and Babies R Us sported this rock. The schools are also very different there, being designed around having children outdoors as much as possible. I have only seen schools like that in movies from the '80s. Rows of classrooms open straight to outside, with tables and benches in between; even the cubbyholes or lockers are outside. That kind of design is not realistic in Massachusetts, where the variable weather would leave children soaked or freezing, depending on the mood of the sky (I know better than to just say "depending on the season").

Pictures will be added later, most likely.

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