Seems like everyone in California is complaining about the weather, except Me. The media should really be alerted to that important factoid, since it’s practically unheard-of, no matter what the season. While everyone else bewails the fog, I just smile and think how glad I am that I’m not sweltering back east. I enjoy being lightly chilled, like a fine Chablis, almost as much as, well, a fine Chablis.
Having said that, though, summer is the time to go on vacation, or, in my case, daydream about going on vacation. Surprisingly, when I made up a list of places I’d like to go, many were right here in the Golden State. These are all places I’ve never been.
Bodie: The best-preserved ghost town in the state, and possibly the country, Bodie is also subject to extreme temperatures, with winter lows dipping to 0°F, with winds up 100 mph, and summer temperatures in the 90s. I read an article about the town’s lone ranger/caretaker, and it has to be one of the loneliest jobs around.
Burlesque Hall of Fame: I’ve always been fascinated by the golden era of burlesque. Famed dancer Jennie Lee established the Burlesque Hall of Fame in the Mojave Desert to showcase her collection of burlesque memorabilia and costumes. After her death, the equally famed Dixie Evans took over, and the museum is now being moved to Las Vegas. The annual Miss Exotic World Pageant is held every year on or near my birthday – what a gift that would be!
Chandelier Drive-Through Tree is less than an hour’s drive from town. When you get there, you can, as the name suggests, drive through a giant sequoia. Because Nature is much better seen from inside. I could probably combine this with a trip to the Lost Coast (see below).
Hearst Castle: Shockingly, I have never visited one of the Suzy-est places in the state, though Megan has. Even she was impressed.
Hotel del Coronado: Where “Some Like It Hot” was filmed, this Victorian confection has been restored to its Marilyn-era glory. Not to mention being conveniently close to Catalina Island, where you can take a glass-bottom boat* to admire reefs, shipwrecks, and sea life. Catalina is also home to plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. Bonus Marilyn connection: she and her first husband, Jim Dougherty, once lived on the island.
The Lost Coast: I really have no excuse not to do this one, since it starts about an hour’s drive north of town. This is an exceptionally unspoiled and scenic part of the state, and the only part of it not served by a state highway. We could just hook up a little red teardrop trailer and take off!
Palm Springs: Of course, the best way to tour the fabulous mid-century architecture of Palm Springs would be renting Frank Sinatra’s old pad, at a mere $2,600 a night. You can also tour Elvis and Priscilla’s wildly futuristic honeymoon house.
Santa Cruz Mystery Spot: Supposedly a place where the laws of physics and gravity don’t apply (what girl doesn’t love that?), compasses and GPS devices don’t work there, and no animals, even birds, live within the Mystery Spot. I love it that there are still places, things, and phenomena that can’t be explained away by science. Even if they can, it’s still fun to see a ball roll up hill.
Winchester Mystery House: Home of the famous gunsmiths, the last Winchester owner was Sarah, who was convinced that if she never stopped building onto her house, she wouldn’t die. Her bid for immortality failed, but her architectural legacy lives on in San Jose, where her 160 room mansion boasts stairs to nowhere and doors and windows that open onto blank walls.
Places I’d like to re-visit include Bodega Bay, where we used to spend Christmases with Dad (and I think a movie was filmed there once); Monterey Bay and its incredible aquarium; LA, which I’m supposed to despise but don’t; and Lake Tahoe. Megan and I have a fantasy about spending Christmas there with the snow. Isn’t it amazing that you can drive a few hours and be where the snow is, but not have to live with it all winter?
I always say California has everything: the ocean, lakes, rivers, mountains, deserts, ancient forests, snow, sunshine, you name it. And that’s not even including the man-made wonders. Why don’t you come up sometime, and see me?
*Parts of the Doris Day movie of the same name were filmed there. I happen to love Doris Day movies, especially “Pillow Talk” and “That Touch of Mink”.