What I Learned In California

I’ve recently returned from a two week holiday in California, and London is making me want to go straight back! Okay, I’ve been back for nearly a month now, but our weather in London has been so crap that I’m in denial and still holding on to my holiday mode.  It was my seventh time in America, and my second time in California – the first time I visited was 16 years ago (gasp!)  It’s lovely there, especially the effortless sunshine.  One of my friends describes herself as ‘solar-powered’ and I am most certainly the same.  Give me sunshine and warmth, and I’ll give you a very happy and optimistic Wendi.  I also spent one night in Las Vegas and I think I’m going to have to return with my girls for some PROPER fun! (I was with family and I wouldn’t describe Vegas as a family orientated place to have the MOST fun in).

Anyway, being 16 years older than the last time I was in Cali, I noticed and learned a few things that made me chuckle and also made me wonder ‘Could I actually live here?’

You HAVE to drive

I’ve heard people say on TV that “nobody walks in California.”  They’re not lying.  At all.  We didn’t hire a car, because we stayed with family, but the problem was that we were the ones on holiday, not them, so as much as they tried to accommodate our tourist requests, they still had to live their every day lives, e.g, going to work.  Therefore on the days that they were busy, we didn’t have much of a choice of places to go, because you have to drive everywhere.  I was told that apparently if you take the limited bus or train services available, you’re seen as poor.  I personally have no problem with that, because those people don’t know me and would probably never see me again, but the train services in our area of San Bernadino went all over the world before reaching a destination, so a journey we wanted to take that would only be an hour by car would have taken six hours by train. No thanks.

The Carpool Lane

The first time I heard of a ‘carpool’ it was in an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the 90s and I didn’t get it.  Later it was explained to me, and now that I’ve experienced it, it makes sense.  Carpooling is when there are two or more people in one car.  It basically serves as a way to cut down on congestion, so it’s encouraged.  If you’re caught driving in the carpool lane on the freeway on your own, then you get fined, and apparently some people don’t hesitate to report others they see doing it.  I think that’s a bit sad (like those who report their neighbours for using their hosepipes during a ban) but I guess the lane is there for a reason.

They have marshmallow flavoured Vodka!

Anyone who has been to the U.S or watched programmes will know that, in terms of almost anything, they offer about three-times as much of a product as we have here.  My cousin and I were looking for some drinks to buy as gifts and just for chilling days, and we stumbled upon a store with the most ridiculous choice of alcoholic beverages.  Cake, coconut, whipped cream, chocolate whipped cream and marshmallow flavoured vodkas!  Have you ever heard of such things??  Judge me if you like, but that seriously excited me!  It’s also interesting to see how little they value the Smirnoff label over there, when over here it’s is considered to be one of the better brands.  In America, Smirnoff Vodka might as well be a UK supermarket’s no frills brand.  That’s all good for my pocket!

“What happened?”

This was something that gave us a source of pleasure every time it was asked!  Now ordinarily when you don’t hear what someone has said to you, you would either say “Pardon?” or “Sorry?”.  Not where we were.  More than three people we had conversations with would instead ask “What happened?”.  So it would go something like:

“I really like those Hershey’s Chocolate Drops, do you know where else we can get them?”

“What happened?”

I’ve learned from previous trips to the U.S that a lot of Americans think we Brits speak quite fast, so you can imagine how many times we heard “what happened?”  Well what happened was I asked you a question, and what I’d like to happen now is for you to answer it. Funny.

The dustbin trucks do the work

We stayed in Rialto, and on bin day all that the binman predominantly does is drive and operate the truck.  The truck itself is what picks up the dustbin and empties the rubbish.  It’s fascinating, like some sort of dustbin Transformer!  So a job that takes about four men to do over here, takes a maximum of two over there.  AND!  Households get paid for recycling plastic and bottles.  That’s unfair, we should too.  They don’t recycle as many things as we do though, so imagine if we received money for the amounts we’re forced to save… it would probably get us a nice Friday night takeaway treat.

All in all I have a lovely time and I hope to return soon.  I’ll need quite a few trips back and forth before I could think of moving there though.  Maybe one day..