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Notes From A California Summer Road Trip

September 5, 2015

What a wonderful, carefree summer we had!

VW in Coloma CA

I started the new school year with ambitious creative projects underway

and plans for a return trip to the UK this month (yay!)

My kids recently returned to school and

curiously they have California-edition textbooks for science and Spanish

California doesn’t fully feel like ‘home’ yet,

and I wonder if it is delayed because we moved here via England

instead of within the country

Placerville, CA

As we continue to settle into California living,

I still have a lot to learn about the region

Here are a few things that made me a little ‘California smarter’ this summer…


When we were on our road trip this summer

I saw a few signs supporting the State of Jefferson,

a rural Northern California proposal for becoming an independent US state

The idea gained momentum in 1941 with the desire to break from California

with the belief that their issues were underrepresented in the state government

and overshadowed by the more populated areas of the state

With the bombing of Pearl Harbor during WWII,

the idea was shelved in the name of cooperation in the war effort

Originally, southern Oregon was part of the package

but I believe Northern California is the only region still discussing it

Although it may never achieve statehood,

Jefferson is still a state of mind of independent thinkers


One of our driving destinations was Lassen Volcanic National Park

located in a remote area of northeast California not visited by many

Although the region’s volcanoes are not active,

there is plenty of spectacular hydrothermal activity:

hot springs, steam vents, mud pots, boiling pools

Lassen Volcanic National Park

While we were there, we saw hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail

simply referred to as ‘PCT’ around here

The trail became internationally famous through Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 best-selling memoir

“Wild: From Lost To Found on the Pacific Crest Trail”

followed by the 2014 award-winning film, “Wild”

The PCT was first proposed in 1926 and steadily gained momentum

YMCA organized relays to scout the trail’s route from 1935 to 1938

The following year the trail appeared on federal government maps

and earned the designation of National Scenic Trail by 1968


Today, the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail traverses the US

on the mountainous spines of California, Oregon, and Washington

from the Mexican border to the border of Canada

The trail is open all year, although it is impossible to follow when covered in snow

Pacific Crest Trail Marker

Forest fires and broken bridges cause temporary closures

and the drought this year enabled the hiking season to get started a little earlier

Traversing National Forests and protected wilderness,

this stunning hike requires about four to six months to complete

and typically traveled in the northbound direction


Burning Man is new to me but is common knowledge here

Currently in progress, the event started last Sunday and will conclude Monday

Burning Man began in San Francisco when a few friends on Baker Beach

burned a 9-foot wooden man during the summer solstice in 1986

By 1990, the annual event moved to Black Rock Desert, Nevada

with a big following, a dedication to leaving no trace behind,

and an emphasis on being self-reliant by bringing your own supplies for the week

Tickets are difficult to obtain, and last year’s fee was $380 per person

18% of participants traveled from other countries to be part of the scene

Once inside the event, monetary transactions are not allowed except for ice and drinks

Otherwise, everything else is ‘gifted’ to other participants

with a strong sense of community at its soul

Music, performance art, and visual art are as much a part of the week

as are the creative ‘mutant vehicles’, burning temple, and burning man

The extreme temperatures of the desert did not deter the 65,992 participants last year

American Flag

This Labor Day Weekend marks the end to summer in the US

In some parts of the country

it is the protocol for women to wear white only between Easter and Labor Day

but in California (and England) I notice no hard-and-fast rule

Which is true where you live?

Have a great weekend, wherever you are

Content sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

More: What It Feels Like To Live In California 


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