We lived down in Southern California for twenty five years before moving here to Las Vegas, and liked California a lot. People have a different attitude in California than in the rest of the country, more adventuresome and accepting, and the weather is marvelous. We fixed up our last house in San Diego, adding a second floor and really making the yard nice. About ten years ago we decided we needed a change; Interstate 15 was completed behind our house and the traffic was becoming very obtrusive, everything was becoming too crowded and it was just too cool at night to really enjoy our yard.
San Diego has a beautiful Mediterranean type climate – the summer forecast (for about five months) was easy to anticipate: “night and morning low clouds, high of 72 low of 65” (22c, 18c). Winter was not much different, just a bit cooler. We lived about five miles in from the coast, very close to the football stadium and just a short ride to downtown. In the fifteen years we lived there it never got down to freezing. We were able to grow just about any kind of plant we wanted – out front were large giant Bird of Paradise bushes and a bougainvillea that had been growing over the driveway arch for seventy years. Out back we had an assortment of bananas (with fruit), citrus trees, lots of flowers and a large garden. At one point we had over two hundred rose bushes, and one year I went wild for heirloom tomato seeds and planted over thirty varieties (from purple to yellow to striped, even some plain red ones). Very lovely, except when the sun went down the fog came in from the ocean (not thick at our place, just as low clouds that made the sky light and clammy) and a breeze came up. 18c (65f) may sound nice but it was just a bit too cool and damp for us to sit out back comfortably. It was dry – under 300mm (12 inches) per year, but as long as we watered the yard we could grow anything.
We looked around the west for a place to move to. We investigated and visited several cities, including Tucson (we had both lived in Phoenix and didn’t want that again), Portland and Las Vegas among others. We wanted more sunshine – B grew up in Phoenix and liked the desert climate, which eliminated Portland and most of the northwest. B wanted a big airport to make it easy to travel, which cut out Tucson. At that time our daughter was living in Vegas, which was a plus for here. There was a big airport with flights everywhere, along with lots of entertainment, a great many nice restaurants, and lots of sunshine. We knew that we would lose our garden – it’s a desert here, with horrible alkali soil and freezing temperatures in the winter. Most plants have no problem with the heat, as long as they get sufficient water.
Two things we didn’t really notice before moving: the wind (lots of wind) and the summer bugs (called water bugs, but really big cockroaches). The wind is impressive – in the summer when it’s 39c (100f) and the wind blows (32kph/20mph steady with gusts double that) when you step out of a cold air conditioned casino it’s like walking into a blast furnace. Coupled with the low humidity, usually around 3%, you really feel dry. The bugs come out at night; they like water and spend the hot days out under the grass, wandering around the yard after dark. We don’t get them in the house, but it is strange when we go to throw something in the compost bin at night and the surface of that is just covered with hundreds of black and brown crawling things about 5cm (2”) long.
In the past few weeks we’ve made several trips back to California. One trip was to the San Francisco bay area where our youngest son got married. This was a nine hour drive through the central valley of California, which was very pleasant in itself. I like driving, and the freeways in California are nice to drive on. Everybody is going fast, and there are off ramps with places to stop and eat every twenty miles or so. I-5 runs along the west side of the central valley up on the start of the coastal mountains, so that you have a nice long view to the east over the farmland and orchards. The weather was fine – sunny skies and warm without the typical Spring bay fog. Last week we went down to Los Angeles for a train show. That’s a four hour drive through the desert and mountains, different than the greens of farmland. We did notice all of the flowers and greenery in the LA area, similar to what we had in San Diego. B misses the ability to have lovely gardens like that and would like to move back to California. I’m not sure I could take all of the crowds and traffic, and the loss of sunshine.
I’m listening to Penn Jillett's Sunday School podcast. Penn is the bigger, more talkative half of Penn and Teller, some pretty good magicians with a permanent show here at the Rio. We’ve seen their show several times, and it is very enjoyable experience – go see it if you come here. Penn is pushing his annual party, Penn Jillette’s Private Bacon and Doughnut Rock and Roll Dance Party , this year being held at the South Point Casino starting at 11pm on Friday July 12. It sounds like an interesting experience which I will try to attend this year. (Free bacon and donuts and live music – wow).