So having been born here in California, I think I see it differently than a lot of people.
First off, make no mistake that there are actually three separate Californias. Southern and Northern California make up the obvious two. But most people overlook Central California, which is home to probably the most fertile farmland in the US, as well as a bastion of Republicans.
We have beaches, breathtaking scenery, Hollywood, San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Barbara, the Gold Coast, surfing, great overall weather, earthquakes, Wine Country, skiing, desert, agriculture, the Missions, Lake Tahoe (well, half of it anyway) and almost anything else you can think of other than the World's Largest Ball of Twine.
To me, California is a state of contradictions. We have one of the hottest and lowest points on the planet, Death Valley. Then we have San Francisco, where the average annual temperature is 56. We have some of the priciest real estate in the world, yet we also have the largest homeless population in the country. It is the land of the multi-millionaires and the immigrant laborers who make less than minimum wage. Travel a total of less than twenty miles and see mansions and virtual shantytowns. We have some of the most liberal and cutting-edge laws, yet we still have the death penalty. On any given day on the freeway, you can see a car worth over sixty grand cruising next to a clunker worth maybe three hundred if they're lucky.
...the sun shines hard and bright.
...you can find the best ethnic food of pretty much every ethnicity.
...everyone knows someone in "the industry."
...Disneyland was built.
...we are the home of the Rose Bowl and the Rose Parade.
...we have more pro sports teams than any other state.
...exists one of the best public college systems in the world.
...you can ski and surf in the same day.
...there are places where most people do not speak or read English, and don't have to.
...world-class wines are made.
..."historical" structures are rarely older than 60 years.
...parking is a usually a breeze.
...the cost of living is high.
...open land is being gobbled up by the acre.
...overall, the primary and secondary public school system is a shambles.
...our infrastructure is old and crumbling.
...property taxes, compared to the rest of the country, are low.
...we have the best weather of any state, yet tanning salons abound.
...we spend way too much time in traffic.
...despite all the negatives, we tend to think we live in the best state.
I'm curious. When you think of California, what comes to mind?