Though I went to college in the Northwest for three years, I never stepped foot in California until I moved here. We began our long, four day drive bright and early August 29, and excitedly drove southwest. And drove. And drove. Besides a few hours visiting the Grand Canyon we endured endless dessert after endless dessert. It was amazing, in a uniquely bland sort of way. We finally made it through the mars-like hilly terrain of Arizona and Nevada and crossed the border into California. I was all excitement. Until I realized that it was STILL dry and desserty.
No worries, foliage appeared eventually. We crossed over the first eastern California mountain range and I was snapping passenger window pictures continuously. We arrived in Pasadena and I knew that it would quickly become home.
What is life like in Southern California, more specifically Pasadena? It is a strange combination of rundown ghettos and ritzy mansions. Lake Avenue and Old Town Pasadena are filled with boutiques and well to do stores, but it is not uncommon to have homeless begging on the street corners. Southern Pasadena is filled with multi-million dollar mansions and large, luxurious homes, but north of the 210 cookie cutter houses have protective bars on the windows. But I have four favorite things about Pasadena.
1) The mountains. I have never lived near mountains, and I hope that I never take for granted the fact that I do now. The San Gabriels are clearly visible from anywhere in town, and the base is just a few miles north. Just last Sunday Peter and I drove up to the very top of Mt. Wilson and watched the sun set and the lights of the LA area flicker on. I certainly don’t mind having the ocean nearby, as well.
2) The Caltech campus. For a technical institute, it is very impressive. The architecture has given me some good photo ops, and walking around campus feels like walking around a botanic garden teeming with nerdy students.
3) Cherry on Top, a relatively cheap and absolutely delicious frozen yogurt shop less than a mile from our apartment. It has quickly become our favorite mid-week study break date.
4) Pasadena itself. It is home. It is quirky and warm and affluent and our very first home together. We can now drive around town without our GPS – a huge accomplishment for me! I can’t wait to live here with Peter for the next five years.