What Californians Are Grateful For in the Golden State

I hitchhiked back to Madison, closed our apartment, bought an old car, loaded all our worldly goods into a U-Haul trailer, and when I got back to Oakland and the new apartment we both started looking for jobs. California does that kind of thing to people. We’ve raised a family, retired and traveled the world for 15 months without coming back home. But nothing satisfies more than my connection to the place that we call California.” — Richard Bunce, Berkeley

“Here in South Lake Tahoe, I step outside or anywhere in town, and it is a respite of beauty. There’s always a cool feel to the air, a boon for this postmenopausal woman. I can drive to the Bay Area for a wonderful change of scenery, even as all those other Californians are heading to Tahoe for the same reason.” — Merlyn Oliver, South Lake Tahoe

“In September 1982, we came to Ocean Park in Santa Monica with two backpacks, $2,000 and youthful optimism. We’ve walked beside, cycled along, swam in, worked near and dawdled at the edge of the Pacific ever since. Californians are diverse, inclusive, open to ideas and in love with the natural beauty of its mountains, deserts and, of course, the Pacific. We’re on this earth for just a little while, and California’s warmth, beyond its fine weather, has fed our spirit these four decades. Eureka! We struck gold making it our home.” — Susan O’Brien, Santa Monica

“My family has been in California for over 170 years, and every time I’m gone from California, I miss it so badly that I cannot even listen to ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’ without being clutched by longing to be home. I love all of it — flying into the beautiful cooling fog of San Francisco, smelling the dry air tinged with oak and dust in the Sacramento Valley, seeing the jacaranda and bougainvillea blooming in Southern California, watching the ocean crash onto the beach on the Sonoma Coast, meandering through the Santa Ynez Valley, skiing at Tahoe and seeing the lake from the top of a ridge and on and on. It can be maddening and contradictory and disappointing, but it’s always beautiful and interesting and welcoming, and it’s always home.” — Michelle Oroschakoff, Rancho Santa Fe

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