The marriage between yours truly and my significant other almost didn’t happen. At the time of our engagement, my husband was on the fast track to becoming a youth pastor. Though I was thrilled to be marrying someone who loved the Lord enough to spend his whole life in ministry, I knew his salary would be sparse and not the least bit accommodating of an addiction I had-traveling. Wanderlust took over my life the moment I drove into downtown Chicago at the ripe old age of 15. My desire for traveling and seeing the world has become a hunger not unlike that of a drug addiction: the more I experienced it, the more I wanted it.

It was not the first time and, certainly not the last, that I would have to die to human desires and follow the path God had for me. In retrospect, it doesn’t appear that I did much dying as the following list of places I have been tells a different story. The point of the list is not to evoke envy or any kind of negative emotion. Rather, it’s simply a reminder of the fact that all good and perfect gifts come from “the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:7, NIV).

Here’s where I’ve been:

Geneva, Switzerland (twice)

Bern, Switzerland

Camping in the French Alps for two months

Paris, France

Grenoble, France

Reykjavik, Iceland (for dinner)

Jamaica (cruise)

Mexico (cruise)

Grand Cayman (cruise)

Luxembourg

Liechtenstein

Germany

Czech Republic

London (okay, just the airport but still)

Sleeping under the stars on a Navajo Reservation in New Mexico

New York City

New York State

Texas (Dallas, Ft Worth, Corpus Cristi)

Florida

Disney World

Arizona

North Carolina (outside of Raleigh/Durham)

Colorado (Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs, Denver, Boulder)

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Boston to watch the Red Sox

All over the East Coast

Toronto, Canada

Despite visiting all of these places, the one location I’ve been begging my husband to take me to is California. Since I grew up hearing it was going to land in the ocean, I really wanted to see the place before it did! Finally, after 20 years of marriage and countless miles of travel, we got there. As a matter of fact, as I write this I am sitting in a small (and I mean SMALL) bungalow on the beach watching the waves crash against the rocks and marveling at the fact that I am here. Here is a smidgen of California and what we have experienced, a debut into travel writing, if you will-something else I’ve always wanted to do.

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Let’s talk food, shall we? Fish tacos are a big deal in California. I didn’t know how I felt about them until I bit into one that was oozing with shredded veggies and white sauce. And then I decided I loved them and must have them…frequently. Also, never in my life have I been to a place that sells nothing but grilled cheese sandwiches. Who knew grilled cheese could be an art form? Maybe when I serve it for dinner in the future I’ll feel less guilty, less like it’s better-than-nothing-it’s-all-we-have and more like it’s-art-so-eat-it.

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California is a HAPPY place. Take, for example, the sidewalks, in particular those below painted to look like waves. They had to be painted by HAPPY people. And why are they HAPPY? Because it’s SUNNY twelve months a year! Who wouldn’t be HAPPY? It’s like going through the Starbucks driver-thru and leaving HAPPIER. Everyone there is HAPPY to be alive, and I think I might want to work there for that reason alone.

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And then there’s the wildlife. There are dogs sunning themselves wherever they want, squirrels that will take food from your hands and not bite, wild birds hanging out at sidewalk cafes, sea creatures that are a normal part of the landscape, and just general fabulousness in the animal kingdom.

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And finally, everything that is California:

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The sunsets                                                                                                                                  Fat and sassy palm trees strutting their stuff

 

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Over-the-top sand castles                                                    and water sports

 

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the last five months in the polar vortex that is the Midwest; maybe it’s because I had to wait so long to get here; maybe it’s because of the kindness of others that I did get here; I don’t know what it is, but for whatever reason this has been one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. I’ve loved the sand, the sun, the warmth, the quirkiness that defines California, the glorious palm trees that line the streets like street lamps, the food, the culture, the animals. All of it has been everything and more than I had hoped for. So if you can get yourself out here, do it and live it up before it lands in the ocean and the only California you’ll have is my opinion and these pictures!