California, an ode to the unexpected
It was a rainy September morning back in London and for once we didn't moan about the weather. We were going away to warmer latitudes for over four weeks. Our hearts full of joy. It was happening. The plane rounded a sharp turn, the view opened unexpectedly and scenic Point Reyes spread out beneath us.
In the short time that the landing lasted, all the reasons I had gathered along the years to make California my dream destination flashed before my eyes. My first love was basketball and my hero Kobe Bryant and his LA Lakers. Then it came Kerouac, Steinbeck and Joan Didion. Of Mice and Men reminded me of a story my grandmother told me about. Post civil war rural Spain wasn't overly different to that California superbly described by Steinbeck. Summers were spent around the Cantabrian sea, in Asturias, dreaming of Big Sur and its wild landscapes, thinking of the day when I could drive down Highway 1to the sound of the Grateful Dead.
In my first year of university I became absolutely obsessed with the Yosemite captured by Ansel Adams’ lens. Furthermore, every time I went to the mountains –which was regularly- Muir’s quote from My First Summer in the Sierra echoed, “exhilarated with the mountain air, I feel like shouting this morning with excess of wild animal joy”. San Francisco’s counter-culture movement and the West Coast music scene associated with it has fascinated me since my early twenties. But what I was most curious about was the food. Would Chez Panisse live up to its legend? Would Tartine’s morning buns be as delicious as I imagined? Would the farmers markets make me consider relocating?
And there we were in San Francisco. To fight the inescapable familiarity with the city even before stepping foot there, we decided to surrender to the beauty of unplanned travelling. Being my companion a transport planner professional, it took a while to convince him of the charms of wandering without a particular purpose, but when he agreed, he never looked back.
To see more of my California on this 10-page story, packed with off-the-radar recommendations, anecdotes and illustrated with analogue photography buy your copy of In Clover here.
** See more on the print edition here **