On my continued escape from the miserable British summer I travelled from a sunny Oregon to the searing heat of central California and the cool crisp air of the ‘Golden State’s’ central and northern coastline. Come with me on this briefest of pictorial rides through my ‘Colorfornia.’

California is quite something, but of all the places to see here the central valley isn’t usually at the top of many peoples list. I, however, love visiting the central valley. It might be a soulless urban sprawl in the desert, but the stifling heat warms my blood that seems to require such a thawing at about this point in the year. British temperatures don’t approach anything like the same heat, and while the locals are doing everything they can to stay in the coolness of air conditioning, I’m basking like an alligator in the heat – I love it!

So when my friend Kevin suggested we go camping at the central coast for the weekend I pictured a tent, a camp fire, and the prospect of chilly nights in sleeping bags under the stars. I needn’t have worried though because, this being America, ‘camping’ consisted of hauling Kev’s ‘pop-out’ trailer to an RV park that not only had plug-in power and heating, but also wifi internet too!

Over that weekend we visited San Luis Obispo’s ‘I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival’ where artists created chalk works on the walkways and roads around Mission. We ate sushi (my favorite), drank beer from Alaska, smoked cigars, and built a driftwood structure on the deserted beach at Montaña De Oro. It was an entirely unhurried weekend, mellow as a smooth bourbon and chilled like the salty sea air – perfect.

Later in the week I headed to northern California, to Santa Rosa and wine country to see Erin and Jon who not so long ago lived in Houston Texas that was right about this time being lashed by hurricane Ike.

We had planned to visit Lake Tahoe, but Jon wasn’t feeling on top form so instead we went to the beach one day and ended up watching seals and sea lions up close. The next day we went to nearby Napa Valley to go wine tasting. Even though Erin and Jon live in Sanoma wine country, we figured that Napa would be a fun and sophisticated day out. As it happens though, it turns out that visiting vineyards to do wine tasting is really just a snooty way of getting shitfaced.

I had planned to take some really beautiful and artsy pictures of California’s wine country. Instead, after encountering the generosity of one vineyards wine tasting assistants, I simply pointed the camera out of the window of the speeding truck (Jon wasn’t drinking) while laughing like the drunkard I most certainly was. We laughed and laughed, it was a fantastic day!

In the end, due to hurricane Ike, I ended up spending more time in California than I had originally planned. This worked out well because it meant I was able to get around and see everyone I wanted to catch up with.

Much of that time is spent in the company of my friends kids who are always a lot of fun and it’s fun being a part of their lives. The night I stayed with my friends Shane and Melissa, their son Eric very kindly gave up his room for me and that night I slept on a high bed among star wars action figures, beneath a poster of super heros and a ceiling dotted with luminescent stars. I felt like I was 10 years old again! At Anthony and Paula’s Ethan bewildered me with his smarts and his little brother Joel announced he didn’t need to go to school as he was now going to work full time on his latest invention, the laser axe.

I would have written more, but I’ll be honest with you, I was just so relaxed in ‘Cali’ that I just couldn’t be bothered! I will be making a future post about a day in the life of a Pastor that I had here, but for now I hope that the pictures portrayed just a little of colorful California as I saw it.

I’ll be back this way before the years out, it’ll be colder then, but I won’t mind.

Don’t call it ‘Cali.’