10 observations from waiting out winter in Southern California

1. ย There is damn good beer here.

Since arriving in Southern California last September, a whole new world of west coast beer opened up to me, mainly in the form of IPAs. Our neighborhood bar in San Diego, Thorn Street Brewery, was an awesome watering hole. I discovered Stone brewery, based out of San Diego as well, and all of their delicious suds. Not to mention, up in Temecula, Sorrel Bistro is one of 2 accounts in town who tap Russian River’s Pliny the Younger once a year. I didn’t get to try it, but you know I stood in line for an hour and got turned away, so that goes to show you how bad people want good beer around here. The beer culture is alive and well.

Love you, too.

Love you, too.

2. It’s expensive.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so broke, and that includes times in my life where I lived on Maui. I paid $1400 for an apartment in San Diego’s trendy North Park neighborhood that had a furnace from 1950 (the smoke alarm went off when we turned it on one night) and didn’t have a washer/dyer. Not only that, 2 months later, our house was robbed of almost every possession we had, including clothes. Fast forward a few months to Temecula, a quiet, wine-country valley town of about 100,000 people and we are still paying an arm and a leg for rent, groceries, gas and good times. Good weather doesn’t come quietly.

3. Restaurant jobs don’t pay as well as bigger cities or the east coast.

Most server jobs pay $4-5 per hour. In California you get paid minimum wage, $8 per hour, and people know it. Gone are the $100-$200 nights of some restaurants on the east coast and in Chicago. Welcome to $60 and 10% tips. Slinging coffee and omelets or grating Parmesan cheese over your pasta is hardly a way to pay bills anymore. Maybe it’s time for a new career path…

4. It’s…well, HOT!

Is it normal for it to be 93 degrees in February? If that’s how hot it is now, I have to blow this Popsicle stand come July. ย This desert ain’t for me.

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5. The gap between rich and poor has never been more evident.

I often get the feeling that in order to live a fun and fulfilling life here in Southern California, it’d be wise to be pulling in at least $100,000 a year annually in your household. Anything lower than that and you’re practically standing in line at the food stamp office. Another common theme I’ve noticed is that a LOT of rich people flock here and have jobs, seemingly, for a hobby. The effect is two-fold: Fun because your boss essentially doesn’t give a shit; really frustrating because you’re boss doesn’t give a shit and you’re working for a living.

6. My dog loves to chase after lizards.

Forget going outside to go to the bathroom. All day he dreams about lizards. And chasing them.

There is no question. He is thinking about chasing lizards.

There is no question. He is thinking about chasing lizards.

7. All-you-can-eat-sushi is a real thing. A real GOOD thing.

For $18 a person at lunch you can eat as much fresh, delicious nigiri as your little heart desires. The good news is that sushi and sashimi on the West Coast is so good, so fresh. You are robbing the joint when you arrive and down nigiri for a flat rate. And our favorite place keeps it coming and coming. This is one of life’s joys.

8. There are tons of day trips you can take.

Getting out of town has never been easier. San Diego is about an hour south, L.A. two hours. Joshua Tree National Park is a 2 hour haul and Las Vegas a short 4 hour drive. Hell, even Phoenix is only five hours by car. Not to mention, southern California is peppered with a million fun little lakes, hikes, mountain ranges and ample opportunity for outdoor recreation and exploration. I must say, being landlocked on the mainland has its perks.

Day trip to Lake Skinner

Day trip to Lake Skinner

9. Hip hippies, everywhere.

Everyone is so cool it hurts. Can you recall those Hollister ads where everyone walks around in neon sunglasses, cutoff tanks, high top shoes, and midrift-baring off-the-shoulder fringed shirts? Those mannequins are real. You know the typical stoner dude apparent in every movie, t.v. show and pop culture reference, man? Those are real people. Most kids’ mode of transport to school is by skateboard. People ARE chilled out here, almost to their own detriment, but more often than not, at the cost of a good laugh.

10. Maybe the highest concentration of cool cars I’ve ever seen are here in Southern Cali.

And why shouldn’t there be? The weather here is perfect for hot rods, vintage rides, cool motorcycles, awesome RVs…you name it, it’s here and in pristine condition. California truly gives new definition to Sunday driving.

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