We’re not in San Diego anymore…

Traveling is good for sweeping out the cobwebs, getting a different perspective, and… learning to appreciate home. I’m winding up my visit to Dear Old Dad, and while most people would be reluctant to return to all thirteen of the degrees floating around back home in Maryland (it hit 70 in San Diego today), I’m ready to blow this Popsicle stand.

I will miss Dad (I’ve already arranged for my next visit), but there’s stuff here I won’t miss, such as…

Grocery store parking lots with only one place to return carts (right near the store entrance), which results in loose carts all over the parking lot. It doesn’t rain here to speak of, there’s no snow on the ground, but can we take our carts back to where they belong? Noooooo.

Grocery store aisles that are so narrow, you can barely get two carts to pass. If somebody pauses to take a gander at all those yummy cans of soup, the whole store goes into gridlock.

A local news report that includes FIVE weather updates, in a place that has, essentially, no weather. A half inch of rain quadruples the number of rush hour accidents, and temperatures five degrees below average constitute a cold snap. Erm… folks?

City streets that are so potholed and badly marked, you’d think you were dealing with…severe seasonal weather year after year, but nope. How does sunshine create enormous potholes?

A town in its sixth year of severe drought that restricts people to watering lawns twice a week. What’s with that? Why doesn’t severe drought mean there are no lawns left to water?

Without this sojourn to the Golden West, I’d probably never burst forth into an aria about shopping cart returns, the width of the store aisle in the canned food section, or the pleasure of never having to water a lawn during the droughts we also don’t have (or something)…. but I’m feeling mighty appreciative of those mundane realities now.

Maryland is not perfect, but it is home.

The last time you stepped outside of your familiar territory or ruts, what got on your nerves? Was there any aspect of coming home that left you sad, or any aspect of a much-anticipated trip that turned to drudgery?

To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of The Trouble With Dukes.




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24 comments on “We’re not in San Diego anymore…

  1. I lived in Los Angeles for about a year and half when I was very young and I LOVED it. Every time I went back to visit relatives, I loved it a little bit less, until it reached a point where I thought – you couldn’t pay me to live there.

    All my life I heard what a wonderful place Texas was – from people who were from Texas. The first time I visited someone there I looked around and thought – Hmm, I just don’t get it. Didn’t seem any better or worse than anywhere else I had ever been to.

    Went to a wedding once in Phoenix – in August. As I stepped off the plane (in 114 degree weather), all I could think was – who thought it was a good to build a city in the middle of a desert.

    Every place has its good and bad points. I’m a Missouri girl and I love it here, but I could give a dozen reasons why someone wouldn’t. Had a niece who moved here for about a year and the whole time she was here she pronounced it “Misery” (smile). To each their own I say.

    BTW, just finished THE TROUBLE WITH DUKES. Loved it.

    • I’ll say this for San Diego–it’s a GREAT place to be old. I never have to worry about Dad slipping on the ice, the power getting knocked out be a wind storm, the pipes freezing… yes, they have earthquakes, but they build to withstand them, and so far, the pluses for Stuey have far outweighted the minuses (and he gets a lot of company in January).

  2. I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida, playing at the beaches on weekends and summer days. The beaches at the state parks were especially beautiful with palm or pine trees, picnic spots, and wide sandy areas leading to the clear ocean.

    When I was a teen our family had moved to central VA and we didn’t see a beach again for some time. Needless to say we missed it tremendously. The first time we planned a trip to Virginia Beach I was so excited I was beyond myself. I couldn’t wait to put a blanket on the sand and swim in the waves. When we got there, all we could see for blocks were concrete buildings and parking lots. It is just about totally commercialized there. When we finally saw the beach I was shocked. There were dump trucks sitting on a narrow strip of land hauling in sand for the “beach”. The water was dark and gray and pounding endlessly. I don’t think I was ever so disappointed in a place.

    • What a rotten way to do the beach–and the Outer Banks were what? Another hour or two away? They are my idea of how to do beach, and for me, I’d rather watch the sun rise over the water than set. That green flash is sorely over-rated.

  3. Last time I left home my issue was traffic. The town I live in now has 645 people. If 5 cars go by my house during the day it’s a busy day. Also let us not forget how people freak out about snow. Granted we’re a little crazy about our snow up here, but it started snowing for the season on Dec 8 and as of today (Jan 8) we’ve gotten 13 1/2 feet. (Yes, feet). No issues, no snow days, snow cleaned up and dealt with by 8am. I get that not everyone gets double their height plus in snow in a month but 1/2 an inch shouldn’t be a big deal either. Even in coastal North Carolina, where a friend is laughing at the natives today.

    • And you know exactly who’s driving all five of those cars, or it becomes a topic for discussion at the mailboxes.
      That is a LOT of snow. My brother works at a ski resort, and I know if you’re prepared for it, snow is usually manageable. They’ve gotten as much as five feet overnight lately, though, and that has taxed even the pros’ ability to scrape and stash.

  4. I think most places we go I am irritated by the traffic. I become impatient if I have to deal with a lot of cars! Or cars going slowly ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. The traffic, crowds and lack of parking got on my nerves the last time I was in Boston.UGH! I drove in and was amazed how hard it was to find a parking spot.

    I am spoiled living south of Boston. The beach is within walking distance, the streets aren’t crowded and there are plenty of walking paths. And it’s relatively quiet. I realize how lucky I am.

    For a quick East coast weather update…We’ve had snow this weekend about 12-14 inches in Massachusetts. It 29′ degrees and icy. My husband spent an hour snow throwing and shoveling. The corgis are happy. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am dreaming of Spring!

    I hope you have a safe trip home! Winter has arrived!

    • While I was in San Diego, they had a total of two inches of rain–over several weeks. It’s their rainy season, they need rain, and yet… on rainy days, they have four times more traffic accidents than on other days. C’mon PEOPLE. That leaves me feeling about the same way Boston’s legendary parking shortage leaves you feeling.

  6. We go once a year to an artist’s colony in northern Wisconsin. We usually go in the summer, during the height of the tourist season. When we went last summer, it was the lack of….grocery shopping that drove me nutz. We rent a house or condo since it’s much better for our autistic son, so getting groceries (and what he needs and is used to)is a must. After years of going up, we know to bring a box of things we can’t get there and pick up the rest. We stop at a Target right before the peninsula turn off and then there is ONE store when we get there.

    It’s not that I NEED to have more choices but it’s because I am USED to more choices for staples, and price-wise, and it’s a drag to haul peanut butter, bread and hotdogs (he can only eat a certain non-nitrate kind) in the trunk. Since it’s a tourist mecca and Wisconsin, for goodness sake, there are so many BEER choices as to be laughable! ๐Ÿ™‚ If they can have 50 (yes, that’s right!) choices of beer, why can’t they have the style of Jiff I get for my kid?

    • Our stores say a lot about us. My dad likes one certain kind of Pepperidge Farm cookie, but it’s a crapshoot whether any given grocery store will have it. They’ll have twenty different kinds, but not the kind I want. I’ve noticed the same thing with teas, but when it comes to supplements, the shelves seem stuffed with eight different varieties of the same vitamin or mineral, rather than eight different choices.

      Guess the store managers are healthier than I am. GRRRR.

  7. We recently got back from our annual trek out west to visit family. It was a trip filled with mixed emotions. My kids love their granny and papa and enjoy spending time with them. Things are always fun for the first two days of our visit and then college football bowl season starts and the trip comes to a halt. My in-laws turn on a football game during breakfast and don’t look away until the last game of the day wraps up. I don’t begrudge them their football but the real issue is that they ignore my kids when they’re watching, so my kids feel neglected and whiny when their granny is suddenly only talking to them at commercials or half-time. I made it a point to get the kids out of the house during the height of the football fever at the house and my in-laws complained that I shouldn’t have taken the kids out because they want to spend more time with them!!!

    Anyway, I’ll just say that I was over the moon when we finally got home and settled into daily life again. Home turf is always my favorite place to be!

    • For my grandfather, it was Phillies baseball. I could NOT understand what Grandpa saw in such a tedious, boring, repetitive… I’m still not much of one for spectator sports, and football, with its spectacular injuries, and “charitable organization” status, seldom interests me for more than few plays.

      When we spend that much money and build all those venues for women’s sports, maybe I’ll be more interested in football, but don’t hold your breath.

  8. I love that I don’t have to pump my own gas! I’ve driven enough in other states that I know how to do it, but it’s really nice not to have to get out of the car in the frozen weather we are having now.

  9. Your comment about the water rationing made me roll my eyes, Grace. My part of Texas is often in water crisis mode. The cities have no problem only allowing watering the lawn by hand or a certain number of days – yet it is ok for the city and businesses to water all hours of the day every day of the week. (I also find it ironic that they don’t even encourage people to plant native flora that will use less water.)

    My last trip was to another arid local, Boulder, Colorado, when we moved our son our for the next 6 years or so of his post graduate education. The drive home was bittersweet knowing that our eldest child was moving away and into another stage of his adult life. There was also great relief that his car had made the journey and that his new home has a excellent bus system.

    • Boulder is a heck of a cool town. I grew up on college town, some I’m biased, but your son will have a GREAT time.

      A lot of San Diegans see the same thing you do: Domestic consumption is a drop (well) in the bucket compared to commercial use, and landscaping costs a LOT of money. Yes, they could let all the landscaping die, but when Nestle outbidding towns for their own water supply, and nobody is building desal plants… why should the homeowner be the only bishop in the bordello?

      I hope the whole discussion becomes moot. At the rate it’s raining and snowing out there now, 2017 won’t be a problem.

  10. Non-stop mindless television bothers me away from home. Of one Easter weekend, all I remember is at least twelve straight hours of Say Yes to the Dress.

  11. Grace;

    I too am visiting in the sunny rain free State of California. Love visiting him family but ready to return to cold and snowy Ohio. For me it is the noise. Always noise – the eighbor’s parrots, the other neighbor’s dogs, the car alarms and fire trucks, trains and neighbors talking -always.
    Cant wait for the peace and quiet of an Afternoon in rural Ohio
    Huge fan of all of your books

    • Laurie, oh what you said. And Dad lives right on the water, so there’s also the shore patrol, the coast guard, the border patrol… and because it’s “open window” weather pretty much year round, you hear the neighbor’s phones ringing, though you might not know what the guy living ten feet across the property line looks like. I can’t wrap my head around that.