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  • Tony

A Visit to California...This time as Tourists

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

September 2023

It's hard to believe it's been nearly a year and a half since we liquidated our belongings, packed a few to take with us, said goodbye to friends and family, and embarked on our journey to become residents in Portugal. We did a lot of work leading up to our departure and through our first year and a half, but we couldn't be happier with our decision to move here. It's been far too long to be away from family and friends, and although a few have visited us in Europe, it was time for a visit and to take care of some business in California. A quick ten days up and down the state has allowed us to see most of our family and a few select friends on this trip and to cure our longing for good Mexican food temporarily!

We felt more like tourists this time in what was once our home state. Familiar sites were both comforting and disturbing to see.

Time away from the US has provided us with a different perspective. One thing that stood out is the significant Vanity and the need for material goods that many possess. The rush to get ahead, have the latest designer label, or nicest car are obsessive, certainly more prevalent in Los Angeles than in other areas we visited. Sitting outside having coffee in an upscale outdoor mall, I couldn't help but notice the one-upmanship occurring with clothing, designer handbags, and Botox.

In San Francisco the Open drug use, street encampments, blatant theft, etc., seem not to have improved and in some cases have gotten worse. Our visit to the city was brief, but our limited experiences were not positive. An example of the lawlessness occurring here, when departing from our hotel, we noticed a large rented SUV parked in the Valet area with one of its rear windows shattered. We inquired with the staff, who told us it belonged to a family from Denmark who had just arrived in the city and decided to stop and do a little sightseeing between the airport and the hotel. While the vehicle was parked on a busy public street, someone smashed the window and proceeded to take their luggage and belongings. The police were called and informed the family that despite the presence of surveillance cameras, there was little that they could do, and the chances of recovering their belongings were very slim. This has apparently become a very common occurrence. While driving out of the city we did notice that many people living on the streets appeared to have multiple suitcases being used to transport and store their belongings, coincidence?

I'm not trashing what California or the US has become but merely providing a perspective. We did notice that Santa Rosa had significantly reduced the number of encampments and public drug use. On previous visits, one of the main public squares was heavily populated by daytime encampments, and drug use was very visible. On this trip there was a noticeable presence of Police and city crews that were clearing trash bins and keeping the area clean. Even in downtown Los Angeles, we noticed a significant reduction of encampments on the streets and parks.

It's a shame that these situations have occurred, and those responsible for addressing them have chosen not to take action but to hide behind the few loud voices purporting otherwise. The majority of the people on the street need mental health and addiction services. Those who choose to break the law should be held to the consequences. Give them a choice of jail & fines OR supervised treatment. Sorry for the rant!

We spent the first night in San Francisco after nearly a full day of travel. As always, the Nikko Hotel provided the perfect setting for our stay: a relaxing oasis after a long day of travel.

Our next few days were spent with family around the Santa Rosa area.

Bodega Bay with my sister Joni, Brother in Law Bill, and their dog Maisie

With the Bondi's in Santa Rosa

Southern Cal with the Palominos and the Smiths

It was a great trip (except for the jet lag). Seeing friends and family is always great, and one of the things that we miss the most is being so far away. We have vowed to return more frequently and always welcome visitors to our part of the world.


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