The whole world looks to California as the land of sunshine, surfing and movie stars. I will admit that, as a first time visitor to the "Golden State" and only 15, these were my expectations, but I returned home with a very different experience.
As my youth group pulled out of our church parking lot, at the wonderful hour of three in the morning, our excitement made up for our lack of sleep. The sun rose and as soon as we reached Yreka the landscape slowly changed from green to a barren brown, back to green throughout Napa Valley, then back to brown.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
After 10 hours of driving we had reached the small town of San Hose, California. We stayed at San Hose Open Bible, surprised that the whole congregation was there to welcome us as we stepped out of the van after hours of cramped sitting. This sunny, exciting town could not have been more different than the dreary boring town that I call home. Whether you visited the Subway on the main street of their town, or walked around the Westfield Mall not one person walked by without giving a bright smile and nod. Basically it was the opposite of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”, in which the cold shoulder is a common thing, as well as my prediction of people’s attitudes in California.
So as we walked around the Santa Cruz boardwalk, the common feeling was that it was heaven on Earth. The sun set over the beach as the Ferris wheel and roller-coasters all turned on their lights, and I couldn’t help but notice that the ocean had never looked better. Santa Cruz was your cliché California beach with the multi-colored beach umbrella’s, Baywatch type lifeguards, kids building sand castles and that one unfortunate man wearing the Speedo. Aside from this, however, it was a whole new world from me. The laid back culture was counter to my hometown, leaving me shocked that not everyone on the west coast acted the same, regardless of state.
When the week eventually ended, I returned home with a broader outlook on travel and life. My mind went crazy wondering how different other parts of the country, and even the world were like, and how they compared to my culture. I love to tell people that this trip inspired me to travel. The places I saw in this one week gave me a taste of the unknown and showed me the bigger picture outside of my little town. If I could describe San Hose and Santa Cruz in more detail I would, but interpretation is everything and mine is different from yours. Going and seeing is different from hearing and thinking. Life has so much more for us that to sit at home and wish that we could travel. It wants us to go, see and grow. There’s a whole other world waiting for us outside of our comfort zone. It’s the world outside.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.