Saturday, March 31, 2012

Yes, There Really Are Two Californias

As I wrote earlier, the family took a trip to Yosemite National Park this past week. And we drove from RVFTLC headquarters to Yosemite.
The route that we took put us in the heart of Red California, the Central Valley and such cities as Bakersfield and Fresno and a lot of small towns and villages in between. As noted here, Bakersfield is one of the most conservative large cites in California. And while Fresno does have more registered Democrats, it too is relatively conservative.
And the counties that Yosemite are in, Madera, Mariposa and of Tuolumne are some of the most solidly conservative in the state. And, unfortunately some of the smallest in population.
But it is stark to realize that this part of California is around.
Even though I live in California, I live in such a liberal area that I may even forget that there is this part of the state until actually visiting there.
It is not just in politics that I note the differences.
Mrs. RVFTLC made a serious observation as we were travelling California state route 99 on our way to Fresno.
That there were very, very few high-end luxury cars on the road with us.
And she was spot on.
We hardly saw a BMer. A Mercedes. A Lexus. An Audi. An Infiniti.
You get the idea.
Once I realized this, I felt at home. It seems like almost everyone in the big cities around here has one of the aforementioned cars. But in the Central Valley and the Mother Lode, most people are practical. And it shows in what they drive.
But it is not just in what they drive as much as a totally different attitude in the people. I mean, they are genuinely friendly.
An example is that we made a pit-stop in the city of Mariposa. We found a Burger King, did our business. But we did not purchase anything. And usually we do. But the gentleman at the counter did not scold us for using the rest room. He said "Thank you and  have a good day." If that happened here in Pasadena, it would be a near crime of the century. But here we were, total strangers in a very small town and not treated like criminals, but as people that might actually come back someday.
And in general, people smiled, said hello. And it was infectious enough to make your humble yet cynical blogger to smile right back and give a hello.
And the other aspect that is one that really made me think how different this part of California is that this area so depends on agriculture. It is the back bone of this region. It is literally the bread-basket of not just the United States but the world. And these kind of place are naturally more down-to-earth than those of us in the big cities.
But culturally, one huge difference between here and there.
It is very clear that in this region, God is alive and well. There are churches everywhere. Even in the smallest towns there is at least a Roman Catholic church and a couple of Protestant churches. In larger towns and cities there are Jewish and Islamic places of worship. And it appears that all get along well. Because while they may nor agree on theology, they agree that practicing their faith is important and should not and can not be trampled on.
Yes, when one travels around California, it is clear that there are two distinct states. The state of Los Angeles, the Bay Area. And the state of the Central Valley and the Mother Lode. And they could not be more poles apart in almost every way.
It is a microcosm of the United States in general.
And it gives me hope that some of the positives of the Central Valley and Mother Lode can creep into life here in deep Blue California. For we can use a lot of it.


An Unmarried Man said...

I agree with you, but I don't see it as a function of religion.

if you travel to NoCal, you'll find much the same kind of hospitable spirit.

The urban centers are the worst. The minorities and Jews do it. :)

Righty64 said...

WHOA! Where is this Jew-hate coming from?! I thought I explained the difference to you, my friend. I don't have time for the primer. But NOT all Jews are bad people. If you did NOT work in the entertainment industry, I think you would be less Mel Gibson about it. Oh, but as far as religion, I do not mean that the reason people are friendlier and or the like is BECAUSE of religion. It helps, but it is a complete mindset of not having to be fake. Which what SO MANY here in this area feel they have to be. That is what I appreciate about the Central Valley, the Mother Lode and the part of No Cal that is inland, not the coast.