California, The Golden State, is the third largest state by area, after Alaska and Texas. It is also the most populous state, home to 1 out of 8 Americans. Los Angeles is testament to this, especially on its freeways where we encountered traffic even at 6am on the way back to LAX! Yet despite this there are many areas within the state that offer peace and quiet : Yosemite, Death Valley and along the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway. Walking just a few hundred yards away from the car parking lots within busy Yosemite you very quickly leave the crowds behind and are able to enjoy the place to yourself.
I have been many times to California and each visit I see something different and come away with a sense of wonder at the variety of the landscapes and the sense of awe that you get when you're close to nature. Yosemite remains a firm favorite, but this time Death Valley gave some surprisingly beautiful sights and was perhaps more of a wow thanks to very different scenery to that you would find elsewhere. Escaping the LA traffic, San Francisco felt altogether more friendly and still has a traditional downtown shopping area.
Distance from BHX : 5,335 miles
State Capital : Sacramento
Principle Cities : Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego
Pacific Coast Highway
It's hard to pick a favorite part of California, each place has its own beauty and enchantment. Yosemite will always be a special place to me and walking through Yosemite Valley this year I felt so privileged. It's hard to truly capture the spirit of the place in photographs, you really need to experience it first hand. The pictures only hint at the beauty and peace of the national park. Death Valley was amazing, Artist's Drive showcased some vivid colored rock formations accompanied with a high temperature of 129 F !
With nearly 800 miles North to South and 250 miles across there is a lot to explore in California and you need to be prepared to travel some large distances. That said, driving is easy and relaxed (apart from the LA freeways!) and there are plenty of places to stop to enjoy the variety of scenery along the way. We will definitely return to what I consider to be my spiritual home state.