Dan and His Fascination with California! The Back Story Part 1 of 2

Carp Sunset 1

Carpinteria sunset 2020

At this moment, Hannah and I are flying over Iowa on our Jet Blue flight from Logan Airport in Boston to LAX in southern California.  For the seventh winter running, we have come to the Golden State to take a big bite out of the Maine winter.

boston to la map

So, why California and not Florida or your home for ten years, Arizona? you ask.  There’s something about California that has had a hold on me since my teenage years.  Here’s the back story.


During the mid-1960s in suburban north Jersey, I was buried on the depth chart in the pecking order at Fair Lawn High School.  Neither a Rah-rah (class leaders, athletes, the good looking, and/or cheerleaders) nor a Bopper (a hood with a black leather jacket), I did have my core of close friends.  Truth be told, we were all two or three orbits out from the In-Crowd.  (Somewhere beyond Uranus – that’s always funny.)

You see, my dad was the principal at FLHS when I was a student there.  Of course, that’s not his fault, but I was unable to break out of the expectations of how a principal’s son should behave.  I was not about to go Footloose on anyone.  And to compound the challenge, as a first child, I was born with the double obedience gene.

Carp Mamas Papas

With a transistor radio pressed to my ear, I listened to Cousin Brucie and Big Dan Ingram on WABC as I connected with the Beach Boys and the Mamas and Papas.  My head filled with what life might be like on the Left Coast.  You see, California seemed to be everything New Jersey was not.  Sunshine, palm trees, surfing, and especially surfer girls!

John Philips of the aforementioned Mamas and Papas spoke to me.  Go where you wanna go and do what you wanna do.  Pretty seductive to a dreamer like me.

Carp Sunset 2

Carpinteria sunset 2020

So the fascination with California comes from my desire to escape a teenage life of daily expectations and impossible standards, self-imposed and otherwise.  Escape from being the good boy, the dutiful one who was flexible to a fault.

As a college senior, I got 85% of the way to California by transferring to Arizona State University.  Upon graduation, I jumped at the chance to teach at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Anaheim, California (25 miles south of Los Angeles).  Though my teaching career ended before it began four months later due to complications with the draft during the Viet Nam War, California continued to have a hold on me.  Though Maine is home, my heart strings pull me to California each winter.

Carp Sunset 3

Carpinteria sunset 2020

And today landing at LAX, I am already California Dreamin’.  (You see, the Mamas and Papas were kind of life coaches for me.)

12 thoughts on “Dan and His Fascination with California! The Back Story Part 1 of 2

  1. Hi Dan and Hannah, say hi to everything for me. Where are you staying this year? Of course all this makes me homesick, but I’ve no plans to get back now. And, of course, it reminds me how Mitch was also a BIG California dreaming guy who was so terribly disappointed with reality when he got there. Have a wonderful time! Enjoy your hikes.
    Best from your childhood stomping grounds, Penny

    • Mitch and I were dreamers! Good guy. I am glad you two connected at Whittier. I lasted only four months in California in 1970 (you two visited me in Anaheim that September!). Maybe my short stay kept the dream alive when the reality might not have been so rosy. But what if I bought a house in California in 1970! I’d be able to retire to California! Oh yeah, I get to do that anyway.

  2. I first heard The Beach Boys at my cousin’s house in Rochester, NY, thinking: so that’s where the action is. I lived in boring old Fairport while the rest of the hip world was on the opposite coast, dancing in the streets with flowers in their hair, making love not war. I understand the draw but unlike you, didn’t act on it. How courageous you were to break on through to the other side (to quote the Doors)! Please let Hannah know I received her postcard — better late than never. We head west in a few days — Arizona dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.

    • It was a big step to go to Arizona and California. I was voted most likely to stay around home and be a loser. Not exactly, but wanderlust was in my blood. I think my parents taking my brother, sister, and I west on road trips planted the seed! Have a great time in AZ. I forwarded your comment to the blog to Hannah.

  3. I’m so happy for you that you’ve discovered a home away from home. When you guys are back in Maine, I’d love to meet up for coffee/breakfast some time. I can easily travel down your way–a great excuse to do some exploring and photographing!

    • We are all in for coffee. Have you walked the Fisherman’s Walk in York Harbor through, as you might guess, the actual harbor and the Cliff Walk along, well, the cliffs in York Harbor? We could coffee at Hannah’s Loft and then hit the trails. Love to!

  4. Dan I love your life coaches and the path you took ! Thankfully Maine has a hold on you , but I am happy you get your California fix ! Great blog . Keep dreaming Dan . It is the finest way to go through life.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Maine has a definite hold on us! But it is sweet to wake up each day and be able to be outside, walking the beach, hiking the canyons into the mountains, and pickling three to four times per week.

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