Northern California living

May 17, 2010

Since I have a bunch of readers who don’t live in California, I thought they might like to know a little bit about what living here is like. Other than just the fact that I love it. So from time to time, I’ll post something on Northern California living.

First, just like north Florida and south Florida are almost different states and like upstate NY is unlike New York City, the same is true for northern California and Southern California. When you say “I live in California,” many people assume it’s the Southern part that’s represented in movies and TV shows like Californication.

Nope. Northern California is very different.

Here’s how the coastal part of the state breaks down. Northern California runs from the Oregon border down to about the Monterey peninsula, which we call the Central Coast. Follow that down to about Santa Barbara, and that’s where Southern California begins.

I won’t even try to explain the interior of the state except to say it’s hot, dry, more affordable and bears no resemblance to the coastal areas at all.

The seat of Northern California and the San Francisco Bay area is the majestic city of San Francisco. Built on hills, the city itself is only about four miles long. All the charming photos you’ve seen are pretty much what it’s like.

As you travel south of the City, you’re on what we call “The Peninsula,” which includes cities like San Mateo, Menlo Park, Palo Alto. We live sort of on the border of the peninsula and what is called the South Bay area.

The South Bay starts about in our town (some would say we’re still peninsula) and includes Cupertino (home of Apple, yes), Saratoga, Los Gatos and stops at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains. the major city in the South Bay is San Jose, which has a larger population than San Francisco but is considerably larger in land mass.

Silicon Valley pretty much runs the length of the peninsula down into the South Bay, with hundreds if not thousands of tech companies, large and small. Oracle. National Semiconductor. Yahoo. Ebay. IBM. Google. All the names you’ve known and either loved or hated.

Tech is the business of the San Jose area and yes, Dionne Warwick, more people than you’d think know the way to San Jose, at least since the mid-1980s.

I’ve mentioned before that the demographic mix in the Valley has changed significantly since I first moved here in 1984. Of course, Latinos are now the predominant ethnic group in the entire state. But here in the Valley, Caucasians seem to be in the minority as well. Many Latinos, but also the Asian presence is everywhere. Eastern Indians, Pakistani, Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Japanese. They seem to be the predominate forces now in the tech industry.

In our city, Sunnyvale, pop. 120,000, on any given night you can see families out for their evening strolls, en massse. Italians call it the passegiatta, but here in Silicon Valley, you see saris,beautiful ethnic garb, head coverings.

Melting pot–sort of. Little melting.

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