There’s something Kevin Standleeâ€‹ said in a File 770 thread (it’s about halfway through the comment) that I wanted to do a little expounding on. Family and folks who know the area I grew up, bear with me, as none of this is going to be all that unusual to you. What I am about to quote came up in a discussion about whether Spokane was close to Seattle.
In my experience, a lot of people who havenâ€™t actually lived on the US west coast think everything here is in the same place. Disneyland is just outside of San Francisco. You can see the Space Needle from Portland. And obviously everything in the same state is within a few milesâ€™ of everything else.
Kevin knows what he’s talking about — he and I grew up in the same general geographic area, although that area is about 150 miles in diameter around my hometown. My hometown is a small Western city that has the distinction of being one of six control cities on Interstate 5 (the other five are all major cities you’ve probably heard of).
From my hometown, it is approximately an hour and fifteen minutes to the nearest state university. The next one is about two hours fifteen minutes. The other state university in our third of the state is about three hours away over a mountain pass. And my alma mater, in a major metro region that holds most of the sports teams we root for in my little city, is about three hours away, if you’re pushing it and not stopping.
And we’re big enough to be a control city — that’s the one the signs point to as the next destination — on the major north/south artery of the West Coast.
A couple other thoughts. I live in Sacramento now. A friend and I once drove from Portland to Sacto, getting out of the car once. It took us eight hours. Another time, I had to drive to pick up somebody in Los Angeles — the Hollywood area, to be precise. Mom and I left Sacto at 4:30 AM. We stopped for gas once and breakfast once, but we still didn’t make it to his place until 11:30 AM.
One last thought. California numbers its freeway exits by miles travelled, starting with 1 at the southern end for N/S roads and the western end for E/W roads.
The actual little town I grew up in, just south of the minor city I describe here, is exits 667 and 668 on Interstate 5. At that point, there’s still another hundred odd miles to the Oregon border.
The West Coast is big, y’all.
44 thoughts on “The West is Big, y’all”
Susan Beaver liked this on Facebook.
I got to see some of it by train.
It’s beautiful country. Think you went through my hometown in the middle of the night, though.
Nope. You are talking about Redding. I did pass through it during the daylight hours going up. Train was late. It is pretty.
Tell me about it. We just did the Great Road Trip for the summer. The last bit was Sasquan to San Jose, through Bend OR. We joined I5 at
:) I’m not sure I could move back — it’s a bit conservative — but I love to go visit, and it wasn’t a bad place to grow up.
Lisa Deutsch Harrigan liked this on Facebook.
John Wesley Hardin liked this on Facebook.
Imagine when friends come over from England and look at a map of California with the British Isles proportions in their heads. Messes them up.
Shrug. I got on the train at 3 AM in Spokane, off at 11 AM in Seattle. That counts as “close” to a Texan.
Only a four hour drive by car and that’s with breaks.
Geography & distance is something most folks just don’t grasp easily, or so it seems.
Florida is big, too. It takes 3.5 hours to get to Key West from Miami. Assuming traffic is moving. It’ll probably take 4. I live on the coast near the center of the state. It takes me 2+ hours to get to Orlando. Again, assuming traffic is moving. It once took me 6 hours. It was a holiday weekend, I should have known better. It’s 5 hours to get to the capital, Tallahassee. 7.5 hours to get from here to Atlanta, though I’ve made it in 6. Yet it somehow takes 5 hours to get from Atlanta to Tallahassee. That has always confused me – it’s not as if Tally is that far out of the way. I guess it is.
The geography thing that really blew my mind was during my trip to South Africa. We drove from Cape Town to game preserve just north of Johannesburg, stopping at Kimberley on our way. It was a two day trip – 1600 miles. We never left the country, nor did we go from one end to another. I knew the drive in South Africa was long. What blew my mind was when our driver told me that we might as well have driven from London, England to the tip of Italy’s boot. Same distance.
Or, to put that into the geography of the West – if you started in Vancouver BC and drove south, you’d be somewhere in Mexico when you stopped. The west is tiny, y’all ;)
Melissa Wolter Maskulinski liked this on Facebook.
I used to live in Lewiston, ID. The nearest big airport is Spokane, a hundred miles away. Now in live in Las Vegas. It takes all day to drive to Reno. Las Vegas is a few hours’ drive from Southern California. I was actually struck by the short distances in the East. In order to get to Morgantown, WV, I flew to Pitsburgh and then had a two-hour ride.
My takeaway from this was “It only took you eight hours to get from PDX to Sac? Just how fast were you driving???”
So very much this. As I said over in F770, the punch line to a Massachusetts friend: “How can anything be awfully far away and still be in Massachusetts? I’ve lived in _counties_ that are bigger than your whole _state_.”
Oooh, Westy camper.
Some people consider San Francisco to be in the North State, but I think of the North State starting at Chico.
Judy Darting liked this on Facebook.
Sarah Palms liked this on Facebook.
Kevin Standlee liked this on Facebook.
Jessica Honsinger liked this on Facebook.
Teresa Cochran liked this on Facebook.
It might have been longer. Might have been nine. We left Portland about seven, and hit Sacto somewhere between three and four in the afternoon.
Yeah, we went to a wedding in Allentown, PA. We flew into Philly, drove to Allentown, and then after the wedding, spent one day in New York, drove to a hotel in Maryland (getting there at 2 AM because Delaware decided it was a great idea to drop the entirety of 95 to one lane at a toll plaza), saw DC the next day, spent the night in Philly, and saw some of the tourist sites there before flying back. And people thought we were crazy.
As for Redding? Nearest big airport is Sacto, 150 miles away.
I’ve had this argument before. I tend to draw it at Marysville/Yuba City. They’re a lot like Redding, and our congressman for many years (Wally Herger) was from Yuba City.
The Bay Area is only Northern California in the bigger picture — when it comes to fighting and counterbalancing Los Angeles. But I had to explain to a lot of folks at Cal who proudly said they were from Northern California when they were from San Mateo that there’s still a third of a state north of here…
Or, going west/east, that’s SF to somewhere in the plains (I guessed Omaha, NE, only to find out that’s 1600 miles almost exactly.)
Perspective is funny, isn’t it?
Texas is where West meets South, so you guys count in “west is big, y’all)
Even with minimal stops and driving the way I drive (too fast, with the i-5 speeding ticket to prove it) it takes me a solid 8 to get from sacramento to eugene.
Gas is expensive in CA. Part of it is the summer pollution control mix (this is why gas is cheaper in the winter), and part of it is that our gas taxes are higher.
(PS: Kevin partially grew up in a town near Yuba City, and he’ll argue quite convincingly that he counts as one of us.)
You can be driving two days in Texas and still be in Texas.
Huh. Redding is two from here because you can pretty much do 75 up that entire stretch without the CHP getting upset. Then it’s about three to Ashland from there. (Ashland is where we stopped for lunch, and as a Redding kid, the honor society used to make day trips to Ashland to see plays.)
At that point, isn’t Oregon about 300 miles across north to south? At 60, that would be 300 minutes, or just a hair over 4 hours.
Now that I do the math, it was probably closer to nine, and also take in account that I live in the northeastern portion of the metro…
Sean might remember better, he was the pilot in that roadtrip, and the poor guy still had two more days of driving when we got to Sacto.
Yeah, they don’t mind 75. Just… don’t do 85 between Weed and Yreka. >.>
Also 60mph (a good average between flat driving and curvy mountain) over 300 miles would be 5 hours, right?
It’s been a while, but IIRC it was about eight and a half, plus five or ten for gas/lunch around the state line. And me speeding like a bastard whenever possible.
Yeah, Ashland is on the state line, or close enough as makes no difference.
Also, dammit, you’re right. Meant six, divided by seven. But 60 was also a low estimate, and the worst mountains on 5 are between Redding and Ashland.
OK, Kevin, I guess we can include you in Northern California.ðŸ˜ƒ
But I wouldn’t have wanted to make the drive, whereas on the train I got my sleep & my breakfast.
Katrina Templeton Yes, my home town is Challenge (Yuba County), I lived for many years in Tudor (south Yuba City) and in Sutter (west of YC), and I also went to Yuba College (A.Sc.) and CSU Chico (B.Sc.). Oh, and Wally Herger was my little league baseball coach!
Cool on the coach thing!
That was long before Wally ran for state and then federal office, but my grandparents had already heard of him making a pitch for politics, and presumably this was an early first step. (Our team didn’t do too well, but I don’t blame him for that; they had to play with me fumbling every ball hit to me, for instance.)
Judy Darting But I can see why nowadays folks from the Deep North might want to draw the line farther north, what with Sacramento extending its urban pseudopods up into southern Sutter and Yuba Counties and Marysville/Yuba City being increasingly viewed as bedroom communities for the capitol city. If only the Sacramento Northern electric railway was still there — it would make a great commuter line.
(Aside: A few years ago I found out why the railway bridge (tracks now gone) over the Feather River at M/YC says NE on it — it was for the Northern Electric Railway (Chico-Sacramento), a predecessor of the Sacramento Northern, which in turn was bought by Western Pacific, which then was swallowed up by Union Pacific. You could once board an electric train in Yuba City and ride it clear to the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco.)