no. california coasting

Mission at State Historical Park, San Juan Bautista, CA

They say that if California were a separate country it would boast the world’s fifth largest economy, more out-of-work actors per capita than any other, and the highest insurance rates on earth, but as far as I can tell it already is another country. [Borderlands USA, p. 141]

So begins the first of two chapters of Borderlands USA on the Golden State.  As Charlie and I fearlessly descend the Left Coast, enigmas multiply.  This post digs deeper into Northern Cali, which almost seceded to join a new state called Jefferson with parts of Oregon – until WWII put the kibosh on that.

California is a carefully run but somewhat aggressive place. I have never seen such a forest of warning signs upon crossing any country’s border, screaming “Safety belt law strictly enforced,” “$1000 fine for littering,” and “Speed checked by radar,” plus a few others I’m sure I missed, such as “Unlawful to not read signs, heavy fines.” [ibid.]

Not to mention natural and man-made disasters… Enter with caution!  [please hover over images for captions]

About Ben

Ben Batchelder has traveled some of the world's most remote roads. Nothing in his background, from a degree in Visual & Environmental Studies at Harvard to an MBA from Wharton, adequately prepared him for the experiences. Yet he persists, for through such journeys life unfolds. Having published four books that map the inner and exterior geographies of meaningful travel, he is a mountain man in Minas Gerais, Brazil who comes down to the sea at Miami Beach, Florida. His second travel yarn, To Belém & Back, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. For more, visit

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