31st State
September 9, 1850

Capital: Sacramento
Motto: Eureka! I found it!
Song: I love you, California.
Flower: Golden Poppy
Tree: California Redwood (Pacific Redwood and Giant Sequoia)
Nickname: Golden State
Bird: California Valley Quail
Animal: Grizzly Bear
Fish: Golden Trout
Marine Mammal: Grey Whale
Marine Fish: Garibaldi
Insect: California Dog Face Butterfly
Reptile: Desert Tortoise

Text and photos courtesy of Michelle Mock, Corona CA

I love you, California!

In 2001, the United States Postal Service issued a set of First Class (37 cent) stamps honoring each of the 50 states.  The back of each postcard features the corresponding State Bird and Flower stamp that was issued in 1982.There are many great things about California.  Probably the greatest is the weather.  California has four main regions: Mountains, Desert, Coastal and Central Valley.  Pretty much anywhere in California the weather is sunny and nice during most of the year.  One of the reasons we are called the "Golden State" is because of our golden sunshine.  We get lots of sun!

Mountain Region

If you like cooler climates, you might prefer the crisp air of our mountains, where the temperatures are generally lower.  You can go from the heat of the desert floor to the much cooler mountain on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  You will notice a temperature drop of approximately 20 degrees Fahrenheit!  Sometimes you will even go from a hot spring day in the desert to find snow under the shadows of the trees on the mountain!  In Northern California you can visit the beautiful Yosemite National Park and our highest and largest mountains: the Sierra Nevadas.  Mt. Whitney is our highest peak at approximately 14,500 feet.

Desert Region

If you like dry heat, you can choose the desert.  The lower deserts in the south of California are the place to go if you don't mind the heat in the summer and enjoy sunny days in the winter.  The high deserts can get very hot in the summer but they also get very cold in the winter.  It snows in the high desert.  Did you know that the hottest, driest place in California is a place in the high desert called Death Valley?  People who come from Europe, especially from Germany and the Netherlands, love to vacation in Death Valley.  It is not called Death Valley for nothing!  This desert can be quite inhospitable.  The temperature can reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit in the heat of the summer!  That is REALLY hot!  However, many very nice resorts have sprung up there and if you have a nice swimming pool and air conditioning to retreat to, Death Valley can be a very nice place to vacation... even in the heat of the summer.  Death Valley has the lowest elevation in California, about 86 meters below sea level.

Coastal Region

California also has a beautiful coastline with miles and miles of public beaches.  Did you know that many of our beaches actually face south, not west, as you might expect?  Look at the map of California and you will see what I mean!  The beaches in California are very different from one location to another.  One of my favorite beaches is Jalama, about half way up the coast outside of Lompoc.  It is out of the way, you have to drive a bit to reach the coast, and once you get there, you might get turned away if the campground is full.  I also love the beaches at Cambria.  This is one of the few places where you can smell pine trees and ocean breezes at the same time!  The beach at Monterrey is also one I enjoy very much.  In Southern California, we have many very large beaches.  To enjoy the surf and sun, many go to Huntington or Santa Monica.  Sometimes, you will see whales migrating up and down the coast of California.  The grey whales migrate south to give birth and return to the northern feeding grounds near Alaska in the Spring.  Whale watching cruises are fun and interesting!  You can also see dolphins and other kinds of whales like pilot whales, orca and if you are really lucky... even a blue whale!

Central Valley Region

The Central Coast is known for its wineries and family farms but the Central Valley produces most of the crops in California.  The sheltered location, gives it ideal weather for producing everything from apples to watermelons and artichokes to tomatoes!  You can find all your recommended dietary servings of fruits and vegetables here!  When you drive through the farmlands of Central California, you can experience many wonderful smells.  My favorite is the smell of garlic in Gilroy!  It makes me hungry!

No Place is Perfect

California is a wonderful place for people to live but it also has problems.  We don't get hurricanes like our friends in Florida, but we do have earthquakes.  There are earthquakes in California every day but usually we don't even feel them because they are so far below the surface.  On the other hand, we have been known to have some pretty big ones and we frequently experience smaller quakes that shake us up a bit.  We also create problems.  There is a LOT of traffic as people sometimes commute long distances to get to their jobs.  Most Californians are dependent upon their cars (and expensive gasoline) because we do not have good public transportation.  It is very difficult to get around if you don't own or rent a car.  With so many people driving, it makes for very big traffic jams.  Another problem is pollution.  As with any place in the world, human beings have to be very careful to keep their environment clean.  The litter you leave on the street in the city, can find its way to the ocean.  Wind and rain will help it along.  There are times when our beaches get restricted because of pollution coming from storm drains and other sources.  Another problem is people crowding out the animals who call California home.  Some birds and animals, such as the Least Bell's Vireo, California Condor, Kangaroo rats, desert tortoise and Coho salmon are threatened or endangered.  California bears and mountain lions routinely come into housing tracts when their habitat gets take over by the two-legged Californians.

Words to Ponder

Scottish immigrant and naturalist John Muir once said: "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."  People, in California and around the world, need to remember that everything we do causes an impact on everything else.

Read more about it!

The history of California is another story.  I will write about that another day.

Take a virtual trip through California by visiting our Postcard Exchange http://imagiverse.org/activities/postcards/usa/united_states_postcards_alpha.htm

You can discover all sorts of interesting things about California and other states by looking in encyclopedias and books at your school or local library. There are also many wonderful sites on the Internet. Here are some of our favorites:


Return to United States  More about California


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