I've recently come across some absolutely beautiful sentiments from writers who are aching for their communities, cities, and states during the coronavirus pandemic. Krystal from This Time Tomorrow dedicated a post to New York City, and as tears welled up in my eyes from her poignant words, I knew that I wanted to do the same for the state I call home. Having been born in Los Angeles, and my dad's side of the family having deep roots in the San Fernando valley, I know that I've taken this place for granted. It's easy to do. You become spoiled. You get caught up in your everyday life and you forget how good you have it. The palm trees, the ocean, the sunsets - they all become routine and fade away into the background.

My mom and I moved to a small town called Temecula in 1988. L.A. with all of its hustle, bustle, and traffic had become too much for her, and she wanted to raise me in the simplicity of a quiet neighborhood. My dad stayed behind working in Reseda, but he drove down every weekend to see us. I remember that drive. Back then, it only took an hour and a half to make your way down the valley through parts of Orange County, and then you'd start seeing more greenery, less cars and people. Finally, there was Temecula cascading into sight. 108 miles separated us, but it felt like worlds apart.

I didn't leave much when I was growing up. I went back and forth between L.A. and Temecula, but it wasn't until my late teens that I really started exploring California and all it has to offer. And it has so much to offer...

The Pacific Ocean: my sanctuary when life feels too blurry or confusing. One deep breath of salty air and it gives me the courage to keep paddling, a not-so-subtle reminder that "sometimes in the waves of change, we find our true direction." Whether it's calm or choppy, low or high tide, it is constantly shifting.
Big Sur, California

Carlsbad, California

The Mountains: a welcome escape, especially during warm California Winters when you crave some snow like the rest of the country. The winding roads lead off into little secert lookouts and hideaways, each one more scenic than the last. Finally when you get to the top, snow and ice covering the pines below, you realize just how far you have come.
Big Bear, California

The Desert: my husband's personal favorite, so much so that he turned his inspiration for it into a business. So many people love getting away and riding their dirt bikes and off-road vehicles along the sandy, rocky hilltops. I mostly like to watch, being the risk-averse person that I am. But they say "the desert is truth, life pared down to the bone."
Ocotillo Wells, California

The Valley: those hidden gems, tucked between hillsides and mountain ranges. I've been up to Paso Robles, a beautiful place with even better wineries. I have yet to go to famous Napa, probably first on my next "must-see" list. But Temecula is where I was raised. It's familiar, it's the comfort of knowing someone or something so well. And now as an adult, I can appreciate its imperfect beauty while sipping on my favorite local wine. 
Temecula, California

Everything In-Between: From San Francisco to Pismo Beach, Santa Barbara to Laguna, I can absolutely vouch for the special qualities that make each area of this large state so unique. I haven't been all the way up north since 2014, but I can't wait to go on another long road trip and explore even more. Each time, there is something new to see or a detail you missed before.
Palm Springs, California

Long Beach, California

San Diego, California

Dear Cali,
From the mountains to the sea, I'm in love with your vast diverse beauty, and the 40 million people who also call you home undoubtedly agree. I've thought about leaving, what it would be like to live somewhere else, but we both know I could never leave you. There's a reason why travelers come from all over the world just to get a glimpse of you. Some never leave, holding on to a hope that you will help make their wildest dreams come true. You are one of a kind, California. And you have my whole heart.
A California girl

I cannot wait to get back to the places I know and love most, in a state that has shaped me into who I am.


  1. Oh I love this! I want to write this letter to Kansas! I am actually (allegedly) going to California for the 4th of July and also in September so I am looking forward to exploring!

    1. You should definitely write one about Kansas! I hope you'll get to explore Cali soon. Let me know if you need any recommendations for shopping or restaurants. Depending on what part of the state you're coming to of course, but I do have friends in San Francisco and in San Diego :) I got it covered!

  2. This is such a special tribute, and I enjoyed learning more about you. California is such a special state with the beauty and variety of land.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

    1. Thank you Amy Ann, I'm so glad you enjoy this state too! I'm still loving all your San Diego photos.

  3. From a Cali girl to another, thanks for the beautiful tribute to our beloved state. If it wasn't for our jobs, I would move back in a heartbeat but California will always have my heart. California has seen many highlights of my life, it's where I met my husband, went to college and spent my teens, twenties , living at the beach. I have no regrets and made so many fun memories! I miss my state so much. I hope you are doing well Noelle ����

    1. Erika, thank you so much for taking the time to read and and comment! I was just thinking about you the other day because I haven't seen you on social media. I think a lot of people are taking a break though, now more than ever. Cali misses you too! I hope you can come back to visit again soon. Take care and never hesitate to reach out <3

    2. Thanks so much Noelle! You are so sweet! 💖 Yes I've been away from social media for a while. Sometimes you just need a bit of a break 😄 but you are my favorite blogger so I come here often to get inspired by you and your thoughtful and honest posts which I appreciate as a reader. Your photos of Cali are so pretty! I miss you and I'll reach out. Stay safe and healthy all around! I'm trying to do the same.

    3. Aww, you just made me blush with all your sweetness! Thank you Erika, it's nice to hear that you still enjoy my blog here, especially when there are so many options out there! Stay healthy too and enjoy your days as much as possible :)


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