Until later, California! Good riddance, Fresno! Final evaluation...

San Francisco from Marin Headlands
Big Sur
California has been amazing! We did and saw so much, but it feels as if we only got a small taste of a much bigger meal. We saw California's deserts, sequoia forests, redwoods, vineyards, mountains, beaches, and rocky coasts. We did everything on our list from a lengthy road trip down Route 1 to a quick stop in Napa Valley for a wine tasting. We spent multiple weekends in San Francisco and got to see San Diego, L.A., Oakland, Alameda, Sausalito, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Monterey, Visalia, Exeter, Yosemite, and the Sequoia National Park. We bought bikes to participate in California's bike-friendly culture. We ate California produce like it was a limited time offer and downed quite a variety of craft beers. We saw harbor seals, sea lions, dolphins, coyotes, vultures, and elephant seals.

We did a lot, but I'd definitely like to go back for some longer backpacking trips or even long-term living in San Diego.

A big part of why we're traveling is to experience different cities/regions and eventually decide where we want to live permanently, so after living in each city, we've been giving it a personal rating.  Here is how our evaluations work. Here are previous city ratings: Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas.

Flickr Creative Commons -- Bryan Zera
Fresno Skyline -- Brian Zera
Fresno is the first city to fail our evaluation. With its poor economy, gangs, valley girls, sprawl, and smog, Fresno is great because of all the nearby things that got us out of Fresno; but we never want to live here.

Fresno has its interesting subcultures and attractions. I wrote about some of my favorites in previous

Fresno smog on a bad day
posts; the good just doesn't outweigh. Call me ignorant, but I never realized where the term "valley girl" came from until living here and overhearing enough of these idiots talking in public places for it to click -- Oh! The California Valley. Valley girls aren't as damaging to Fresno's reputation as the gangs that tag half the city with artless symbols, the majority of the population that hides in gated communities and the endless sprawl of generic restaurants and stores.

Cheap produce!
While Fresno fails our evaluation, we're not crossing California off our list of potentials-- far from it.

We're adding certain cities, like San Diego, to our list of places to consider living. California has the culture, dog parks, and interesting people of other cities we've liked, but with better weather, cheaper produce, and great beaches.

Visiting General Sherman Tree

Housing in California's best cities is extremely expensive and the public transportation wasn't as useful as I expected. I'd heard so much about California's trains over the years and they didn't seem any better than the East Coast's. For the most part, California trains serve coastal cities. Whenever we looked into a trip from Fresno, California's biggest inland city, it involved bus transfers, took forever, and was much more expensive than driving. Just for the fun of it, Here is Fresno's rating--

Culture: 4
Environment:  3
Vegetarian Restaurants:
Cost of Living:   6
Transportation/Infrastructure: 5
Climate: 7
People: 4
Pass/Fail: Fail

Next city = Denver! We're looking forward to living in a growing city we've heard so much about. I'll get around to posting first impressions soon.

Read more above California and Fresno: 
Fresno: The journey there and first impressions of the city 
Fresno: Underground gardens and Time Cop III

Fresno: Rogue Festival, Shinzen Garden, local beer, and we're outta here!
San Diego: Wow!
Los Angeles: Poo!