Obviously, there have been many changes in California since I lived there 20 years ago, but I am not sure how many of these changes are actual changes and how many are my perception. I am older, I notice different things, and my perspective has changed so that, for one thing, things seem smaller than I remember.
One major change that struck me this time was the traffic. It seemed that there was an almost constant traffic jam from Reno all the way to the Bay Area. Places that used to be long stretches without development, are now gone. It is almost like one big mall. The population growth is real and dramatic.
However, to balance out the population growth, I also noticed more wildlife. We were greeted in the mornings by the loud, grating, primal call of white-tailed kites. I don't remember that from my childhood. There have been mountain lion sightings in the area in the past few years. And, when the kids and I went the beach, in one day, in just a couple of hours, we saw the following animals all in their natural habitat:
(and, not in its natural habitat, but also on the beach: Horse)
I don't remember that from my childhood at all. I saw all these animals, but not all at once (except maybe at the aquarium) and they weren't so prolific. We would see a pelican or two, or maybe a group of four, but this time there were long lines of pelicans, a dozen or so at a time.
Maybe I just notice more now, but it seems the wildlife is adapting, and/or the water is being cleaned up and the protections on these animals are working. I was glad to see that the trend towards greater human population and more traffic does not also require a decline in animal numbers.
08/15/05–On our drive back home we saw a Bald Eagle at Donner Pass, CA, lots of pronghorn in Wyoming and Utah, and flocks of large white pelicans with black tipped wings in Nevada.