My trips to rural California

I’ve been spending a fair bit of time in the middle of nowhere recently visiting potential clients, advisors, and interesting people. Yesterday I spent 10 hours driving, 2 hours in meetings. A few days before I spent 8 hours driving, 3 hours in meetings. For a lot of these folks personal attention means a great deal and they rarely get an in-person visit to their home or work. I’m not surprised – when it’s 90 degrees outside and no cell phone reception and just you and the hay trucks, it’s not the most attractive place to go.

But I like small town America. I like visiting rural towns where you got your county sheriff, your post office, your general store, maybe the bald barber. Alas, these “old Western” towns are more and more becoming ghost towns. But for those that still retain some of that charm, that local newspaper, it’s a lovely place to visit. When I walk into the local deli sweating profusely after a never-ending drive, all the old people turn and look at me oddly. There’s something refreshing about a downtown “Main Street,” that’s actually called Main Street and the local “hometown special” that actually is a hometown favorite.

These California towns have names like “Cool” and “Firebaugh” and “Deadman’s Lake.” And their airwaves are filled with right wing talk shows, Christian gospels, and spanish stations (for laborers if it’s in farm country). It’s an amazing change from the hurried intensity that pervades all metropolitan spots and gets into your blood. It’s also a weird change from the accustomed diversity – in the towns I’ve visited recently, there was one sandwich, one paper, one radio station, and one ethnicity.

One day I hope to buy a town on eBay (I’ve seen them for sale), run the general store, and run town hall meetings. Just a cute town of 50 people would be nice. I’d really work to build a sense of community, and then pass the reigns on to someone else. After all, I’m a city kid. Always will be.

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