by Philip Greenspun; created 1990-1998 (mostly)
California is an unmanageable unimaginable monster of a state, 850 miles from top to bottom and 200 miles wide. It is the nation's most populous state, packed with about 30 million people who really don't have all that much in common, yet there are vast wilderness areas that would nearly swallow up puny eastern states. Mt. Whitney, the highest point (14,494') in the Lower 48, is in the Sierra Mountains; Death Valley, the lowest point (-282') is just 60 miles (?) away.
If I had to choose just one U.S. state in which to be a tourist, it would be
California. It has shining complicated cities, a dramatic coast, majestic
forests, limitless moutains, challenging deserts, photogenic wildlife, and
diverse ethnic cultures.