Going to California: Where the hell can I get a breakfast taco?

Well, I’m already here, really. I left deep South Texas what felt like three weeks and four Sundays on a five-day roadtrip where I swear I ran into Odysseus, before I drove into the Golden State about 17 days ago.

The trip was tough (I’m afraid of heights so you can imagine what I was going through at about 5,000 feet atop a mountain), it was long, and it just about wore me out. Between the Cyclops and the Sirens it took about 2 1/2 days to finally feel like my head was on straight on not on a swivel looking for the next obstacle. Of course, about 36 hours later I was on a flight from San Francisco to Nashville, but that is another story (as Stephen King often writes at the end of his novels).

The first thing I did upon driving to my destination on the Central Coast (other than being chilled to the core in September) was head to the local Safeway. Now, being from Texas, you generally shop at one place for your groceries: H-E-B. Yes, there is Wal-Mart, but I have to admit H-E-B has the freshest vegetables, and pretty good deals.

Now, I’m not promoting H-E-B, I’m just saying it’s a Texas staple, like spurs on a cowboys and and Fiesta week in San Antonio, and up until earlier this month I was also Texan.

Well, Safeway provided me an early glimpse to the differences between Texas and California. Safeway is about 1/3 the size of an H-E-B, and it isn’t the only place you can shop for groceries. There’s SaveMart and RiteAid, and they’re very nice places to shop — honest. People are generally friendly or they’re not, which is usually the case in most of the world.

But selections are limited, and it seems like there’s no rhyme or reason for shelving items (I couldn’t find any Arm & Hammer today. Trite, I know, but still…) It’s like a game of scavenger hunt where the almonds are placed next to the Hallmark cards, and the ice cream is on the rack next to the jelly. OK, that’s not the case, but I really feel like I need a map.

H-E-B, I feel, does a pretty good job stocking up on our favorites, whether that’s a variety of cookies, fajita meat, beer, bread, ice cream, … whatever.

The differences don’t stop there.

As I am constantly reminded by my better half that this is the “Salad Bowl Capital of the World,” I still found it hard paying $5 for a bag of grapes. Lettuce was a buck-and-a-half, and I was used to ponying up slightly over a dollar a head in Texas, where we aren’t the Salad Bowl Capital of the World.

(Note: Is it Capital, or Capitol? I always thought it was Capitol, but the confusion in the dictionary led me to care more about why Miller Lite is hard to come by here. Yet again, another story for another day…)

Another difference between the Golden State and the Lone Star State: more grocery prices.

I almost bought a loaf of bread upwards of $5, I nabbed cold cuts for Just shy of $5 per pound, and some dishwashing soap for about $4.

Gas right now is hovering between $3.75 and $4.25, depending how many blocks you drive around. Conversely, you can probably put on some walking shoes and hit a liquor store, convenience store, grocery store, restaurant, barber shop, etc., so it’s also easy to save cashola.

I haven’t found a decent Mexican food restaurant yet (total disclosure: I’ve only been to one, but I didn’t like the tacos, or the beans, or the rice.) They call tacos burritos here, it’s like ground beef doesn’t exist in the west, and I hear there is no barbacoa Sundays.

Speaking of Sundays, the Dallas Cowboys come on at 10 a.m. here. 10 A.M.!!!! Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

Now, the view goes to California, hands down. When I’m not having a conniption because of the high altitude, I’m enjoying the peaks and valleys, especially when they meet the ocean.

That being said, I think I’m going to love California. I just wish y’all would get your lingo correct and stop calling a taco a burrito.

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