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Dispatches From the Left Coast: Tripping in California During Newsom's Neverending Pandemic Hysteria

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Greetings from hysteria-ridden California!

While I’ve written at PJ Media for a while now, I’ve yet to introduce myself to our VIP patrons, but NPR says there are newsworthy things going on here, so I can’t wait to meet you all. Those of you reading this out there in Real America may not realize those of us in California are still basically under house arrest under Gavin Newsom’s everlasting emergency COVID-19 powers.

Disclaimer:  As I’m a midwesterner who has lived in California for over two decades, I’m not as crunchy as most expect. For the record, I believe the virus is real; however, I know the virus hysteria is over the top and politically motivated especially here in California. I’m also pro-individual-choice when it comes to the vaccine.

Now, as you’ll see, the degree to which we are locked down in this big beautiful state does vary from place to place, but it’s cabin-fever-inducing nonetheless. With that in mind, and to counter the surplus of disturbing news we’ve been inundated with lately, I thought I’d share some observations from beautiful, but tragically unstable California.

Earlier this month, I took a road trip from Los Angeles County (Newsom’s favorite punching bag in SoCal) north up the iconic Pacific Coast Highway (a.k.a the PCH or The 1, dude) near the Oregon border (frankly, that’s as close to Portland as I need to be), back south through the northern (BIG trees) and central valleys (BIG farms, NO water), and then back to SoCal (boo.). To be sure, the trip was complete with amazing scenery, shoeless nuevo-hippies, smoke-laden air, signs of rebellion, and plenty of American history, but it was also a demonstration of just how arbitrary and disparate Newsom’s COVID-19 mandates are across the state.

The Original Saugus Cafe — It was only fitting this trip began with a hearty breakfast at the Saugus Cafe. Established in 1886, this local eatery happens to be the longest operating restaurant in LACo, and that’s saying something in the land of perpetual COVID hysteria. Throughout the pandemic, its loyal following of everyday patrons organized on Facebook to have days supporting the beloved cafe when all Newsom would allow California small businesses to offer was carryout even as he wined and dined maskless with his crony lobbyist supporters. It’s rumored James Dean ate his last meal here before his own tragic final road trip, so it was heartening to see that the Saugus Cafe managed to stay in business despite Newsom’s onerous and draconian demands over the last year and a half.

Recommended: There They Go Again: California Democrats ‘Gut-and-Amend’ Another Bill to Force Vaccine Mandate on Businesses

Bixby Bridge & the Waterfalls (finally!) — If you’ve ever seen a car commercial on TV, you’ve almost certainly seen this iconic 1930s concrete arched bridge. This is the second time my family and I have attempted to stop and hike down to see the nearby waterfalls. The first attempt was early in 2020, when Newsom inexplicably closed all state parks for fear COVID-19 would jump out of the forests and beaches to attack park visitors. This trip, at least, the park was open and we got to see the falls streaming onto the pristine beach below. To this day, it still confounds me how a governor can think he has the power to randomly close state parks to California residents when 99% of the parks are outdoors. If anything, healthy people need to be outside and not cooped up in their houses.

Monterey & the Homeless Dudes — For my money, there’s nothing a stay at the beach can’t improve even when it’s cloudy. As all good beach trips should be, our stay in Monterey was fairly uneventful. The attitudes of both guests and locals about masking were relaxed. Here, like most of the beach communities we visited, we found some people who masked and some who didn’t; thankfully, no one shrieked about masks. I noticed signs posted in nearly every establishment asking for patience due to low staffing, which is yet another byproduct of Newsom’s COVID-19 emergency powers. Workers are still being paid more by the state and federal agencies to stay home, but most of those incentives end soon.

As I said, our trip was fairly uneventful until I visited a local drug store. One of the six or seven homeless dudes who were camped out at the entrance enquired, “Ya got any spare change, ma’am?” “No, sorry,” I shrugged and kept walking. “C-word!” he yelled after me. Now, anyone who knows me knows this kind of thing doesn’t much phase me. Having lived in L.A. too long (way too long) I’m used to the grittiness, but it did occur to me that I had Newsom to thank for such a pleasant encounter on an otherwise carefree day. It was Newsom, after all, who invited the world’s homeless to California last July. And come they did.

From the drug store dudes to the young men sleeping on city benches to the fully clothed but unkempt bearded guys hanging on the beaches to the young adults living out of their cars, vans, or RVs in parking lots and back roads, we encountered hoards of the homeless nearly every place we visited on this trip. Thanks to Newsom’s welcome mat and his failed economic policies, there are now nearly 162,000 people known to be homeless every night in California alone. Those are only the ones we know about, and while their numbers continue to grow, our resources continue to stretch to the breaking point.

San Fransico & Street Burritos — The City by the Bay has always been unique, but now it’s unique for all the wrong reasons. There we needed to find two things: gas and burritos (not necessarily in that order). Our hunt for gas (for the car, not the burritos) included the highest price we paid on the entire trip at the cheapest place we could find: $4.80/gal at a sketchy off-brand local station. Some of the well-known stations had premium selling for well over $5.40/gal. Um, no thanks. In fact, the least expensive gas we paid for on this trip was $4.15/gal. We did a happy dance, I kid you not. Last year, the XL Pipeline in the U.S. was canceled (while giving Putin the go-ahead for his pipeline). That cancelation along with refinery fires, refinery hacking, mandated summer blends, dock worker slowdowns, and worker shortages caused by Newsom’s COVID-19 emergency powers have contributed to California’s soaring gas prices.

Our quest for burritos led us to the San Fransico landmark, La Taqueria, on Mission Street. Here the COVID hysteria was in overdrive. At La Taqueria, we were greeted on the sidewalk with signs saying masks were required to eat not only inside, but even outside to order takeout regardless of vaccination status. The signs also required “proof of vaccination” to dine in. No vaccination, no “proof,” no service. We watched in sickened astonishment as young professional types dutifully flashed their digital vax proof. Not having adequate proof of our own, we ordered and were forced to eat in our car. I seriously couldn’t leave San Fransico fast enough, but I knew it wouldn’t be long until that mandate and behavior would make it to my town. I wasn’t wrong: Less than twenty-four hours after Newsom failed to be recalled, LACo issued a new health order requiring proof of vaccination for indoor bars, nightclubs, and outdoor sports.

Related: Gavin Newsom Is Under Fire. Literally.

Wildfires, Choking Smoke & Closed Parks — As we made our way south through the northern and central valleys, the air quality was extremely poor. Adding to the COVID-19 hysteria, the air was choked with thick smoke from some of the largest wildfires in recorded California history. Newsom’s poor forest management certainly contributed to this environmental disaster. Newsom then prompted the Forest Service to close all state parks effective immediately and lasting through at least September 17, but likely beyond.

So much for our road trip, but that’s what passes for life in California these days.