Thirty things I love about Orange County

Sunset at Laguna Beach

On October 14, 1986, I got up early and drove from my house in Reseda to my new job in Irvine. This would lead me to move to Orange County where I met my wife and started our family. That reason by itself is why I’m glad I came here. Although I’ve been spending a lot of time writing about the place I came from, I’d like to take some time to appreciate all the things I love about Orange County, especially where I live in South County. Like my other anniversary posts, I made a list.

  1. We live in a place people go to on vacation.
  2. Laguna Beach. You can visit the art galleries, relax on the sand, check out the tide pools, hike in the canyon, and go to the Pageant of the Masters and the Sawdust Festival.
  3. You can go to Disneyland any time you want. If you have an Annual Passport, you can even go when you have some time to kill. “It will take a few hours for this paint to dry. What do you want to do in the meantime?” “Hmm. Today’s not a blackout day. Might as well go to Disneyland.”
  4. You’re never more than 15 minutes away from a Costco, Apple Store, Starbucks, Walmart, and In-N-Out.
  5. You’re never more than 2–3 hours away from any activity you like. Seeing the animals at the San Diego Zoo, relaxing at a spa in Temecula, skiing in Big Bear, outlet shopping in Ontario, wine tasting in Santa Barbara — all a short drive away.
  6. You rarely have to parallel park.
  7. In South County, even side streets are four-lane divided roads with 40–55 MPH speed limits.
  8. Irvine has plenty of high-tech companies. That’s why I’ve been able to work there continuously for 30 years.
  9. No building stays abandoned for very long. Movie theaters are converted into gyms. Car dealerships are torn down and turned into housing tracts. Even that zombie apocalypse scene known as the Laguna Hills Mall is finally being renovated.
  10. Compared to the Valley, it’s cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  11. Our houses are built for air conditioning.
  12. The Orange County Register. I like their focus on local news, events, and sports. Their book club connects readers with local authors. I don’t even mind the editorials (especially after seeing worse on social media).
  13. The Angels. I’m a Dodgers fan, but I appreciate not having to leave in the seventh inning because it would take an extra hour to get out of the parking lot.
  14. The Ducks. I never got into the Kings when I lived in Los Angeles. I also like that the Ducks are a homegrown professional team, not one that was brought in from somewhere else.
  15. We have the world headquarters for Del Taco and Taco Bell. I helped start a Toastmasters club at one and did taste tests at the other. (I’m not allowed to say which one.)
  16. We have a world-classs performing arts center across the street from one of the world’s premier malls.
  17. We can call our Toastmasters district the Founder’s District.
  18. Saddleback Little League. I still miss it.
  19. Citizens are encouraged to get involved in their communities. It used to be that way in Lake Forest. Once we vote out the dolts that are on the city council now, it can be that way again.
  20. Shorts, t-shirts, and sandals are acceptable clothing in most places, even in some nice restaurants.
  21. International markets, where they sell Mexican candies, Persian rosewater, Israeli olives, Lebanese tahini, Russian borscht, Chinese spices, Greek baklava, Armenian flatbread, and Coca-Cola.
  22. You haven’t had pho until you had it in Little Saigon.
  23. Sunrise over the Saddleback Mountains.
  24. Sunset at the beach.
  25. People like to stay active here. The streets are filled every morning with groups of bicycle riders and joggers. You always see someone in a parking lot wearing gym clothes and carrying a yoga mat. Kids are usually in some sort of sports uniform. (Now, if I can motivate myself to get active like that…)
  26. We live in our backyards. We entertain our friends around the grill, pool, or propane fire pit. One of our neighbors even put an HD projector and screen in their yard, and they play video games on it.
  27. We have Dean Koontz, T. Jefferson Parker, Martin Dugard, and a city named after Richard Henry Dana, Jr.
  28. It’s a great place to get old. We have retirement communities, doctors and rehabilitation centers that specialize in geriatrics, assisted living centers, and (when the inevitable comes) reasonably priced mortuaries.
  29. It’s a great place to have a pet. We have no-kill animal shelters, rescue and adoption agencies, pet hotels, and dog parks. Just keep your furry friends away from the coyotes.
  30. I’ve made a lot of memories here.