We kind of descended upon my in laws’ house like a traveling band of gypsies. I know they were happy to have everyone, but unless you are used to 2 junior high boys and two very active girls (our niece is ten), it’s kind of a shock to the system.

Breakfast in Arroyo Grande, Kesselrings and Harringtons

Our home base for the last 5 days has been the central coast of California, Arroyo Grande to be specific. Sonia graduated high school in this area. Every place she lived from when she was born was for essentially six years. This has been our midpoint for the trip.

We stayed with her parents. Please don’t reference National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but we did stay in an RV in front of their house. Although I live the KOA campgrounds, the bed in the RV was more comfortable.

Sonia’s sister and her family were down from Sacramento as well. We kind of descended upon my in laws’ house like a traveling band of gypsies. I know they were happy to have everyone, but unless you are used to 2 junior high boys and two very active girls (our niece is ten), it’s kind of a shock to the system. My role is to rile the kids up and then step back. That may not always be appreciated. But my in-laws are very gracious, and handled the uproar well enough. Although when the very nice eleven year old neighbor girl rollerbladed into the living room, that might have crossed into a “gray area”.


We didn’t have major plans for this portion of our trip. I ran LONG one day (more uphill than I had planned on; I underestimated the Coastal Range. Whoopsies.) We went sea kayaking one day with all ten of us. We put the two boys in the same kayak. For those out in cyberspace, you should know that the more boys you put together, the dumber they get. Both Andrew and our nephew are smart kids, individually. Put them together, and a guinea pig with ADHD is smarter than their collective intelligence. I say this because they were yelling about “Team X”, and they managed to flip their kayak. I think I may have to pin my hopes for the future on Allison. It’s at least under consideration.

The kids played a ton with their cousins; I wish they could do it more often. My BIL had to leave early as our nephew had baseball to attend to. I wish he could coach OUR kids. Sonia was able to visit with her sister for the second time this year, which is wonderful. Her folks got to see all their grandkids at once, which almost never happens. We were able to visit with her grandmother, one of her cousins, and a long time friend that is Allison’s Godmother. All of this in four full days. It wasn’t a restful four days, but it was a wonderful four days.


More than anywhere we go, we get more semi-serious jokes regarding, “When are you moving here?” I regard this as a personal question, akin to “when are you having kids?” There are numerous factors involved in uprooting a family. It’s not a question that can be answered in two minutes.

Having said that, California is popular. It’s on our TVs, our portable devices, and in our culture. The image of California is pervasive if you live in the USA. Due to family, we’ve visited here more than any other place not named Chicago.

Sonia’s cousin, Connie, and her two (very cool and intelligent) daughters.

I have gone on the record as saying that I really don’t like speaking ill of anyone’s hometown. And to be honest, under the right set of circumstances, I COULD live here quite happily. So I’ll do this in a pro/con manner. As a disclaimer, these are my observations, and they are more applicable to the central coast. I may not give much explanation to my answers.
-Great weather for doing almost anything outside that you can think of.
-Beautiful landscape. There’s the ocean, but the coastal range is right there.
-Prolonged growing seasons with a variety of crops. This equals good, fresh produce.
-Friendly to visitors.
-Cost of living. Especially for housing. Homes are at least 2-3 times more expensive than where we live. I’ve heard that the housing market is so crazy, you have to give up your right nut at closing (and God help you should you ever need to purchase a second home.)
-Access to healthcare. The good part of being here is that LA and SF are only 3-4 hours away. This means that decent hospitals are 3-4 hours away.
-It’s somewhat artificial. Many crops that grow here require significant irrigation. I mean, it’s a Mediterranean climate, but some people have green lawns. Parts of the state exist because they are propped up. I have a hard time getting past that.
-They like visitors, but they don’t necessarily want you to move here. Sonia joked that her impression was (when she lived here) that if by you stayed longer than five years, you didn’t want any new people (using YOUR water or blocking YOUR view of the ocean). It gets possessive quickly.
Yes, we’ve had a great time here. It is relaxing here. Our family was great to us. I do like it here, very much as a matter of fact. It doesn’t mean that our ZIP code is changing tomorrow. Please, stop asking the question, and ask a more socially appropriate question, such as “are you having more kids?”

Me with Connie’s youngest. She insisted I wear the hat, after suggesting that she “flush me down the toilet.”

Author: Jason Kesselring

I am a 40 year old pediatrician on sabbatical, happily married, and a father of two wonderful children. I fell out of the Ugly Tree, and hit every branch on the way down.

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