Same Shops, Different Look

IMG_2506We stopped for coffee at a Starbucks near San Diego this afternoon. The interior looked pretty much like a Starbucks back in North Carolina, but the exterior, shown here, had a distinctly California feel. Likewise for the Domino’s alongside it.

IMG_2509Across the parking lot was a branch of Wells Fargo Bank, with an appearance quite unlike its counterparts back east. You don’t see many red roofs like that in North Carolina, except maybe at a La Quinta hotel or an older Taco Bell.

IMG_2475Not far from the shopping center was this street in La Jolla.  With its fabulous border of palm trees, it looked quite unlike 15-501 or any other road in Durham. The Art Deco vibe reminded me of Miami’s South Beach.

As we’ve traveled across the country, we’ve marveled at the changing physical landscape, with cornfields in Indiana and Iowa giving way to vast ranges in the Dakotas and majestic peaks in the Rockies. More recently, along the West Coast, giant redwood forests have been followed by scrublands and crashing coastlines. But it’s not only the landscape that’s changed along our journey; so have the architecture and built environment.

IMG_2352We’ve seen our environment change not only in coffee shops and pizza joints, but also in homes and other structures. In Pasadena, for instance, we stayed overnight with our friend Susan, shown here with her daughter Kai. Her home was built in a traditional California style, with a small pool in the back. (Close observers will recognize the pool as the favorite of a certain gnome.)

To be sure, some businesses and structures here look the same as they do in North Carolina and other parts of the country, albeit with tweaks to meet local building codes. We’ve tracked this as we’ve moved along, trying to figure out where and how things are the same or different, and why. It’s reminded me of those high school exams asking you to “compare and contrast,” although it’s been much more fun.

Tomorrow (Friday) morning we’re driving to Las Vegas, and we’re already wondering whether the Starbucks will feature flashing neon. The oddsmakers say yes. Stay tuned.

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