My husband, 16 year old son and I just moved to San Jose, California on July 9th from Oak Ridge, TN and before that Waukesha, WI. We have now been in San Jose for about a month and I wanted to share some early impressions of this new to us area.
My husband started his new job July 14th, so things have begun to settle down and my son starts school on this coming Tuesday, August 12th. My husband’s commute is from North San Jose to Foster City each day. On a good day this commute is about 35 to 45 minutes, but on a bad day it can be just over an hour. Those days his commute is just over an hour one way, can be rather stressful. We have also had our first California traffic accident, where someone driving on the 101 hit him from behind, when he had not braked or anything. I just wonder how one does that. Are they texting while driving? Changing lanes? So one of the first impressions of California, at least this area, is there is a lot of people here and the roads show it. Wherever you go it is a multilane road with quite a bit of traffic. So far, it hasn’t been as harrowing to me as the few times my husband has driven through Chicago, where we have had two motorcycles, one on each side of us, passing us up and then getting in front of us at the same time.
California does have bike lanes though and apparently allows lane splitting, where a bike can share a lane with a car when the car is somewhat stuck in traffic. I am not comfortable doing this on my bicycle. I am trying to get used to biking in bike lanes, as is my son, but some large semi being real close to us, we do get rather uncomfortable. My son the other day, ran for the sidewalk when he saw that one was beginning to exist along the road we were on. I do think the bike lanes on Montague Expressway are a bit to be desired. A bike lane in California is about as wide as a shoulder in Wisconsin, but it is paved. IE they are incredibly narrow, and if there is any construction, they cease to exist. They also can cease to exist without much warning. I think I need to get a side view mirror on my bike or helmet, so that would help me be a bit more aware of what traffic is around.
Grocery shopping here has been amusing. My first trip to the Safeway by myself, I had went once with my husband before he started his new job, was rather interesting. The Safeway at Rivermark Village is one of the closest grocery stores to where we live. Another sign of how many people live in this small area, is parking at local stores especially at lunch or dinner time. The Rivermark Village has a number of restaurants that receive a lot of traffic at lunch time and silly me, I had not thought about this when I left home to go grocery shopping. So when I arrived, I had a hard time finding parking, but I have always operated under the I have two good legs, so I can park farther out and walk. I parked out by the Gamestop and walked in to the grocery, unawares of why this would be a problem. I came out with my grocery cart and started walking to my car and just when I was crossing one of the driveways between the grocery store and the Gamestop, my cart stopped working. It seemed the front wheels had stopped working and I was a bit confused. A woman in a car nearby who was trying to drive passed me, rolled down her window and said that my grocery cart had locked up. I picked up the front of the cart, semi full of groceries, and started dragging it to my car, and another man in the parking proceeded to help me get the cart to my car. Then when I tried to return the cart to a cart corral, the cart still didn’t work. I thought maybe it would start working again after I got back to the side of the parking lot where it worked fine earlier. But nope. This is a long winded way to say that here, grocery carts lock up if you take them too far from the grocery store. The problem is, one has to park that far out, if you go during lunch or dinner times, but then you can’t get the cart to your car. Oh, and the carts have to be unlocked by an employee after they get locked up, it seems. I think this means I won’t be returning wayward carts anymore, like I always used to do.
Grocery store prices are different here. Fresh produce here in California is cheaper than TN or WI, but canned or frozen seems to be slightly more expensive. Dairy and meat is more expensive here, but also the variations between stores seem larger than in WI or TN. Milk at Safeway seems to be $3.99 per gallon if I buy 2, but Target sells skim milk for $3.19 all the time. Cheese in TN was about $3 to $4 a pound for your standard cheeses or shredded or deli style sliced cheese, but in California, the cheapest I have found yet is about $2.79 for 8 oz. at Target. I did manage to get some Tillamook deli style cheese for $1.99 for 8 oz. at Safeway with sale and coupon. I am glad that I do have a CVS and Walgreens out here, as they still seem to be the cheapest places to buy name brand cereal after coupon. In Waukesha, WI I could find name brand cereal $1 a box with sale and coupon, but in TN I had to settle for $1.50 a box. Here in California, I can also find $1.50 a box. What I am having trouble finding is meats at prices I prefer to pay. I have found some good prices on meats at a local Sprouts market that was having their grand opening sales, but not sure that will continue. They, Sprouts, has had some mark downs that were well priced too, but they seem to just leave it in the normal section and don’t seem to put special stickers or anything on it. I found some ground beef and some ground lamb at $2 per pound. Now that I have only the refrigerator/freezer that comes in an apartment, that is going to force me to buy less frozen items. No way we could fit a chest freezer in a 2 bedroom apartment. Our pantry is also quite a bit smaller than we have ever had before, so this will require a bit less stockpiling for me, or finding new ways to store things. (And no, I have never been a large stockpiler. I mean, maybe 10 boxes of cereal at most, or maybe 4 or 5 jars of pasta sauce, etc. No year’s supply or anything for us.)
I am of course beginning to become acquainted with local walking trails and such, as I do love to do. So far I have walked the Guadalupe River Trail some and the northern Coyote Creek Trail some also. My son and I have also walked in the Ulistac Natural Area. California has been in a drought for three years and well, compared to Wisconsin and Tennessee it really looks like it. Businesses tend to water their landscaping quite a bit, but when you see areas that are more natural and less watered, you can see a lot of dryness. There are less trees here than WI or TN. So you walk a trail for an hour and you may have very little shade at all. But it is cooler here than it was in Oak Ridge, TN. Oak Ridge was very humid and had very little actual moving air. Here, there is always a breeze, so that helps with the fact that the sun feels a tad hotter. There is also almost no humidity here compared to TN.
There is more racial diversity here than there was in Waukesha or in Oak Ridge. Oak Ridge had very little racial diversity and Waukesha had a bit more, but San Jose has even more. In our apartment complex, a good deal of the population seems to be Asian or Indian. My son’s school, Independence High School, is very diverse from what we saw when he went last week to pick up his school id and schedule. They do not seem to have any math beyond AP Calculus BC which my son took last year as a Sophomore, so we are being told to have him enroll in a night math class at a local community college. This is being looked into, but it surprises me a bit, how quickly this was stated.
Lastly in regards to this blog, I was contemplating just changing the name/url of the blog and keeping it, but it looks like I would have to buy a redirect package from WordPress in order to have traffic sent from the old name to the new name url. This blog is still being looked at by people wanting to see a few of my trail reviews and primarily the Aldi’s price list. We do not have an Aldi’s near us in California, so I doubt I would keep that if I created a new blog, but I don’t want to remove any of the Oak Ridge information at this point. I also know that I won’t be able to update any of the Oak Ridge information, so not sure what I am going to be doing in the long run.