For those who may not know, I went to college at the University of California, Davis.That is where I met some amazing people, made great friends, had good times, got my engineering degree, and (some would say "most importantly") learned to spin and knit, as well as various other arts - tatting, welding, crocheting, glass-fusing, slump-molding pottery... I can't believe I don't have any pictures of my 6 foot tall steel plant holder that I MIG-welded all by myself. It had spirals of 1/8 in sheet metal for plant holders, and curled legs. My TA even found an iron finial for me to weld on top. :)
The city of Davis is an interesting place. I can remember whining that there was "never anything to do there". Now that I've grown up a bit (and am of legal drinking age), I realize how wrong I was. It holds a lot of the same charm that Seattle does (even the same sorts of winters, though in Davis they go away more quickly, it seems). Local coffee shops? Check. Good breakfast nooks? Check. Amazing Farmer's Market? Big Check.
My senior year of college, I convinced my parents to let me live by myself. It actually helped the studying and practicing a lot. What I wouldn't give for that apartment now. It was a one bedroom place on 4th and J Streets, about 9-10 blocks from school. I was on the second floor. There was a giant juniper tree that shaded my place during most of summer. I had my own balcony. It was almost 700 sqft of space! (Though it didn't feel like it. I had not learned to "lean out" my possessions yet, so it was crammed with stuff. And I also had a penchant for covering the walls with interesting images from magazines.)
My favorite times were Saturday mornings. Since I was single, I never had anyone else to worry about. One thing I loved to do was roll out of bed, hit the Farmer's Market, and then maybe go to Delta of Venus (which everyone called "Delta Venus") for their delicious hippie breakfasts. It's a vegetarian place, so they had these wonderful scrambled eggs, pancakes or waffles, and I LOVED their herbal tea. It was freakin' amazing, and had hints of smelling like a lot of the crop fields in Davis. (I just sent them an email asking either to buy some herbs, or get the recipe...we'll see what happens). I also liked playing at DoV, because it was always with friends.
I loved going to Soga's for their strawberry lemon drops. They mashed strawberries and would steep them in their vodka to make their own, and they made their own lemon syrup. It was a nicer place where I would go with one or two friends. "Older" people went there (I mean older like late 20's ;) ). I remember playing there, too - there was a tiny raised stage in the middle of the restaurant. They stopped letting musicians play, though - the owner thought it was detrimental to business.
I loved not needing a car in Davis. Between the bus system (which I worked for, for awhile - as a bus driver) and your bike, there was really no place you couldn't get to in Davis. Now that I cycle a lot more, I remember how ridiculous it was that people thought that things a mile away were "too far". When downtown is measured in blocks, and most people live within a few minutes' ride of school...I guess everyone gets lazy. After I graduated, I started going on evening rides. I can't imagine how slow I was going, because I think it took me something like an hour to go 7 miles. :) OK, I tracked it, it was more like 6 mi, here is the route.
One of my favorite (!!!) things about Davis? The Co-Op. In case you've never been to one, it's basically a hippie food store. But in the best way. They are all about sustainability, organic foods, local foods, bulk foods (which take less packaging), and they were urging people to reduce, reuse, recycle before it became hip. Since I lived about three blocks from it, I would bike or walk over every day or two and find food for the next couple of days. It was awesome. They had the best selection of cheese in town, as well as fresh breads, produce, tea, and my naughty favorite: an amazing homemade carrot cake. I was a member for years - if you go in and you're not a member, you pay a 5% surcharge over shelf price. Members pay shelf price. If you volunteer something like a few hours a month, you get a small discount. If you became a "superworker" (something like 16 hr / mo volunteer work), you would get somewhere around a 16% discount. In retrospect, I should have gone with that option, but ...eh. It always smelled good in there, and was an inviting place to roam around in for hours... One of the dreadlocked guys who worked there got to know me by sight, and would always come say hi when I was in there. My friend Kim located me inside the Co-Op once because she heard me laughing and just followed the sound. :)
Other favorite food places? This salad place that was on 4th - I dont think it's there anymore, but it was amazing. Fuzio's. The Mustard Seed. Dos Coyotes (in the Marketplace by the pig statue - the S. Davis one isn't as good). Pluto's. Murder Burger (sorry...REDRUM Burger.) The Guad (aka Taqueria Guadalajara). London Fish N Chips. Zia's deli had my favoritest Italian sandwich. Sudwerk's microbrews. Little Prague, where I Had my first Pilsner Urquell. Woodstock's pizza, of course...
And, if we really got bored, Sacramento was very close by,as was San Francisco and the rest of the bay area. Napa Valley wasn't far away, either, nor the mountains. I had my first camping experience with Davis friends, too (one of whom I am going to see married in July...holy crap, I need to buy tickets!)
Anyway, I think the main things I miss about Davis were: accessibility, nice pace of life, the Co-Op (because Seattle has "co-ops", but they are really pricey and nowhere near as awesome as the Davis one), and the overall friendliness of people. Seattle has some of that, but...it's just different.
Although, don't get me wrong - I do love Seattle! :)