February 7, 2023

Fun facts about my new home state of CA

By John Guy LaPlante

Morro Bay, California – Folks I get to meet here often get very curious about where I hail from. For sure I’m not a born and bred native. A minute listening to me tells them that. My “accent” tips them off, would you believe?!

I put “accent” in quotes because I’m positive I don’t have one. They’re the ones who have an accent! In all my travels over the years, I’ve noticed that wherever I find myself, the locals have an accent. Never, never  me! I’ll bet that if you travel, you’ve experienced the same darn thing.

When they ask, I give them my standard spiel. “Well, I’m from the lower half of New England. Born in Rhode Island. My working years in Massachusetts. And my Social Security years largely in Connecticut.”

Lots of them know zilch about those three fine states. So I add a zinger. “But know what? If you shifted those three states here to California, they’d be just a couple of counties. Yes, for sure!”

Their eyes really open wide when they hear that.

That happened again just last evening. It made me wonder, am I right about that? But in 10 minutes today Google gave me all the data I needed to check it out. In fact, Google gave me the square miles of each state. But also its population, well, as of 2016. Very interesting compared to California … especially after finding out California has 58 counties.

For your information, Morro Bay is in San Luis Obispo County. Now do take a look at Google’s numbers.

STATE                  SQUARE MILES         POPULATION

California                     163,696                  39,250,000

SLO County, CA            3,616                       281,401


Rhode Island                 1,212                    1,056,000

Massachusetts             10,565                   6,812,000

Connecticut                    5,432                    3,576,000

TOTALS                          17,209                  11,444,000

Yes, California has 58 counties. Of course, some are bigger than others. But their average size is roughly 2,700 square miles.  Some have so many people they’re elbow to elbow. Others are practically empty.

So my guestimate that my three states back east would be just a couple of counties here, well, a couple of the bigger counties, is correct.  In fact, Little Rhody, my birth state, could tuck into San Luis Obispo County here with the extra two thirds of the county totally empty. Yet, if that happened, the county would have nearly four times as many people.  Amazing!

All of which made me look a sharp look at a map of our 48 states between the Atlantic and Pacific.  It’s striking how as you move west, the states get bigger and bigger, and in many cases, smaller in population. With California the dramatic exception!

Which made me think of that famous old saying, “Go west, young man!” And to be gender polite now,  I insist on saying, “You, too, young woman!” I’ll bet you’d like it here.  I do though I still get homesick a bit. But I’m far from being young anymore. And, of course, homesickness is like seasickness. You get over it.

But don’t too many of you pack up and come. That would skew my statistics!

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