How Californians (and Visitors) Cope with the Heat

California hasn't been so hot lately as it has been muggy. It's the time of year when people try to adjust from the perfect winter cool to summer's not-so-cool temperatures. Believe it or not, there are many places that don't have air conditioning! We didn't believe it till we went to a hotel on the Central Coast in Pismo Beach's Shell Beach area and we couldn't beat the heat. The Dolphin Bay Resort charges around $300/night and up for accommodations that are condominiums overlooking the ocean. They're fantastic-but they lack air conditioning as of our visit.

"Why don't you have air conditioning?" I asked, amazed that any "luxury" resort would charge such high rates and not have it. "We don't need it," was the reply.

Consider yourself warned! Be sure to check with the places you're going to stay-whether vacation rentals at the beach or mountain retreats-and don't count on air conditioning in California. Nearly every year the state has record-breaking heat spells somewhere, and if you happen to experience one of those events, it's not a great vacation if you can't stand the heat and can't find relief. How to cope? Get on a boat!

Survivors of the non air-conditioned parts of California have many ways of coping with the climate, especially when it gets too hot:

The mall or theater suddenly becomes your best friend. It's worth $10 to watch a movie and stay cool for a couple hours.

The boat - One of the more fun ways we have of maintaining equilibrium is by going on boats. There are ferry boats and tour boats that run out of many bays along the coast and cost anywhere from $1-10.

Boat rentals - In most cities that have oceans and bays, or lakes and streams you can rent boats. Boats range from luxury houseboats (with include high-def TVs, saunas on 2nd decks, and water slides into the lake,) on Lake Shasta to small motor boats, electric Duffy boats, sailboats and even kayaks.

Ice cream, ice drinks, shaved ice - Sales of iced drinks and treats skyrocket in California's hottest months (July - October). One of the best deals currently going is a Coke Icee at Burger King for $1.

Fans & room unit airconditioners - If you don't buy your fan or room unit early in the season, they're sold out. Stores like Home Depot get only one or two major shipments per year and when it's really hot, they just say, "Sorry, you're too late!"

Swimming pools & beaches - provide amazing relief during the summer heat. Outdoor public pools in California aren't so abundant on the coast though you'll find them at the inland municipalities. Resorts are your best bet to assure you'll find a pool, as the budget hotels save money and focus on the natural, beach assets free to guests-check before you book.

Shade umbrellas - At the beach you can rent big, colorful shade umbrellas, but more & more people are carrying rain umbrellas when they walk to block the sun. I thought it was kind of cooky at first when I saw a neighbor doing it. She grew up in China where it's apparently not so unusual. It's not something that I could handle as I am too busy with my hands taking pictures.

Summary: Californians may seem like a whining population that doesn't know what REAL heat is. However, Death Valley, California has the hottest temperatures on the planet. At the coast people have the roughest time coping with weather fluctuations, and tourists are sometimes oversold on the weather, so they get a little perturbed. Brochures advertise, "No Humidity, No Bugs, Mediterranean Climate". I've heard tourists say time & again, "I should have stayed at home where the weather is better." When you live in California, of course you just smile and reply to complaining out-of-staters that they definitely should go home.

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