Growing up in California, I had a specifically spatial concept of cardinal directions. West wasn't so much a point on a compass but rather, West was were the ocean stretched to the horizon. When I lived in Maine, this unassailable sense of place tripped me up constantly. I had to really focus to remember that East Coast was an actual coast, on an actual though far inferior ocean. In Vermont, I could at least rely on Lake Champlain defining the state's western border; west is water, even if that water is sadly lacking in waves, salt and the demonstration of infinity.
This mentality of West Coastness is still so ingrained in me that in the cortex of my reptilian brain, I am subconsciously reassured that whatever weird places people are putting their oceans in other parts of the globe, California got it correct. Everything is normal in California.
So when I first encountered Oregonians and Washingtonians years ago, I didn't even realize my inherent bias. As far as I was concerned, the Pacific was California's ocean, and we were generous to let those other states park themselves near it. I was shocked to discover that people from Oregon and Washington didn't take too kindly to my Californiacentrism, which was reinforced without subtly when I tried to pump my own gas in Oregon.
Fast-forward to January 2018: I got my little car with Vermont license plates out of storage in the Pacific Northwest and road tripped down the entire West Coast from Seattle to San Diego. The new layer of geography personification was that I imagined that Vermont plate created instant goodwill around me. Who doesn't love Vermont?! And at the very least, it papered over my California roots. If I did something stupid, they wouldn't immediately curse the entire behemoth state to the south.
Two themes of my road trip emerged: 1) reconnecting with friends and family, and 2) camping and quality time in nature. I made fast tracks all the way south, but even without time to linger the days were filled with stunning sights and fantastic reunions.