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Sure, state lines are arbitrary, but the topography within the extended, torqued-out rectangle that is California contains what surely must be the most varied and beautiful of any political boundary on the planet. It’s easy to imagine California as just palm-fringed beaches (palms are non-native to California, by the way), but it contains the highest and lowest points in the Lower 48, the tallest and biggest trees on the planet, and an enormously fertile valley unrivaled anywhere else on Earth. Even for those of us who live here, it’s kinda gobsmacking.

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