I was a little confused, as it suggested using the simple past tense, but also uses the past historic...something I need to make sure I understand in terms of the context!
Freeform Writing Exercise C1
As there has been confusion about how the passé simple tense is translated in English, we have changed it to the historic past tense.
Trusting this answers your query ...
The simple past is the historical past -- passé simple. I'm confused by your question.
In the text, though, the first part talks about something in the past that continues into the present: her love for California. This is not a case for the passé simple and you use other tenses (past perfect tense, imperfect tense), After that, the text shifts into relating a specific event ("One day, ..."). That's the point where le passé simple comes into play.
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