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Hi lovies.  I’m ba-ack!  Didn’t know I was gone?  That’s because I worked double-time before my whirlwind trip to California to leave a post a day scheduled.  I almost made it too, except I fell a teensy bit short.  So I wrote the Megyn Kelly post on my phone in the early morning hours in Los Angeles and I wrote the Pfeiffer Beach post while still in Big Sur.  (Bless you, Fernwood General Store, for your beautiful, free WiFi).  Yesterday, after checking out of our last hotel just east of Santa Cruz, I meandered from one stunning vista to the next before catching the red-eye home and didn’t have time to post.

So what did I learn in my 10 days in California?  To spare you from a blow by blow of everything I did (which was A LOT), I will just give you the highlights.  Some pics below.  And, lest you think I’m a megalomaniac, yes, there were pictures taken of other people besides me.  I just tend not to post a whole lot of pictures of my children here in order to protect their privacy. (Although the eagle-eyed reader will catch one below in which they’re included).

What I learned:

1.  San Francisco to Los Angeles to Santa Monica, then up the Pacific Coast Highway to Lompoc/Pismo Beach to Big Sur to Aptos/Santa Cruz and back to San Francisco in one 10-day period is a lot to pack in.  Next time, slightly less ambitious would probably be best.

2.  The California drought is real, it’s devastating to look at, and, like just about every other big problem in our country, it is being politicized.  In order to shoot down quickly from San Francisco to Los Angeles to begin our grand excursion up the Pacific Coast, we cut through the center of the state on Route 5… right through farming country.  There was nothing but parched earth for hundreds of miles… dotted with signs about whose fault the drought is. (Allegations of Congress causing another Dust Bowl abounded).  Depressing.

3.   I still love love love road trips.  Extra love if they’re with my kids.  I couldn’t hope for wittier, funnier companions to be trapped with in a box with for days on end.  Some of the best moments of the trip were in the car when we were getting punchy and exhausted and started making up stories and songs and laughing at random nothings.

4.  There are still vast stretches in America where WiFi and cell phone reception are not a guaranteed thing.  Many of those stretches are along the coast of California.

5.  When I’m without WiFi, my mind starts doing funny things to me (and, apparently, I’ve passed this trait on).  We made up about 5 parodies about the lack of WiFi, including one set to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy (“WiFi, WiFi, we adore you”), another to the tune of “The Winner Takes it All” by Abba (“The WiFi takes it all, the user’s standing small).  And California Dreaming, (“All the WiFi’s down and the sky is gray/I’ve been for a walk since I can’t get online/You know the preacher’s got the Wifi/But he won’t share the password”).  We literally can make up new lyrics to songs for hours and then giggle like hyenas until we cry.

6.  There is a town in California named Gilroy where they grow garlic and the air actually smells like garlic when you drive through.  My kids would not let me stop to get any lest it stink up the car.  Also: 8 artichokes for $1.00.  8 avocados: same price.  Miraculous.

7. Price is not indicative of hotel quality.  Our priciest stay was in Big Sur, but our best hotel was in Los Angeles.  Bonus lesson: if a hotel asks you if you want a non-smoking room, do not book it.  We learned that the hard way in Lompoc.  I am still washing the smell out of my pajamas after sleeping in the room they stuck us with when they “ran out” of non-smoking ones.

8.  Fires are no joke in California.  The response is lightning quick.  We saw one start along the side of the road and the fire department in Gilroy responded breathtakingly fast.  It was amazing to see.

9. The PCF is exhilarating and terrifying to drive.  It takes all your concentration and makes you feel like a Bond villain.

10. The water along the coast of California has about 1,000 different moods and they are all amazing.  The terrain changes constantly and is never the same twice.   Henry Miller said about Big Sur, “This is the face of the Earth as the creator intended it to look.”  He wasn’t kidding.  It’s not just in Big Sur, but the whole coast.

All in all, an amazing trip.  Still, it’s so wonderful to be cozy, back in my lovely home!  I so missed my precious piece of the world.

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