We'd stayed in a B&B, a roadside motel, a cabin, a chain hotel, and we finished up the trip in a suite with a view of the ocean.
I enjoyed each style of lodging for very different reasons. On the last day of our trip I took great pleasure in sitting by one of the windows with the ocean view, breathing in the salt air and looking at the ocean through the binoculars they'd provided.
I'd missed the sea. The mountains along the 395 had a jagged majesty that overwhelmed the landscape. Traveling alongside them, I'd seen how someone might be a mountain person. Waking up in the morning and looking out at the massive landscapes, always part of the view no matter how built up the city, had been a pleasure.
But I'm an ocean girl. I love the cool breeze, the crash of the waves and even the smell of rotting kelp.
After another continental breakfast, I dragged Tech Support out for what was to be a short walk.
We headed up the wooden walkway, toward the park at the north end where Meggish and Nick got married over a year ago. There was road construction in the way, so we couldn't get all the way there without climbing along the shore.
We met two little bunnies along the way. The lady at the Fogcatcher said they were some kind of dwarf cotton tale, a wild version of the dutch miniature. They definitely weren't much larger than the fat, fat squirrels which threatened to chase us down and paw through our pockets for food.
There were beautiful wildflowers in bloom.
On a whim, I decided to drag us down to the beach to look at the tide pools. I read Cannery Row for the first time about a month ago, and Steinbeck's vivid descriptions had stuck with me. But I didn't see any octopi murdering any crabs, though I did see some crabs.
And sea anenomes.
And star fish.
And eventually we noticed this handsome harbor seal watching our progress toward him. We watched him with equal care, until eventually we noticed we were surrounded by at least 3 other harbor seals sunning themselves awkwardly.
This one climbed up onto the rocks while we watched, and then proceeded to do his best imitation of The Little Mermaid.
While standing out on the rocks we met an older couple who'd seen otters out in the ocean the day before, when they hadn't had their cameras. They had an accent, but I couldn't tell if they were from Britian or New Zealand. They'd been in Palm Springs and found the chilly weather in Cambria a bit shocking. Their son was trying to decide between medical schools in San Francisco and San Diego, and had almost been seduced by the sunny weather of the latter.
After all those comments on the cold weather I became convinced they were from New Zealand, as I think England is cold year-round.
We were feeling pretty cold by then ourselves, and were startled to discover we'd been out and about for over an hour. We packed up and got back on the road about a half an hour later than we'd intended.
In Lompoc we had a picnic and movie date with my parents. At their complex we found an ill acting little sparrow sitting in the middle of the road. Tech Support attempted to transplant the poor thing onto the grass using a newspaper, to at least get it out of the street, and ended up re-enacting a scene from "The Birds" instead.
We had our picnic at La Purisima, which has to be one of my favorite of the missions. They have a lot of land to hike around on, as well as animals and gardens.
After lunch my mother and I had to pay our respects to the resident bull. We both have a crush on bully, which my mother has written about on her own blog.
Next road trip I go on, I have to remember to take a hair tie.
My father, wanting to be sure we wouldn't be late for the movie, took us on a whirl-wind tour of the mission buildings.
He hikes around the mission about 3-4 times a week, leaves flowers on the grave of the padre, and has favorite pieces of art and furniture.
Apparently one day they even let him up on the bell tower.
After the mission I had to stop by at a nearby fruit stand and pick up a half-flat of strawberries for half of what they would cost in Los Angeles.
Thanks to dad's speedy tour we were more than on time to see Star Trek. Though I'd already seen it twice before I was happy to see it again. I also knew that the only way I could get my mother to see it was by dragging her there myself.
Determined not to confuse anyone about what goes on in the building, their local theater is called "The Movies." Tech Support, used to Los Angeles prices, had two twenties out and ready before the cashier told us the total was $14. About half what it would cost in Los Angeles.
The theater was about half of a Los Angeles theater too. The screen about half as wide and tall. The volume about half as loud. At least they ran the entire movie. The experience was charming.
My mother loved the movie.
After that interlude we were back on the road again.
We hit that part of the 101, just north of Santa Barbara, that snakes through some hills and spits us out by the ocean and always makes me feel like we're on the home stretch.
Then we hit that area of Santa Barbara that I hate.
Traffic was not something I missed, but since it was memorial day weekend I was expecting it. We crawled along behind a green Toyota Corolla for about an hour. The navigation system in Tech Support's new Element cheerfully kept us apraised of the fact that this should only have taken five minutes.
At one point we saw smoke, and worried that another big fire was up ahead. It turned out to be someone's car, the entire thing engulfed in flames. The traffic continued on for another fifteen minutes before we finally picked up speed again.
Another train to wave at.
We stopped in Oxnard at Cabo, recommended to us by my parents, and absolutely gorged ourselves on mexican food. By the time we were done we wanted a nap far more than we wanted to get back on the road.
The navigation system was far kinder to us this time, reassuring us that we were only about an hour away from our final destination. I convinced Tech Support to take the 1, so we could return home along the coast rather than traveling through the valley on the 101.
The ocean was an endless darkness to our right. Eventually I saw bright lights, and knew we were almost home.