We arrived at Pismo Beach, excited by the thought of staying clifftop and having the sea (and the hotel pool) to laze by under a warm sun
. However ... the hotel was a haven for pelicans nesting on the cliffs below and the stench was almost unbearable, as were the flying feathers everywhere, the gusty and chilly ocean breeze, and the poop that stained everything from our patio to the sidewalk to the hotel lobby. The kids were blissfully unaware and were intent only on getting to the pool as fast as they could, so Matt - 'our pool guy' as Tom refers to him, took them for a quick dip before dinner. He reported that although I would have enjoyed the water temperature, it was unlikely I would have been able to see past the floating feathers. I didn't use to be so feather-phobic, but this was really a hotel that seemed better suited to the birds than the guests.
We enjoyed our last dinner of the roadtrip at the adjacent restaurant, watching the sun set over the Pacific which seemed a fitting way to end our nearly 3 months on the road.
The drive home from Pismo Beach was broken up only by lunch in Santa Barbara - a funny little sushi restaurant that filled us up before our return to an empty house that would have no onsite restaurant (and no fresh linen). We hit familiar traffic in LA, knew at what point we could take the pool lane, and as we crossed the San Diego county line we felt like we were home. We'd made it. All five of us; happy and wiser and bonded together in a way that could only be made possible by 82 days and nights of absolute togetherness.
Well, another beautiful drive through Big Sur. We unimaginably (the sun was shining, the sea was blue, limey green in parts, it was spectacular) considered driving down the I-5, just to get to Pismo Beach and lie by the pool with satisfied smiles knowing we had all but circumnavigated the USA. But Matt, who in retrospect I realized had never really embraced the 'lie in the sun and relax' idea, had already plugged in the varying routes and discovered there was less than an hour between the monochromatic freeway, and the near heaven-on-earth experience of winding along US 1 from Carmel to SLO. We stopped for sandwiches, we stopped (dozens of times) for photo ops, we stopped for lion seals, and we stopped to soak up the sun and the sea, knowing this was pretty much it for us and the west coast. This trip.