Ever have a day where no matter what you do, how hard you try, how much you plan, everything is just determined to go sideways?
We had one of those days on vacation.
Of course, it was the one day jam packed to the hilt with scheduled stops and plans. A day where, once one thing goes wrong or off-schedule, the domino effect of disaster follows in its wake.
The thing is, there were so many really great moments during this day, but the stress and anxiety was so great for me, and the disappointment I suppose, that I couldn’t really let go and fully enjoy as I should.
I had to wake early. I knew I needed to shower, pack and be ready to get the car rented by 7:30am. I had an 8am phone interview that was super important to me. I needed to have the kids up and out of that room and down to brekafast so I could take the call in peace and concentrate. I had studied for this interview and carried all of my notes with me.
Everything started well, I had been to bed early, had a decent nights rest and woke on time feeling good about the day ahead. Showered, packed and ready to head out the door, my kids got up and got started with no complaint. I headed to get my coffee and to the car rental counter all prior to 7:30.
That’s when the trouble started. Long story short, the frustration and complication of renting a car using Amex points caused me anxiety until the moment up to the interview.
The call was delayed by a half hour and I spent the time at the Avis rental counter, unsuccessful in getting the car. At the exact moment someone was actually willing to help me (three agents literally gave up on me and sent me back into the customer service queue over and over again, it was the most horrible customer service I have ever experienced) I had run out of time to continue on the phone and had to run to my room, shoo my kids to breakfast, and calm down before the call.
I was a wreck and started crying. I had to get myself composed. This interview was very, very important to me.
As soon as the call started, my professional self kicked-in and I turned into a calm, cool, well-spoken professional. Thank goodness for some built in auto-pilot skills.
I knocked the ball out of the park with the interview.
I breathed deeply and got back on the phone to start all over again with Avis.
The debacle lasted through two more agents and finally, finally, a manager. The manager resolved the problem (temporarily, I would still have to spend time at home to finally correct it) and I was able to rent the car.
The kids and I went to the rental counter and with only one agent, the line, only several people deep, took one-and-a-half hours.
We finally got the car just before noon, making us 3 hours behind schedule and creating a very, very anxious driver.
I plugged the directions in GPS and thought, ok, we should be overlooking the Big Sur In about 3 hours.
After 2 plus hours of driving straight into beautiful weather, I began to feel something wasn’t quite right. We should have turned right towards the coast, but where still headed directly south. My youngest tried to help wth the GPS and realized something was wrong. In my fumbling with the Bluetooth radio, I had turned off the GPS and missed the turn toward the coast, by a half hour or more.
I pulled over and cried.
I’m sure the kids were somewhat startled and freaked out, but I was busy mumbling and yelling at myself and technology and lack of better sense and just the general anxiety of the entire day thus far.
If we wanted to see the coast there was no choice but to turn back and cover the same ground until we could cross the mountain range to the west.
So I got out the frustration, bucked up, got my little guy trained enough to understand the GPS to help out, and turned my ass around.
The issue with this was that we didn’t arrive to the beginning of the route until about 4pm and the coastal fog was rolling in. We also missed Caramel and Monterey entirely. I didn’t know if we could make the drive in daylight all the way to San Simeon to see the elephant seals. I knew we weren’t making Hearst Castle or Slovang. The weight and frustration of this dispappointment, sharing this drive with my children, entirely overshadowed the fact that I had the amazing interview and we would still see Big Sur, even if it wasn’t the picture in my head.
I should have focused on the good but I couldn’t.
By the time we made Bixby Bridge it was about 4pm and very foggy but the sight still took our breath away. I can’t imagine how gorgeous this view is when it’s bright daylight.
We drove down the coast for a long while until we reached our lunch destination around 5. I hadn’t eaten any breakfast and I was starving. The restaurant I chose was special because of its spectacular views…..of which we had none because the fog was so thick. Another disappointment. And for the price, the food was mediocre. We had paid for a view we couldn’t see.
Another long journey through the the twists and curves of Route 1 along the coast. We stopped several places to take a look at all the natural beauty surrounding us. We finally arrived at Saint Simeon just as the sun set and were able to see the elephant seals on the beach. The sight was pretty spectacular. My kids loved it.
We still had a 2 hour drive ahead of us in the dark and the kids were tired so I knew they would be sleeping and I would be on my own. As I passed the signs for the places I had intended for us to stop, the melancholy remained. The long, winding drive in Santa Barbara in pitch black night wasn’t fun or beautiful. We arrived to an amazing hotel hand-picked for its beauty and location to simply pass out on the beds.
Some times, things just don’t work out as planned and for a planner it’s like the death knell. I shouldn’t have let my thoughts be so disrupted by what we didn’t have, but focus on what we did have. There were a lot of really great family moments shared on that drive.
Waking up to the beauty of Santa Barbara was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. I fell in love with this town while we walked around the mission and down Stearns Wharf and I hope I get to visit again for a little longer next time.