Pull a Pismo

           Ever heard of a place called Pismo? Yeah, we hadn’t either. But this summer’s wild vacation took us there and despite the crazy guy in the cave, the nudist, the dead sea lion, and the sunburn, we feel like we instilled some really good life lessons in our kids. And ourselves.
            My husband is a planner. He is the one that handles all of the logistics of our vacations, from the transportation to the accommodations. My job is the packing and the food because when it comes to grocery and laundry, I am practically a wizard. Also because I don’t plan vacations well. My idea of an itinerary is a state and a map and “we’ll see what the morning brings” because deep down, spontaneity makes me giddy.
            This summer’s vacation was a combination of my husband’s superior skills and my lack of preparedness that would make any scout cringe. Toss in some bad luck, and, as we now say, we “pulled a Pismo.”
            The actual step-by-step plot of our trip to California would fit better in a novel than on a newspage, so in the spirit of keeping it short, let’s just say that RV travel should be better researched. An amazing three days in Yosemite National Park with deer and waterfalls and rock climbing quickly turned south when we headed south on our summer travels. A faulty water pump in our rented vehicle and we found ourselves at an unplanned stop of the Fresno Zoo while things got repaired.
            Inland California in the summer is hot. Like sweat dripping off your nose and you wonder if your underwear melted hot. But because of this unplanned day, we were at a crossroads of our mini quest of the west. I will never forget sitting down with the kids at a picnic table and a map of California, coveting ice cubes and with the roar of zoogoers in the background. “Kids, sometimes life gives you lemons. You have choices. You can be sad, or you can make lemonade. Sometimes you decide to dump the whole pitcher of whatever it is out and head to the beach.”
            What was supposed to be a week hiking in the wilderness with bear and granola bars turned into something else, out of necessity. “Sometimes you just gotta pull a Pismo.” Four and a half hours later, we stepped in the Pacific Ocean.
            Pismo Beach is a classic California beach town. A giant pier at the center, surfers line the sandy shore and from time to time you might think you are in a movie from the 60’s. And that’s where it seems our totally unplanned vacation ended up, in a beach town with enough oddities either by our own accord or by fate to make for one very memorable, unplanned vacation.

            Never thought we’d see whales.

Originally written 8.2.15


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