The day after I ran the Warrior Dash, I flew to California.
California is a land far, far away from Virginialand, and, when the opportunity to go, courtesy of my involvement in the Toyota Women’s Influencer Network, came up, I hesitated. I was flying to Atlanta, then driving to Alabama, on Friday, and there I was thinking about boarding a plane to head west on Sunday and returning late Wednesday night, leaving me just one day at home. Andrew told me to do it, because really, when someone offers to fly you to California, gives you a car and a road trip buddy with which to explore the Pacific Coast Highway, a chance to donate to a local food bank, a fabulous night at a winery and a foray into glamping, you go. You say YES, and not just because you said you’d said yes to more things, but because really, saying no to fabulous things is a sign of poor judgement and stupidity. So I said yes, added my name to the lists and commenced a forehead-scrunched stressfest about THE OCTOBER WITH ALL THE THINGS.
First things first. I flew to California on Sunday, the day after Warrior Dash, slightly bruised and a little exhausted, mildly terrified and mostly excited. Having missed a handful of other full group events, I was anxious to meet the other women in the group, and I got my chance at the airport and on the shuttle as we headed to the Loews Santa Monica Hotel. The bits of anxiety I was feeling faded away pretty quickly, check in was stupid easy, my room was amazing, with a view of the ocean, and I was even able to get in a quick call with Andrew before getting myself pretty for dinner.
I felt more than a little ridiculous putting on a dress and heels with my bruised Warrior Dash knees and the handful of random cuts on my arms from various mud puddle wiggling and obstacle climbing, but really, that’s the girl I am. I’m the girl who can run through three miles of mud one day and fancy myself up the next, pearls and all.
Dinner the first night in California was at the Penthouse, nestled on top of the Huntley Hotel. It was amazing, complete with panoramic ocean and city views that took my breath away. I’ve seen the Pacific Ocean only sparingly in my life, and couldn’t stop squealing at the fact that I was sitting at a table full of bloggers, looking out across the ocean, dining on stupid delicious food stuffs and sipping on stupid amazing wines.
Monday’s first task was breakfast and then we got to partner up and select a car from the literal fleet of vehicles Toyota had arranged for us. Kate and I snagged a Toyota Corolla and we were off.
Kate drove so I could gawk at the amazing scenery and she was a perfect road trip buddy, indulging me each time I wanted to stop and marvel at the views as we headed north to Santa Barbara.
And really, it was amazing. I’ve wanted to drive up the PCH for as long as I’ve known there was a PCH and it didn’t disappoint. The Pacific Coast is so different from the beaches of Virginia or North Carolina that I’ve grown up visiting and I probably spent 70% of the drive gasping at the view, remarking on the waves and the blue of the ocean and the HOLY SHIT THIS IS HAPPENING factor. It was a humbling experience, to be there doing such amazing and fabulous things and it seems ridiculous, when I think about it, that I was able to go on such an amazing trip courtesy of Toyota and the Clever Girls and I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for a chance to see and do all the things I did on this amazing and whirlwind adventure.
Our first stop in Santa Barbara was at a Target, to gather food stuffs for the local food bank, which we were able to hand deliver. Toyota furnished us with $25 gift cards to gather diapers and food items from a list of much needed items supplied by the food bank, and Target generously agreed to give us another $10 on top of that, meaning we were able to donate nearly $1,000 worth of goods to the food bank.
24 or so hours in, and we’d already done so much, and yet the adventure was only just beginning. There was still so much to do and see and I, still solidly on East Coast time, was determined to take advantage of every single minute. There was a fabulous winery dinner, running next to the ocean, llamas and a very handsome miniature donkey, all of which I promise to tell you more about next week.
Also, PS, thanks for all the tweets and emails and Facebook messages from my last post. I’m okay, I guess, still weepy and angry, but it’s better knowing I’ve got people rooting for me.
Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Toyota.