I recently returned from a vacation to Southern California with my mom and sister. We had four nights, five days, and three destinations, driving along the Pacific Coast Highway the entire way.
During our trip, I had the opportunity to live out a few of my childhood and adult dreams.
Overall, this trip was one of my favorite trips ever. It was full of memories, funny moments, many laughs, and a few opportunities to live out my dream life.
Here are a few of those dream moments, and the lessons that I learned along the way.
Dream #1: Food
When we arrived in San Diego, our first stop was an In and Out Burger (hey, not all of my dream life moments have to be life-changing!)
Lesson: We were right, In and Out Burger is awesome!
Dream #2: Famous Historic (expensive) Hotel
We headed to our first destination, the Del Coronado Hotel near San Diego. The magnificence, location, and history of the hotel, along with the guest list of presidents, celebrities, and other notable people throughout history makes this hotel one of the most famous hotels in the United States. It also makes it very expensive!
As we pulled up, the hotel was unmistakable with its beautiful turret and red roof. As we entered the hotel, the lobby was gorgeous with deep colored wood ceilings and stairways. I do not have much of an eye for interior design, but even I could tell this hotel was fancy! Here we were, staying at the same hotel Marilyn Monroe filmed Some Like it Hot, as well as presidents, dignitaries, and Hollywood elites. Our room was in the Ocean Towers, which was a short walk down the sidewalk to a different building. We walked through a parking lot full of cars (many of which probably cost about the same as my mortgage) with personalized plates (most of which I couldn’t understand.)
We found the Ocean Tower and went inside. My mom told me it was because of the humidity, but the building smelled like wet clothes that sat in a laundry basket for a few days. At least there were a few giant dryers set out to soak up the moisture! Our room was a standard hotel room, with a gorgeous view of the ocean (if you looked beyond the construction in front of our balcony.) Since we had a busy day of travel and an early morning coming up, we decided to go to bed early at our world-famous hotel. Apparently, the humidity was impacting more than just the smell of the room. I ended up sleeping wrapped in a towel to help absorb the moisture (aka wetness) on the bedsheets.
Lesson: Sometimes you pay a lot of money for the ‘name’ instead of the actual quality. It was a cool experience, but it didn’t live up to the hype, at least it didn’t for us. I am sure many people have had much better experiences here, but for us it kind of fell short.
Dream #3: Top Gun
When I was eight years old and first saw Top Gun, I was convinced I was going to marry Tom Cruise/Maverick. We were going to live in Southern Cali in this beautiful bungalow on the ocean. Every night he was going to sing to me how I lost that loving feeling (along with all of his super-hot pilot buddies). My amazing mom and sister allowed me to live out my childhood fantasy. My sister even put up with wearing matching “Talk to me Goose” t-shirts. We spent quite a while navigating our way through Oceanside to find my childhood dream, Charlie’s house from Top Gun.
Lesson: I guess life works out like it’s supposed to because Tom Cruise jumps on couches, Maverick is old (google the trailer for Top Gun 2), Goose is dead, the location of my dream house is now an empty lot surrounded by construction barricades, and my gorgeous bungalow is boarded up in a parking lot. At least I got a picture by the house (along with the DANGER construction ZONE sign) and snapped a selfie standing on the street that I always pictured Maverick and I driving around on his motorcycle. But, the reality of the situation did not quite live up to my eight-year-old fantasy…I guess nothing ever does!
Dream #4: The Manor and Playboy Mansion
Day two we drove into L.A. and stayed at THE BEST bed & Breakfast that included yoga, chanting, vegan food, crystals, salt lamps, activated water and amazing rosebud tea. This stop came with many, many laughs as this was waaaay outside of mom’s comfort zone! But, she was a trooper! According to Google Maps, we were 2.5 miles away from the former Spelling Manor and the Playboy mansion. Being a bit celebrity-obsessed, I had to see these houses.
Quick lesson: 2.5 miles in LA takes about 20 minutes, not the five that I thought!
We got in our car and followed google maps to The Manor and Hef’s fortress. I was so excited!
Lesson: Not surprising, both houses had about 15-foot-high hedges, surrounded by fences with barbwire on top, and gates blocking any sort of view of the house. I guess this is so deplorables, like myself, can’t even catch a glimpse of what ‘living the high life’ looks like. Then, we noticed a sign. I can’t remember word for word what the sign said, but it informed us that there were armed guards on the premises. Really? These people had to live a life in such seclusion that if ‘common folk’ even came up to their gates they would be shot?! I can’t even imagine! Neighbor kids ring my doorbell about 20 times a day to play with my kids! Yikes! This place really was a fortress, not a house!!
Then, we went back to our B&B and talked to the owner. She told us how in her former career she did a photoshoot inside the Spelling Manor (apparently when you are uber-rich, you live in a Manor, not a home!) She said that The Manor was one of the loneliest places she had ever been. Aaron Spelling did not like to travel by plane, so he only went places he could travel by car or train. He built his Manor as his palace with everything he could want inside, including a bowling alley and gift-wrapping room, so he never had any reason to leave.
As I was spending quality time with my sister and mom, laughing about my mom’s awkwardness at the bed and breakfast, Tori Spelling and her mom are in a battle over daddy’s money. Hmm, who’s living the high life now, huh?
Dream #5 Nobu Malibu:
I’m not sure if you’ve picked up on this yet, but I love the idea of celebrities and celebrity spotting. Go ahead, judge me…I don’t care! As we drove up the PCH to our final destination (Santa Barbara) we made a pit stop in Malibu for lunch. There we found the famous, Nobu (probably nowadays even more famous than the Coronado.) Nobu is where celebrities go to be seen and I wanted to see them! We went into Nobu dressed in our ‘finest’ clothes.
Quick Lesson: This is untrue, I was in leggings and a tank top, everyone else in the place was in their finest clothes. And, I do mean FINEST! Apparently, it was pretty bright in there too, because many people were wearing sunglasses inside.
We got seated right away at the sushi bar (apparently this isn’t the cool spot to be seen) because the wait for an actual table was LONG. We sat down and looked at our menu. Being very unfamiliar with most of the foods, I ordered shrimp and lobster tacos. I was constantly looking for people that I recognized but never saw anyone. We ate our food, went to the bathroom, and left.
Lesson: I guess the lessoned learned here is the same as I learned in dream #1: sometimes you pay a lot of money for the ‘name’ instead of the actual quality. My tacos cost $6 each and were literally ONE inch! Everyone around us appeared to be trying to look like someone else (I saw many Kardashian looking people) and people were not super friendly. Maybe we were just there on a bad day, but it felt like everyone there was trying hard to be someone or something they were not. And, the garbage in the bathroom was overflowing. I enjoyed my experience at In and Out Burger better.
Dream #6: Santa Barbara
We reached our final destination, Santa Barbara. It was beautiful. Ocean in front of me with the mountains behind…it was one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen.
Quick lesson: The Pacific Ocean is cold and so was Southern California. When we told people we were from Minnesota, their response was always, “I bet it’s cold up there.” Actually, it’s hotter up there than here, but I digress.
Dream #7: Montecito
We drove to Montecito for the afternoon. It is near Santa Barbara and filled with many celebrities (big-time celebrities like my buddies Oprah and Ellen.) It is a super cute and quiet town. We ate lunch at an outdoor restaurant on a quiet street and enjoyed probably our best lunch on the trip. The sun was out, we talked and had a lovely afternoon just hanging out. It was probably one of my favorite afternoons.
Lesson: Our server told us celebrities are just like us, and I probably won’t even recognize one if she was sitting behind me. Which really made me question if the lady sitting behind me who ordered the bacon cheeseburger was ‘someone’.
Dream #8: Vacation with my mom and sister
Although I am a celebrity hunter, the whole point of the trip was to spend time with my mom and sister, traveling up the PCH from San Diego to Santa Barbara and stopping and seeing sites along the way.
Lesson: Being with my mom and sister feeds my soul. We laughed and cried (only once) and then laughed some more. We biked along the ocean and laughed. My sister navigated the map so we could find our way everywhere from towns, to restaurants, to celebrity houses, to childhood dreams. Mom sat in the back and went along for the ride. Allowing us to do and go anywhere we wanted. We spent time together, created memories, and enjoyed each other’s company. It was everything that a vacation should be. It was amazing.
Dream #9: Home
I came home to a family that missed me. A dog who was excited to see me. A house that I love, in a neighborhood without walls or fences. Neighbor kids ringing my doorbell asking if my kids can play. Taking a walk in nature and waving at my neighbors along the way. I also came home to a list of things I have to do, places that people need to be, dishes on the counter, and a job that is starting again in a week.
Lesson: It may not be perfect, and it may not be what I envisioned when I was growing up, but I think I already am living my dream life!
Mini Lesson: Be grateful, laugh a lot, love with everything you got, enjoy your life, and know that everything doesn’t always turn out the way you thought it would…sometimes it turns out even better!
Lisa Wyckoff is a Confidence and Mindset Coach. She helps women step into their confidence, shift their mindset, connect with Spirit, discover their True Magnificence and transform their lives. You can read more articles, or find out about working with Lisa on lisawyckoff.com or follow her on Facebook.