It took me by surprise. Not the ocean. That we found right where we expected to. What surprised me was the strange sense of accomplishment that washed over me upon seeing it.
Almost three years ago we set out to travel the country by motor home. During that time we’ve followed the seasons north and south like migratory birds methodically making their way from cool place to cool place. Along the way we’ve tried to keep our drive times short and avoid backtracking whenever possible. Do that long enough and you eventually drive from coast to coast without ever specifically planning to. That is, after all, how we ended up on California’s Pacific Beach.
It’s not the first time we’ve been to the Pacific Coast. But this time was somehow different. Driving across the country is the kind of thing that frequently appears on “Bucket Lists.” Not many people actually do it even though it represents one of the quintessentially American travel dreams.
We never really thought much about it, though. Driving coast to coast wasn’t ever a specific objective of ours. We embarked on this Great American Road Trip not to cross the country, but to see it. Getting from place to place, even from shore to shore, was never more than a means to an end. Which is why it surprised me that arriving at this ocean, so similar to the one we left long ago but for its cliff-lined coasts and sun that sets where it should rise, felt like victory.
It’s a strange thing to feel accomplishment in crossing off a goal I never set from a list I never wrote. Somewhere I must be keeping a bucket list of sorts, one that is secret even from me. Driving across country is apparently on that list, now proudly checked off.